The Pink Bus departs Fargo at 6:45am Saturday and returns Sunday evening. Its passengers do not know what they’ll be up to during the mystery tour, but they can be certain of one thing: that they are all ladies, because men can’t go on The Pink Bus.
“There’s a certain feminine camaraderie that can only come out when no guys are around,” said Tara Whitmore, assistant of The Pink Bus Mystery Trips. “Everyone just gets along. Most of our ladies have jobs, kids, or grandkids, so it’s nice for them to get away from those responsibilities for a weekend. Women are usually the ones who plan vacations, but we handle everything so they can just sit back and relax.
“Do you know those places that you see from the road and want to check out, but your husband keeps on driving? That’s where we stop. We visit comedy clubs, shopping destinations, archery ranges, plays, breweries, wineries, and even dairy farms so long as we think they’ll make a fun two hours. Our guests love not knowing where they’re going. A lot of guessing goes on, and some of them even try to bribe the bus driver for information!” said Holly Pohlman, assistant of the Pink Bus Mystery Trips.
“I remember one of our guests shooting guns for the first time,” said Debbie Carriveau, owner of The Pink Bus. “She fired a .45 and a rifle that day, and made sure we took plenty of photos to show her grandkids. We have taken a group of ladies to their first belly dancing class, too. A lot of them were hesitant at first, but when we got back to the bus everyone was laughing and wiggling! They might have never tried things like that without us.
“We see a lot of lifelong friendships begin on The Pink Bus. Some of our tours have 20 gals on them who all met on the same trip years ago, and they keep coming back together. We’ve had ladies tour with us for so long that their daughters are now joining us too!
“We put a lot of research and planning into every mystery tour. That was a lot harder in the early days of the internet, but even with Google and Pinterest we still like to drive around and explore destinations beforehand. Your hotel, your meals, your entertainment — everything you do on the trip is included in the price of admission, short of shopping. The hotel is also a mystery, but we prefer to stay in modern accommodations with pools and restaurants.
“My husband had ALS, and my sister and I always did benefits for the illness. After he passed away in 2003, I went on a bus trip with a friend. When I got back, I told my sister we should plan our own bus tour as a fundraiser. After learning the ins and outs of touring, we decided it would make more sense if we turned it into a full business. Now we donate a portion of our profits to ALS charities, as well as all profits from T-shirt sales.”
The Pink Bus doesn’t just make weekend trips out of Fargo. They also offer five day flyaway tours, where guests only know their destination in America. The ladies of Fargo have so far invaded places including Tennessee, Texas, and New England.
The Pink Bus is on a path of world domination, even. They have toured Italy and Ireland thus far, and this fall they will take guests on a two week Scandanavian adventure. International tours stray from The Pink Bus’ usual M.O. in two important ways: They are not mysteries, as their itineraries are all available ahead of time, and men are welcome to join.
To learn everything about The Pink Bus Mystery Trips, please visit thepinkbus.net.
By David Scheller