Thursday, January 19, 2012

Bamboo needles


Being a native Californian doesn’t give you a great understanding of what a snow bird is.  That is,  until this week at Quilting at the Lake at Lake Havasu in Arizona where lots of snow birds congregate during the winter months.

My adventure started with the typical trip preparation that starts days before my ventures. The folding of patterns, cutting fabrics and checking supplies, packing my bags and, of course, preparing a project to work on just in case of delays or boredom.   I learned that trick back in my flight attendant days.  Always carry a applique, cross-stitch or knitting project to help pass the time. There is nothing worse that being stuck for 12-24 hours in an airport with nothing to do unless it's 12-24 hours without any food.  I've done that, too.

It’s a quick trip to the airport and a quick 1 hour and 20 minute flight to Las Vegas.  Then I will be taking the shuttle bus to the Lake.  OK, I did notice the bus trip out to Havasu is 2 ½ to 3 hours but I have my book, iPhone and knitting to keep me busy. This is why you need to read the small print before you sign the contract.

Then my fun begins. As I sit down in my seat and buckle up for take off I reach for my knitting. I am working on this sweater that is made up of domino squares in 20 different colors but when I reach in my bag to pull out my knitting, I find that I have lost one of my size 3 bamboo needles. In a panic, I start digging through my bag and OMG, I have lost it.  Great!  My leg starts to shake, my eyes start to twitch. What am I going to do without a project?!   I try to stay calm and close my eyes, breathe slowly, I tell myself.   My eyes stay closed and BOOM, I am asleep until my snoring jerks me awake.  I wipe the drool from my chin as we touch down in Vegas.

Las Vegas is not one of my favorite places. I have been going there since I was 18 and yes, it has changed a lot over the years. Or has it?  It’s still sleazy, loud, and turns the most wholesome of people into raging idiots.  And believe me, I know raging idiots when I see them.

So the thought of sitting in Vegas for 3 hours without something to do was very frustrating. I retrieved my 3 large bags and tried to find someplace to sit that didn’t have loud speakers overhead announcing the next show on the strip.  Then I had an idea. What if I found a place to keep my bags and hopped a taxi to the closest Michael's craft store to pick up new knitting needles?   I asked the girls at Southwest where to store my bags and they asked if I had taken them of the carousel?  Yes, I had.  Well, then they couldn't help me. What if I throw my bags back onto the carousel, will you then put them in storage?  Well yes, but you already told us you picked them up, so no!

The 3 hours goes by so slowly.  At last it is 5pm, time for my shuttle pick up. I wheel my bag to the van and hop in the bus only to find the bus is full so I sit in the passenger seat up front, across from the driver.  I'm getting settled when the bus driver tells me I have to move to the back because a handicapped person has reserved that seat so to the back I go.  There are 3 rows of seats and 2 people in every seat. Then the driver announces we are picking up 4 more people.  Someone asks When we will get to Lake Havasu He says about 9 pm.  I do the math...I thought it was only 2 ½ - 3 hours and now we're at 4.  And here is where the fun really begins.  He tells us he has to make a few stops.  Like 5 more and Lake Havasu is the last. I feel sick.  I haven’t had anything to eat.  I reach for the bag of broken chips I bought at the last minute, just in case.

First stop, the Terrible's Hotel and Casino around the corner, to pick up 1 person. Then to Searchlight (1 person), then we stop at the Riverside Casino in Laughlin, Nevada for a 20 minute potty break.

Here I think I can get something to eat but the line at the snack bar is 25 people deep and moving very slowly. I will never make it. So back on the bus and on to Bullhead City where we drop off the guy from Searchlight and pick up some kid at the very dark and seedy place where the burned out sign says,  Ray's Boat Repair and below it says Greyhound Bus Stop.  At Ray's, 2 men try to bribe their way on to the van.
Then on to Needles where we drop off the handicapped woman at a quickie mart.   It 8:45pm and we have 2 more hours to go. This whole time I am seated between 2 large men on a seriously too small bench seat holding my bag on my lap because the is no room on the floor.

I try to close my eyes and sleep the rest of the trip but the road is bumpy and windy and I don’t want to fall on the guys next to me. Oh, I found out later on the trip home that the bumpy road part was when we crossed back into California for a few miles. That explains the crappy road.

I look up at the clock on the dashboard and its 9:45pm. Then I start to think there has to be a better way to make a living than this. Then I am ashamed of myself as I remember  my sister's commute every day, 2 hours in bumper to bumper traffic to beautiful downtown Compton, Ca. to feed her family.  And my Husband who has worked in the hood of Sacramento for 15 years to give Matt and I this great house and send our only son to college. How can I be such a whiner?

We finally arrive 10:09 pm. That makes 5 hours if you are counting. Not including the 3 in the airport.  But I am finally here. I made it without a project.  Amazing.
Now for the good part. It was one of the most enjoyable retreat /quilt camps I have taught at.  The students where great, the directors of the camp were wonderful, the rooms comfortable and quiet, the food tasty and the view fantastic.  From my classroom, we had a breathtaking view of the famous London Bridge. I had a wonderful time.  I hope I get asked back. So the trip was little long but if it hadn't happened I wouldn't have anything to write about.  The girls even got me new knitting needles for the trip home.  Now for the snow birds.  They have the best of both worlds. They get to enjoy their home in Canada or the states in the summer and spring and winter in the desert when it is at its most beautiful.  The trip back was a lot shorter and the new driver said it should not have taken 5 hours the first time.

In the morning light we could watch as the sun came over the desert mountains and how breathtaking the view from the van was.  So, if you are a snow bird and looking for something fun to do in January, 2013, try Quilting at the Lake in Lake Havasu, AZ. It’s worth it. But you may want to rent a car. Or take a different bus line.

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