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Travel Adventure, or, the Kindness of Non-Strangers - Qualified Perceptions
Travel Adventure, or, the Kindness of Non-Strangers
Whee, harrock and I are home from Madison, after a very long journey.

We were supposed to return Sunday evening, when the flight into Boston got cancelled. Calling Frontier, after 45 minutes on hold (though apparently this was better than all the people who just got hung up on by their airlines), they offered us a flight back on Friday. That's when I started looking into other methods of getting back. Trains - all booked. Buses - take about 24 hours, but they seem to be running all the way to Boston. After another hour on hold, Jerry managed to get an offer of Wednesday night out of American, but at that point it looked like the bus would get us back Monday night, only a day late.

That is, a bus from Chicago. So the whole thing starts out by driving from Madison to Chicago (which I no longer find surprising, because we had to do that *last* time there was a weather emergency), finding a steak house for dinner (well, it's Chicago, that's what you're supposed to eat, and we didn't expect much reasonable food for the next day), and then trundling from the train station (where the rental cars live) to the bus station, which involved a bit of walking in all the wrong directions first. ("Okay, there are only four directions to go in from this intersection. *One* of them has to be right...").

Then, much bus. The Border Patrol came on the bus to hassle foreign students at the Erie and ?Westfield? stops. Because that's totally how illegals sneak into the country - via the bus from Cleveland.

At Buffalo, they told us that there were no longer buses between Albany and Boston; they seemed kind of keen to have everyone stop there, which I found somewhat mystifying - why not get us as far as possible before stopping? With a lot of persuasion ("Really, we know people in Syracuse and Albany! Let us go there!"), they finally let us through further. It turned out that mjperson was no longer in Albany, but shumashi was still in Syracuse, so we called her and were rescued from the bus station. At that point, the opportunity for tooth-brushing and showers and Real Food and Real Bed and everything was a godsend, and we are still doing the happy gratitude dance for that. (By the way - the bathrooms in the Buffalo bus station? Just as bad as you've ever heard about bus station bathrooms being.)

The next morning, we lazed through two whole bus opportunities and then set out again, well-provisioned and rested, for the last bus legs (though I did forget my knitting bag, which shumashi had to rescue separately). Following our progress along on GPS, I was mystified by this loop ("Wait, *which* direction is Springfield from here? Did we take a wrong turn?") but it looks like the bus was not actually lost, it's just a weird interchange.

Then, we finally got to South Station at about 8:30, where we were rescued by justom and chanaleh who whooshed us to dinner and then home. Where our porch (and also the sidewalk, though buried by later plowing) had been shoveled by a minion of chenoameg, though I do not know which minion it was to be properly grateful to!

And now, I'm back at work, for my exactly one day of productivity before more holidays...
22 comments or Leave a comment
kelkyag From: kelkyag Date: December 29th, 2010 06:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yay, home safe!
chenoameg From: chenoameg Date: December 29th, 2010 07:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
It may have been a neighbor minion; I got distracted by the Rogers Ave driveway disaster.
jaedian From: jaedian Date: December 29th, 2010 09:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
the rogers avenue driveway disaster?
chenoameg From: chenoameg Date: December 29th, 2010 11:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was catsitting for nearby friends. They arrived home at midnight last night.

Ahead of time: They didn't want to drive home and have to shovel, so they tried to find a company that would come and plow out their driveway.

I shoveled their walk and a path up their stairs, and worked on the driveway in case they couldn't find someone, although I didn't finish.

The people they hired didn't show. But I didn't finish it either. They coped.
jaedian From: jaedian Date: December 30th, 2010 02:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
I see.

I cleared a neighbor three doors down as I knew she was out of town. I did the porch and walkway and cleared the car they didn't take. Her across the street neighbor had the same idea so we had two snowblowers there and I shoveled as well. Apparently the girl who was cat sitting was supposed to clear the porch and walkway, so she was very grateful (and she babysits for us, so I think the goodwill will be worthwhile!)

