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Dedicated to building bright futures for impoverished children, their families, and their communities.

Simply Smiles blog

Follow our blog and read insights from Simply Smiles staff, volunteers and other individuals whose lives are affected by our work!

#bigredbus - The Bus Chronicles, Pt 2

Timothy Nurnberger

The title of this post should really be "Misawaka, IN and Other Things that Are Surprisingly Unsafe", but for the sake of consistency I'll keep with the "Chronicles".

This morning, I'm writing from a lovely motel in Granger, IN, right outside of South Bend and Notre Dame's campus. Yesterday was... an adventure, to say the least. It started fairly normally: continental breakfast, make-your-own waffles, Fox News, and an innocuous drive through the rest of Pennsylvania and into Ohio. We stopped at what may or may not be the World's Largest Truck Stop around noon and had our first taste of real trucker culture. This place looked like a full-sized shopping mall that catered to all trucking needs: they sold practical trucking equipment like floor mats and spare lights, as well as some less practical items of the chrome-nude-woman variety and the inappropriate-body-part-for-your-trailer-hitch variety. We stopped for lunch once we hit Ohio, Chip and Maddie made a dog friend, and we continued for Indiana with a motel plan and determination under our belts.

That's when the fun started, but first, let me give you a sneak peek at life on the #bigredbus (the hashtag is for our Twitter fans).

Contrary to popular belief, because we have so many donations (which is awesome), there is not a lot of room in the 48 seats for the bus's passengers. With 5 adults and 2 rambunctious dogs, it's a bit of a squeeze, especially since the dogs we have like to cuddle. Here's an example of Gaby with Chip:

Chip likes to cuddle, as you can tell. There's also no air conditioning on the bus, so the puppy puddles of love get a little sweaty after awhile. And, by cruising at a maximum speed of 55mph (although we DID hit 56 that one time down a hill!), this cramped, hot, #bigredbus really rivals those big mansion RVs who've been passing us.

But now onto the good stuff. We stopped for then night at a motel that will not be named in Misawaka, IN. Let me paint a picture of Misawaka for you: about 5 miles down the highway, Misawaka, IN sports a Taco Bell, a Burger King, a Hollywood Video, and a 1970's ghost-town diner called Cafe Curve. We walked into our hotel, through what appeared to be renovation construction, with high hopes. Josh even said of the orange safety cones and dirt parking lot, "Oh good! It's new!"

How wrong he was.

Apart from the exposed wiring and the lack of motion sensor in the elevator that almost led to Bryan's flattening, when we opened the doors to our rooms, it was like something from a bad horror movie. Ancient wooden bed frames held sagging mattresses that were, I'm sure, already hiding this hotel's main guests. The pillows were ancient yellowed, every plush surface was stained with mucusy splatters - there was even an unflushed surprise in Josh and Bryan's toilet. It was also apparent that this was the kind of hotel where people never checked out of, a place where people ended up living because they had nowhere else to go. After a run to clear our heads, it was apparent that the bus (never mind us) was not going to be safe there, and we decided to leave.

Fortunately for us, we DID have somewhere else to go, and that was to Granger, where we were greeted by an awesome hotel staff, 24-hour parking lot surveillance, and an Applebee's. Today's plan is to take Chicago by storm, after some strong coffee. Hopefully tonight we will have a less exciting hotel experience, but who knows? It's not an adventure until something goes wrong, right?

Until next time, I remain your #bigredbus reporter. Have a great Saturday!

- Haley