Well, after a long and interesting journey, I have arrived in Spokane to visit a friend for the weekend. My bus's alternator broke between Edmonton and Red Deer, causing the 10-minute stop there to turn into 2 hours so that a mechanic could come fix it. They held our transfer bus in Calgary (there were 9 of us making that transfer), so it was 30 minutes late leaving -- to the dismay of all the other passengers that had to board in Calgary. In Golden, the guy who had started chatting with me in Edmonton and proceeded to get increasingly drunk as time went on was escorted away by the police, which caused another delay, but despite all that we managed to arrive in Vancouver 30 minutes early and make the transfer to the next bus. At the boarder, the US official kept asking if where I was going in LA was "near Redfern" (even after I said it was West Hollywood) and I realised that he was actually following a script and told him I had no idea -- I only made the connection to the shootings that had been in the news a few weeks ago several hours later.
The Greyhound station in Seattle was packed, and I found myself boarding a nearly-full bus with people whose accents I'd only heard on the phone (while working in call centres for American companies) and on TV, a guy with a pitt bull who he tried to pass off as a service dog but who clearly needed more training and focus in order to handle such a stimulating and stressful experience, and a baby who did very well considering she also had to handle a stimulating and stressful experience.
I saw more snow in the passes between Seattle and Spokane than I have in a long time, with banks taller than the vehicles. It seems like the snow fell fast, wet, and heavy though, because it clumped in the crotches of the tree branches like snowy magpie nests. After the mountains was what I can only describe as badlands -- a semi-arid desert with fences up to keep the tumbleweeds off the highway and, later, out of the farm fields. It reminded me of the area around Wainwright -- and there was actually a section with signs indicating "US ARMY RANGE" which reminded me even more of the Wainwright area.
We arrived in Spokane a bit early, but I didn't have to long to wait until my friend picked me up. I got a tour of an American Walmart (they really do sell guns, ammo, and liquor) and visited McDonald's, where I determined that the fries taste different (maybe it's the oil?), the Big Mac bun is tastier, ketchup tastes different (I was not expecting that!) and Dr. Pepper is available despite the fact that it's a Coke place, not a Pepsi place.
Now I'm going to enjoy the first coffee I've had since Golden, and I'll catch you all up from L.A. tomorrow afternoon!