Chapter 1
Mitt felt good about her choice. She had made a reservation at the Sunlight Bed and Breakfast in Bar
Harbor Maine and was about to purchase a set of round trip tickets via bus to Bangor, Maine. Merle
didn’t know about the bus idea. She agreed to go to Maine, but thought they would fly. Mitt had checked
and rechecked their meager vacation fund and a trip via the airways wasn’t in the cards, it wasn’t even in
the imagination. Travel by greyhound was the way to go. It may take them a bit longer, but it would give
them extra money to take a schooner trip or two, maybe go whale watching in Nova Scotia. Mitt was
excited about the sights they would see and the fun they would have. She just knew Merle would approve.
“What do you mean, by bus?”
“Now Merle, it’s just a means of getting there. Think of it as an adventure. Besides it only cost $140.00
round trip for each of us. That gives us enough money to do something else, like take a schooner trip or
whale watching. You wanted to go whale watching remember? How would we pay $540.00 each for
airline tickets and do anything else? We can’t afford it.”
“Yeah, but bus, have you ever traveled by bus? Do you know what kind of people ride the bus? Derelicts
and winos and homeless people and people who put their belongings in a bag….”
“You’re exaggerating. It can’t be that bad. Besides, we will have each other for company. We don’t have
to pay any attention to lowlifes.” Mitt put on her begging face and looked at Merle with pleading eyes.
Merle just had to agree.
Merle knit her brow’s and folded her arms across her chest. She wanted to dismiss the idea of a bus ride,
especially one that would take two days to get there and two days back. They only had seven, eight days
at the most for vacation. Maybe they should just keep saving their money until they had enough to fly to
Maine. They could always go a little later, she reasoned. Merle was never one to rush into something,
especially something that might prove uncomfortable.
Mitt could sense the hesitation in Merle and began to panic. She had already spent their money on the B
& B in Bar Harbor and had just placed the reservation for round trip greyhound tickets. They were
supposed to pick them up tomorrow morning. This was not the time for Merle to back out. She looked
through the travel brochures she had picked up earlier that day. One showed the whale watching trip they
could take in Nova Scotia. This screamed adventure, something they both craved but never gave in to.
“Merle, we kind of have to go.”
“What do you mean, have to go,” Merle queried, “We don’t have to do anything.”
“Well, we do if we already made reservations,” Mitt replied sheepishly.
“You already made reservations!” Merle sputtered in disbelief. Mitt could be a pushy little sister and
Merle was exasperated. With half the money spent on reservations, they were now committed. She eyed
Mitt and gave a ‘humph’. “Well, we might as well go.” Mitt felt triumphant. She just knew this would be
“Stop pushing,” Merle, hissed. She was in line at the downtown bus station picking up their tickets. Mitt
was behind her, coaxing her to move quicker. Merle had no intentions of moving any faster. She was
busy taking in the sites. The inside of the Greyhound station proved to be an interesting place. People
were dressed in all kinds of garb. Some had jackets on top of jackets, with long skirts underneath. Others
wore as little as possible and looked disconnected, as if they forgot to dress all the way and didn’t know
how to finish. Some had sacks of stuff they hugged as they waited for their cue to move. Merle loved
people watching and this group fascinated her. Who were they? Why were they traveling? Some looked lethargic, others hopeful. She wondered how she and Mitt appeared. Did people eye them as much as they did others? “Will you move already?” Mitt was pushing Merle to close in on the ticket counter. They were next in line and if Merle would pay attention and stop letting others cut in front, they would have their tickets by now. Merle glanced at the ticket agent and saw her motioning for her to come forward. “Can I help you,” said the agent. “Yes,” said Merle as she moved, “We need to pick up tickets for Bangor, Maine.” “Name, please.” “Tiggle and Swick: Mitt Tiggle and Merle Swick.” “Or as some know us: Swiggle Sticks.” Mitt giggled at her word play and inched up to the ticket window, standing alongside Merle. She wanted to help and felt the best way to do so was to serve up a dish of humor. The agent looked at her blankly. Her days of quick wit had vanished the moment she placed