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Old 12-04-2006, 05:27 PM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Copperas Cove, TX
Posts: 530

Originally Posted by Travis Vasconcelos View Post

In so many ways, even the pax add to the colour of a cruise on the river. Be it in a positive or negative way, I have to say they make for great stories!

Hi Travis,

Funny, I haven't seen you in a week and we seem to "talk" almost as often as we did on the boat.

Anyway, my all time favorite story concerns a group of pax we once had on the Empress of the North. They proved to be a hardy bunch.

AWSC used to run a re-positioning cruise as she went north from Portland to Seattle and then on to Sitka. The deal was that no one could be on the boat as she went outside into the Pacific between Astoria and Seattle. So the plan was to take the pax off the boat and then by bus through the National Forest out there (forgot the name) to meet the boat in San Angelos. This part of the trip included an overnight stop at a simply gorgeous lodge on a lake. It was a fabulous concept.

But, as they say, "stuff happens". It seems that there was a mixup in paperwork and for some reason, the Coast Guard would not let the boat into Seattle, so she had to stay out in the Ocean much longer than expected. Well, as you can imagine, this threw a Mount St Helens sized monkey wrench into our carefully laid plans.

Our home office guy running with us, a very resourceful fellow named Bernard, was absolutely amazing as he literally made up an itinerary on the fly. He made calls to various venues on our route to find places to take the pax and things for them to do. Finally, after busing them to see every tree stump and pine cone between Astoria and San Angelos, we settled on a plan to drop the pax off at the coffee shop of a Red Roof Inn on the waterfront. There, they would await the eventual arrival of the Empress.

It was a long and tiring day and while not everyone was thrilled at the delay, our hardy band of travelers generally kept up a good humor, bless 'em.

The punchline comes now. As the last of our guests got off the bus at the Red Roof Inn and filed into the coffee shop, it became evident to us that something unusual was happening at the hotel.

There was a convention going on. The hotel was chock full of members of an organization called "Esprit". Turns out that we deposited our generally elderly, conservative passengers smack dab in the middle of around 400 cross dressing transvestites.

It was the perfect end to a perfect day, amplified when the head of Esprit decided to go into the coffee shop and work the room. He was a rather tall, hairy guy in a gold lame dress, long pearl necklace and plexiglass high heels with battery powered neon lights in the heel. He was harmless and was actually well received by our guests. The women kept asking him where he got his clothes.

I softened the way for him, going ahead of him to the guests and explaining, with tongue firmly implanted in cheek, that American West had hired an entertainer to occupy their time until the Empress arrived.

I told them he was the "Queen of the West"

Ah....riverboating. You gotta love the life!

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