On Thursday, July 9th our 2-day trek to Atlanta commenced. We were lucky enough to get a ride to the Tufesa bus station in Guaymas from neighbor boat “Opportunity”. Arriving super early (as usual) at 9pm, we waited patiently for 3 hours in uncomfortable plastic chairs with about 15 other bus-goers headed for parts unknown. A sugar-highed, pudgy, little 6-yr-old demon incessantly zoomed, spun and rolled his Coke bottle/make-believe sports car over, on and under all the chairs for our viewing pleasure...the entire time. It was cute. For the first 2 minutes.
A 2-yr-old, pigtailed-girl kept the nearby gumball machine stocked. She’d clumsily run full bore at it, stop abruptly, carefully squish a piece of paper up inside the return, shut it safely inside like it was a mailbox, and charge back to Mom. Then she’d run back again, tentatively open the “mailbox” and whaaa…? Low and behold it was STILL in there. You could see the shock on her face, then super excitement. After the 50th time it still didn’t get old for her, or us. She was our TV while we ignored Zoom-boy.
We had picked up our tickets 2 days prior to make sure we got seats on the special overnight bus. Good thing - it was already packed with sleepy riders covered in blankets and pillows, traveling north from further on down the line. No, we were not required to bring a live chicken; these are nice buses. The “Ejecutivo” or “Executive” bus only goes overnight and has wider, plush seats that lean back. Special leg/foot rests fold down from the seat ahead; it’s as close to lying down as you can get. What a difference.
Upon boarding, an employee even handed us a bagged lunch! Bologna sandwich (Wonder bread, bologna and American cheese) and a can of Coke. Didn’t eat the sandwich (meh + a bit dubious), but that’s more then we get on a plane nowadays for free, so no complaints.
We tried to sleep, but while the seats were comfy and the curtains drawn with lights off, the ride was quite bumpy. We were allowed out for a bathroom break in Nogales, Mexico, then proceeded to the border checkpoint. Being the only bus so early in the morning, the procedure was fast and painless: everybody exits the bus with luggage, line up inside the checkpoint building, show passport, shove luggage through screener, stand outside and wait ‘til everyone is done, back on the bus, away we go. Faster than the airport.
Our bus continued on to Tucson and then Phoenix where we got off. Total bus time: @ 10 hours. Plus 3 hours in the waiting room. Cost? About $140 total for both of us. One way. Not bad but it did take a lot longer than I thought. We were supposed to arrive at 8am and got in after 10am. I had booked our flight to Atlanta for the following day, just in case of catastrophe.
Uber is The Bomb, Just Sayin’
One would think there’d be taxis outside a busy bus station in such a large city. Nope. But… ‘no problema’. While we overheard a guy on the phone trying unsuccessfully to call a taxi, we used our Uber app and were out of there within 4 minutes. The other guy was still on the phone.
The Uber taxi concept is the bomb, and it’s no wonder the taxi unions and greedy politicians are trying to shut them down (such as in NYC). Politicians know what’s best for their pocketbook. Competition? We can’t have that.
“Ahhh… but we must thwart this thing called Uber. Hmm… a convenient, hassle-free, taxi experience? It can’t be THAT good. What? No money exchanged? All online? Wait, you know ahead of time how much it’s going to cost you AND you get an emailed receipt? You mean you can see exactly where your driver is on the map, the driver you actually get to choose? No creepy, nasty cabs? No way… you can rate your driver AND he gets to rate you back if you are a decent human being or an angry drunken idiot? Preposterous. We cannot allow this convenience to continue! We must BAN them. Why? Well, it’s for the good of the people. We know what’s best for you…”
Uber truly is capitalism at its finest. Build a better product/concept and be rewarded with loyal customers. The US isn’t the only one with grumpy taxi unions. We heard that in Puerto Escondido, taxi drivers have been known to angrily hassle liveaboards for giving other cruisers a lift to town. In Cabo, the taxistas have prohibited personal car pickups directly in front of the airport terminal. A friend is coming to pick you up? Keep walkin’ buddy.
Phoenix vs. Tucson
Our flight from Phoenix to Atlanta was thankfully uneventful, other than we had to get up at 3:30am for our 6am flight. Why did you go all the way to Phoenix, you might ask?? The reason for continuing on to Phoenix, rather than getting off the bus in Tucson, was so we could get the coveted direct flight. The inconvenience of traveling an extra 2 hours on the bus, outweighed the inconvenience of a required layover (thus a longer day) and higher cost tickets by flying out of Tucson. The bus to Phoenix + plane to ATL was much cheaper than flying out of the nearest minor airport to our boat in San Carlos… Hermosillo, about an hour away. What, you thought we did this 2-day trek because we thought it’d be FUN?
