Woman takes taxi round-trip from California to Canada $4,100 fare plus expenses covers 3,000-mile drive along Pacific coastline

August 04, 1996|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

LOS ANGELES -- Fare warning to taxi drivers: If you're called to pick up a passenger in Pasadena, be prepared to carry a suitcase. Your own.

Cabbie Steve Baird found that out when Pat Fry summoned him for a ride to the beach -- and ended up traveling instead to Victoria, British Columbia.

The pair was back home Monday from a nine-day, 3,128-mile odyssey in Baird's dusty Yellow Cab that drew double-takes throughout the Pacific Northwest.

The round trip fare came to $4,100. Baird earned a 15 percent tip, plus meals and lodging.

"I kind of had cabin fever," explained Fry, a 68-year-old retired hotel worker. So she called Baird on July 13 for a lift. In February he had given her a ride home from a luncheon and he remembered her.

"I love riding along the ocean -- I guess I could have gone to Santa Monica. But I said 'Let's go to Santa Barbara.' When we got there I didn't want to stop. I said, 'Let's keep going north.' "

Baird, 40, didn't bat an eye. "My bosses don't care how far I go as long as they get their money."

In February he had given her a ride home from a luncheon and he remembered her.

Outside of Santa Barbara the pair pulled over to buy toothbrushes. Later, they stopped to buy clean clothes. With Fry footing the bill, they ate at fast-food restaurants and coffee shops and picked budget motels -- "with separate accommodations," Fry quickly points out.

"I had my credit card and checkbook and about $30 in my purse," she said.

Baird called his bosses at the taxi office to explain he wouldn't be back any time soon with their 2-year-old Chevrolet Caprice, which has 177,780 miles on it.

The cab, with "City of Los Angeles Taxi" decals on its yellow doors, was stopped three times in Washington state by police checking to see if it was stolen.

Canadians surprised by the sight of a Los Angeles cab on their streets treated Fry and Baird to lunches and dinners in local pubs and hotel restaurants. Some even invited the pair to their homes. The tale of the taxi carrying "the little old lady from Pasadena" made the front page of the local newspaper.

The pair returned home at midnight Sunday.

Fry said the taxi trip was just the thing to snap her out of her blue mood.

"I never laughed so much in my life as I did the last nine days," she said. "I'll never be depressed again."

She said she is already thinking about her next trip. "Banff. I've always wanted to see that place."

Pub Date: 8/04/96

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