A Greyhound Memory: My Wild Road Trip to Colorado

Excitement, wonder, tears and rejoice were just a handful of feelings expressed on my first road trip. Back when I graduated from high school, I booked a Greyhound with a friend bound for Denver. I had always wanted to travel the world, and I had never been able to since I was not only bound to my parent's household rules, but my parents were poor and could not afford to take my brothers and I anywhere outside a 50 miles radius of home. Thus, I contacted a friend from Denver, booked a ticket, a hotel, and failed to tell my parents until just a couple weeks before.

Were my parents mad? Of course, but I continued to be my sassy self and push that I could do what I want since I was 18. If they were going to kick me out of the house for this, then so be it because my dream was to explore new cultures, cuisines, cities, and people. I had even saved up enough money on my own from a job where I knew I could make enough to live on my own. Additionally, they were also mad I was meeting up with a friend that I had met through YouTube, who was also giving me a ride to my hotel and would be giving me tours of the Denver area. My parents at this time viewed meeting people on the internet as dangerous. I thought it wasn't dangerous at the time because I had Skyped my friend multiple times and had known her for several years through YouTube.

"This bus kind of scared me, but I knew I'd be fine..."

So, the trip persisted. I got on a Greyhound at 4:30 in the morning, which was my first culture shock experience. When I got on the bus, the bus was full of people with much darker skin tone than me. I grew up in a town that was probably 90 percent white, 9 percent Asian, and 1 percent other. At the time, getting on this bus kind of scared me, but I knew I'd be fine because we're all human (this is what happens when you're limited to your small Midwestern town).

Between the sunset, open road and self-freedom, the road to Denver was exhilarating. My first major layover was in Minneapolis where I went and explored downtown St. Paul. After realizing I had more time on my hands than I thought, my uncle picked me up to bring me to his cozy suburban home for food and drinks. The several small stops after that included many small towns in Minnesota and Iowa. I picked up snacks here and there at those stops, and then transferred somewhere outside Des Moines.

This was the smallest Greyhound station possibly ever. It felt like I was in the middle of nowhere with a bunch angry, cramped, mad, ill people. While inside the station was cramped and sweaty, the outside was nothing but sand/dirt and fumes from the few Greyhounds that were all late to picking up riders. There was also absolutely no direction as to what "terminal" was which, except for the angry drivers inaudibly yelling at riders. Nevertheless, I managed to find my bus. The next stretch was to Omaha where I would be transferring to around midnight for Denver.

This transfer was supposed to be seamless and only have about a fifteen-minute layover. However, the employees seemed to have no idea where the transfer driver for my bus was, so the layover turned into more of an hour or more layover. Unfortunately, I couldn't even explore outside of the station because the station was in a bad part of the city. All that was left for entertainment at this dental-practice-sized station was the seats, vending machines with unknown munchies, and a handful of us riders. Then the bus finally arrived closer to 1am. The final stretch would bring me to Denver.

This was the most exciting stretch since I would get to meet my friend in person for the first time. Denver ended up being as beautiful as I had imagined. It was like a beautified, more spacious Minneapolis. As I made it out of the terminal, I spotted my friend almost immediately. It was exciting, but almost awkward because it was like seeing a newscaster in person when you only have seen them on TV. However, we had a blast!

I don't remember everything that I got to do during my stay in Denver, but here are the highlights: I visited lots of pubs, coffee shops, and restaurants; Went to a modern museum; Walked several times up and down the main shopping street downtown; Hiked up a mountain; Hiked up Castle Rock; Took more forms of public transportation than I had ever imagined there was; And went swimming. Overall, it was a beautiful city. Again, I had a bit of a culture shock experiencing homeless life for the first time. There was many homeless individuals and groups roaming the streets commonly talking to themselves. In this case, I had prepared myself to try not to talk with this group of people since I had been warned that they could be dangerous, but it was still mind boggling to my young mind at the time.

Then came the trip back home, which was not as successful as the trip to Denver. I experienced at least a five hour or more delay at the Denver Greyhound station. I was scared, tired, and felt helpless. Little did I know, the Denver Greyhound station is notorious for having all their lines extremely delayed. Eventually, I did manage to get on a bus to the first transfer location, but the employees put my luggage on a different bus than me. I tried to fight for them to be on my own bus, but they refused explaining that it would end up at my ending destination. That was false.

"I was incredibly scared if I was even going to be able to find a ticket back home..."

When I arrived at the first transfer point, which was somewhere in Kansas. Here, I had missed my connecting bus due to the delay in Denver. Fortunately, the employees here were much more kind and got me on a different bus to my next transfer point within 45 minutes. However, this bus did not take me to where I needed to go; It took me from somewhere in Kansas to Indianapolis (I was supposed to go to Des Moines, Iowa). When I got to Indianapolis, the employees were confused as to why the last station sent me here. Indianapolis was the place where tears were shed because I was incredibly scared if I was even going to be able to find a ticket back home instead of continuing to head out East. Thankfully, the employees here managed to reroute me to Chicago, but I had to make a mad dash to the bus since it was due to leave in just a couple minutes. Of course, I managed to make it on the bus.

While Chicago ended up being a piece of cake to have a short layover in, I began to realize how dirty and grimy you get when traveling by bus. Not having access to showers or your luggage is a major downfall to traveling by bus for multiple days. By this point, I at least felt comforted knowing that I was for sure going to make it home in one piece.

Once back home, I came to realize that my luggage in fact had not followed me back. I ended up having to report my luggage as missing and had to wait two weeks for my luggage to arrive after I had arrived home. Long story short, I would never suggest a Greyhound bus when going on long trips, especially if you are going through Denver. Experiencing angry, lying employees is not something anyone should have to deal with. If you don't have access to a car, I would suggest flying.

I will not be taking a Greyhound anymore in the future due to this experience, but since this trip, I have returned to the Denver area due to how much I enjoyed the state of Colorado. If you haven't been out to Colorado, everyone leaves with nothing but great experiences, so I would still suggest it as a must-see. Additionally, I don't regret the trip at all. I believe everyone should have the chance to experience challenges like I did because it really makes a person grow.

Do you have any stories you'd like to share? Leave them in the comments below!