The Great Outdoors


There were two little boys down at the Doughnut Hole Café the other day, standing outside, just waiting. They didn’t have long to wait. The Greyhound bus pulls up just about one each afternoon, give or take a little.

When the bus pulled up and parked and the brakes went whoosh, those two little boys had eyes like saucers. They took in everything, from the mud on the tires to the snow clinging to the mud flaps.

The driver stepped down and helped her passengers out, proudly wearing the Greyhound uniform. She had pride in her eyes, too, as we all know how that mountain can get when it’s snowing.

It’s always been that way. There have always been little guys watching and wondering as the people get off for their lunch stop. Where are these people from? What was it like up on the mountain? I wonder if I could drive the bus someday when I’m grown.

When we’re small, our world and our view of it tends to be smaller as well. The exotic places of the world – to an eight-year-old – aren’t Singapore or Nairobi or Calcutta. The exotic places tend more toward Smithfield and Riverbank and Oakdale and Cottage Grove. At eight years old, the world’s horizon is Thompson Ridge, rather than the Pacific Ocean. But that doesn’t make the world any less fascinating.

Those little boys knew that, after lunch, those people would get back on that bus (they even have a restroom on the bus, you know) and they would go out of town in a diesel rush and cross the bridge on Lewis Creek and then disappear. But they know that bus will be going right past their grandparents’ house in about two hours. They asked and they know. The people on that bus might be able to look out and see Grandpa’s dog, Sadie, as the bus goes by.

I wonder what Sadie’s doing right now? If I were on that bus right now, I could get off there and see. And someday I will. Someday I’ll get on and ride and I’ll know what’s out there. I’ll know…

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Slim Randles
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Slim Randles

Six years ago he began writing a syndicated humor column for newspapers called “Home Country.” He’s also the author of 16 books, including three novels and the biography of The Rounders author, Max Evans. One of Slim’s most recent books, “A Cowboy’s Guide to Growing Up Right” has won two state awards and one national award. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer