Nola to Louisville then to Hell

I took my son to NOLA for his 20th birthday. It was the year after I lost my dad and we both needed a reset. Keegs was at college at the time and was having a very difficult time as well.


His Professor of Religious Studies, Sister Diegnan, had arranged for some students to attend the International Thomas Merton Meeting in Louisville (Bellarmine University) on June 3-7th so I planned our vacation trip around it while also registering to attend the conference.

The plan was to fly into New Orleans then drive to Louisville. Leg one, NOLA was a blast. The food, the culture, our bed and breakfast. Everything was perfect: Drunken Karaoke et al (the drinking age in NOLA is 18). We set out to Louisville the morning of June 3 and arrived at the University almost 11hours later. The drive was long and full of arguments for another story.

I don't remember much of the Meeting to be honest but I am sure it played a role in my healing process. On the last day, we said our goodbyes and made our way to the bus stop, or rather, the bus start…since this is where the true adventure begins.

Sister Diegnan made all the ground transport arrangements and I simply went along with it. The plan was for us to get on the bus in Louisville that would drive us into Manhattan. I would then catch my flight from JFK to FLL. I really wanted to spend as much time with Keegs as possible so the long bus drive was not a deterrent. I assumed it was the Greyhound Bus service. It wasn't.

I guess having an Uber driver tell of stories of his pet iguana (that he would take for walks in the park and have to restrain it from leaping onto people who dare to wear floral shirts) as we were on our way to meet the bus should have been the first sign that this was an adventure we didn't plan for. The Uber driver claimed that his pet iguana ran away and reappeared in his basement a few days later. You know, we all have those wayward pets!

We got to the bus stop and a RED bus was parked in a strip mall with an attendant seemingly of east Asian descent, standing in front of the door, clipboard in hand, ready to check us in. The bus appeared to be hand painted with a Hake brush on a windy rainy day.

As we boarded the bus I almost choked on the smell of urine! I shot keegs a look and he shrugged. Another student who attended the meeting was on the bus with us too. Sister Diegnan had purchased six tickets but only when prompted did Keegan offer up that the other three kids decided to make alternative arrangements because the bus ride from New York was a disaster.

I took a deep breath and told them that we would occupy the six seats since they were paid for. I figured at least if I were to die from the smell of urine, I'd at least have the space in my row to do so comfortably. Sheesh.

Aaaand we were off.

I tried to read my book or grab a nap but just couldn't get comfortable enough.

I had taken the Greyhound bus service in the past and don't recall them making these obviously unplanned diversions to collect passengers idly standing on the exits off the lonely highway. With each exit a few passengers hopped off and some hopped on. I made it very clear to Keegan and his schoolmate that no one was allowed to sit next to them. The seats were paid for. I also communicated that to the 'conductor'.

We boarded the bus around 6:30pm and were scheduled to arrive in NYC around 5am. At approximately 11pm... there was a funny sound and the bus came to a sudden halt.

Everyone remained seated looking around at each other for some sort of explanation. The bus was occupied mostly by people of East Asian origins who drew information from the driver about the situation but neglected to divulge any of it. One lady sitting a couple rows in front of me signed that she didn't speak english, shrugged, placed her head on the window and shut her eyes...as...if...nothing...happened!

There we were, sitting on this hand painted red bus... somewhere in Ohio... with no street lights and no sense of civilization!

Initially I wasn't panicking. We had food and water and I figured we should be on our way soon enough. Now with air condition off...the pungent smell of ammonia returned. We cracked open the window and sat in stillness. Thankfully the bus was equipped with a phone charger.

After about one hour no one was able to say exactly when we could expect to be on the move again. Restless and irritable I called my husband and explained the predicament asking him to send an Uber...another bus...a helicopter...something! Of course, there was nothing he could do because, of course, I had no idea where we were. Honestly, I didn’t know where my mind was either. I felt lost and over saturated in the smell of ammonia. We sat there for another two hours before the matter was resolved.

Finally, at about 2:30 am we were back on the road again. NYC Babaaaay!

I must have dozed off because I was awoken by loud screaming and shouting.

