Vail Daily letter: Unexpected layover in Vail
My wife, Natalie, and I were two of the 43 eastbound Greyhound bus passengers stranded in your town for five hours on Wednesday, and I must say that the experience was a memorable one.
When we pulled into the Vail Village Parking Structure’s lot at mid-morning to pick up some passengers our bus driver, Cynthia, had some bad news for our diverse and travel-worn assembly: our bus was not running properly, and it was doubtful that we could make it to the Eisenhower Tunnel. It seems that the particulate filter on the exhaust was badly clogged.
And so while we poked around the Ski Museum’s entrance perusing the vending machines and taking in the scenery, Cynthia struggled to clear the filter, attempts that included taking the aged machine on a two-mile run up and down I-70. Alas, nothing worked: Greyhound Operations instructed us to await a replacement bus from Denver.
At this, Cynthia was approached by a carefully-dressed lady official from the complex, and the exchange was splendid to hear. I watched one of Vail’s athletic women — clearly just emerged from the pages of the L.L. Bean catalog — jog past while Cynthia was told to kindly move her broken-down bus and its, ah, passengers to someplace that wasn’t quite so obvious — say, a mile down the frontage road near the supermarkets.
We’d just about exhausted the parking structure’s delights anyway — I don’t know if anyone went to the Ski Museum — so we piled back onto the crippled machine for a ride to a breakdown lane across from the stores. I shopped for some carrot nuggets at the Safeway while Natalie used the recharge station in the cafe to revive her cell phone.
As we visited the stores we took the opportunity to explain what we were doing there instead of the Greyhound stop. When I suggested that the locals were anxious to defend their property values from us, everyone was convulsed with laughter. That, they said, was Vail.
We bought bananas at City Market and walked back to the Safeway for broccoli-cheese soup and a ham sandwich. It took another three hours for the replacement bus to arrive from Denver (there was one false alarm when a westbound Greyhound driver stopped his bus to ask what was wrong), and so we visited with our fellow passengers: a great-grandfather born in Ecuador on his way to live with his daughter in New Jersey, a mother escaping to Wyoming from an abusive husband, and two exuberant young men toting salt-water fishing poles and large skateboards.
The new bus finally pulled up, everyone pitched in to transfer the luggage, and we were off.
All of us had Vail stories to share.
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