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Saturday, June 04, 2005

Upon Northern Roads

A Continuation from the Past Two Blogs:
A The destination lay before us like a rare gem that sparkles amidst impossible crevices and caverns. Our minds became turned onto the venture northwards for the wedding cake, bachelor mayhem, and the Bojarski’s and friends, all wrapped up into what seemed to be, that faraway land, Canada. The whole next leg of our journey proved its impossibility in the frustrating hours. It was already decided that Ryan and I could not rent a car and embark by sedan. Ryan was too young to rent for a cheap enough price and I was short my license, thanks to Alabama’s Department of Transportation Safety and my lead foot. By train was a likely possibility but the train was not leaving through the night and we planned to be across the northern borderline by Thursday morning. Hitchhiking? This ran on a completely unpredictable time frame. Nice if we had a month. We had one night. So we were forced into the last choice, the absolute final resort that anybody getting anywhere would fall back on. –That is Greyhound Bus. We had done our research and knew that Greyhound left at 11:30 that same night and that tickets should be available straight from NYC to Montreal.
So come an hour or two before bus time we stroll into NYC’s rough bus station only to find that bus tickets to Montreal are completely unattainable for us. You see, from what Ryan and I knew about crossing the border, no passport was necessary, however for some strange reason Greyhound does not sale tickets up to Canada without their passengers showing their passports. Well, I had mine. It was the only documentation I had since my license had been suspended. But Ryan didn’t think to bring his. How could he be blamed? He’s from Washington, if anyone should know of Can-Amer relations it should be him. For he is practically Canadian himself, at least to the folks down from around my neck of the woods. However, Greyhound, that stubborn mastiff stood unyielding and unreasonable and drooling in their ridiculous, guard dog policies. It mattered little that the actual border patrol would let us pass through, it was just Greyhound’s policy; no passport, no ticket to Canada. What a stupid bind all this was! Two guys going to Canada, one has a license but not a passport, the other idiot has a passport but no license. Sounds like the beginning of a bad Canadian joke, “How many Americans does it take to cross the most peaceful borderline in the history of mankind, Eh?” Definitely more than two, obviously.
We were backed up against the odds. We had no other option. So we saw about buying tickets for the most northern town in the state of New York that was closest to our Canadian destination. This town was Messina. I had been there before. I had shopped in its dollar store. It was where my first entry back into the US on my return from Russia took place. This was all fine and great but we would be in Canada a day late, and the bus ride would be a long, laborious ride of 11 hours.
The next morning we got up and headed for the bus station. The bus nearly packed with some very rough looking characters going from NYC to Albany. And before long we were off under the waters in the tunnels that lead from Manhattan Island to the New Jersey side. Now, I’m not that familiar with the Northeast but I believe that in order to go to Canada from NYC, it would mean going straight north and hitting no other states along the way. New Jersey lay to the southwest of New York. It began to puzzle me after 2 hours of seeing New Jersey state tags and New Jersey billboard signs. Where in the world was Greyhound taking us? Just then rumors began to circulate in irritated murmurs around the bus that we were lost. Lost?! I laughed just like I was in the David Letterman show again. How could we be lost? We’re on a Greyhound bus with an experienced driver. You don’t get lost on a Greyhound bus! That’s like an airplane pilot getting the shivers from heights. It’s absurd. Just then the bus driver got on an intercom and asked, “It seems that we have missed a turn, does anybody happen to have a map?” The whole bus talked among themselves in agitated whimpers. Tempers flared. Then a bald-headed truck driver came to the rescue from sitting and talking very loudly in the back. He got up very dignified, answering the bus station version of “Is there a doctor in the house?” which runs, “Is there a truck driver on board?” He mossied up towards the front and showed the confused bus driver where the shortcuts were and also in what direction we were supposed to be going. People were angry in the New England sort of way. Then the bus driver lashed back, feeling like she needed to defend her incompetence from the knowledge of others. She spoke in the intercom saying something about had we rather be back waiting in a parking lot somewhere? I couldn’t understand her. At that point Ryan and I were so caught up in the excitement of the moment that we went through my wallet and looked for phone numbers of people we could call and share with them are exciting predicament. There is nothing like knowing that you’re that rare friend who calls one’s other friends at random times only to announce that you are somewhere lost in New Jersey on a Greyhound Bus. I love being that guy. –And I honestly believe my friends deep down somewhere wish they could be that guy also.
