Riverside Trip

Greyhound_Bus_Lines-logo-C84A1D486A-seeklogo.comLast week I attended the SFRA-Eaton Conference that was set in Riverside, California. It’s a science fiction academic conference. It was a good conference and I enjoyed it very much. In fact, it was a good break for me. Yet since I am a broke mother fucker, I had to think of creative ways to get over there. The thought of did cross my mind. Then again, putting miles on the car and spending the gas did not agree with my budget for the trip. I looked at the local geography and flying in would prove to be too complicated. Flying in to John Wayne or LAX would have me renting a car and so forth. Inspecting the area around the conference, I found that Greyhound was very close by. Not only that, the hotel I was planning on staying at was only a hop, skip and a walk away. Why not? I wasn’t planning to go off exploring the greater Los Angeles area, not at that moment at least; conferences, well these to be exact, go all day and since I did pay a good amount to attend (I do pay out of my pocket, I’m not at that level yet where it is free and paid by my department) it was important I enrich myself with everything I can and attend the panels I found interesting throughout the day instead of fucking around aimlessly.

The price was the selling point. Less than $40 dollars for a trip to and back. Before I typed in my card number. I did have a conversation with myself on what I was getting into.

“Now you know what Greyhound is? Right Ricardo?” I asked myself.

“Yes. I know,” I responded back to myself.

“It is shitty and it is no Southwest Airlines trip in 40 minutes. You know the cliental that use Greyhound.”

“Yes. I do know. But five hours in a bus for $40 bucks. Meh… not too shabby.”

“$160 more will give you a piece of mind and safety in a flight. Then a small hour or two drive to Riverside. You dont’ have to deal with all the riffraff.”

“Yes. I know. But $40 dollars!”

“You’re a fucking idiot.”

“I have no choice in the matter. I only got one class this semester teaching.”

So I bought the tickets. Made plans and the whole thing was that I would drive in, walk a few blocks to the hotel. The hotel I was staying at was cheap and the best thing was that it was right in front of the Marriott where the conference was being held. I patted myself on the back for planning using the budget I was on.
I got together with my good buddy Junior, who wanted to buy me a beer for my birthday that passed a day or two before. We met and watched the second half of the NCAA men’s basketball championship. I explained my plan and trip. The bad thing was that I was going to be on the road as FC Barcelona played in the Champions League; an important game they needed to win. I was grieving that I would not witness the spectacle. I told him I was going to be locked in on my twitter feed for updates. He looked at me and then said:

“You know criminals travel on Greyhound.”

Awww fuck. He was right. But I had a feeling even criminals have smart phones so they would be on them too. Why in the hell would anyone want to steal a cheap Iphone 4? I mean, if I had the 5 that’s understandable. Even they would see that it was a cheap old phone. Anyway, I put my fears away and when the day came; I was dropped off at the Greyhound station to a nice surprise.

At the station, while in line to get in, I was talking with this white Cowboy Fella who talked too much. One of those gentle souls that would really be in his natural element out on the range. He was talking a lot. Too fucking much to be exact. I bet he would carry conversations with horses for hours out in the ranch talking about what cowboys talk about with horses. Anyway, he had a couple of bags with rodeo paraphernalia and a big-ass hat so I knew he was legit. That and he was chewing on some cud. When I asked him on how was the job market for cowboys he gave me a good explanation on life on ranches, whiskey and women he’s had over the years. I think he told me too much on that aspect. This Cowboy Fella reminded me of Slim Pickens.

50503_222037311896_2591390_nThis is Slim Pickens, the actor. Not the Cowboy Fella. In fact, I wanted to tell him that but I thought he would take offense. While in line waiting to get on the bus, there was this Russian Lady, a mature woman of age, who came into the conversation. In her thick Russian accent, she wanted to know if the bus went to Santa Anna, California, when the Cowboy Fella asked where the Russian lady was from, she asked about his hat. The Cowboy Fella then said how would an American cowboy fair in Russia? She then responded with an answer that included a reference to the film Brokeback Mountain.

“Ain’t nobody I have ever worked with in all my years in rodeos and ranches, ever do that,” said the Cowboy Fella. He took offense to it and was towering over the small Russian Lady.

“But it happens everywhere,” said the Russian Lady.

“No it doesn’t. No one I know does those things. That happens in the city with city folk. None of that happens with people I know or work with. Never!”

“But I know the grandfather of one of the actors. The one on the bottom.”

“Missus, I’ve been a cowboy for many, many years and that kind of stuff– Does. Not. Happen!”

And with that, the conversation turned to the climate and why those palm trees on Main street don’t grow any coconuts.

Over the loudspeaker they announced our bus drive and finally I got into the bus where I found a small happy place. It has been bus28n-1-webactually years, since I have gotten into a Greyhound bus. So to my surprise, was a monumental working of transportation technology. All it needed to do was to hover, make the tires slide into it’s body and fly into the sky. There were electrical sockets to plug in your laptop or phone and even better, which made my dick hard, there was Internet. Which mean I could get on a stream and watch my team play. Life was good for at least a moment.

The bus ride was a maravilla. The bus was crisp and clean. There were no loud babies nor there were suspicious people around me so around 11:45 A.M. I popped my laptop open, found a stream and went on with my criminal enterprise of stealing a copyrighted television signal.

photoWhen we got to Barstow, after the game ended (my team won in case you’re wondering) the Cowboy Fella, who was in back of me, tapped me on the shoulder. He then gave me a horseshoe nail. I have no idea why. He then gave me an explanation on horseshoe nails and how they work. He spoke proceed on till we passed Victorville, to tell me about the mechanics of shoe fitting and ranging. Interesting conversation to say the least. Nothing about Brokeback Mountain or those lonely nights in the hills ever came up within our discussion.

I get to Riverside and to make the story short, I had a good conference. I had the opportunity to meet with two of my high school buddies, one who I have not seen in over twenty years. It was good time. Yet I think the bookends are the most important aspect of this trip and is the purpose of this entry. The trip back to Vegas was interesting, which culminated in why, I believe, that one must relish the small, minute, happy moments in life. Because in an instant, life could go to hell.  I realized humanity, is indeed, horrible; there is no God, priests rape little children and puppies are killed on a daily basis and sorry to say it, bu there are no unicorns nor Care Bears, so, I really have no faith in humanity, especially after my ride back.

Continued in Part 2


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