February 17th, 2008: Bright and sunny today and back down to -18°. Yesterday’s temperature got up to about +4° and slush and slop were everywhere. Our nice, clean car didn’t stay clean for long.
After San Francisco, everything pales! We spent a night in Reno, where Doreen got some gambling in, and another in Jackpot (and yes, Trudy and Richard, it is the last point in Nevada before Idaho). I keep insisting that Doreen should at least win enough to pay for our meals and hotel rooms, but she claims that her responsibility is to contribute to the cause, keeping those poor, unfortunate mobs affluent.
Our excellent weather continued into Monday, though it got a bit chilly by the time we got into the snowy altitudes. The bus riders, whenever possible, stand around outside, just soaking up the sun’s rays. I think both Doreen and I got a tan on our faces, at least. Better than sitting in front of one of those Day Lights.
On those traffic-choked freeways in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, we had a pretty good look at fellow travelers. I don’t think there would be a traffic problem except that 95% or more of the cars had one person in them. I suspect 80% of those persons had cell phones at their heads. Mind you, I’m not convinced that cell phone use is any more distracting than tuning the radio, playing a CD, or lighting a cigarette. It just looks stupid – almost as stupid as the lady who was driving down the freeway reading a brochure.
In California, the population seems to be predominantly Spanish-speaking, with a lot of Asians and a few blacks. Everyone seems to get along well with everyone else, though. Some of the apparent Anglos are apt to start spouting Spanish, but then, there are lots of blond Spaniards.
We travelled with a great bunch of people, friendly and fun-loving. (Funny how our fellow travelers seem to get younger and younger every year.) A lot of the wonderful people we travelled with last year were on the other bus, so we had all kinds of friends to socialize with.
Our McConaghy Tours staff were terrific, too, cheerful, friendly and helpful. Our chief host, Beth McDonald, got her baptism under fire when one of our number got sick in San Francisco. Beth was called at about one AM; she called 911 and got ambulances and fire trucks there quickly. She accompanied the stricken to hospital, looked after paperwork and insurance matters, called the poor woman’s family, and arranged for the distraught husband to stay on at the hotel. The bus left as soon as she got back to the hotel, so poor Beth got precious little sleep.
Then she had the same thing happen at Reno – a lady got sick and was unable to continue the tour. With the aid of the woman’s relatives, who were also on the bus, Beth made arrangements for her to stay at the hotel until her family could get there.
Luckily, we had a couple aboard who are apprenticing as tour guides for McConaghy Tours, Nancy and Doug Porcina of Prince Albert, recently-retired teachers. They were able to step into the gap and help Beth out.
A night at Butte, another at Lethbridge and we were home by Thursday night. We were amazed at the amount of snow in Regina (we had to drop off some passengers there) and how cold the wind was. Our blood hadn’t thickened up yet. Saskatoon was bitterly cold, so we didn’t linger long over farewells. Cold or not, it was good to get home. Lloyd was there to meet us with a nice, warm car.
We got some e-mails from the Rusteikas, who bought our place at Greenwater. They were able to spend some time there in January, and loved it despite the cold. They sent a bunch of great pictures of the birds and animals that came to their feeder.
Winter cleanup has started in Saskatoon and we watched a couple of graders and a huge snowblower working over on Heal Ave. The blower must have been throwing the snow a couple of hundred feet. Too bad I didn’t have that at Greenwater – I could do all four driveways in five minutes, and throw the snow all the way to the lake.