The Bus - Taring Down the Coast - CycleBlaze

The Bus

Ed and his bike started off from San Diego and I meet him at the Greyhound Bus Station in Los Angeles.  He got the front seats opposite the bus driver for the view and to talk to the sequence of drivers who took us to Seattle.  Ed once had a childhood dream of becoming a long distance bus driver, and "leave the driving to us."  He had scored a copy of "Playboy" magazine, which provided some diversion during the long ride north.  The intrepid teens were off on their adventure of a lifetime.  

One day and two nights of cramped sitting, broken up with Greyhound cafe food brought us to Seattle on a warm  August evening.  The bus station was a short hop on the monorail to the World's Fair and the Space Needle.  But this was 1963 and the fair was in 1962 and to our surprise the fair was abandoned except for the Space Needle and a carnival park.  It was past 11:00 pm, well past the nearly universal curfew for minors in the day.  There were Ed and I in our green and yellow matching cycling jerseys and tight black bike shorts and cleated shoes tapping and strolling in uptown Seattle on a Saturday night.  We got constant catcalls, or milder inquires if we were going to a costume party as the Bobbsey Twins?  I was a country kid and was overwhelmed by the apparent big city hostility.  Ed was a very street-smart city kid from a tougher part of San Diego.  (Therein lays a part of the story of why two boys who lived over one hundred and sixty kilometer apart went to the same high rent private high school.)  Ed offered some initial resistance, but in the end we retreated back to the bus station and waited for the morning bus to Vancouver.  (Even in the 80s and early 90s after my wife, children and I moved to the Seattle area, I was verbally harassed by youth in pickup trucks with gun racks when I was riding while wearing cycling togs.  (God bless Lance Armstrong, doping and all, for putting cycling on the "U.S.A - U.S.A - U.S.A" jingoistic map.)  We were misfits then and really both of us still are to this day.

We boarded the morning bus and headed north.  Crossing the frontier into Canada at Blaine, Washington was not a big deal. We had the letters of permission from our parents and our new paper, no photo driver's licenses and our International Youth Hostel cards also without photos for ID.  The Canadian authorities were most concerned that we might be smuggling bicycles into the country and copied down our bike license numbers and the serial numbers stamped into the bottom brackets.  We were given stern warning to declare our bikes when we left the country.  Back in those days, the Canadian dollar was worth more than the US dollar.  There were no jokes going back and forth about the Canadian peso and no NAFTA or Homeland Security, but there were all sorts of slights of hand to make a little money on both sides of the frontier working the exchange rate, tariffs and duties.

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