Every day is potentially a great day, especially for an optimist. Positive strategies make for a good day—a positive attitude, reasonable expectations, previous planning, and good company. Today, I rose from a great night’s sleep in the Walmart parking lot in Mesquite, Nevada. Most of you frequent one Walmart or another from time to time. One of their perks is the provision of free parking for RV’s, so when our water level is high and don’t need electricity, we enjoy their hospitality. As soon as I crawled out from the covers, I knew the temperature had dropped to near freezing so I went to the front of the van to turn on the ignition. The engine didn’t turn over slowly; it didn’t even click—the whole system was useless without the dead battery. Bad Omen #1.
I emerged from the van to get a cup of coffee at Subway inside Walmart. Things looked up when I noticed the city police within walking distance. So, I strolled over and asked if they had jumper cables. “Sorry, Sir, but we are not allowed to give you a charge.”
“Oh, now, that is great. You can charge me for whatever crime you have decided I’ve done, but can’t charge my car. That is wonderful, thanks a lot.” Bad Omen #2. But, I am still seeing hope that the rest of day will straighten out and fly right.
AAA did respond quickly. They were there in ten and we were on the road to meet friends coming from Las Vegas to join our tour of Zion National Park. We soon met at Peggy Sue’s Diner for breakfast and all was well with the world.A tour of Zion in the peak months involves parking in a downtown lot and boarding a shuttle to the check-in where you jump on a second shuttle to the Visitor’s Center. We were a group of five: Marji, my wife; Gloria and Jane, two friends from Iowa; Jim, a friend of Jane and Gloria, and myself. Many of you are aware that I run a travel agency and quite easily slip into the role of guide. (It is actually a company that specializes in pushing ropes.) I jumped off the shuttle, surveyed the information and said, “We can sit in on the 30 minute talk by a park ranger and still have time to catch the 20 minute orientation film. Let’s all meet back here in ten for the ranger’s presentation.
I noticed Marji and Jim slip out the door to take some photos of the canyon while the other two gals made their way to restrooms. Soon, Jim returned and said, “Hey, I hope you don’t mind, but Marji and I are going to go on ahead…we hate these formal presentations. We come here to see things, not to learn anything.” Bad Omen #3. I had just lost 50% percent of my tour group.
Soon I moderated an argument between Jane and Gloria over whether to endure the boring ranger presentation. Gloria wanted to hear about the pioneers and Jane said, “Sorry, but I am going to the movie.” I had to decide to lead one group of one or the other group of one. Bad Omen #4
Time passed slowly at the visitor’s center and we boarded the tram for the Court of the Patriarchs.
The system of Zion is the tram stops at all the best views of the canyon with ample opportunities for short and long hikes to even more spectacular views. Then, visitors return to catch another tram and on and on through the park, deciding whether to simply ride or exit and enjoy the sites at each stop.
The two people left in my charge are avid travelers and would usually be anxious to suck the most out of every travel straw, but they both had recent surgery and were unable to take either short or long hikes. So we hopped off and on shuttles for the next three hours, snapping a few pictures along the way. Since I was sitting on an aisle seat, I saw very little while on the bus other than the person on my right or left. Bad Day #1 (notice the shift from omen to day)
We got back to the car long before Marji and Jim. Did I mention that Marji had never met Jim until five minutes before they disappeared in the 150,000 acres of Zion National Park. Bad Day #2
We found a quaint little restaurant named Pizza and Noodles. And since my day had been so twisted, it was a right choice. Finally, Marji and Jim drifted in to announce the loss of Marji’s car keys. Her words were something like this, “Well, you went off this morning with everyone else and left me in the driver’s seat and because of the slant of parking area I couldn’t get out. When you did finally come back to help me, I’m certain I gave you the keys so I didn’t have to pack them around in my purse.”
“No, you didn’t give me the keys.”
I did remember putting my keys in a tray in van so I wouldn’t have them jabbing me in the leg as Marji drove to the park. This required calling AAA for the second time of the day. Marji’s comment: “Well, at least our dues for the year were not in vain.” Bad Day #3. We bid farewell to our three friends and they left for their warm hotel while we froze our buns on cold steel chairs awaiting the towing company to break into our car. They arrived quickly “40 minutes” later and in less time than it took Marji to lose the keys, they opened the door and not to my surprise, Marji’s keys were right in the storage compartment where she had dumped all her unneeded crap from her purse. Bad Day, Good Day #4.
Though exhausted, I quickly spotted a RV Park not five minutes from the parking lot. Guess what, Marji thought it was too dark and we went off to find another. Unfortunately, before I knew it we were heading east through the park into the mountains on the infamous Highway 9, 14 miles of s-curves, narrow lanes with no guard rails, roving bands of pirates, aggressive mountain goats, herds of deer, mountain lions, and crazy drivers. In the near middle of this we had to pass through a mile long tunnel that looked about as stable as Lincoln Logs and as eerie as a Halloween Haunted House. The unbelievable road a scenic by-way. But, at 11 p.m., I didn’t see much except horrible mind-sets of crash scenes carefully drawn by my fear and imagination. Horrible Day #1
Finally, by the mercy of God, we pulled into an RV Park two hours later; I took two sleeping pills and prayed for a better day.