30 hours on a bus, two weeks on an organic farm

About two years ago I decided it would be a cool experience to live on an organic farm.

So I made it happen.

In July of 2011, my friend Phil and I did some research and found Highwater Farm, located in Mount Vernon, Washington through an organization called World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF). We made arrangements to stay there for two weeks, and bought Greyhound bus tickets to get there.

A bus from Los Angeles to Mount Vernon was an estimated 30-hour ride.

Why did we take a bus instead of fly from Los Angeles to Washington?

Well, I thought it could be an interesting way to get there. Plus, it would probably equip me with some stories to tell.

And it kind of did.

In those 30 hours and more than 1,000 miles of road, Phil and I sat next to some smelly individuals, met some chatty people, and experienced a loss of sensation in our rears from sitting for so long.

But the memory that sticks out most from that long ride involved the built-in bathrooms inside the bus. I’m not a fan of using bus bathrooms, but a bunch of people on board didn’t seem to mind. Slowly but steadily, as the ride went on and as people walked in and out of the cramped toilet stall, a strong stench of human waste spread throughout the bus.

People attempted to alleviate the unpleasant odor by popping their windows open, and one man lifted an emergency door on the roof of the bus. This happened as we were passing through Oregon in the late evening/early morning.

But ventilation did not help at all. What ended up happening was that the bus became uncomfortably cold while the poop smell remained.

It was gross. I tried to stuff my nose into my shirt to block the smell, but that only worked for several breaths.

During one of our stops at a gas station, Phil and I noticed the smelly smell slowly faded away. But when we hit the road again, the smell resurfaced.

According to the bus driver, the odor was less severe at stops because the contents of the toilet were not in motion, unlike when it was moving.

So, on the road, we had no choice but to deal with the smell because while the bus was moving, everybody’s pee and poop were sloshing around, emitting the stink all the passengers were smelling.

Eventually, we made it to the Greyhound station in Mount Vernon. It felt good to be at the final destination. There, we waited until Jeff, a farmer at Highwater Farm, arrived in a van to pick us up.

Mount Vernon Greyhound station
Greyhound station, Mount Vernon, Washington state

[Will post the continuation of this next week]

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