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Northfield to Manchester (Day 1): Field Trip

22 December 2015 1 comment

(A post about the start of summer break in 2014, after my final term at Carleton.)

I remember the last day and night of term being a crazy rush to finish up my assignments, pack or discard all the things I’d brought and accumulated over the year, and to say goodbye to the friends I’d made.

After all that, I slept only about an hour, since I had a 7:20 a.m. bus to catch. The eventual destination? Manchester, Tennessee, for the Bonnaroo music festival.

cross-country-bus

(With stops in Minneapolis, Chicago, Bloomington, and Nashville.)

 

In total, I was on buses or in transit for about two solid days. I don’t remember it being particularly painful, actually; owing to my lack of sleep, I was able to spend much of the time snoozing.

Another impression people seem to have of cross-country bus-rides in America is that things tend to be at least somewhat dodgy, if not dangerous – menacing strangers on the bus, illicit activities at bus stations, etc. I fancy that, like ghosts on Pulau Tekong, not looking out for these things was easily enough to steer clear. (We did, however, have our bags searched at Nashville for drugs: cops savvy to the crowd heading to the music festival.)

More generally, I think people increasingly rely on bus lines as a low-cost and efficient mode of transport; AMTRAK is honestly inefficient, and air travel is not exactly fuss-free (and how much faster becomes less significant over a moderate distances). As fellow travellers on a long road, for the most part, I actually found it quite easy to be friendly with people I met on the journey.

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This picture was taken in a sports bar at the bus station in Chicago. You can see LeBron’s face on the screen. I was watching the NBA playoffs with somebody I met at Minneapolis.

Later, while in the line for the bus to Nashville, I met two men from Madison, WI, who were also on the way to the festival – veteran Bonnaroovians, it turns out, whose paths would run with mine for the next few days…

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For food and other reliefs, other than bus stations in the big cities, we had truck-stops; the memories are of fast-food breakfasts (mm, McGriddles), brushing my teeth, bottled water, and a few minutes to walk around and look up at the sky.

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This was lunch on Day One: bottled coffee and PB&J sandwiches I’d packed from the dining hall from the previous day.