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Trip Nightmare

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  • Trip Nightmare

    Well not really a nightmare, this actually happened. This is a trip report from my ski club. This one'll get talked about forever. Names have been removed and/or shortened to protect the not so innocent .

    The Big Sky ski trip was hijacked by Coronavirus.

    The week before the trip people started getting scared. We had 10 of the 40 cancel but 2 new brave (?) souls signed on. Surely Montana’s wide open, sparsely populated landscape must be safer than Illinois. 32 intrepid souls ventured from O’Hare to Bozeman to Big Sky. The travel to Big Sky would turn out to be the only part of the meticulously planned trip that actually went according to plan...

    At the Welcome Party our Big Sky rep Alex got us all excited about the slopes. The large display map was studied, and many questions were asked. A group was arranged to do a guided night ski. Alex assured us that Big Sky was not planning to close and shared their protocol to keep folks safe and germ-free on the lifts.

    Lifts opened the next morning at 9:30, but not before the news was released that Big Sky was closing the slopes at the end of the day.

    There were six of us on a bus to West Yellowstone because we had signed up for the Old Faithful tour. 5 of us continued on, but one rode the bus back to Big Sky to get a chance to ski. Those who skied enjoyed just 1 of the 5 planned days.

    Sunday night we had our first family meeting to determine what everyone wanted to do. 5 people decided to drive home the next day. The remaining 27 wanted at least a day or 2 to chill or play (there’s more to do in Montana than just downhill skiing, after all). We had the travel agent looking for Wednesday or Thursday flights to get us home sooner.

    On Monday, 15 of us headed to the Lone Mountain Ranch for cross country skiing and snowshoeing. It was a beautiful clear day and the XC ski was challenging and fun. We even got a nice view of Lone Mountain (oh yeah, that’s the name of the ranch).

    We were looking forward to a nice lunch at their restaurant but got turned away since they had just decided to only serve their lodging guests. Things were starting to crumble.

    Monday afternoon several guests enjoyed the various pools and hot tubs. For dinner the club bought pizza for everyone and we met at the Huntley and enjoyed some time together. We got the word from American Airlines that they were raising their ticket prices and we told the travel agent to try again tomorrow and get us a better deal.

    On Tuesday one flew back to Florida, 5 flew back to Chicago and 2 flew to Maine. Now there were only 18 of us left.

    We found out that AA was going to price gouge us by $194 per ticket yesterday and today the rate was up $292.

    We had another family meeting and 11 people still signed up to fly out on Wednesday despite the increased cost. They just wanted to get home. 4 more chose to drive home on Wednesday and 3 of us stubborn women decided to stay for the duration.

    On Sunday, we jumped into action and arranged a Yellowstone tour for Tuesday. 11 of us went with 2 guides in 2 Suburbans on a 330 mile tour. We saw wonderful mountain scenes, rivers, the Mammoth Hot Springs, a waterfall, and lots of wildlife. We saw a lot of Bison, some on the road, some giving the drivers attitude. We also saw a grizzly bear come out for dinner. Our guides had brought scopes so we could see him up close. At dusk we got to see lots more wildlife. Elk, mule deer, and Whitetail deer were in abundance. It was a fun day taking in the beauty of the northern portion of Yellowstone National Park.

    Those who did not go on the Yellowstone Tour had Taco Tuesday. Chris made a taco dip, Sam fixed beans and ground beef, and the rest helped with fixins. Everyone ate all they could and there were lots of leftovers. Since most of us condo dwellers had purchased groceries for the week, we had some communal breakfasts. One condo became the place to be. Sam is quite the cook. Sorry if I should have given others credit. We gathered up all the breakfast foods and ate there on Tuesday and Wednesday morning. After Wednesday’s breakfast, Ellen gathered up all the open and prepared food, leaving unopened items in the fridge for the cleaning staff. Lots of cheese, milk, beer, and some box wine was gathered.

    4 more planned to rent a minivan in Bozeman and left early Wednesday morning. They also took one other who had planned to stay but got an alarming phone call from one of her sons in the middle of the night and was eager to get home.

    At 10 on Wednesday, 11 others went to the Bozeman airport to fly home.The adventure took another U-turn when they called from the airport and said that they had no tickets. After some stressful calls and someone losing her cool, it was discovered that American screwed up the order. They fixed it and got all 11 ticketed and on the plane on time. They ended up waiving the up charge (miracle of miracles) because it had been their mistake. The crew got on the plane, arriving safely to an empty O’Hare, and then safely home.

    The two remaining ladies had a lazy day, but they did head to the Town Center to get some groceries (what? wasn’t the fridge full?!). They wanted to fix a nice dinner, which they did. Pork roast, fingerling potatoes, and broccoli. It was delicious. Who needs restaurants?!

    Not sure you want to hear much more about the ski trip that involves very little skiing?! On Thursday the intrepid ladies did enjoy a treacherous hike to Ousel Falls and got a tour of the Moonlight Basin area on the way back. We also enjoyed some bison ribeye prepared at the condo.

    On Friday we went dogsledding. It was fun and stinky. We got to see some beautiful views of Lone Mountain and the Spanish Peaks. Saturday we headed home.

    I had a lot of help.
    It was a very stressful trip and everyone kept telling me how great of a job I was doing, but I had so many people help!

    First of all everybody kept a good attitude and nobody got crabby. Thank you so much!!

    I had words of encouragement from all, even outside of the trip. From fellow trip leaders, who also helped give me advice. From those who had to cancel our trip due to illiness and offered encouragement and help from home.

    When we found out that the resort was closing after the first day, Ann stepped up and pulled together a bunch of information on other activities. This was wonderful as I was in Yellowstone that day and had no cellular service. (By the way that was actually a blessing, for a change, not to have a signal.)

    Since things were already changing on our trip down, I asked some to stop at the grocery store and get a bunch of adult beverages for the club. They then opened their condo for an impromptu happy hour. One condo became our gathering place for family meetings, breakfasts, and a taco night which regrettably was not very well attended because 11 of us were at Yellowstone. We were not regrettably at Yellowstone, but we would’ve like to also have been at the taco night.

    A few did a lot of cooking for us, which we were very grateful for. Someone in the group called the Big Sky Taxi that was providing our transfers to Bozeman and found out that individuals or groups, who were leaving early, could get the pre-paid Shuttle. They took good care of us.

    My condo mates were also really great; super sweet and encouraging at all times. I’m sorry we didn’t get to spend more time together, but we did have a lot of fun at the pool.

    And Sue E is always a rock. Helping me before the trip, during the trip and, I’m sure, after the trip. We were the sole survivors at Big Sky trying to catch a little bit of relaxation before we had to go back to our new strange lives.

    We had a lot of leftovers from taco night along with a bunch of groceries and adult beverages collected from the various condos. Thank you for all of the cheese; we almost had to add constipation to our list of problems :-)

    And just as we were settled down and relaxed, We discovered that our airline tickets were cancelled. We got that fixed on short order. What a mess.

    Your fearless trip leader.