MU students returning by bus Friday evening from watching the Missouri football team play in the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas, were caught in a snow storm in New Mexico.
An hour after the Tigers lost by a point to Oregon State, four chartered buses, each carrying about 50 somber fans, left El Paso. Their night only got worse. Four hours later, bus company officials told the bus drivers not to drive any farther. Snow was blocking the roads back to Missouri.
At 9:30 p.m. Friday, the travelers stopped for dinner in Roswell, N.M. MU senior Stephanie Bishop’s bus stopped at a Dairy Queen.
“The snow was coming down, but the streets were too warm for the snow to stick in Roswell,” Bishop said Saturday by phone. “Outside Roswell, though, it was snowing really bad. Roswell’s in a valley, and the area around it has a higher elevation.”
Bishop said the Illinois-based bus company, Cavallo Bus Lines, felt the roads were too dangerous. The company’s headquarters called the drivers, telling them to stop for the night.
The drivers and passengers found lodging at the Leisure Inn in Roswell. Other hotels in the area were booked, according to an employee at the Leisure Inn, who said around 350 people, including the MU students, stayed the Leisure Inn on Friday night. MU students did not have to pay for the rooms.
Fred Veinfurt, another MU senior, already unhappy after the Tigers’ frustrating loss, said the conditions at the inn made the trip worse.
“There were beer bottles under the beds, and we were told we couldn’t take hot showers,” Veinfurt said Saturday by phone.
Veinfurt and three others male students shared a room with two double beds.
At 11:30 a.m. Saturday, the buses started for Wichita Falls, Texas, after abandoning a route through Amarillo, Texas, because the roads were closed.
Veinfurt said he could have picked up an extra shift at his job Saturday night, but now he would not be back in time. At times during the drive to El Paso, the buses stopped every 30 minutes at rest stops and for food.
“We’re in the desert,” Veinfurt lamented by phone shortly after the buses passed through Lubbock, Texas. “There’s nothing around us now.”
But Bishop had a brighter attitude. She said they couldn’t get rooms at any other hotel, so they were lucky to find the Leisure Inn.
“It wasn’t the nicest hotel, but it wasn’t terrible,” Bishop said.
She said they could see the International UFO Museum and Research Center.
“It was the only thing you could see,” she said.
Although the drive was long, she said she didn’t mind it too much.
“The bus isn’t too uncomfortable. The seats are OK, but we can’t stretch our legs out.” Bishop said, “I’m watching a movie. We’ve watched movies the whole trip. I don’t know what we’d do without TV.”