Sunday, October 07, 2012

BUS STORY # 309 (Jim's Bus Story # 1: Greyhound Blues)

Greyhound and Amtrak Station by 77krc
Greyhound and Amtrak Station, a photo by 77krc on Flickr.

We met Jim in the commons room of the Palace Hotel, in downtown Silver City.

He’s from near Blackpool, in the Lake District up by Scotland, in what you could call the Atlantic Northwest. He came to the States to hike the Continental Divide Trail.

Back in 2002, he hiked the Pacific Coast Trail and loved it.

This one’s been tougher.  Fellow hikers are rare.  And there are whole sections where there is no trail, and you are left working out a route with compass and map.

He left from Glacier National Park in Montana on June 8.  It’s just a couple of days till October when we meet him at The Palace.

He says the trail ends at Antelope Springs, on the Mexican border in the state’s boot hill.

He’s not going there.

He’s going to end his trip instead at Columbus, New Mexico, also on the border, but unlike Antelope Springs, a town where he can get public transportation in the form of the Greyhound Bus.

He’s taking the bus to Albuquerque where the daughter of a colleague back in England has settled with her new husband.  He’ll visit a couple of days, then fly back home.

Getting the Greyhound has been problematic.  He’d walked over to the library at Western New Mexico University and tried to purchase Greyhound tickets from Columbus to Albuquerque online.

The Greyhound site didn’t work.

First, it could not accommodate his English cell phone number.

When he used his friend’s daughter’s number to set up a purchase with hold at Columbus, the site would only allow him to input the area code.

When he decided to try the option of printing the tickets then and there, and after paying a dollar to get a card from the university to allow printing, the site wouldn’t let him input the last four of his friend’s daughter’s American phone number.

He called Greyhound.  He says he spoke with someone from India.  “I couldn’t understand him, and he couldn’t understand me.”

They did understand one another sufficiently to work out an arrangement: He could pre-purchase the ticket by phone for an extra $20.00 in exchange for a “corporate number” as proof of purchase when he reached Columbus.

He says his complaint about the web site fell on uncomprehending ears.  He suspects a twenty-dollar selective hearing problem over in Greyhound India.

He doesn’t know if there’s really gonna be a ticket waiting for him at Columbus or not.  But he does know from his experiences on the trail that things always seem to work out.

He’s already thinking about The Appalachian Trail.


The photo at the top of this story is titled “Greyhound and Amtrak Station,” and is posted with the kind permission of 77krc. You can see all 77krc’s photos on Flickr at:


Anonymous Anonymous said...

How sad after navigating the Continental Divide for 3 thousand miles Jim got stymied by the Mobius strip of Greyhound's website and phone service! He probably could have walked to Albuquerque more easily.
I'm sure he got here somehow. I am so glad we met Jim and heard about some of his adventures and I wish him well on whatever he tackles next.
Sadly he won't be able to see the Balloon Fiesta either due to a windy cold front passing through.
Thanks for the story.

7:31 AM  
Blogger Busboy said...

Busboy’s better half and I spent an enjoyable early morning listening to Jim’s stories about his trek. These included several stories from the New Mexico portion, including hiking through this spring’s burn area in the Gila (sinking into ash above his ankles), coming upon one of the many backcountry hot springs and having a long (and very hot) soak, and a couple of wonderful hospitality stories from Pie Town and just outside Silver City. There was also an earlier grizzly bear encounter for which he is grateful to the National Parks’ required bear safety video for an uneventful outcome. And, of course, at my urging, a comparison of our two countries’ public transportation systems. He estimated he’d lost somewhere between 30 and 40 pounds since the start of the trip, and regretted he’d probably gain most of it back during the Christmas holidays.

9:53 AM  

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