CHAMPAIGN — This week's snow, ice and cold has cost Champaign its chance to be featured in a Trailways video chronicling a young filmmaker's journey by bus to Nashville.
Nick Catania had chosen Champaign as one of six stops he'd make while traveling from New Paltz, N.Y., to the American Bus Association convention in Nashville.
But Catania — who was scheduled to travel from Philadelphia to Indianapolis on Tuesday — instead diverted to the south when snow and ice hit the Midwest.
Catania, 23, said Trailways advised him about noon Monday "it may not be the best decision to head out that way."
Instead of heading west to Indianapolis, Champaign and St. Louis, Catania was rerouted to Washington, D.C., and Richmond, Va., with expectations of arriving in Nashville Thursday.
A fan of bus travel, Catania has started a business — NickelBus.com — that will allow travelers to search a website for bus routes and schedules across the nation.
"It's a little difficult to travel on buses, if you're not from the area and don't know the companies," he said. "Right now, there isn't a service online that you can search to create an itinerary and design a route like the one I was taking to Nashville. We're building that technology with NickelBus."
Catania plans to partner with bus companies to put their information on the NickelBus site. His business will have an exhibit at the ABA convention, and he will speak on a panel there.
When Tracey Simmons of Trailways learned of his plans to go to the convention by bus, she asked him to videotape his journey — and they signed a contract.
The travelogue he's producing for Trailways is expected to be divided into five videos, each five to 10 minutes long, with those videos destined for YouTube, he said.
Catania said he and his film assistant, 22-year-old T.J. Giannetta, are seeking to portray modern bus travel.
"We've gotten great stories from people, from all range of travelers," he said.
Folks they've interviewed included: a man who travels four nights a week to New York City for work; a fellow who rides from the Poconos to Wilkes-Barre, Pa., every week or so to visit his girlfriend; and a tattoo artist who journeys from place to place.
"The running theme is T.J. and Nick going to Nashville for the ABA bus conference — the places we go, the people we run into, the foods we eat, meeting up with friends and all the ways you can plan a trip," Catania said.
Catania said he had no particular reason for including Champaign on his itinerary other than it would give him a chance to ride Burlington Trailways, which provides service from Indianapolis to Champaign.
He planned to spend 5-1/2 hours in Champaign, having lunch before catching a Greyhound bus to St. Louis.
Catania, who doesn't have a car, said he has traveled by bus to Boston; Hartford, Conn.; Albany, N.Y.; and Portsmouth, N.H. But he has never taken a bus trip as far west as Champaign.
"You can take the bus directly from New York to Nashville, but it would take 23 hours because you have to stop in all those cities," he said.
But going by the bus gives you "the American travel experience, seeing the country right before your eyes," he said.
Catania, a graduate of Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N.J., said he hopes to get to Champaign, Indianapolis and St. Louis eventually — presumably in warmer weather.
"I know there's talk about it," he said of the potential trip, noting it would give him a chance to stay at historic hotels in Indianapolis and St. Louis.