Published: September 20th 2006September 20th 2006
Beer prices at the store
Beer here is so cheap! a 30 pack for $13? whoa!!!! I'll go for two!!!
I woke up first thing and raced down towards the coffee shop to get a morning fix of caffeine before I left today for Kansas City. It did wake me up but that was because of its horrible taste! Yuck! I think the beans must have been under roasted or something, the coffee tasted really raw and it wasn’t the best way to wake up.
I would have had to have gotten up at some random hour of the morning to catch the first bus over to Kansas City, instead I arrive at the terminal around 10am and the bus won’t leave here til about 2pm. I watch President Hugo Chavez’s tirade on CNN in the bus terminal and it’s actually great entertainment. I thought I was going to be bored for the next four or so many hours but this should be days worth when the media jumps all over President Chavez’ comments. During a commercial break, I walk over to the food stand and get a real caffeine fix - Coca Cola! This oughta be good to wake me up the right way.
There seems to be a misunderstanding because I have asked for a medium and I receive what looks to be a supersize.
“Hey man, I asked for a medium, not a large, and definitely not a supersize”.
The man shrugs his shoulders and then brings out a behemoth of a cup and says, “No, this is supersize”. That would be enough to last me through four days of President Chavez tirades and the political bickering back and forth.
There’s a man going around asking who is going to KC today. He hasn’t asked me yet and even still, I’m not going to say I am. I place my bags in a line leading from a departure door; this is the equivalent to lining up outside a rock concert waiting to get in. It’s first in first served on the bus and sooner or later I spot three guys that I will be sharing the bus with. They’re all wearing the same white singlet, the same grey tracksuit pants and they’re also carrying a paper bag each full of possessions. Who knows what mischief these three got up to, to get themselves in this situation, but they all looked mean. They were all on the phone, telling their loved ones they were coming home. Whether or not they would be received in is another issue altogether.
By the time it’s almost departure time, the terminal is filling up and I’m a little worried that there might not be enough room on the bus for everyone. Thank God I had my bags in the line, right? Wrong. There are people just filing in from everywhere and it looks like I am going to have to fight for my right to go all the way to KC. After all, I was one of the first people to have the bags in the line; I should be up there. Nup. Greyhound is definitely first come, first served and by the time I put my bags on the bus, I’m fighting for survival. The female bus driver exerts some authority on the bus outside, telling everyone to stay in one line or else there will be hell to pay. Once everyone (yes, everyone. I’m not sure how they did it, but everyone got on) is on the bus, again she makes sure that she is the boss, but she makes a slight joke and we all know she is cool, she’s just doing her job.
The bus ended up leaving half an hour late but the driver sounded as if time would be made up on the road. It didn’t help that there was only one toilet at Columbia (the first major stop) and it seemed like the whole bus had to go. Once again, the bus driver exerted her vibrant authority on everyone, “this bus ain’t movin’ til I get my groove on!”.
The bus was running later than ever but I gave Ginny a call to make sure she wasn’t waiting too long. After all, she was so excited that I was coming to see her - she says I’m her first international visitor (apart from the Mexicans she has to deal with every day at her work).
There’s one dude from the jail with his girlfriend, or maybe he conned his way into putting his arm around her - after all it looked like they just met at the bus terminal. The other jail dudes seem to be at the back of the bus but they’re probably catching up on lost sleep, something I also do before hitting KC.
There’s a bit of confusion when I get off the bus at KC. As the Greyhound buses interconnect with one another, the majority of the bus needs to make a mad dash to their next bus from here. Once again, the mass panic sets in and everyone rummages through the undercarriage of the bus as if there’s a million dollars in one of the bags. There’s no driver here to exercise her vibrant authority anymore. In the mess, my bags have been neatly placed by the side of the bus from the wrath of the scavengers. Ginny and her little brother Jeff are here to greet me instantly before we head on a grand tour of downtown KC.
Ginny tells me that there are some places of KC that are downright unsafe and we just happen to be driving through those very areas right now. Shootings are commonplace but they tend to be drug related or ongoing conflicts between people. There’s also the problem of urban sprawl. Everything is spread out and whenever a big shopping mall opens, its not on top of another one - its next to an existing one, and the older mall will end up closing down and nothing gets done about it.
At her place, Ginny got some new hardwood floors done. They look awesome and I’m sure her two cats Sally and Baby will love them. That’s a grand total of three cats I’ve spent time with, excluding the pack of feral cats that were hanging around the back of the hostel in St Louis.
Jeff and Gin have a smoke and Tim comes out of his basement to say hello. I almost called him ‘Hubby’, what Gin calls him on her LiveJournal. He’s a postie with the USPS. Tonight, he can’t come out. Besides, he’s got it all made in his basement. Xbox, TV, Internet on his PC - I asked Jeff if he’s ever stayed there all day as it sounds like a technological bunker down there.
Meanwhile, the three of us are going to a brewery on 75th St. At first I think it’s a student night, but a sign above the bar is the main reason why so many people are here - “75c Beers All Night, Tonight!” The 75th St Brewery (http://www.360kc.com/Restaurants/75thStreetBrewery.html) brews some Gold Medal beers and then you only have to pay 75c! Tonight! Ginny tells me in her day, she could be heaven here, but she’s no longer drinking. Jeff and I are deeply tempted but we stay dry tonight out of respect for Gin. She loves her nachos, so much that our entrÃ©e needs a top up of sauce but the waiters are scarce. One is way too busy bringing a tray full of 20 75c beers to a table of eager youngeons. It’s a wonder that Ginny can resist her urges. The pizza was a great distraction, with a very thing base, which made for even quicker eating.
We went back to Gin’s place for a while before it was a good time for me to start looking for somewhere to stay for the night. Hostelling isn’t as big of an idea in the USA (and especially in the Midwest) as say, Australia or Europe. I found a few hotels in my research that Gin and Jeff told me were in pretty rough areas! So it was into Kansas State for a room at the Red Roof Inn. Or the ‘Red Light Inn’ as my sister Toni called it. She was right though, because a burly man came in straight after me and said, “Tom, you know I need a room RIGHT NOW - I’m ready to GO!” Big burly man left the engine running of his big black pick up truck and in the front passenger seat was a very pretty lady. I just hope they wouldn’t bang away on the room next to mine…
St Louis - Kansas City: 262 miles
Total American Miles: 4320 miles
Total Miles: 11740 miles