Monday, August 17, 2009

MegaBus...not so Mega?

As most of you know, I was in Chicago this past weekend to visit Sarah. When I decided to make the trip several weeks ago, I thought there would be Cranley babies to see. Last week, it looked like there wouldn't be babies, but I was still planning to visit to do my best to distract my poor best friend who was 38.5 weeks pregnant with twins. I cleared the weekend, secured childcare for the girls (Jason-with a little help from my mom) and Sarah and I started to map out our weekend...lunch and shopping with Laura, nails, foot massages, trip to BabiesRUs, etc. On Tuesday of last week, I decided to check out the MegaBus schedule. I started thinking about how nice it would be to be able to sleep, read, etc. instead of driving myself for 3.5 hours. I found a round-trip fare for $58, less money than I would spend on gas, so I booked it. I was excited for my transportation adventure, even though I could hear the hesitation in some voices when I told them about my plans.

Friday morning, I received a call from Sarah saying that she and Duke were headed to the hospital. She had begun having contractions in the middle of the night and they were four minutes apart and pretty intense. I was excited at the thought of actually meeting the babies!

Lunchtime on Friday, I received a text that the babies were going to be can ask my co-workers, I was a wreck waiting for the news of their arrival.

Friday afternoon, I received two pictures of the most beautiful babies....Max Alan and Tessa Louise had arrived!

So, Friday evening, Jason and the girls dropped me off at 200 E. Washington Street. There is no terminal of sorts, just a sign, much like an Indygo sign that indicates the Megabus stop. The bus arrived right on time, the driver loaded our luggage into the back and we boarded. The bus was a double decker, but I opted for the bottom level. The first four seats on each side were arrranged around a table. I squeezed into the last seat on the right around the table, facing backwards. My tablemates and I became quick friends. Seated to my direct right was the mom of Matt Painter the Men's Purdue Bball coach! Turns out she was going to visit her daughter who was also in Prentice Women's Hospital on bedrest. She and I and our other tablemates talked most of the trip and then Mama Painter and I shared a cab to Prentice. The driver did make one stop at a rest stop about half way through our trip, as the restroom on the bus was not working. The bus arrived at Union Station around 10pm, appox 1/2 hour late, not too bad considering our pit stop and construction traffic on I-65. All in all, an uneventful and fun trip to Chicago.

I had a great time in Chicago with Sarah, Duke and their awesome babies! More on that, my visit will get its own post.

I was scheduled to leave Chicago on Sunday at 3:30pm. I took a cab from the hospital to Union Station at 3:10 pm, arriving at Union Station around 3:25. There were hundreds of people waiting for MegaBuses. Again, there is no terminal, you literally wait on the sidewalk under a MegaBus sign. The bus was over an hour and 15 late and as we were all standing and waiting, it started to DOWNPOUR. I, along with many others, ran across the street and stood under and over pass, but by then I was soaked, my bags were soaked, my pillow was soaked, etc. The bus finally arrives and we wait to load luggage and then load to our seats. Again, I chose a seat on the first floor of the bus. Our driver, Richard, was quite a character. He had a significant limp, that made me question his ability to drive a double-decker bus? Finally, all 100 wet, grumpy passengers were boarded and we were on our way. About 15 into the trip, other drivers started flagging Richard and motioning to him that our luggage door was open. So, he proceded to pull into an exit median, limp out into traffic and close the luggage door. At that point, I just started to pray that we would make it home safely. I did manage to sleep for an hour and get a little reading done, in between watching the road to make sure we were still on it. We did not make any stops, although the bathroom on this bus also malfunctioned. Apparently a little girl, who almost locked herself in the bathroom, also used too much toilet paper. We arrived in Indy around 9pm, a little over 1.5 hrs late. But, we did arrive.

Would I take the Megabus again you ask? Yes, but here are some helpful hints to myself and to others considering this mode of transporation:

1. Book early: apparently if you book several weeks to months in advance you can get tickets for $1.

2. This mode of travel is not recommended for small children. I probably wouldn't consider taking the girls anywhere this way until at least age 8.

3. There is a suggested 1 bag minimum. Also, sturdy suitcases are probably the best luggage to use. My Vera Bradley duffles were probably not the best choice as the luggage is tossed and crammed into a compartment at the back of the bus.

4. Don't sit by the bathroom if possible, as they are often malfunctioning and the odor is nauseating.

5. Bring an umbrella with you to the bus stop, you never know how long you might wait and through what kinds of weather.

6. Don't carry on too much to your seat. The seats are much like airplane seats, but there is no compartment overhead to store carry-ons and no cup holders for drinks, etc.

7. Make sure if someone is picking you up, they allow for delays.

If you want to book your own MegaBus adventure, check out:

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