Southbound on I-75

Time to end the blog hiatus, and this time I am not blogging from the comfort of Olde North Columbus.  Rather, I am sitting in the front seat of the upper deck of a Megabus on a gray and rainy Tuesday morning, rolling south on Interstate 75 toward Orlando.  I am spending Christmas with Susie, Steph, and Mike, and I decided to take the more leisurely route down to Florida.  (It’s also quite cheaper than flying.  The Columbus-to-Atlanta leg of the trip cost me a whole $1, whereas the Atlanta-to-Orlando part of the journey, the part I am on now, cost $50.)

So this is a gray Georgia morning, just before 9 a.m.  This entry is going to sound like one of the “travelling tapes” that I used to make as a kid, regardless of whether we were going to Richmond, Va. or even the 12 miles to Belpre or the 50 miles to Athens.

And those travelogues were nothing worthy of National Geographic.  I remember comments about other drivers on the road: “The light just turned green, but there’s a goof-o in front of us who won’t go” was one.  Another one was “A silly lady in front of us wasn’t paying attention to the road but was just fixing her hair.”

This is my first southbound trip on Megabus.  I was quite a sight coming to work yesterday, with my overloaded knapsack and my suitcase on wheels, but I would be heading straight to E. Spring St. to the Megabus pick-up place right after work.  I would not have time to run home, get everything, and be back in time.  The bus left at 6:15 p.m. and at 8:05 p.m. we were in Cincinnati, ending up at the parking lot on Gest St. which is Megabus’ pick-up and drop-off place.  (The trip to the parking lot was a little slow.  The Bengals were playing at Paul Brown Stadium last night, so the bus had to weave through people coming to and from the stadium, not all of them sober.)

I wasn’t looking forward to nearly two hours of waiting before the southbound bus would arrive.  Wearing my knapsack and dragging my wheeled suitcase behind me, I walked a few blocks to a Shell station on W. 8th St. which also had a Subway, and the turkey breast and black forest ham sub that I bought is the last time I have eaten.

The parking lot was also a brief trip down Memory Lane for me.  In the lot was the rear entrance to a nondescript building on W. 8th which was the first place I ever worked in Cincinnati.  It was in December 1984, and I had a brief gig with Kelly Services (“the ‘Kelly Girl’ people”).  I worked at a now-defunct insurance company called Maxicare (I could never get over the idea that it sounded like a brand of feminine hygiene products!), typing their mailing lists and client lists onto an IBM Personal Computer.

Also, when I was looking toward Gest St., I could see several USPS trucks driving westbound, and I knew they were en route to the main post office at the corner of Liberty and Dalton Sts., where I spent many a night and predawn from 1992 to 1995, seasonally.

Do I give a thumbs-up or -down to Megabus and its service for this jaunt?  So far, it’s a mixed bag.  The trip from Cincinnati to Atlanta was not helped by the fact that the seat’s lights did not work.  Even though I didn’t have a seatmate, I didn’t have enough elbow room for typing, so I wasn’t able to blog last night.  Since there were no lights, that meant no reading.  My Nook’s screen is not illuminated, so I couldn’t even use that.  And of course, no light meant no writing in my diary, either.

There’s an odd juxtaposition on this trip as well.  The bus to Atlanta had its heater on full blast, and I sat in my seat fully comfortable wearing a T-shirt and jeans.  This coach, however, I have my down jacket on and would consider putting on my gloves but would not be able to type if I did.  I’ve experimented with opening and closing the vents above my seat, but it still feels cold enough to hang meat in here.

But, it’s worth it for the view I am getting.  This almost feels like looking through the Plexiglas window of a cockpit.  I’m seeing what the driver is seeing, and I have ample room to type.  Plus, I have two electrical outlets.  I’m charging my phone with one, and I’ve plugged this laptop into the other.  Our arrival time in Orlando is 4:30, with a lunch stop in Tifton, Ga. around 11 or 11:30 and letting off passengers in Jacksonville.

The bus to Atlanta let off passengers in Lexington, Knoxville, and Chattanooga, but there were no stops for food.  My stomach is rumbling a little right now, but knowing there is a food stop in the near future is worth the wait.  Plus, there is nothing to do but ride it out at the moment.

Rain is now pelting the glass in front of me.  It almost feels like we’re going through a car wash.  I just checked AT&T Navigator on my phone, and it says we are in Byron, Ga. at the moment.  According to The Weather Channel’s Website, however, Merritt Island is partly cloudy and 71 degrees.  When Steph and Susie meet me at the drop-off place on Semoran Blvd. in Orlando, I’m sure I’ll be a sight stepping into that weather wearing my heavy down coat, with a toboggan hat and gloves protruding from the pockets.

I am not sorry that I decided to take Megabus to Orlando, instead of flying the crowded skies with Southwest Airlines, but I get more impatient as every hour of this trip passes.  “The road is always better than the inn,” sayeth Cervantes.  (When I was doing lighting for Man of La Mancha in high school, I was disappointed that line never made it into the show.)

My impatience comes from being eager to see Susie.  She is now accepted at three colleges: Stetson University, Seton Hall, and Ohio University.  She has just finished doing sound for Surfside Players’ production of A Christmas Story, and so she is looking forward to some R&R, both in Florida and when she and I fly back to Columbus Saturday morning.

But I’ll still be doing some fatherly things while we’re in Florida.  She is applying for a scholarship through AFSCME (the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, of which I have been a card-carrying member for the past decade), and I plan to make sure that all is in order before we mail the application packet to their headquarters in Washington.  I’ve been coaching/nagging her via the Internet since I learned about the scholarship.  It has to be postmarked by New Year’s Eve, so I am not being neurotic about our being under the gun, time-wise.

The other parent task I’m doing in Florida is taking Susie to a blood draw on Friday morning.  Her doctor ordered some blood work done after Susie’s last appointment, so she and I are going to the clinic Friday.  (And I’ll buy her an ice cream cone afterward if she’s good.)

My guess is that I’m impatient about the road and wanting to get to the inn because of the people that await me there.  I will be making many frequent trips to Athens in time to come, but the full explanation about that is material for a future entry.

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