You can now check out our cross-USA photo summary, too.
We got month-long Greyhound passes, which let you ride any Greyhound bus or affiliated line (e.g. Southeastern Stages). "Good" buses are express buses, which hopefully stop no more than once every ninety minutes. Sometimes we were put on local buses, which stop every twenty to thirty minutes. We logged at least nine DAYS (216 hours) of Greyhound bus riding.
Savannah, Atlanta, Lakeland, Dallas, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Flagstaff, the Grand Canyon, San Diego, Hollywood, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Salt Lake City, Denver, Columbia, Chicago: 17 cities in 31 days.
Savannah: we took a Grey Line tour with mom before the trip began, then went over at around 6:30 AM to catch an early bus to Atlanta.
Atlanta, via Athens, GA: like most cities we visited, we walked around downtown. We saw the Martin Luther King memorial park, the Underground (a 7+ acre underground mall), Olympic Park & the Olympic fountain, and rode MARTA's subway back to the station. I lost the locker ticket we needed to get our stuff, so I had to wait 45 minutes and pay $10 to get our stuff back in time for the 11:30 PM bus to Lakeland.
Lakeland, via Ocala and Tampa: grandma and grandpa hadn't returned from Iowa by the time we arrived, so we took the city bus to the Wal-Mart a mile from their house and walked to their front door. I forgot where grandpa had said the key was, so we waited for a while to get in. We saw the Lakeland flower gardens by the downtown lake.
Dallas, via Orlando: Aunt Ava and Uncle Don picked us up. We went to the Art Museum and the arboretum. We ate at several cafeterias and a Mexican restaurant, always managing to find something we could call "Vegan."
Albuquerque, via Amarillo: Amarillo was one of our first change-buses-at-3-AM stop. We only stayed in Albuquerque for three hours, waiting for a bus leaving for Santa Fe. We had a burrito with the Midwest's red chili on it.
Santa Fe: We saw Aaron Clauset, whom I have known (off and on) since around 1991. We attended a lecture with him at St. John's and ate at a neat Vegan-friendly restaurant, "the Global Cafe." We had to find our own accomodations for the first time. Our second day, we went to the American Indian Art Institute, the State Capitol, and walked around downtown for quite a while.
Flagstaff, via Albuquerque: We got in at around 6 AM, waited for two and a half hours, and then were picked up by Enterprise so that we could rent a car and drive to the Grand Canyon. Greyhound doesn't serve the Grand Canyon. When we got back to Flagstaff, we checked out their downtown and stopped at an Irish pub. Then we walked a mile back to the bus station.
Day trip to the Grand Canyon: We went to the South Rim. It costs $20 per car to get into the park. Thanks, US Government! There are three bus lines that serve the park, and after a few hours we figured out how to use them. The western bus line stops regularly along the rim, so we got out at one stop and hiked to the next. The eastern bus line is the least-used, and its last stop (Yaki Point) is the best Southern Rim view of the Canyon.
San Diego (from Flagstaff), via Phoenix: We were totally exhausted by now, because from Santa Fe to San Diego we'd slept for two straight nights on the bus. We stayed at the Hostelling International (HI) hostel downtown in the Gaslamp Quarter. We went to Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo, UCSD, La Jolla, and to two contemporary art museums. This one awesome artist is building cairns around the country and taking pictures of them over long periods of time.
Hollywood, via Los Angeles: Let's Go USA warned that the Los Angeles bus stop was in a dangerous neighborhood--and I guess it was--but this was the first time when I thought that people are overly scared of bus stations and bus passengers. Notably, Border Patrol police got on the bus from San Diego to LA, and interrogated people about their documents. You can't go anywhere in LA without a car, but fortunately the Hollywood stop is only a few blocks away from the Chinese Theater. We watched the premiere of Alex & Emma from across the street.
San Francisco, via Los Angeles: We stayed in the Tenderloin district, a poor downtown neighborhood that's a lot of fun to stay in. Lauren was creeped out by the hostel, but it was a good deal: only $40 a night for two people. We saw the Golden Gate bridge, Coit Tower, North Beach (which has good espresso due to its location in Little Italy), Fisherman's Wharf, Berkeley, and the cable car.
Portland: This HI hostel (the Northwest Portland location) was the best of any hostel. It was a two story house with a nice, well-kept kitchen, a friendly staff that could explain what to do in Portland, and lots of perks like business discounts and free local phone calls. We went to the river that cuts the city in half, saw the statue of "Portlandia" (a goddess?), went to the University, and got a map for the biggest independent bookstore ever, Powell's. I was sick but we still had a good time.
Seattle: Another good HI hostel near the waterfront. We missed a Blur concert by one day. We went up into the Space Needle, took the Monorail, walked up Seattle's big-as-San-Francisco hills to the two-story REI gigantor store, walked another 18 blocks to a Vegan cafe recommended in Let's Go USA, saw the first Starbucks and checked out the rest of Pike St Pier, and were rained on for a total of less than fifteen minutes.
Salt Lake City, via Butte, MT: we were going to go to Yellowstone National Park, but the Greyhound bus doesn't go to "West Yellowstone, Montana" anymore. We were approached by a Mormon in Butte. We stayed at a real dive, but it only cost $35, they picked us up from the station, and we were really near our new favorite fast food station: Taco Time. Taco Time deserves its own sentence: they will fry your pinto bean burrito in vegetable oil, they have non-dairy ice cream, they stock a salsa bar with fresh toppings like olives and green chili, and they have free cherry and vanilla flavors you can add to your soda. We sat in on a rehearsal of the Mormon Tabernacle's organist, walked to a Masonic temple, and saw the most awesome (righteous, even) five-story public library. We also went to the state capitol.
Columbia, MO: We visited a friend in Columbia and stayed at the University of Missouri (Mizzou). We ate at a Vegan-friendly restaurant, the Main Squeeze, and also had a great time at another restaurant because our waitress was a former Vegan. We walked about 3 miles of the MKT trail to a Martin Luther King flower park.
Chicago, via St. Louis: We saw the St. Louis arch, had the worst two bus rides ever, and arrived VERY tired to a nice place four blocks from the Magnificent Mile that cost $60 a night for two people. We went to the University of Illinois, saw Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House, walked through the Taste of Chicago, visited the Loop, went to the top of the Sears Tower (there are no lines weekdays at 6 PM!), rode up the State of Illinois building, and took photographs of other fun downtown architecture.