We returned home one week ago today from our longest
vacation yet. We traveled across parts of IN, IL, MO, KS
to Colorado. We circled around from Colorado to Utah to
Arizona and back to Colorado.
I told my wife we were going to see every park with "Canyon" in the name and we darned near did!
We were gone 33 days and traveled about 4700 miles.
On our return trip on July 4th we spent the night in the Walmart
Super center in Garden City KS.
We arrived in Garden City with the gas gauge below 1/4
and we were road weary after driving 480 miles from
the far side of Durango.
It was supper time so we walked across the highway to
an Applebees for supper. It was spitting rain with
some distant lightning as we trotted back to our trailer.
The neighborhood was just getting started with their
back yard fireworks displays when a thunder storm rolled
into town. It poured rain briefly and the wind blew hard.
Our trailer- which was still hitched- rocked like a boat.
We did not have our jacks down because we'd planned
to get an early start the next morning.
I laid in bed and wondered how strong a wind it would take
to roll our little 4000 LB trailer over. Fatigue finally put
me to sleep in spite of the fireworks, man made and otherwise.
We were awakened early just at first light
by another thunderstorm and more pounding rain.
After coffee and a brief clean up inside the rain let up outside
so I trotted over to Wally World for some dough nuts.
As soon as we'd had our sugar blast we fired up and
pulled out. We were heading NE on KS hwy 156.
The hwy ran in front of the WalMart so we simply turned
left out of the parking lot and were back crossing the Kansas
plains in just a minute or 2.
It was still raining and there was a medium cross wind
so I was concentrating on the road and watching for
water ponding in the tire tracks.
The highway is a pretty decent 2 lane with good pavement
and not many bumps. In spite of the rain and wind we
were booking along about 60.
This is Kansas! You could see the road disappear in the
far distance- many miles away. Few trees on the horizon,
no houses, no barns, not even a grain elevator did we see.
It's LONELY on a road like that. The weather made it
feel even lonelier. The clouds were leaden gray with
occasional lightning and rain showers.
We had no cell signal but that was to be expected.
We met 2 or 3 cars in a half hour.
None behind or in front of us.
Suddenly my truck chime dinged 4 times.
I looked at the dash to see what was up and to our horror
we both saw the LOW GAS light shining and the needle
down on the E. WE FORGOT TO GAS UP IN GARDEN CITY.
My heart fell to the pit of my stomach. My mind was racing.
I quickly ruled out going back.
Not enough gas to get all the way back, no place to turn
around anyway. To make matters worse we didn't even
have a Kansas road map, just a "trip tick" of our route
I'd printed using Google maps. I had no idea how far it was to the
The next 20 miles were the longest and loneliest we've ever
We began scanning the horizon for a town--
ANY town. Mile after desolate, deserted mile nothing.
We watched the odometer tick off the miles and I was
purely guessing we'd get maybe 20 miles out of the 2 gallons
or so that I hoped were in the tank. Finally, after
20 long minutes we spotted a grain elevator on the horizon.
Slowly the trees and houses began to materialize.
A TOWN!! We're saved maybe-- we had no idea if it even
had a gas station. Just as we reached the first cross street
and the "reduce speed" sign the truck died suddenly.
I arm wrestled the steering wheel (dead engine, dead
power steering) and coasted us into a side street.
I got out in the drizzling rain and emptied my little 1 gallon
generator gas can into the tank.
With a prayer it was enough- I hit the key and it started
right up. As we were turning around a man from across
the street backed out and I flagged him down. He told
us "yes" there is a gas station up ahead! It was a block
off the highway but we found it and I was never so glad
to gas up as this time!! I filled the tank and my little
gas can and thanked the nice lady behind the counter.
She probably wondered about the strange man with the huge
grin on his face!
Wow- what a relief!!
I'm going to add "check gas tank" to my
"pulling out" check list!
We drove 544 miles that day to a great RV park called
Lazy Day's RV park in Montgomery City MO.
It was those 20 miles after the low gas warning that
were by far the longest of our entire trip!