Uneasy Riders: Denver or Busted

--If trophies were awarded for misery, the judges would have to look closely at five people who left Kansas City for Denver on a Trailways bus last Thursday morning. About two hours into the 600-mile trip, the bus had to stop in Wamego, Kan., when the headlights went out from an electrical short, said Dave Owsley, Kansas City district manager for the bus company. The passengers were transferred to a replacement bus, but it broke down Friday morning about 200 miles from Kansas City. The clutch died and the engine locked up, Owsley said. The driver, Thomas J. Smith, left to get help, and about 10 minutes later, "a man stuck his head in the door and asked if they were having problems," Ellsworth County Sheriff Raymond Thomas said. "And they said, 'Yeah, the bus broke down and the bus driver went to get some help.' And then, the same instant, (another) guy stepped in with a shotgun and said, 'We're going to take your money.' " The passengers were robbed of about $1,000 in cash and jewelry and as he left, one of the robbers told them: "Have a nice day." Later Friday morning, the passengers set out for Denver again in a third bus--and ran into a blizzard. As of Saturday afternoon, they were stranded at a motel in Burlington, Colo., about 160 miles from Denver. "This may be the most ill-fated trip to Colorado we've ever sent out. . . ." Owsley said.

--Sonoma County residents are trying to cope with another form of misery, that of love-crazed peacocks. The fancy fowl, wild descendants of domestic birds turned loose, are rampaging across wide sections of the wine country 60 miles north of San Francisco. The 20-pound adult peacocks are roosting in trees and scaring people with their screams, ripping up gardens and attacking whatever they consider to be enemies. "They get real territorial, fluff up their feathers and fight off other males," said Carole Johnson, a director of the county's Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. The perceived rival males, however, may include "reflections in plate glass windows and shiny bumpers on cars."

--President Reagan has made an exception to his policy of not endorsing books written by other politicians to supply a brief foreword to the American edition of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's "In Defense of Freedom," to be published April 30. The book is a collection of her speeches on British foreign relations from 1976 until 1986. "Her personal strength has by now quite rightly become a matter of renown," Reagan wrote of Thatcher, and he noted that even during hostile sessions of the House of Commons, "she retains a certain, unshakable inner confidence, even serenity."

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