It’s Worse Than an 11-Hour Bus Ride.

I hate buses. Even more, I hate it when a train ride I’d been looking forward to suddenly becomes a long bus ride because of a mudslide or a freight train derailment or work on the tracks. The longest unexpected bus ride I’ve ever experienced occurred on a trip when my plan was to take the Sunset Limited from Los Angeles to Orlando—obviously, this was before Hurricane Katrina—rent a car there and drive down to Fort Myers where my parents were living in retirement.
I can’t remember the reason now, but several hours before reaching New Orleans, we were informed that the train would terminate there and Amtrak was going to bus all of us through passengers to Orlando.
We had gotten that unpleasant news several hours before the Sunset reached New Orleans and I had been frantically thinking of various Plan B’s. One was to overnight in New Orleans and catch the next train, but the Sunset only runs three days a week. That would have meant not one, but three unplanned and unbudgeted hotel nights in New Orleans . . . time I had been planning to spend with my family in Fort Myers.
Another idea, and at the time it seemed like a much better one, was to rent a car in New Orleans and drive straight to Fort Myers. That would actually save some time, since there would be no need to go all the way to Orlando. When I mentioned the idea to one of the conductors, he scoffed. “Son,” he said, “It’s Mardi Gras in N’awlins. Jesus Christ Himself couldn’t get a rental car tonight!”
I ended up spending eleven hours on the Amtrak bus to Orlando, then another four hours in a rental car driving back across the state to Fort Myers on the Gulf Coast. Ugh! How I hate bus rides!
And then yesterday, confirming that opinion, I heard about the folks who were in a bus zooming along on an interstate from Washington to New York City when one of the passengers realized their driver was watching a movie on his smart phone. The passenger got some video of it and contacted the media. But get this: when the owner of the bus company, Gunther Charters, was asked about it, he said, “I tell these guys all the time, put the phone down.” Holy crap!!