amw (amw) wrote,

America's islands

I wanted to write before i left on this trip, but i didn't get around to it. Work was destroying me, so i booked a vacation. I started with a week in Windsor to see R, then left two weeks to make my way across the country to San Francisco for our annual company trip. I just wanted to feel free. No plans. No cars. Just heading west, alone. And that's what i've been up to. Started two days ago in Detroit.

Sep 23 Detroit -> Muskegon

Leaving Detroit and driving through Ann Arbor is wacky. Everyone is suddenly white. The stores are all nice n pretty. I guess this is the wholesome Midwest you see in the movies.

Things got greener too. It's overcast here. And the leaves are taking their last jade breaths before the fall.

There's apparently only one hotel in Muskegon, and it's a pricey one. The other options are motels, but they are all miles out of town. I don't mind to walk a few km with my backpack, but walking 3+ miles after sunset is not really my idea of fun.

It never really occurred to me there might not be any hotels close to the bus stops...


If Ann Arbor was the postcard Midwest town, Jackson has more of that rust belt grit. It's all a bit shabby, and no one is walking around. Plenty of churches. But that's true everywhere. America is ridiculously religious.


We paused briefly in Lansing. Coffee and a bgel with nothing on it. This might become a staple, trying to stay vegan on the Greyhound.

We're pulling into Grand Rapids now. Not far to go. God this gray sky is dismal. Gray sky, green bushes and big cars. It seems like Michigan is a big swamp.


Muskegon, here we are! Sitting at a sports bar downtown. It's still chill right now, but apparently it turns clubby later on.

I am thinking of trying to catch the 10am tomorrow. That means up at the crack of dawn and walking down in the hope of jumping on around 9. I think it'll be okay. There ain't much going on in this town. Or, not yet.

Heh. The hotel i booked cost a goddamned fortune, but i booked because it was "close" to downtown. It isn't really. Or, well, it is, but there is nothing in between. A freeway and a bunch of parking lots.

America, fuck yeah.

Sep 24 Muskegon -> ???

God i got wasted last night. Started drinking alone. A lady at the bar pulled up next to me and started telling me her life story. Convicted felon, did time for stabbing her abusive father, two kids, different baby daddies, no custody, ex-heroine addict, current crack addict. What are you going to do? She left to get crack. I turned down the offer to come with. Look at me all grown up n shit.

Later the bar turned into a hip-hop joint. I am not into hip-hop at all, but trap is about as close as i'm going to get to electronic music in America, so i danced anyway. I'm sure the locals were all rather amused at the old white trannie attempting to pop n lock. I'm a drunk. I have a hangover.

Now i'm on a boat.

I practically ran 3 miles with a pack on to get to the ferry this morning. I didn't think it'd be so far away, but holy hell. Welcome to America.

Perhaps i should just stay in Milwaukee tonight. Get to bed early. Sleep. It's either here or Madison, and i'm not sure i'm up to running around looking for a bus. There's no wi-fi on the ferry so i am going to have to figure it out when i get there.


Holy crap Wisconsin is green. Crazy green.

Note to self.... what is a "crash investigation site"!?

Sep 25 Madison -> Minneapolis

Madison was pretty. It reminded me Ann Arbor - or, at least, what i saw of Ann Arbor out the window of a Greyhound. Lots of people walking and cycling. Lots of cafés and restaurants and a pleasant vibe.

Of course, the bus stop i thought i was stopping at had moved, so i had another few km to walk to my hotel. By the time i got there i was wiped. Ordered in some amazing Indonesian food and passed out.

I wandered around a bit more this morning before getting on the Megabus. It's all very clean and new. The downtown area feels like Vancouver. Except American, so most of the waterfront is on private land and inaccessible to normal people.

Now it's time to head through the farm land again. Passing by all the quirky diners and landmarks i'd love to stop at if i was driving. Watching America go by.

I have been in touch with the SPAM museum, which is the only place i really wanted to visit in the Midwest. There is no bus that goes there, but the "spambassadors" have offered to drive me there and back from a nearby town. I am awfully tempted to accept their Midwestern hospitality. It's probably my only chance to see the Americana i would like to on this trip.

Somehow i didn't expect the buses would skip all that. It's amazing how many decent-sized towns have absolutely no train or bus service at all. Completely isolated little islands, accessible only by car. There is only one bus through South Dakota, it runs once a day and arrives in Billings after midnight. Wild. I'll worry about that after Minnesota though.
Tags: travel

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