her ample derriere on the stool behind the counter. Her five by six quarters didn’t leave much room for mind expansion; it barely accommodated the blossoming rear end she managed to grow. Merle brushed Mitt aside and assumed command. “Two tickets please. We leave the day after tomorrow.” The agent checked her computer, found their names and printed out the tickets. “There we go,” Merle prattled happily as she turned to leave, “we got them.” Her eyes lit up in anticipation. All of her anxiety about their choice of transportation melted into a pool of excitement. She hadn’t been on vacation in years. Merle grabbed Mitt by the arm and steered her out the door. “Let’s get some lunch at Ruby’s Café and talk about which excursions we want to book. I know we want to go whale watching, but which schooner should we take?” Mitt couldn’t believe the transformation in Merle. She went from hesitant bystander to commander-in-chief. Usually Mitt had to take charge, but now that Merle was bit by the greyhound bug, she couldn’t contain herself. Mitt was happy to relinquish her travel guide responsibilities and let her sister take the lead. They walked arm in arm and headed for their favorite café. Planning the rest of the trip should be easy, thought Mitt. And that assumption was her biggest mistake. “I’ll have the special and a glass of ice tea please,” Mitt said crisply to the waitress. She wanted a cheeseburger and a brownie for dessert, but decided against the extra calories. Merle chose a chicken salad platter and cup of java. When the waitress left with their order, they spread the brochures across the table. “Look at all of these choices! We could go on a one day tour around Acadia National Park, see light houses, eat lobster…” “I hate lobster,” Merle interrupted, “it smells fishy.” “Well you don’t have to eat it if you don’t want to, but Maine is known for its’ fresh lobster.” countered Mitt. “Maine is also known for its’ blueberries, I’d rather try that.” “OK, you grab a handful of berries, while I dine on some succulent lobster, fresh from the ocean, how’s that! Now, do you want to book this one day tour or do you want to keep looking?” Mitt wanted what she wanted and Merle liked to meander down the road of indecision. “How about this one?” Merle picked up another brochure that advertised an over-night stay on the Starboard Bound, with a venture out into the ocean. “I don’t know about that, what if we get sea-sick? We’ve never been on a boat over-night before. What if we get claustrophobic and can’t get off because we’re in the middle of the ocean. How would we escape?” Mitt hunched forward, squinty eyed, as if she were knee deep in espionage, plotting their route to safety. “We’d have to swim to shore. You can’t swim! I’d have to carry you! How would I carry you and my camera? My camera, it would get ruined!” Mitt was practically frothing at the mouth. The more she painted bleak, the darker it got. Panic splayed across her face as if they were already treading murky waters. “Alright, alright, don’t twist your panties. We can stick with the one day tour. Let’s pick one that has lighthouses to visit along the way.” Merle knew Mitt was being manipulative, but she really didn’t know how to swim and the thought of an ocean run to safety wasn’t enticing. They continued to barter back and forth, choosing this trip over that, discarding this idea for something better, until finally, they had the bulk of their vacation planned. “What about a car?” Mitt queried. “Let’s get a convertible. I’ve always wanted to drive one. How about a red one? Can’t you just see us tooling down the highway with the ocean breeze against our backs?” “I think we should get a mini-cooper. They’re small, good on gas and really kind of cute.” Merle was smitten with miniatures: little cars, little houses; a little life. She liked the comfort of close and nothing says it better than a car with no leg room. “What, we can’t drive that! Besides, I don’t even think they rent those out. Let’s at least get a mid-size car. We don’t have to get the convertible, but I don’t want to pack my legs in the trunk, we may need them for all the hiking we’ll be doing.” Merle finally agreed and they gathered up the flyers, paid the waitress and headed out. The wind had picked up and rain was threatening to rip a hole in the sky. It was the beginning of summer in south-western Ohio. Spring wasn’t sure if it wanted to relinquish its’ hold or throw down a storm or two. Mitt liked a good storm. If they hurried home, they could sit in her screened-in porch, cradle a cup of tea and watch