Our original plan was to hitch north to hike the Colorado Trail. We also toyed with the idea of hiking the John Muir Trail in California or a large section of the Pacific Crest Trail. None of these options would work, sadly. They were getting pounded with snow, EVERYWHERE! Unless we purchased additional gear, like snowshoes and/or ice axes, hiking was not doable at this point in time. The mountains in Colorado were experiencing avalanches, and there was still more snow in the forecast. We could either wait it out and find jobs in the area to fund our stay, or find another option.
Frisbee has always wanted to hike the Pinhoti Trail which lies in Alabama and crosses over to Georgia. I on the other hand, didn’t have much of a desire. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with the Pinhoti. The terrain was rumored to be as challenging as the Appalachian Trail which I liked, with similar scenery. It just was never high on my list. Unless we decided to go home even earlier than planned, there were few other options, so we rolled with it.
We boarded the dreaded Greyhound in Flagstaff, Arizona with our final destination being Birmingham, Alabama. As the bus was backing out, a blonde, middle-aged woman was waving her arms, late to the party. Then as we pulled off, a homeless guy dumped what looked like coffee grounds on the sidewalk, then tossed the bag it came in before walking away. Per usual, everyone was hacking and sneezing on board. We’d be lucky to escape without getting sick. We passed abandoned Pueblos, highway attractions, and graffiti-covered gas stations and convenience stores as we made our way to Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Once we boarded the next bus to Amarillo, Texas, there were two homeless guys chatting in the seats behind us. One of them told the other he had been eating fried chicken out of a trash bin when a lady bought him a meal at the station. At one point they were singing Rick James songs together, and talked about being homeless and their love for “titty bars.”
Suddenly, a mysterious liquid came flying out between the seats in front of us. The lone guy sitting there acted as if nothing happened as we wiped off our legs and shook the moisture from our belongings. Whatever he spilled flooded the floor in front of him, drenching everyones belongings. People exclaimed their displeasure as the puddle made its way to the front of the bus.
During our layover in Amarillo, the drink spiller told others he was in witness protection and debated with others about which cities treated the homeless better or worse. When he mentioned Detroit as a good city to be homeless in, several others began laughing hysterically.
One of the other passengers who we enjoyed watching was a dwarf girl with a beard. She sounded like a cartoon character when she talked, and gave all the Greyhound employees sass. She was funny! There were also two colorfully dressed Asian women who were enjoying their journey a little too much. They’d find a photo opportunity out of anything, whether it was in front of a bunch of trash cans in the bus terminal or on the scummy street of one of the stops along the way.
I like to poke fun, but on a serious note, I listened in on the conversation between a young, homeless Army veteran and a homeless Vietnam vet. The younger veteran discussed his complications with his health after being exposed to chemicals on the job while serving.
“You wanna know what the Army did for me?” he said as he shook a large bag full of prescription pills. “…and the sad part is I’d still be there if they didn’t fuck me up.”
We were all thrilled to find out our bus to Dallas would be delayed since our driver needed a 2-hour long nap. I was irritated. I understand that the drivers need to be well rested for the safety of everyone, but in my opinion, you should cut back your hours or find a different job if you can’t stay on schedule. This is a common occurrence with the Greyhound. No worries though. We had a two hour and 45 minute layover, so minus the two hours in the delay, we still had nearly an entire hour of flexibility left.
Sadly, our driver moved at sloth speed, and during the drive, I wasn’t the only one on the bus unhappy about it. Even with 45 minutes to toy with, we were still late for our next bus. The next available bus ride to Birmingham, Alabama wouldn’t be until midnight, so we had a lot of time to kill. We strolled through Dallas briefly as it drizzled on our heads.
We drank coffee at the Starbucks inside the Tom Thumb grocery store until they closed up for the day.
Back at the bus station, we talked to a guy from Baltimore who had been playing with a laser pointer on the bus earlier that day. We also talked to a girl Frisbee would call “Money Moves”. It was written on the butt of her pants. She was traveling for an interview for a new job, and although she missed her appointment, she was still determined to make it. I felt bad for her. This wasn’t her first delay of the trip.
The Greyhound bus station is always a good place for people watching. Just to mention a few people, there was a hispanic man walking around with a ‘confederate flag’ baseball hat on that said “REBEL” across the front, a biker wearing spurred boots, and a guy with aluminum foil shoe laces.
Like all of the ones prior to Amarillo, this guy was a much better driver, and got us to our destination fast! Before arriving in Birmingham, Alabama, we had a brief stop in Jackson, Mississippi. We talked to a nice, younger man about his financial struggles. He was looking for a new city to move to that wasn’t crime ridden and had plenty of jobs. I wrote down a few of our suggestions for him to consider.
After nearly two days straight in transport, we were happy to be free from the clutches of the Greyhound at last! We wandered around Birmingham before meeting Frisbee’s cousin Nina at her work. After spending some time visiting and running errands, Nina would be taking us an hour out of town to Flag Mountain where we’d begin our thru hike of the Pinhoti Trail.