This was so different from my lush, green Kansas home! The difference was even more apparent from the air as I flew home. The dry, rock-strewn slopes of wind-sculpted mountains gave way to broad green fields and thick forests as I passed from Colorado into Kansas.                

I enjoyed my stay in Grand Junction. The mesa rising above the town, in a long brown stone line, was impressive and the weather was surprisingly pleasant for this time of year.

But I was happy to be back home, surrounded by the green rolling hills of eastern Kansas.

And, yes, I came home with several great stories, but the best one involved my ride to the airport as I began my trip.

I had arranged for Rick’s Shuttle to take me to the airport. On the way, I told my favorite Rick’s story to the young driver, Stanton, beside me.

“It was a dark rainy night in November,” I began. “I was driving to North Kansas City to see a special screening of The Wizard of Oz in a movie theater there.

“On the way, I got lost and I decided to stop and consult my map in a parking lot at a strip mall that was supposed to be near the theater. I turned wide as I followed a large minivan into the parking lot and accidently ran over some large landscaping rocks in the median. The rock tore up the steering assembly underneath the car.

“I was able to get AAA to tow my car to a mechanic in south Kansas City. But the tow-truck driver couldn’t take me home – I lived too far west of the city. And I couldn’t find any rental car offices open. The driver suggested I go to the airport and get a rental car there.

“But the rental car companies at the airport had no renal cars available. So I was stuck at the airport, miles from home, no transportation, as the rain continued to fall and the temperature steadily dropped.

“Then I had a brilliant idea. I would call Rick’s Airport Shuttle and see if they could give me a ride home. By this time, of course, the driver had already gone home but the dispatcher said they would ask him to come out anyway.

“By the time the driver got there and we left the airport to take me home, the rain had turned to snow. As we talked, I found out he had left his child’s birthday party to come rescue me. He said it wasn’t that big a deal, this was just what they did. But I was intensely grateful, and that is to this day my favorite Rick’s Shuttle story.”

The driver beside me had started laughing as I concluded the story and now explained, “I was laughing because I am that kid!” His father had been the driver that cold November night!  In fact, his dad told Stanton the same story when he saw my name on the reservation earlier in the day.

I suppose, then, I could sum up my trip west in two sentences: “It’s a small world” and “There’s no place like home.” Of course, there was a whole lot of fun in between! But it sure was good to be back home.