Amtrak bus wiggles and shakes. Soft comfortable seats lure us toward sleep. Rain patters against the wide front window. We’re almost to Donner Pass.
Such comfort brings us here. Even though passengers among us mutter about slowness, unscheduled stops, schoolchildren visiting the state capital. A truck driver asks to sit next to me. He asks if I smell alcohol on him. “No,” I say, sniffing, but unsure. “Good, he said. Because Grandpa is an AA Nazi.”
He proceeds to talk down the long stretch of “The Five”. He tells long convoluted stories and then pauses to insert a question. I smell the alcohol now, but do not inform him. He thanks me, at least twice, for allowing his talk. He seems to need to share. I am surprisingly at ease, comfortable, not disturbed. He points out trucks and shares their secret inner loot. “That one hauls wine,” he says. “That one hauls rice. They bring it to Budweiser.”
I am surprised that Budweiser beer contains rice. He nods, knowingly, happy to share a secret ingredient of the King of Beers.
He gets off in Sacramento, aimed for another Amtrak bus toward Redding and Grandpa and a sixteen year old son who he’s secretly teaching to drive without a license. He offers to let me off before the schoolchildren, but the bus has detoured to deposit the children directly in front of their destination.
I wonder if I should be nervous about missing the second bus. Missing Donner Pass until too late to meet my friend. But I surrender immediately to the fear…let it go, let it go. The Universe will not eat us, even though we’re late.
It’s snowing up farther in the mountains, perhaps. Fresh clean white snow, the grandchild of rain. Will the bus plow through, unafraid? If we get stuck will the bus driver pull out chains? Will we fast as we wait for the snow to clear? Will we share the rest of our snacks? Will we watch the snow grow deep in late April? Will we eye our fellow passengers furtively, remembering another century before Amtrak prowled the nation?
Up we go now. Up toward Truckee. Time for a peanut butter and honey sandwich. Life doesn’t get any sweeter than this.