Last Tuesday I mentioned that I would be speaking at UNLV, and that on the following day I’d be meeting back up with my traveling companion. But I omitted two words from the latter phrase: “in Denver”. And thereby hangs a tale of woe. My presentation went just fine, and had my bus trip gone just as well this would’ve been a very short column; alas, that was not to be. I was rather proud of myself for efficiently compacting my luggage and for not getting angry when it was announced that the bus had been ridiculously overbooked, which meant I had to wait thirteen hours for the next one. I was also quite pleased when the hotel clerk cheerfully let me back into my room even though I had technically checked out, and rather enjoyed the large diner breakfast I decided to have so I wouldn’t need to eat dinner en route; the fact that I would not need to book a hotel in Denver Wednesday night also appealed to my sense of thrift. And that concludes the list of good things I can say about the journey.
The bus left the depot 45 minutes late and was absolutely packed solid, and it’s a good thing I’m used to being in close quarters with strange men because my seatmate was built like a professional wrestler and overlapped my seat by a noticeable amount. The promised on-bus wi-fi turned out to be a lie; my computer connected to the bus, but the bus never connected to the internet for more than a few painfully-slow and highly intermittent teases. And there was simply no way to actually sleep in that seat, no matter how I turned my head, torso and legs (though I did fitfully doze for a merciful hour here and there throughout the night). I would’ve still considered it merely a bad trip rather than a horrible one, however, had the driver not switched the interior lights on during the approach to Grand Junction, then proceeded to execute a series of tight turns and unexpected stop-starts while I couldn’t see where we were going through the now-reflective windows. It’s a good thing my last meal had been concluded over twelve hours earlier, or the resulting mess would’ve been a lot nastier.
That was only the beginning. Near Vail, the highway began to twist and turn in a way no other interstate highway in the country manages to do, and needless to say I got sicker and sicker; at some point the seat came loose from its catches and began to roll forward with every deceleration and backward with every acceleration. By the time we arrived in Denver I felt like a torture victim and probably looked like a frightened, bedraggled kitten (except not as cute). Fortunately, reader Leonard Fahrni had volunteered to fetch me from the depot despite the early hour; had I been required to drag my own luggage to a cab stand, endure a back-seat ride to an internet cafe, then book a hotel and endure another ride to get there, I honestly don’t know if I could’ve done it. But Leonard carried my things, drove gently to his house, waited patiently while I found a hotel with his internet and then drove me there and brought everything in again. Who says chivalry is dead?
After that nightmare, my weekend in Denver was so anticlimactic it isn’t worth mentioning. Tonight I’m speaking at the founding chapter of Liberty on the Rocks, then tomorrow I’m off to Wichita, Kansas on another bus – a much shorter trip, in the daytime, over nice flat country. And I’ve already planned a long-term rental car deal for July and August so there will be no more bus trips from Hell.
Here’s my tour schedule, which is still in flux; check back when I’m getting close to you for details of local appearances. If your city isn’t on the list, but it’s within about four hours’ drive of another city which is on the list, just send an email asking me to visit. Your request will have even more impact if you can suggest a specific place I could do a book reading or give a talk, and it’s virtually assured if you can actually make the arrangements yourself (in other words if it’s your store, club or whatever).