The bus hauled itself through the Hudson River Valley, which was known through the stories of Washington Irving. This is the mysterious country where Rip Van Winkle was said to have made his long, undisturbed slumber. This is also Sleepy Hollow country where a headless horseman was said to wander. Well, in no time we were back on track. The road took us northwards, finally to Albany. At Albany nearly 3/4ths of the passengers arrived at their destination, but for us we weren’t even a quarter of the way there. Because of the delay at getting lost and everything, we had missed our next bus. Not to worry. Greyhound had ways to assuage everyone’s anger that had missed their bus due to their driver’s mistake. All remaining passengers that were going into Upstate New York piled onto one bus. Before long we were all being transported off, guided, thankfully by another driver. Immediately upon getting back on board, I saw these 3 girls rather young looking. Then, I heard them speaking. And without a doubt, through the accent of their foreign tongue, I heard that long-lost Russian language that I haven’t heard in so long. I said, “Ez Vanee”, which means, “Excuse me” as I squeezed past them, and they immediately stared and laughed. Then we all began talking. I couldn’t believe that I remembered so much, let alone knew, so much Russian. They spoke decent English as well. They all turned out to be only 3 days into America and were going to work in these lodge-like camps in the Adirondacks for the summer. So there I was, I couldn’t believe my luck, after all the trouble I’d been through, here I sat on a bus rolling through some of the most beautiful looking hills with 3 Russian girls giving you their undivided attention. They were all 19 with prettiness streaming from their eyes. And that’s when the enticement of the minute almost subdued me. Yes, I moved over beside one of them so stealthily and I began to show them my passport and all the places I’d been. I was sitting next to this particular scrumptious blonde with chocolate eyes. Somewhere inside me a battle raged. Crazed ideas popped into my head. Before long I noticed as we flipped through our passports that I had my hand laying on her knee. Goodness! What was I doing? I looked over at Ryan and he was talking with his wife on his cell phone. “Well, he’s got his release, why can’t I have mine?” I thought. How should I go about this? Should I begin to talk lower and lower and until she is leaning over so close, her ear inches away from my lips, and then…and then what? The whole bus is nearly empty, especially in the back. With a giggle and a bemused expression I just might be able to hook this one and invite her for a little flirtation, all alone in the back. The thought of it all, arms entwined with this cute Russian lass in the back seat of a bus as we went over hills and under hills cutting our way through the unknown countryside. Why? From my experience love is fleeting; love is inconstant. Let’s burn it all the way till it’s doomed end. The heart has fires that blaze for a short instant, and then die out due to the winds. Love is spinning like the wheels of the bus that go round and round. Dear unknown foreigner let me hold you in my arms and kiss your eyelids and whisper of unattainable destinations. The highway stretches and weaves around the bend. That mountain out the window, there, in the distance will never look the same as it does now. Seconds later all will have changed. These bus wheels keep spinning around and I wonder what it will be like just to hold that mist that crowns those mountains; but no, it will pass by as everything does. I can only enjoy its brief enrapture as it rolls off the Adirondack mountainside. So, let our hearts enjoy each’s brief interlude of mist-like engulfment. I that mountain of rustic beauty and you that cloud of mysterious delight which topples off the cliffs whenever the winds blow. And our experience…let that be this bus zigzagging through such awe-induced scenery. Just then…I awaken from my daydream to realize what I am thinking. Back in forth I fight. Until I am certain that if they were to ride but an hour longer, such a thing might occur. Then it is their stop at Lake George and we swap email addresses and I give her this blogsite. Oh no! She might be reading this! Oh well……yes, my dear dyedushka…only an hour longer and what a time we might have shared.
We ride on and on going past steeper mountains and breath-taking scenes. We change buses again and this time on Trailways which is a better company than Greyhound. I told Ryan what I had the idea to do back there with those Russian girls; he responds…how stupid it would have been. We begin talking to the bus driver. This time he is a really good New Yorker and goes on and on if asked a question. At 8:00 pm we finally arrive at Messina. We’re dropped off and the Canadians met us and pick us up to go across the border. We ride on the bridge over the St. Lawrence River talking about our trip and ready to be in Canada and in bed for I only had 2 hours of sleep the night before….to be continued….


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