Greyhound bus ride

Bus seats afford a good view of Pyramid Lake, near Castaic, on a Greyhound trip in California. (Arkasha Stevenson / Los Angeles Times)

The doctor said she's about three months' pregnant, but, she says, it's probably really four. Yes, she's taking her prenatal vitamins. Yes, her boyfriend needs to man up and quit playing video games and decide whether he wants to be part of this baby's life, because if not, her family is there for her and she doesn't want to spend the next 60 years with someone who doesn't really love her.

Not bad for 22.

When she de-buses in Stockton, I thank her for her candor and hand her a few bucks for baby shoes.

Most times you chase the stories; occasionally, they chase you.

In her place sits Ron Blake, a big, ponytailed Texan who raked in a lot of money in computer databases, blew a bunch of it on three marriages and is now traveling for a month on Greyhound's $461 30-day pass.

"You better be interesting, dude," I tell him as he sits down.


I tell Blake about the tough act he follows.

Up for a challenge, he begins to serenade me with stories about life on the road, the great stay he just had in Yosemite, the magnificent future of computer-based titanium manufacturing and about any other subject you could possibly name.

I won't get into specifics on Blake; that would take a book. But the 65-year-old is sold on bus travel too, on his way this evening to L.A. just for a Dodgers game, then back on the bus at midnight for a trip to San Francisco, and eventually, Portland, Ore., Seattle and Vancouver, Canada, then across to the Canadian Rockies and down into Glacier National Park in Montana.

By the time Blake takes his first breath, somewhere near Bakersfield, I have a serious case of travel envy.

And I'm not so sure that, one day, I might not try just what he's doing — soaking up 4,000 miles of North America for less than a round-trip air ticket to Philly.

Of a bus, he says, "You don't just get in touch with your own soul. You get in touch with the souls of everyone around you."

And even a few souls to come.