How to ride the Boltbus from NYC to DC (and find your new best friend while you’re at it).

Thursday, July 30, 2015

On Wednesday morning, we packed up at our things at Hotel Lindsay, ate breakfast with the groceries she had so generously provided us (boiled eggs, yogurt, fruit, granola -- a Bavarian breakfast if I ever saw one, minus the Semmeln and meat and cheese, of course) and prepared to Uber out of Harlem and on toward our departure point.  I had booked us bus tickets with Boltbus; it was, by far, the cheapest way to get from NYC to DC (our next destination).  

I was very much looking forward to a day of (mostly) rest and relaxation; the bus ride was 4-5 hours long and, as Joe and I had spent the past few days walking around the city for hours on end, my body was experiencing a soreness reminiscent of the time I went skiing in the Alps and fell so hard my pants came off (those next SEVERAL post-skiing days were, hands down, the sorest I've ever been in my life).

When I opened the Uber app to call our ride, it crashed.  When Joe tried from his phone, the same thing happened.  We had a free ride that we really wanted to use, so we both deleted the app from our phones and tried again, to no avail.  Having wasted several minutes in the process on the free ride that was no longer free, we hastily said goodbye to Lindsay, rushing to catch a cab instead.   On the cab ride over, I angrily tweeted at Uber (they later resolved the issue but only after we officially switched to Lyft and did not regret it) (more about that next week) while lamenting with Joe that we were leaving NYC without having been interviewed/photographed by Humans of New York.  We pulled up to our stop just in time, grabbed our luggage, paid our driver, and stood in line with the crowd of Boltbus travelers that had formed along the sidewalk.

That cab ride was unexpected expense number one.  Unexpected expense number two came to our attention when we realized, waiting to board the bus, that Joe had left his suit bag hanging on the back of Lindsay’s door (a suit we had brought from home – not from Suit Supply, don’t worry).  We didn’t have time to go back and get it, and she was catching a flight to Florida later that day, so I was hesitant to burden her since I knew her time was short.  After discussing our options, though, we decided that the most efficient solution was for Lindsay to express mail the suit to our temporary D.C. address, to which she happily agreed (bless her soul).

Once aboard the bus and out of New York City, we, true to form, fell fast asleep (Joe first, though – always Joe first).  We sat “shotgun” (in the two seats to the right of the bus driver and just slightly behind where normal ‘shotgun’ seats would be in a vehicle), as I have found it’s always best to sit as close to the driver and as far away from the back as possible.... just trust me on this one.

When we woke up from our nap, the bus driver, in a Scorcese character accent that sounded much like my Italian-American friend’s dad who goes by the name of ‘Big Mike’, turned to us and said, “We just passed the most beautiful little scene – a family of deer drinking out of a river.  I looked over to show ya and ya were both passed out!”  I smiled politely while re-adjusting my bag in my seat, preparing to go back to sleep.  Joe, on the other hand, took this man’s lone comment as an invitation to divulge to him every detail of our lives; they talked for the remainder of the bus ride, suddenly the closest of friends.  This man now knows (1) what type of law we want to practice, (2) what type of law we don’t want to practice, (3) that I have dog and cat allergies, among others, (4) Joe’s preferred methods for training bird dogs, (5) all about our future home renovation plans and (6) various other details about our hopes and dreams as a family. 

And we learned a lot about ‘Big Mike #2’ as well, namely (1) that his wife sold his Mustang to pay for their home (2) his favorite type of flooring to install in a home (answer: heated), (3) what types of flooring he recommends for my allergies (answer: also heated), (4) why he thinks we should practice family law (“People’ll never stop gettin’ divorced!  And now the gays can get divorced too!”), (5) that he is 3-5 years away from paying off his mortgage, and (6) that his kids are way better at texting than he is (he just can’t figure his phone out).

Although we were both a little sad to say goodbye to Joe’s newfound friend and apparent soulmate, we quickly made our way out through Union Station, but not before Big Mike #2 could give me a friendly slap on the shoulder and say, “Good luck bein’ a lawyer, kid.” (pronounced ‘loy-ya’). 

While waiting in line for the taxis, Joe and I commented on how surprisingly pleasant our bus ride experience had been (and I am hardly a stranger to unpleasant bus rides).  With Boltbus, you show up at the departure point as indicated on your ticket, get in line and wait for further instruction (in our case, our driver simply called out to the line that had formed along the sidewalk, “Anyone going to DC, form a line by the curb.  Anyone not going to DC, form a line by the fence.”), and then you’ll load your luggage underneath your designated bus and board.  As you step aboard, your driver will check your ticket and you won’t need to show it again.  When you arrive at your destination, you simply step off the bus, grab your luggage, and you’re done.  The good part about traveling this way (versus flying) is that when you arrive in your destination city, you’re there.  There’s no half-hour drive into the city from the airport, and you don’t have to stand around waiting at baggage claim, nor do you have to worry about luggage getting lost or misplaced.  Likewise, you don’t have to show up that early for check-in; we showed up, like, 15 minutes before and had more than enough time.  

Thus, the next time I make the NYC-DC commute, I will likely use Boltbus. And hopefully Big Mike #2 will be my driver again, and I can find out how much further along he is on his mortgage.
Jenny@JenericGeneration said...

Eric and I fell in love on a Boltbus, basically. I have never befriended a Boltbus driver, but one time one of them had a very long and loud conversation on his phone in the middle of the night. I love that Joe struck up a conversation with the driver! Joe is going to add a lot to your traveling stories, I can feel it. I'm so glad you married Joe.

Jan said...

Ha ha the driver sounds like a real character!! Can't believe Joe forgot his suit!!

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