I have been making a conscious attempt recently to be present and to connect with people/strangers more often. We met a few interesting folks on in our quest to retrieve our bus home. The first opportunity came when we stopped in traffic next to a gentleman on a bike. He had a rather large bed roll on the back, and I wondered what his deal was; Homeless? A vagabond? Taking a trip? Or some other possibility that I hadn’t come up with? I remembered that we had bottled water in the car and asked Joshua to quickly pass one up. We stopped as soon as we could and Noah jumped out to hand it to him. The gentleman made room next to his jar of peanut butter and thanked Noah profusely.
After taking possession of the bus, we made an impromptu stop at one of those dollar stores (General? Family?) that are so predominant in rural areas because I thought I would be able to get the bus in and out. Once stopped it became a full on “break” and we ended up spending about 45 minutes to an hour. There was a couple, and as hard as I tried to make them fit a type, I just couldn’t. I was curious about them, but I had nothing to ask them about. Finally the man approached us to ask about our Maine plates. (YAY!) Am I the only one with an overwhelming curiosity about everyone?!?!
This couple was out enjoying life, vagabonding around, although they didn’t use that term. In fact, they were really skilled about not labeling anything. They had been down in the Keys, then sailed back to Miami, and were on their way to New Orleans. They were very excited for us as we step into our new adventure, and I made a disparaging comment about how we had set out to travel and only seen from Maine to Florida. “So just this entire side of the country, this whole coast?” she asked, totally putting it into perspective for me. I have already seen more of this country than a great many people ever get to see, and I’m grateful for every minute of my travels! Chatting with that couple was a really neat experience. I would have gladly taken them with us but they were headed in the opposite direction.
Later in the evening, with a raging headache, we stopped for gas. I went in to buy some pain killers, but when I went to pay I noticed a surcharge for using a credit card. I just couldn’t pay 50% more, so I put it back and walked out. I went into the bus to close my eyes for 5 minutes while Gary finished pumping the gas. What seemed like a long time passed, so I got up and went to investigate. Gary and the children were just coming out of the store with BAGS full. The manager of the store had given them several packages of donuts that were short dated, free, then handed Gary the painkillers that I had wanted and told them they were for his wife!!! Katherine was sure that our good fortune was directly related to handing the biker a bottle of water.
We then stopped yet again at a truck stop and met a very nice man who was that night making his final run before retiring from the trucking industry. He was wanting a soda but the change machine was down. We looked and looked and couldn’t find any small bills to offer him, which was disappointing, but we did enjoy chatting.
The bus ride back was good. I’m impressed with how well she maneuvers, and with how well she stops! She rides really smooth, and my biggest issue was attempting to maintain the speed limit as we drove though the county famous for ticketing drivers who go as much as 1 mph over the posted speed. The posted speed changes every quarter mile, and there is an officer about every mile to enforce that policy! We made it safe and sound, Ms. Bus is home with us, and we are loading up, and getting ready to roll!