“Oh my GOD! We're gonna die!”

“WTF! Help us! We're going to die!”

“It was clear that everyone was terrified.”

“Mom, you didn't feel that?” Keegan asked.

The driver of the bus must have dozed off as well and the vibration caused by the rumble strips must have alerted him. The quick pull on the steering caused the bus to skid and almost overturn.

Maaan! People were terrified and livid!

‘Man are you drunk?’ ‘Call the cops!’ ‘This MF finna try to kill us!’

All this from the lady sitting two rows down on the opposite side of the bus.

Passengers took to their phones and called the police.

We insisted, no, we commanded the driver to switch the bus off and wait for the arrival of the police. Within 20mins or so the police arrived.

All the passengers who were seated upfront made their way to the back of the bus. The presumably East Asian lady who earlier communicated with me using signs and signals because she couldn't speak english, coughed up some really great sentences, in english, as we sat waiting for the police to conduct their investigations.

I knew I was not about to sit in this bus for another few hours. By this time, it was well past 4am. With almost 6/7 more hours to go I knew I was not prepared to stay on this bus.

The officers checked the driver's documents, his breath and had an extensive conversation with him outside of the bus.

'Oh hell naw! I'm finna need dem to lock-this-MF-up and throw away the key'. These officers better drive this damn bus to the City! Dey outchea tryna kill us! Get me off this BUS!

Swore my mouthy co-passenger.

After what seemed like forever, the officer entered the bus and advised that they had no grounds to arrest the driver or even stop him from continuing his journey. Their job was over and they bade farewell.

For the first time, I jumped out of my seat and pleaded with the officers to at least follow us to the nearest hotel where I would disembark and make other arrangements. Other passengers supported me and agreed that they didn't feel safe to continue on the journey.

At 5am we arrived at a hotel in the middle of nowhere! I don't recall how many of us got off the bus but mouthy remained seated for the long ride.

As we were exiting the bus, I could see fear in the eyes of Keegs' schoolmate so I invited her to exit the bus with us and promised to take care of her.

We sat in the hotel lobby, both Keegs and his friend lounged across the luggage eyes shut. I couldn't sleep. I thought about getting a room but that made no sense since I knew we needed to be on our way in a couple hours.

The girl at the front desk told me that the earliest taxi out of this area was at 6am. After much discussion with Ian it was decided that I would get the first taxi out to the nearest airport where I would collect a rental and drive to NYC.

The nearest airport was Dayton, Ohio and our cab would pick us up at 6am.

Once at the airport and with the keys to the rental in my hand an overwhelming feeling of fear and despair overcame me. I was exhausted and couldn' t trust that I would stay awake at the wheel. The weather conditions were not cooperating either.

In the end a decision was made to cancel the rental and book flights to our respective destination. Although I felt responsible for Keegs' friend I wanted to be sure that her parents knew what was going on. Efforts to reach them failed!!! Frustrated and annoyed I kept trying to get through.

Finally, her dad answered. He was working with an airline and arranged a flight for her to get back to Iona College.

With the help of my best friend Paula I used a buddy pass to book a flight to FLL via DFW. I booked Keegs a direct flight to JFK (I wanted him to get there without any hassle)

My flight was first off so I kissed my son goodbye and promised I would call once I got to DFW. My connecting flight to FLL was empty... so after a quick 'cowboy' in the ladies restroom I blew Keegs telephone kisses and wished him a safe flight.

I disembarked my flight at FLL...exhausted and with a faint smell of the spiritual consciousness I had lathered in during the conference.

On the drive home I called Keegan to leave a voice message so he'd get it as soon as he landed.

'Hello!' It was Keegs on the other end of the phone. WHAT THE ACTUAL........

His flight was cancelled due to bad weather and he would have to overnight in Dayton, Ohio.

The next day we got a flight to Chicago, then to JFK

Once we were settled, rested and showered. I contacted Sister Diegnan and relayed the adventures, asking them to reimburse us for all the expenses incurred. The school settled all Keegan's travel expenses.

I've never been back to either Louisville, Dayton or NOLA.

