Uh, Oh! We Shoulda Paid Attention!

Two weeks ago we were on the road helping some friends move to Iowa. The first night we spent in Spokane. The next morning we headed out for Bozeman, Montana. That’s a 400 mile day, about as far as we can go in a day with comfort.

Just past Deer Lodge, Montana, we noticed that we only had 25 miles of gas left in the tank. (Thank goodness for sensors and on board computers, eh?!)

We didn’t think much about it. We just thought we’d pull off at the next little town and fill-‘er-up. Well, “the next little town” didn’t appear; not at all. The tank was steadily emptying before our eyes. The dashboard kept showing fewer and fewer miles left in the tank.

We were beginning to get desperate. We pulled off at an exit for Anaconda, Montana, feeling ourselves squeezed for time and distance. Anaconda was not “right off” the freeway! We found ourselves driving further into rural Montana with no apparent help in sight.

We stopped at a crossroads to gather our breath and to further assess the situation. We flagged down a pickup truck and asked the man if there were any gas stations nearby. He said “Sure, Anaconda has one, a Town Pump.” We had no idea what he meant by a “Town Pump” being as this was our first foray into the wilds of Montana. I imagined a broken down old building with a rusty pump offering low grade fuel.

Forgetting to ask the all important question of how far it was to Anaconda, we pressed on. Finally, we got to Anaconda and discovered that a “Town Pump” meant a large gas station with a convenience store attached.

How much time did we have left? How much gas was left in the tank? What did the high tech sensors and computer say about our situation? If we had gone 3 more miles, we’d have been out of gas!!

That was way too close! We decided then-and-there not to leave any town we stayed in without a full tank of gas and to never let the gauge go below 1/2 a tank. This decision served us well for the remainder of the trip. Ironically, on the return trip from Iowa and at the beginning of this stretch of road from the east there were signs saying “fill up here. The next gas is X miles away.” Now, why didn’t they have those signs at the west end of this stretch of highway?

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