Friday, July 28, 2006
From Nacogdoches to Lincoln
The bus ride from Kilgore, Texas to Omaha, Nebraska went well. Nothing on it compared to the indescribable beauty of the sky-scraping Sears Tower in Chicago, but then nothing compared to the hideous awfulness of travel in the American South, either. All in all a fair trip. It also was quite social, with Rob driving me from Nacogdoches to Kilgore, and Lady of tdaxp ferrying me from Omaha to Lincoln.
But before some neat pictures and regular travel commentary, a word on "Steve." Steve (Me: "What's your last name?" Him: "You don't need to know.") was my terrible, terrible bus driver from Kansas City to Omaha. I have no idea if "Steve" is a real name or a nom de autobus, but whatever that creature is legally known is he was the driver of Jefferson Lines JL-0502 on between roughly 8 AM and 12 PM, Friday, July 28, 2006.
My friendly encounter with Steve began as follows
Steve: That (pointing to my second carry-on bag) is not coming on the bus.
Me: Why not? What is the problem?
Steve: Don't get smart with me. That's not coming on the bus. It needs to be checked.
Me: It's been carried on nine trips so far this journey. It is the correct size and weight for a carry-on.
Steve: Listen, that's not coming on the bus.
Me: I'll go over to the Information Desk, and ask them if there is a problem with my carry-on.
Steve: Do you want me to call the police? I'll have you escorted out of here. When you work for Jefferson Line for twenty-five years, you can tell me about their Standard Operating Procedure.
Steve's general build and his hilarious use of military terminology (from his quixotic, personal "SOP" to his hilarious use of the word "tarmac" to refer to "parking lot") imply a background in the United States Air Force. His personality does not. I am fortunate enough to count several Air Force officers among my first friends. The way these men conduct themselves -- their combination of warmth and seriousness -- always impresses me. Military service, to any country, is a serious business, and I am always impressed by how patriotism and true manliness bring out the best in each other.
Clearly, Steve was an exception.
That rant over, let's begin the photo tour!
Kilgore, Texas (a town that always brings to mind an extremely embarrassing moment from a 2000 Campaign, when Vice President Gore attempted levity with a woman from that town) is an oil town. Oil rigs were everywhere.
Compared to rainy Houston, Dallas was gorgeous. Even pictures took from inside the book looked great. This is undoubtedly the best interior shot I took the entire trip.
I was in Dallas for a little more than an hour, so I took the time to explore Downtown. The Magnolia Building is particularly impressive, with a neat skywalk a la Petronas Twin Towers, Kuala Lumpur.
Nighttime went relatively quickly. A huge gentleman across and behind me snored worse than I thought possible, but once he got off in Topeka I was able to sleep for a few hours. I awoke in Kansas City, Kansas, and took this picture as arrived near the bus station in that city's Missouri-state twin.
Finally, back in Lincoln. The Cornhuskers' Memorial Stadium and downtown greet travelers.
There may be a "best off" photo collection or two, but this concludes the real-time photoblogging of my trip to Indiana and Texas. I hope it hasn't been a waste of your time.
How many states have you explored?
so, are you ready to admit that riding Greyhound is always bad? ;-)
(and what are they doing spelling it with an 'e' anyway? 'hey James Bond, in America we spell it with an 'a'! ;-)
Posted by: Sean | Friday, July 28, 2006
I like Dallas better than Houston, but Austin better than Dallas. Did you drive by the "grassy knoll" in Dallas. Last time I was in Dallas, a cab driver gave me the JFK tour on the way to the airport.
Steve could have been in the Air Force, but "SOP" and "tarmac" are really used by all the services, so there's really no telling what he was. If he was Air Force, I am guessing he used to work for SAC (back in the day) or maybe he was a Security Forces dude. Sounded like he was treating that bus like it was a B-52 on nuclear alert. "nom de autobus"...that's funny.
Hey! No pics of my "beloved" Omaha?!
Posted by: Sonny | Friday, July 28, 2006
Sorry to hear of another unpleasant experience. Still a hell of a way to spend part of the summer. I have never been able to explore that part of the country and envy you something fierce. More likely than not that guy was some former MP, still poorly adjusting to a civilian world where his incompetence is not so easily hidden behind a facade of intimidation and power.
Posted by: Eddie | Saturday, July 29, 2006
Ironically, "Steve" was a driver for Jefferson Lines, a smaller company that contracts with Greyhound. Up until Steve, my experience with JL was extremely high. Jefferson buses are typically not more than half-full, oftne less, and the people are friendlier. (Then again, it was on a Jefferson that a trio of serious West Virginians discussed the relative merits of the Voodoo Cult v. Masons, and concluded that while the Voodoo cult may ensare unsuspecting young men in devlish traps, at least they aren't canibalistic. Hmm....)
I didn't go near any grassy knoll, to the best of my knowledge.
SAC is probable -- Omaha is the headquarters, after all. I know one other Air Force vet with a similar personality to Steve, and he was also SAC. If SAC purposefully hires for that personality type, then that might be a good thing. Nuclear weaponry really is an area where a "zero-defects policy" might be a good idea.
On deciding if a young man may take his pillow and blanket on board a bus, though, it might not be.
Ummm... I did take two pictures of Omaha. One of a power plant (the first thing one sees from the southern approach on I29) , the other of world-famous Omaha Zoo .
The trip was amazing. I am way grateful to Rob and Dave for hosting me. Plus I added anywhere from 39 to 65 electoral votes worth of states visited 
Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Saturday, July 29, 2006
If "Steve" was based out of Omaha, there is a better chance that he was and old SAC hand. SAC no longer exists and its assests wered divided between Air Combat Command (ACC) and the Air Force Space Command (AFSPC). ACC has the bombers and AFSPC has the ICBMs. Offut AFB, near Omaha (closer to Bellevue) still houses STRATCOM HQ which is a joint command as opposed to an Air Force major command like SAC was.
Cool pics of Omaha. I missed those the first time around. I'll try to visit the zoo next time I have to visit STRATCOM which I hope is never, but you know how things work.
Were you able to get your pillow and and blanket onboard Steve's bus?
Posted by: Sonny | Sunday, July 30, 2006
"Were you able to get your pillow and and blanket onboard Steve's bus?"
Haha! If there was a good way to make me look petty and childish, you found it! :-)
(The direct answer is "no," which sucks, as it ruins the ability to nap easily. *sigh*)
Thanks for the info on the military command structure.
Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Monday, July 31, 2006