On the Bus: Crisis averted
My son and I bagged a big peak last weekend in a neighboring mountain county, but the most harrowing part of the excursion occurred before we even left the valley.Eight-year-old Billy rode the bus upvalley from Basalt last Friday in order to meet me in Aspen. The plan was to meet at the Paepcke Park bus stop and then to drive over Independence Pass. Simple enough – my wife called as she dropped him off at the bus stop downvalley, and I walked to Paepcke to meet him. But he never came.And suddenly I became a hair-brained dad with a lost child. If he’s not here, then where is he? Did he ride on to Rubey Park, or could he be at Brush Creek? Or the airport?Billy is fairly resourceful in these situations; he has called me from various places over the years to tell me about a missed school bus or carpool ride. But the possibilities were too numerous – and maybe I had misunderstood the plan and should have waited somewhere else.So I called his mom, who had put him on the bus. And mom, without any better ideas, called the cops. The dispatcher dutifully put out the word on the police scanner, which of course meant my colleagues at the newspaper knew of our plight.As these things unfolded, I walked to Rubey Park, where the guy behind the counter hadn’t seen a little kid with a sleeping pad and a duffle bag.Luckily for everyone, I turned away from the counter just as Billy was boarding a bus bound (I think) for Cemetery Lane; the driver had agreed to drop him at Paepcke on the way. Glad he wore that bright tie-dye.Turned out the little tike had missed his stop because nobody had told him to signal his stop by pulling the cord above his seat. And he was too shy to holler at the driver. So he’d ridden on to Rubey Park and then asked for help.As we walked back to the Times, I first took a call from a colleague at work, who asked if he should hop on his bike and search. (No, thanks, crisis averted.) Then we bumped into a cop who politely verified my story and then called off the manhunt (boyhunt?).Our successful climb the next day was, by comparison, pretty laid-back. But the mountain goats up at 13,000 feet were mighty cool.
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