Our refrigerator had already arrived at Brian’s dad’s house, along with some other stuff. Opening our packages was like Christmas again…except this time, it was a meager one, as we had only bought a couple extra items. It was nothing like our Christmas-in-April-oh-my-God-I-need-that-thingy-on-the-boat-extravaganza. We were very careful with what we purchased to bring back this time to keep the clutter down. In fact, I went in Kohl’s and bought NOTHING. So there. Jesse and Sandy, you’d be proud.
Lazing around in ATL
We had nothing planned other than to laze around, watch TV and chat with our family for 2 weeks. We watched an entire season of a new show called The 100. We saw Antman. Brian and his dad had good father-son bonding time woodworking and target-practicing. And I got to cook in a real kitchen with this newfangled item called an “electric griddle”. Oh the joys of a huge sink… giant stove…an even “gianter” fridge (and it WORKS)… sooo much counter space. Ahhhhh, I miss you microwave…Keurig… dishwasher. And I got to do ‘normal grocery shopping’ and buy uber-perishables (bananas) and items that take up an entire shelf in the fridge (a whole Boston crème pie). “Can’t stop this…na, nana, na, umph…dooo do do.”
Friends for Life
One day we visited our friends the Parkers in Northern Atlanta. There are few people on this earth we can chat with for 12 hours straight without running out of things to say after 2 hours or feeling like we are intruding on their schedule. We sadly didn’t even take any pictures we were yapping so much. It had been 2 years since our last very short visit. This time I warned them…”I want to be able to spend the entire day with you guys.” And so we did. Seated at their kitchen table…shooting the shit. Just like the old days. Awesome.
We met upon graduation from flight school in Pensacola… 1997. Jimmy and Brian were stationed together in their first squadron “The Gunfighters” at Camp Pendleton, CA. Susan and I were newly inducted “Marine Corps wives”. We’ve been friends ever since… despite multiple moves far away and job changes …and kids. Marines typically have the best behaved children, something about that instilled discipline I’d say. But these kids are the exception to the rule…they are exceptionally better than even the typical Marine kids. We truly enjoy being around them, and that’s saying A LOT coming from one who is generally repulsed by the smell of baby powder. Our dinner conversation centered around which superhero/villain is our favorite and why. How can you not love that? I was floored when at one point Stephen said to me “you guys should come back more often”. Awwww. Yes. We should. And will.
Off to the Races
Once again we trekked to Senoia, GA to the infamous dirt track at the Senoia Raceway (featured in the newest version of Footloose) for some rootin-tootin’, good-ole’ southern car racin’. Sitting atop concrete bleachers built into a hillside, we had a great time watching these souped up race cars zoom precariously fast around the track like a swarm of bees.
Here the smell of wet dirt, pungent car exhaust and Deep Woods Off permeate the air. Bright fluorescent orange and yellow t-shirts abound (for some, it’s just a bad fashion statement… but for those who go down onto the track, it’s a safety thing). But ‘Camo’ is king: hats, t-shirts, shorts, sometimes all three at once (seriously?). The sound of revving engines and the sharp ratcheting of air wrenches fill the ear. John Denver is playing over the loudspeaker: “Thank God I’m a country boy” and “Take me home, country road”. We indulged in freshly fried corn dogs, Ore-Ida French fries, and sugary-sweet Country Time lemonade.
This is a no alcohol, no firearms, no nonsense raceway. People are friendly and courteous and surprisingly subdued. No drunken idiots or loud crazies. A prayer is invoked and we sing the National Anthem before racing begins. The flag is at half-mast due to the Chattanooga shooting of our Marine recruiters. No apologies. No political correctness. Just a simple respect for God and country. Amen.
We watch everything from beat-up hobby cars on homemade trailers to souped-up racing machines ready to blow your eardrums, complete with color matching motor-homes and car haulers. One race featured little 1-seater cars called “Legends“. They look like miniature PT Cruisers…probably only twice as big as a bumper car. I’m no auto enthusiast, but these are ‘suuuuper-cuuute.’
By the end of a long evening of multiple crashes and near-blow outs, lots of “oooohs” and “ohs” and sharp breath intakes, we were covered in a fine layer of notorious Georgia red dirt. The faster the cars sped through the mud, the more dust rolled off the track in thick clouds and embedded into our skin and hair and eyeballs. Our bathroom tub looked like a murder scene when we got home. No white shirts at that racetrack… camo is king for a reason.
Trekkin' in the Toyota
After relaxing for 2 weeks with the fam, we took off back to San Carlos. A 2,600-mile cross-country trek in our Toyota Tacoma. Gotta get that fridge installed!
To Be Continued…