…go up and down” (and in and out, and back and forth)…
The route west from Rapid City to Gillette, Buffalo, and Cheyenne, Wyoming was difficult – snow several inches on the road, and the edges not well defined. Our driver, a female by the the way, did an excellent job getting us safely to Cheyenne; however, we were running very late for our connections to Denver. We arrived in Cheyenne around 5:30 a.m. with around six to eight inches of snow on the road. And we learned that Interstate 25 was closed between Cheyenne and Denver. There was nothing to do but wait out the re-opening of the road.
The bus station is the lobby of the Rodeway Inn in Cheyenne. Imagine the surprise of the woman at the counter when she saw about 30 people get off the bus and take residence there! We were offered coffee; however, the bagels, muffins, and cereal she was quick to point out were for the hotel guests. That didn’t stop a few of the passengers, though, and as the morning dragged into the afternoon, much of the food had been eaten. What were we to do? There was an oriental restaurant attached to the motel, but it didn’t open until 11:30 a.m.
To pass the time there was a TV on that some folks watched, while others grouped into conversations, still others slept. Glad I had the sudoku puzzles! I wish I had audio “scratch and sniff” so you could hear the snoring!!!
About the people, though…I don’t know names, so I give them ‘character’ names…
Sailor Boy: He had served his time in the Navy, and had many stories to tell, keeping the folks in good humor. He was tall, with a shaved head except for the blond hair right down the middle of his head, front to back, that he said would stand up in a long spike if he wanted it that way. He was in his 30s and in my estimation had developed a certain kind of wisdom through his life lessons. I was impressed when he said he was going to help himself to a bagel (like the other two guys who rushed forward after getting off the bus), but didn’t because it would be selfish to do so, especially since he wasn’t hungry.
Momma Care-y: She was a middle-aged woman traveling with her son who looked to be in his late teens or early twenties. She was accompanying him to a Denver Broncos football game. I think the son had some medical or mental issues and that is why mom was with him. Well, grandma lives with Momma Care-y and football son and was by herself while they traveled to Denver. She called on the cell phone because she couldn’t get the TV to work. After about 20 minutes of Momma Care-y VERY patiently repeating the steps to get the TV to work, some of us broke out in laughter. It reminded me of a stand-up comedy routine. “Press Input, scroll down. No, don’t push the button on the left. Start over. You need to push the button quickly”. Etcetera.
Recovering Grandma-to-be: She was almost 40 and going to visit her 19-year old daughter in Arkansas who was having a baby. She didn’t look much older than 19 herself! She said she had been addicted to alcohol and drugs in the past, and she had turned her life over to God. She had been completely sober for two years. She was accompanied by her mother (so there would be four generations of the family at that birth). Mother was still married to an alcoholic, who was ‘improving’, and who didn’t want her to travel to Arkansas with her daughter. She said she was going anyway. I’m glad for her.
Princess Ponytail: She was almost 10 years old I learned through lots of miles of traveling, seated behind her. She had the two adjacent seats to herself, but she was a wiggly little girl, in constant motion and ‘conversation’ with her mother. Only trouble was that her mother was engaged in some kind of lovey-dovey thing with a male companion, and she paid no attention to her daughter. My assessment of the situation was something I’ve seen many times through my work as a social worker – abandonment of child by mother for relationship with male. ‘Ponytail’ seemed to be a typical nine-year old who just needed some maternal attention. When I asked her if she was going to rest at all, she said no, she didn’t feel like it. After a short break a little down the road, her mother sat with her instead of ‘macho-boy’ and she went right to sleep. She has developed some skills of independence, by default, and she spent her time flitting from one maternal passenger to another at the Rodeway Inn, where she got the attention she so craved from her mother.
One of the other passengers told me that until I got on the bus this child was almost out of control and her mother did nothing to correct her. That changed when I got on – and I know that that’s because I engaged her with some attention. I really didn’t want to – somehow I always end up next to the kids who are traveling ‘alone’, and I could have used the rest. But it was either to struggle through the ‘wiggles’ and the up-and-down in the seat, or get her to settle a little by talking to her.
Dinosaur Man”: He traveled on a bus earlier in the trip; but I want to mention him because he had impact on the way to Rapid City. He was black, with a ‘diamond’ post in each ear, traveling with his small son, and presumably his girl friend, although she didn’t ‘appear’ until later. At one quick stop the bus driver announced that no one was to leave the bus as it was only stopping to let people off. Dinosaur Man got off with his son. He, not the son, was wearing what I call an adult ‘onesie’. It was a fleece one-piece jumpsuit, gray with green dinosaurs printed on it. I think it had feet in it because it continued into the man’s sport shoes.
When he got back on the bus, the bus driver chastised him for getting off. The man offered that he had to get milk for his kid.
Many miles later the bus driver addressed the person who had just come out of the restroom, and asked him to step to the front of the bus. The driver pulled the bus to the shoulder of the interstate highway and he and the man got out. Apparently the man had been smoking in the restroom, which is banned on the buses.
When we came to the next stop, the driver put the man, his child, and the girlfriend off the bus – they were nowhere near their destination. The driver apologized to the passengers, explaining that the man had been drinking and he had been warned before about drinking and smoking on the bus.
Such a cross-section of America!
To continue the day’s trip – after a couple of false starts, that included a dead battery on the bus that brought us to Cheyenne, transferring passengers from another bus to the dead bus, a very cranky bus driver, cranky passengers who were never informed about what was going on, and getting a wrecker to jump-start the bus’ battery, we got on the road to Denver around 4:00 p.m. And you know that Philly cheese half-sandwich I saved? I ate it for lunch!
We arrived in Denver after another three or four hours – it doesn’t take three to four hours to get to Denver, but the driver took us through Greeley, Longmont, and a couple more stops before we finally arrived around 8:00 p.m. I inquired at the ticket counter about the bus to Albuquerque because I’d missed my connection (at 12:30 p.m.). She said the next bus was leaving at 8:30. So I quickly obtained a sandwich and water and got into the Albuquerque line. Another woman passenger who had ridden to Cheyenne and then Denver with me needed to get on this bus that was eventually going to Phoenix. There were several people in line with very large bags, and it soon became clear that not all of us were going to get on this bus. The other woman’s bags were supposed to be transferred to this bus and she couldn’t get a straight answer if that had happened. She suggested that we go to the front of the line. And when I went up there, the driver checked my ticket – Denver to Las Cruces – and I was asked where my bags were. As I only had a carry-on, the bus driver took my bag, got on the bus with it, put it in the overhead compartment for me, and offered me the last available seat…
I’d like to say that that was the last glitch in the trip; however, when we got to Colorado Springs, only an hour south of Denver, the driver announced that we’d hit a car and that the roads were very icey; and later he announced that we had a mechanical issue that needed to be resolved before we could continue. So two hours later, we finally left Colorado Springs. I had been wondering if my luck of getting that last seat was going to turn sour!
I called my friend from Denver to let him know I’d be arriving in the morning instead of the evening as originally scheduled – so he had to change his plans – and I felt badly about that. And as it turned out I called him again just before he was leaving to pick me up in Las Cruces to say that it would be another three hours from Albuquerque to Las Cruces. He was very gracious about the changes, and I am so appreciative!
I arrived in Las Cruces at 10:00 a.m. and my friend was already in the city doing some shopping. We connected quickly and he drove to Deming while I filled him in only a little about this adventure.
This trip was brought to you for the five minutes at Pennington County, SD licensing department necessary to get a $20 five-year driver’s license as required by my change of address.