lightening dance across the back meadows. It was only fitting that they retreat to the porch. This was the incubator of all their adventures and now they had a real escapade on their hands, one that may need some fine-tuning. “Where’s the Oreos’?” Merle was scrounging around Mitt’s kitchen, looking for cookies. Mitt was busy brewing Earl Grey’s and looking for their special trip planning tea cups. They had pictures of some of their trips engraved on the cups. It was ceremonial to toast their upcoming adventure from the mugs of past journeys. “Here they are.” Mitt pulled out the dusty cups, rinsed them off and filled them with tea. “We have to have something to munch on,” whined Merle, “don’t you have anything?” “I’ve got carrot sticks. Remember, we gave up cookies.” “Oh yeah,” moaned Merle, “that’s right, our diet, the one we’ve been on for three months now and have gained about three pounds.” “Well it would work if we didn’t sneak a bag of candy or a large fry every other day,” laughed Mitt. “Besides, let’s not worry about that now, grab some carrots, get your cup and let’s head for the porch.” The two women made their way to the back of the house and stepped out into the screened in porch. They settled into their rocking chairs and placed their cups on the table between them. Rain was coming down pretty hard by now and the wind was whipping the trees, bending them like cooked spaghetti. There was nothing better than natures’ fury to draw excitement into their bones. “Whoa, did you see that one?” Lightening bolted across the sky, looking for some place to strike. “Do you think the storms are worse on the ocean?” Merle liked viewing weather tantrums from the veranda; it was safe, from a boat in the middle of the ocean, not so much. “Oh yeah,” whispered Mitt, “much worse.” You know. I hope we don’t get sea-sick. We should pack some Dramamine, maybe we should bring some of those little bottles of whiskey, too.” Mitt looked at Merle with conspiratorial eyes, like Merle would want a good slug if the need arose. “Whiskey, I don’t even like root-beer! Why would I want hard liquor?” “Well, who knows what we may run up against; we could be hiking and come across wild animals, or wild men for that matter! Of course, they’d want our whiskey. We’ll have to stash it in our bras. I can pick up a few bottles tomorrow. We might need some pepper spray too, case the wild men want more than our whiskey.” Mitt was busy jotting down the extras that had to come on the trip with them. Merle simply ignored her. There was no way she was sipping on the potent juice, no matter what they ran into. The storm began to abate and the night seeped closer to dawn. They rarely went to bed before midnight, and tonight was no exception. After a while, they both grew tired of the list of needs and decided to call it quits. Merle got up to leave and gave her sister a quick hug. She ambled around to the front of the house and got in her car and drove home. Mitt went to bed and fell asleep as soon as her head met the pillow. The adrenaline rush brought on by the excitement of the upcoming trip had petered out. Tomorrow would be a busy day. Chapter 2
“I got it!” Mitt called Merle to let her know that the she had rented a car to pick up in Bangor Maine
once the bus dropped them off. Merle had told her to get something sensible and Mitt assured her that’s
what she did. After all, it was completely logical to rent a cherry red convertible at a special discounted
price. Mitt conveniently left out the type of car she got. A surprise was worth the wait. Merle was busy
getting the snacks they would consume on the bus trip, reasoning that raisins and fruit were economical
and healthy choices. She forgot about the effects these selections might have on their bodily functions and
the less than desirable facilities the bus had to offer.
For their reading pleasures, Merle picked up a few used paper-backs, some cross word puzzles and of
course, a notebook to jot down ideas about the trip. Her last purchase was a set of fuzzy neck wraps to
cradle their necks. A bumpy bus ride might jostle the joints and produce more aches and pains than they
needed. Besides, they would probably get a good dose of that while hiking.
They had agreed to meet at Mitt’s house the next morning since it was closer to the bus station. Mitt
lived in an area that was near the center of town, but still on the outskirts, giving her a view of fields
unattended. Merle lived in a tiny, one bedroom apartment, on the north side of town, away from riff-raff.
She said the price of safety was worth the close quarters.
