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SAR field trip participants at Canyon de Chelly.

About eighteen minutes outside of Gallup on the first day of SAR’s recent field trip to Canyon de Chelly, our luxury coach bus glided gracefully to the shoulder of Highway 264 and then proceeded to power down. None of the attempted ministrations could coax it back to life. The diagnosis of a faulty fuse didn’t come until later, but it was clear the vehicle was going nowhere.

That’s where resourcefulness and the kindness of strangers came into play. When a call was made to the Navajo Transit System, part of the Navajo Nation Division of Transportation, to see if the organization could send a bus, no bus drivers were available. However, two kind-hearted management team members, Tanya and Orlando, offered to drive D.O.T. vans to our stranded bus and transport us to our destination. They were true and gracious heroes, taking hours out of their after-work time to rescue us. We can’t thank them and the D.O.T. enough.

We also thank the field trip participants for their patience and good humor.

Fortunately, the 20 passengers had all just had a nice lunch, the day was not too hot, the bus provided shade, and we even had a restroom on board that still functioned. The problem was, we needed to transport everyone from the remote side of the highway to the Thunderbird Lodge at the Canyon entrance, about 80 miles away. We chased multiple transportation possibilities and over the next couple hours managed to book one taxi and the only two available Uber drivers out of Gallup. Six of us were left at the bus and running out of options.

The happy ending is that the rest of the trip went as planned, offering unique views of Canyon de Chelly and the people who call it home.

Helen Brooks, SAR Director, Leadership Giving, and Moira Garcia, SAR Membership Coordinator.