Harley Hay: Do you need a sleeping bus tour?

I was thinking about buses the other day. It’s not something I think about every day, but I sometimes surprise myself by realizing that I’m thinking about them. It was the paper’s fault – I read an article describing something called the “Sleeping Bus Tour” which is in Hong Kong and involves a five hour double-decker bus ride for the sole purpose of putting people to sleep.

Now, if you have children, grand children, or insomniacal pets it’s very likely that you’ve found yourself driving aimlessly at odd hours with the insomniac strapped in the back seat in a desperate attempt to get said loved one to fall asleep. The Sleeping Bus Tour is like that. Since long vehicular trips are known to cause drowsiness for some people, organizers figured stressed-out sleepless people would pay upwards of fifty bucks to get drowsy on a big bus. And they were right.

Turns out, the first trip was sold out. People came shuffling with their sleeping pillows and blankets, looking no doubt like the zombie apocalypse, staggering desperately onto the bus to bag some of those elusive zeds. This got me to reminiscing, as I often do, since, as the years fly by it’s becoming apparent that I have less days in front of me than behind.

You see, some of the best sleeps I’ve ever had were on a bus, and some of the worst sleeps were too. Back in the day we long-haired galoots were lucky enough to hit the road in not one, but two different buses, playing dances, clubs and concerts all over the map with various dance, rock and pop bands. So the buses I love the most were our own rock and roll adventure machines. And yes, there was also occasional sleeping going on as we were rolling down the road.

And for me, the best sleeps happened in our converted yellow school bus which we (John) painted blue. Thanks to cheap but comfy Army Surplus bunk beds, some old furniture and spiffy curtains made by the band moms, we hit the road in style. My bed was the top bunk across the back and when I hit the hay (pun intended) I hit it hard. We were teenagers with energy to burn and good times to be had but making music on the road can, believe it or not, be very hard work. So those exhausted nights and days literally rocking and rolling along in that sleeping bag on that bunk in the back of that bus was my happy place.

The next bus, not so much. Different band, different bus. This time, we found a 50s “greyhound” style beauty but the decision was made to keep the seats instead of remodeling the interior. The big bus was mucho dinero and it would be worth more with the seats, so goodbye bunks, hello sleep-deprived rock and roll zombies.

Don’t get me wrong, we all loved that lumbering road rocket (I called it “Huckleberry”). It was one epic adventure after another, scattered liberally with weary road-slogging too, of course, but Huckleberry was sorely missing the comfy, happy-place sleep feature. I used to bag out horizontally in the back, up against the P.A. cabinets and guitar amps. No wonder I had feverish dreams about heavy equipment falling and crushing the daylights out of me.

Still, the guys were right. With the seats in it, we eventually sold the bus to the Rustler’s hockey team, but would have given half my drum kit for a bunk bed in that big old beast.

And so I’m thinking about buses. You know, these days I could use a really good sleep. And nice quiet bus ride to Saskatchewan and back should do it.

Harley Hay is a Red Deer author and filmmaker. Send him a column idea to harleyhay1@hotmail.com.


Gaetz Ave Dance Band

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