Planes, trains and buses | Coeur d’Alene Press
Gary Edwards hopes to be home tonight. But it doesn’t count.
“It’s taking longer than I thought,” he said from Orlando, Fla., laughing Thursday in a phone call with The Press.
Edwards’ adventures, like the 1987 film, “Planes, Trains and Automobiles,” began with a canceled plane flight, this one in New York City on Christmas Eve.
It’s been a comedy of errors ever since, with plenty of moments that Edwards might laugh about later, but not as events unfolded.
There were taxi problems, bus breakdowns, unruly Uber drivers, sleepless nights at bus depots, and rude receptionists.
“The whole time I’m carrying my luggage,” Edwards said.
The 81-year-old recounted his quest to find his way back to northern Idaho.
He had traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina, for the December 20 premiere of a Christmas cantata he had composed with Sandra Lewis-Pringle titled “Night of A Miracle.”
Next, he traveled to New York for the Dec. 22 opening night of “Stealing Mona Lisa,” a show at the Theater for the New City, for which he wrote the music.
At this point, it was a great trip. The performances were well received, Edwards was meeting music industry contacts and feeling good.
Then came Christmas Eve.
Like so many across the United States over the holiday weekend, her travel plans were derailed at the airport.
His return flight from New York was canceled due to weather conditions.
His Airbnb had expired, leaving him homeless, so he headed for the train station.
How about a ticket to Texas, where he has a relative?
And Las Vegas, where does his son live?
Alright, Orlando? His friend, fellow musician and co-writer of their “Wataino” CD, Orlando Sanchez, lives there.
Yes it works. By bus.
Edwards called Sanchez, “Can I stay with you for a few days until the weather improves and I can catch a flight home?”
“Go ahead,” Sanchez said.
Easier said than done.
Edwards couldn’t get on a Greyhound bus until the next day, so he had to stay put.
“It’s going to be expensive,” Edwards told his wife in a phone call.
After a search, he found a motel near Times Square for $240.
The next morning’s bus ride took him to Richmond, Virginia, where he spent the night at the depot. It was so late when they arrived that he feared if he left he would miss the morning connection.
He sat, walked and waited.
A trashed toilet and a drunk man made things interesting.
“It was a long night,” he said.
The next bus ride took him to Atlanta, where they missed the connection to Orlando.
“I decided to take a hotel even for a few hours off,” Edwards said.
He called Travelocity and was 40th in line to be served. He booked and paid for a room in a hotel. Then he called five taxi companies and couldn’t get through. He eventually found a taxi near the station and drove to the hotel, and climbed what he described as “slippery, icy steps”.
“The receptionist was very rude, which seems to be business fashion these days,” Edwards said. “I couldn’t hear well because I hadn’t had a chance to charge the batteries in my hearing aids. I couldn’t see very well because I had momentarily misplaced my glasses. Then after I checked in she told me that the hotel had no water because their pipes were broken. I asked for at least a discount but she said no. It was too late to find another hotel.”
Edwards woke up at 4:15 a.m. He tried to take a taxi, again without success.
“It was too far to walk to the bus station and I was getting desperate, so I asked the hotel security guard if I could pay him for a ride,” Edwards said.
For $20, the caretaker agreed.
Everything went well, but the bus punctured a tire, which took three hours to repair.
“Another car called the cops trying to get compensation for the damage our bus tire caused, but the cop just told her to contact her insurance company,” Edwards said.
During the bus ride, he became the unofficial interpreter for the Spanish speakers on his bus.
“I made a lot of interesting new friends,” Edwards said.
Three days later, after a trip that should have taken about 30 hours, Edwards arrived in Orlando.
“I was pretty beaten up,” he said.
Still, Edwards’ trip had many upsides.
He met several people interested in his music and he believes that these contacts could lead to more opportunities in the industry.
And he’s hanging out with Sanchez, who told him that Disney World loves their Wataino CD and that his band will start playing their music there soon.
“A lot of irons in the fire,” Edwards said.
He has a first class ticket to Salt Lake City, then upgrades to economy class for the remainder of the flight to Spokane.
“My wife said she could pick me up,” he said.
That’s assuming he shows up.