My bus out of Milwaukee was scheduled for 1p on Wednesday and I left the Laundry Chute far too close to that time for comfort. The city bus was running a few minutes late, which set me even more on edge as I raced against time toward the departure point.
Even in my hurry I loved what there was to love about Milwaukee. The city really grew on me in those three days I was there - good vibes.
I ran the two long blocks from Wisconsin Ave to Clybourn St, holding my guitar case securely against my butt with one hand and my backpack against my stomach with the other (I can run faster when my gear's not bouncing all over the place). I could see the bus in the distance, about ready to pull away toward Chicago.
My stay in Chicago was short. I had hoped to meet with an organizer from Occupy to discuss actions for the upcoming NATO summit, but she was unable to make it in the end (she had tweeted the night before, asking whether expired NyQuil would kill her. I advised that alcohol gets better with age..) I spent the hour-and-fifteen sitting at a cafe on the first floor of Union Station, leeching their wifi. I waited longer than I should to buy a sandwich and ran back toward the Megabuses to make my connection to Toledo.
Now if you'll indulge me, I'd like to rant a bit about Megabus. I've been a huge proponent ever since I discovered this charter bus service about two years ago. I've taken Megabuses to nearly 30 cities and spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars on tickets. So you can imagine the disappointment I've experienced, never having heard back from Megabus about my idea to have a GioSafari Megabus Tour, sponsored by the actual company. Basically, my pitch was that I would brand the tour in their honor if they just allowed me to take empty seats on their buses for free (and trust me, there have been more than enough seats to spare on nearly all of these buses).
Megabus originally appealed to me for several reasons:
1) they're cheap, much cheaper than Greyhound in most cases, though very rarely $1 as they so proudly and misleadingly advertise.
2) they're relatively reliable. At least compared to hitch hiking..
3) they have FREE wifi!!! Or so they say. Of the 20+ rides I've taken on this tour, no more than 3 buses have had a tolerable connection. I now see through the advertising and marketing departments' smoke and mirrors.
As a result of these negated advantages with Megabus, I've really got a sense on this tour that "you get what you pay for"; in comparison, the few Greyhound buses I've taken as of late have had really reliable wifi connections, which is a huge plus when I have so much work to do #ontheroad. All this plus the feeling of being snubbed is leaving a REAL sour taste in my mouth toward Megabus.
Which brings me to the reason I brought on this rant in the first place: although in all other cities Megabus drivers and attendants allow me to stow my guitar, no questions asked, they always make such a big fuss about it in Chicago. This is a huge pain for me because Chicago, being a major hub for Megabus, is a city I ride out of fairly often (my last departure toward NYC will be the fifth on this tour alone!). So I was not a little annoyed that the attendants made me take the guitar with me on the bus, leaving my backpack and phone charger in the luggage compartment below.
The bus was already well on its way to Toledo when it occurred to me that I had not secured a couch for the night. I had a couch for Thursday night at the house venue where I was to perform, but it had slipped my mind to ask about Wednesday also. I shot a text to the venue owner, Danny, to see whether he could put me up or pick me up when I arrived in Toledo. He said he couldn't but that there were cheap hotels in the area where the Megabus dropped off, over eight miles away from his home. This was simply not an option for me, as I need to save all the money I can on this tour. I resolved to find another way.
Danny suggested other ideas but they weren't working either. And it was getting late. Meanwhile, my phone was dying and I had no way to charge it. I'd have to wait til I touched down in Toledo to make another way.