But I knew they wouldn't want to come home at night to an uncleared driveway with an impassable berm due to plowing at the end. Street parking here has become dicey at best with all the snow. Technically legal, but I wouldn't want my car on the street when the trash truck came down it or UPS!
jaedian From: jaedian Date: December 30th, 2010 02:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Go you though!

It was heavy snow, my back was sore just from the small amount I did clear. wouldn't have wanted to do a driveway by hand!
chenoameg From: chenoameg Date: December 30th, 2010 03:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks, but it was pretty fluffy snow here.
kirisutogomen From: kirisutogomen Date: December 31st, 2010 01:52 am (UTC) (Link)
You have a weak definition of "disaster".
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: December 31st, 2010 02:03 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, "driveway disaster" probably scopes the magnitude down quite a bit already.
mijven From: mijven Date: December 29th, 2010 10:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
On-topic, congratulations on your epic quest to return home!

Off-topic, Rogers Ave?
mjperson From: mjperson Date: December 29th, 2010 08:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Did the border patrol actually do anything?
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: December 29th, 2010 08:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
In Erie, they basically did the cop-warning thing: "You have to carry your papers everywhere. I *could* arrest you and take you off this bus right now, but I'm going to let you go this time."

At the later stop, they took the guys off the bus for about fifteen minutes standing in the cold, with presumably the same lecture, but more examination of all their IDs and also many phone calls, before they got to get back on. I don't know who the phone calls were to.
mjperson From: mjperson Date: December 29th, 2010 09:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wait, really? How did they identify the foreign students? I mean, did you have your "papers" with you? Could they have arrested you for getting on a bus without ID?

Man, I hadn't realized things had gotten quite this bad outside of airports.
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: December 29th, 2010 09:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
The first question was "What country are you from?" or "Are you a US citizen?" I said I was a US citizen, so they didn't bother me further.

I don't actually know what would happen if one was not a US citizen but said yes. (Or if you were a US citizen but had an accent.)
mjperson From: mjperson Date: December 29th, 2010 10:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, OK then.

So long as terrorists and drug smugglers always tell the truth, we're good.
arcanology From: arcanology Date: December 30th, 2010 03:55 am (UTC) (Link)
And aren't US citizens.

Which is OK, because no US citizens ever smuggle drugs. Or blow up buildings. And no terrorists ever have papers.
mijven From: mijven Date: December 29th, 2010 10:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
I remember returning after a quick trip south of the San Diego border, where Sweetie's sister wasn't so quick to say "US citizen." Presumably because she'd never been asked this before. I also remember the horrid fear I had, that if we hadn't all looked so similar and were clearly her FAMILY rallying round the youngest member, that otherwise she might've spent some quality time failing to answer more questions appropriately....
shaggy_man From: shaggy_man Date: December 29th, 2010 10:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
Homeland security has claimed the right to stop and search anybody within 100 miles of the border without probable cause.

For reference, within 100 miles of the border is where 2/3 of the US population lives, and includes the entire states of Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware, New Jersey, Michigan, and Florida. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Supreme Court (smoking whatever kind of crack the Supreme Court smokes these days) has said this is not unreasonable.

So, yeah, things kind of have gotten quite that bad.

Look! A fun interactive map of the area in question: "Constitution-Free Zone" at ACLU.org
arcanology From: arcanology Date: December 30th, 2010 03:56 am (UTC) (Link)
That makes sense, it covers most of the pesky liberal-voting population, who are just trouble anyway.
jaedian From: jaedian Date: December 30th, 2010 02:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
so the coasts count as borders for this purpose? Geez!

But those in the middle of the country are safe, so you just have to get over the border and into the center of the country and you are good!
readsalot From: readsalot Date: December 30th, 2010 03:12 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm glad you're home.

For more Border Patrol fun, you can read about Canadian author Peter Watts' experience: he asked them what they were doing, then flailed around and hit someone while being maced and beaten up, and for that he was put on trial for resisting arrest and assault. Very worrying.
merastra From: merastra Date: December 30th, 2010 02:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ack! That's *quite* the long travel ordeal! I am already un-keen on bus travel and this doesn't help that impression.

Yay for shumashi's Syracuse rescue and justom, chanaleh, and nameless shoveler!
22 comments or Leave a comment