I’ve also never seen the inside of a bus!






I took my son to NOLA for his 20th birthday. It was the year after I lost my dad and we both needed a reset. Keegs was at college at the time and was having a very difficult time as well. His Professor of Religious Studies, Sister Diegnan, had arranged for some students to attend the International Thomas Merton Meeting in Louisville (Bellarmine University) on June 3-7th so I planned our vacation trip around it while also registering to attend the conference.

The plan was to fly into New Orleans then drive to Louisville. Leg one, NOLA was a blast. The food, the culture, our bed and breakfast. Everything was perfect: Drunken Karaoke et al (the drinking age in NOLA is 18). We set out to Louisville the morning of June 3 and arrived at the University almost 11hours later. The drive was long and full of arguments for another story.

I don't remember much of the Meeting to be honest but I am sure it played a role in my healing process. On the last day, we said our goodbyes and made our way to the bus stop, or rather, the bus start…since this is where the true adventure begins.

Sister Diegnan made all the ground transport arrangements and I simply went along with it. The plan was for us to get on the bus in Louisville that would drive us into Manhattan. I would then catch my flight from JFK to FLL. I really wanted to spend as much time with Keegs as possible so the long bus drive was not a deterrent. I assumed it was the Greyhound Bus service. It wasn't.

I guess having an Uber driver tell of stories of his pet iguana (that he would take for walks in the park and have to restrain it from leaping onto people who dare to wear floral shirts) as we were on our way to meet the bus should have been the first sign that this was an adventure we didn't plan for. The same pet iguana he claimed ran away and reappeared in his basement a few days later. You know, we all have those wayward pets!

We got to the bus stop and a RED bus was parked in a strip mall with an attendant seemingly of east asian descent, standing in front of the door, clipboard in hand, ready to check us in. The bus appeared to be hand painted with a Hake brush on a windy rainy day.

As we boarded the bus I almost choked on the smell of urine! I shot keegs a look and he shrugged. Another student who attended the meeting was on the bus with us too. Sister Diegnan has purchased six tickets but only when prompted did Keegan offer up that the other three kids decided to make alternative arrangements because the bus ride from New York was a disaster.

I took a deep breath and told them that we would occupy the six seats since they were paid for. I figured at least if I were to die from the smell of urine, I'd at least have the space in my row to do so comfortably. Sheesh.

Aaaand we were off.

I tried to read my book or grab a nap but just couldn't get comfortable enough.

I had taken the Greyhound bus service in the past and don't recall them making these obviously unplanned diversions to collect passengers idly standing on the exits off the lonely highway. With each exit a few passengers hopped off and some hopped on. I made it very clear to Keegan and his schoolmate that no one was allowed to sit next to them. The seats were paid for. I also communicated that to the 'conductor'.

We boarded the bus around 6:30pm and were scheduled to arrive in NYC around 5am. At approximately 11pm... there was a funny sound and the bus came to a sudden halt.

Everyone remained seated looking around at each other for some sort of explanation. The bus was occupied mostly by people of East Asian origins who drew information from the driver about the situation but neglected to divulge any of it. One lady sitting a couple rows in front of me signed that she didn't speak english, shrugged, placed her head on the window and shut her eyes...as...if...nothing...happened!

There we were, sitting on this hand painted red bus... somewhere in Ohio... with no street lights and no sense of civilization!

Initially I wasn't panicking. We had food and water and I figured we should be on our way soon enough. Now with air condition off...the pungent smell of ammonia returned. We cracked open the window and sat in stillness. Thankfully the bus was equipped with a phone charger.

After about one hour no one was able to say exactly when we could expect to be on the move again. Restless and irritable I called my husband and explained the predicament asking him to send an Uber...another bus...a helicopter...something! Of course, there was nothing he could do because, of course, I had no idea where we were. Honestly, I didn’t know where my mind was either. I felt lost and over saturated in the smell of ammonia. We sat there for another two hours before the matter was resolved.

Finally, at about 2:30 am we were back on the road again. NYC Babaaaay!

I must have dozed off because I was awoken by loud screaming and shouting.

