By bus through the Mojave Desert via Barstow to LA
Trip Start Aug 26, 1994
11Trip End Sep 18, 1994
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Our driver had the unfortunate habit of holding his microphone so close to his mouth that one could only hear a muffled rumble when he made the occasional important announcement. I never did learn where the emergency exits and life rafts were located, and most of his jokes "mumble mumble mumble, eh eh eh!" went over my head. We stopped at a general store in Baker, a quaintly named town with nothing to recommend it other than the honesty of its shopkeepers. I purchased a Baby Ruth and orange drink but neglected to take my change. The young man behind the counter gave it to one of the passengers who returned it to me as we reboarded the bus.
At Barstow in the middle of the Mojave we stopped for a break. What a dump! Billy Maxwell was a train-counting freak, and as Barstow was also a railway town, he was in his element. Spotting a Sante Fe freight train he exclaimed, "Santa Fe, Santa Fe, that's twenny eight, that's twenny eight trains! Eh, eh, eh". Billy laughed a lot for reasons which were a little obscure. "Union Pacific, that's twenny nine, goonness me, twenny nine trains!" While we were parked in Barstow a freight train passed which Billy counted as number thirty. Some time later, when we were back on the road, we caught up to and passed the same train. Billy counted it as thirty one. I almost pointed out to him that he had already counted it but stopped myself in the nick of time.
Despite the five hour journey I was sorry when we finally arrived in Los Angeles at 4.15pm (you should have seen the peak hour traffic going the other way!). I asked the driver for directions to the Santa Monica Greyhound. He told me that the last bus of the day left in fifteen minutes and that I wouldn't catch it as it would take fifteen minutes for my backpack to be unpacked. South Central Los Angeles did not look too welcoming, so I caught a taxi back to the hostel. I didn't realise it was so far! I watched with growing horror as the meter crawled towards its final $32 charge (my remaining cash was only a few dollars more).
That night, after a light dinner of prawns and noodles (just add water), I took two Las Vegas sleeping pills and lay down on my bunk to read. I still couldn't get to sleep until 1am, mainly because people kept knocking at the door of my room looking for Joel, my black English room mate.