The bus tickets said they needed to be at the station by 6:00 AM. Merle was waiting on Mitt’s front
porch at 5:00 AM., pounding on her front door. As usual, Mitt wasn’t ready.
“I’m coming, I’m coming.” Mitt slogged her way to the door and peered out before opening it, as if she
might be expecting someone else at this hour.
“Oh, it’s you, come on in.”
“Who did you think it would be?” Merle was irritable at Mitt’s density. “Are you ready to go?”
“I will be in a jiffy.” Mitt was busy putting on jeans, starting the coffee pot and grabbing a fruit snack to
go. Her bag was stuffed, zipped half way, and her jacket hung on the kitchen chair. Mitt liked doing as
many things at once as possible. Dressing, eating and drinking can be done simultaneously, she reasoned,
while Merle looked on with a ‘humph’ about to happen. Fifteen minutes later, they were in Merle’s car,
heading for the station.
It was crowded, which surprised them both. At 5:45 A.M. they didn’t expect to run into a gaggle of people. Bus drivers were barking orders about luggage and what’s allowed, while passengers argued about the quantity of items that simply had to travel with them: like a twenty inch flat-screen television that was going home to Pittsburgh. Mitt watched in amazement, as people lugged around bags, stuff and crying babies, trying to figure out which bus to board. She decided to check with the ticket counter to find their ride. Hopefully the crying babies weren’t going to Maine. “Over here,” Merle motioned to Mitt that she had found their destination. She was already situated and waiting patiently in a straggling line of people, sipping on a cup of coffee and surreptitiously taking photos. Merle loved her I-phone and used it to take pictures of unsuspecting people. Those that pose are boring, she announced. It was much better to catch people in the raw. Mitt agreed, but wasn’t so good at sneaking. So she would simply snap a shot of someone she found interesting and then ask them if they minded. Sometimes they did and she had to back off. Right now, she wasn’t in the mood to take photos. She wanted to get going. Their tickets said departure was at 6:00 AM. It was 6:30 and Mitt was growing impatient. “How long do we have to wait?” Mitt was squirming and bouncing from one foot to the other. As if on cue, the bus driver, a retired military man, answered, “People, we are not boarding until you make a straight line.” Mitt looked behind them to see that people formed more of a zigzag than a line. One in particular, was sucking on a straw, protruding from a brown paper bag. She was swaying in and out of the line, giving it more zig than necessary. “I am serious, we are not moving until you form a straight line; and there’s no drinking on this bus!” The bus driver gave the leaning brown bagger a stern look. He stood stiffly in front of the steps leading into the bus, his arms folded firmly across his chest. His demeanor demanded compliance. We weren’t moving until the troops were in sync and it looked like we had some deserters in our ranks. “What do we do?” Mitt whispered to Merle. “We can’t even get on the bus, let alone make it to Maine!” “Well, we’ll see about that.” Merle pursed her lips and turned to the group behind us, “OK, everybody, let’s do as the man says. You there with the Sippy straw, get in line.” Everyone giggled as Merle pushed and pulled the group into order; some saluted. When we looked as straight as possible, the driver gave Merle a wink and a nod and let us board. Merle was getting high fives from everyone. She was a bona fide greyhound hero. “I think the bus driver has the hot’s for you,” Mitt whispered to Merle, as they climbed aboard. “That’s just silly,” Merle chuckled, as she glanced his way and wiggled her hips, “let’s just find us some seats and get comfy.” They angled around the drunk who collapsed in a seat and cradled her bottle. The kid with the T.V. was heading for the back of the bus, near the facilities and the woman with kids stayed up front. They found a spot in the middle of the bus, but didn’t get comfy. The seats were stiff and the cushions thin. They dug out their neck wraps, put them on and bunched their jackets behind them to provide a little more comfort. Once they were settled they chatted a bit and soon fell asleep as the bus moved on. Pittsburgh was their first stop. They got off to stretch and grab something to drink. They had a couple hours to wait while the bus refueled. Mitt was anxious to check out some of the old churches that dotted the inner city.

Source: http://www.writingshow.com/misc/What%20A%20Way%20To%20Go.pdf


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