Oh my GOD! We're gonna die!

WTF! Help us! We're going to die!

It was clear that everyone was terrified.

'Mom, you didn't feel that?' Keegan asked.

The driver of the bus must have dozed off as well and the vibration caused by the rumble strips must have alerted him. The quick pull on the steering caused the bus to skid and almost overturn.

Maaan! People were terrified and livid!

‘Man are you drunk?’ ‘Call the cops!’ ‘This MF finna try to kill us!’

All this from the lady sitting two rows down on the opposite side of the bus.

Passengers took to their phones and called the police.

We insisted, no, we commanded the driver to switch the bus off and wait for the arrival of the police. Within 20mins or so the police arrived.

All the passengers who were seated upfront made their way to the back of the bus. The presumably East Asian lady who earlier communicated with me using signs and signals because she couldn't speak english, coughed up some really great sentences, in english, as we sat waiting for the police to conduct their investigations.

I knew I was not about to sit in this bus for another few hours. By this time, it was well past 4am. With almost 6/7 more hours to go I knew I was not prepared to stay on this bus.

The officers checked the driver's documents, his breath and had an extensive conversation with him outside of the bus.

'Oh hell naw! I'm finna need dem to lock-this-MF-up and throw away the key'. These officers better drive this damn bus to the City! Dey outchea tryna kill us! Get me off this BUS!

Swore my mouthy co-passenger.

After what seemed like forever, the officer entered the bus and advised that they had no grounds to arrest the driver or even stop him from continuing his journey. Their job was over and they bade farewell.

For the first time, I jumped out of my seat and pleaded with the officers to at least follow us to the nearest hotel where I would disembark and make other arrangements. Other passengers supported me and agreed that they didn't feel safe to continue on the journey.

At 5am we arrived at a hotel in the middle of nowhere! I don't recall how many of us got off the bus but mouthy remained seated for the long ride.

As we were exiting the bus, I could see fear in the eyes of Keegs' schoolmate so I invited her to exit the bus with us and promised to take care of her.

We sat in the hotel lobby, both Keegs and his friend lounged across the luggage eyes shut. I couldn't sleep. I thought about getting a room but that made no sense since I knew we needed to be on our way in a couple hours.

The girl at the front desk told me that the earliest taxi out of this area was at 6am. After much discussion with Ian it was decided that I would get the first taxi out to the nearest airport where I would collect a rental and drive to NYC.

The nearest airport was Dayton, Ohio and our cab would pick us up at 6am.

Once at the airport and with the keys to the rental in my hand an overwhelming feeling of fear and despair overcame me. I was exhausted and couldn' t trust that I would stay awake at the wheel. The weather conditions were not cooperating either.

In the end a decision was made to cancel the rental and book flights to our respective destination. Although I felt responsible for Keegs' friend I wanted to be sure that her parents knew what was going on. Efforts to reach them failed!!! Frustrated and annoyed I kept trying to get through.

Finally, her dad answered. He was working with an airline and arranged a flight for her to get back to Iona College.

With the help of my best friend Paula I used a buddy pass to book a flight to FLL via DFW. I booked Keegs a direct flight to JFK (I wanted him to get there without any hassle)

My flight was first off so I kissed my son goodbye and promised I would call once I got to DFW. My connecting flight to FLL was empty... so after a quick 'cowboy' in the ladies restroom I blew Keegs telephone kisses and wished him a safe flight.

I disembarked my flight at FLL...exhausted and with a faint smell of the spiritual consciousness I had lathered in during the conference.

On the drive home I called Keegan to leave a voice message so he'd get it as soon as he landed.

'Hello!' It was Keegs on the other end of the phone. WHAT THE ACTUAL........

His flight was cancelled due to bad weather and he would have to overnight in Dayton, Ohio.

The next day we got a flight to Chicago, then to JFK

Once we were settled, rested and showered. I contacted Sister Diegnan and relayed the adventures, asking them to reimburse us for all the expenses incurred. The school settled all Keegan's travel expenses.

I've never been back to either Louisville, Dayton or NOLA.

I’ve also never seen the inside of another bus!

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