(Note to self: no more than 300 miles on a tank of gas --- no matter WHAT the gauge says!)
Monday, July 27, 2009
Sat., July 25
I was parked under a shady tree last night so the RT didn't heat up quite as early and I slept late. Had a leisurely breakfast, emptied my holding tanks (first time this trip), and got off about 2:30 pm. I was headed for Springfield, MO, to visit Linda Elliott, a good friend from high school days. I put her address into my GPS and also talked with her on the phone where she gave me some slightly different directions since one of the bridges had been "washed out." So my first problem was having Nuvi (that's the name I gave my GPS) and Linda giving me different directions. The second problem was that my printed map clearly showed Route 44 as being the most direct route but Nuvi kept directing me to take different roads. I usually listen to Nuvi but this time I was insistent on taking I-44 and just ignored her repeated requests to get off the highway at each exit. When I stopped for lunch I went into her settings and discovered that I had checked "avoid toll roads" (which works quite well in Southern California---I think there's only one toll road there) and I-44 is a toll road. So with that change, Nuvi was happy to direct me along I-44. Before she knew about the late start I'd gotten, Linda had made a reservation for dinner for us and another friend of hers at a nice, historic "Inn" in Springfield for 6:30 pm. She changed it to 7:30 when she realized I would not make it there in time. When it didn't look like I would make it there by then either, she went and met her friend there and had dinner, saving me a seat with the assumption I would be there soon. Well, that didn't happen. I got lost, somehow, and was in the middle of a forest and no matter which way I turned, I would come to a sign that said "dead end." I don't remember now if that was before or after I ran out of gas on the highway. I knew I was low on gas but didn't want to stop because I was late for dinner. I'd forgotten the lesson I'd learned last year (near home, fortunately) that my gas tank goes empty before the indicator hits "Empty." Anyway, I was about a mile from the next exit (which I knew had a gas station because I'd gone north, south, and north again on this section of the highway---don't ask why), on a hilly portion of the highway when suddenly my engine died. The really scary part of that is that when the engine dies, you loose power steering and power brakes. I was able to move over to the shoulder of the road, coast down the hill (putting the RT into "N" and trying to start it which didn't work), couldn't make it stop even though I was standing with all my weight on the brake pedal, but did come to a stop as I reached the bottom of the little hill and started up the other side. With the nose of the van pointed upwards, I was able to get the engine started, drive up to the top of the next little hill where it again died as I crested the top, coasted down to the bottom, and stopped. I repeated this 3 or 4 times until I was at the exit where the gas station was. Unfortunately, that was on relatively level ground, just past an intersection with a stop light with one car in front of me stopped at the red light. I guess I prayed loudly enough that God heard me, made the light turn green as I coasted (with little ability to stop or steer) down the off-ramp, through the intersection, into the gas station, and came to rest at the nearest gas pump! Boy, talk about driving on fumes!!! The tank took 31.9 gallons. It's a 32 gallon tank. After I stopped crying (my usual reaction in these stressful situations), I called Linda and told her I'd be a little later. The other thing that contributed to my being so late was that the address I had entered into Nuvi was Linda's OLD address in Springfield. I'd forgotten that she'd moved to Ozark, about 30-45 minutes further on. Sort of irrelevant at this point because I was supposed to meet them at the Inn. I did eventually find it. It was 10:00 pm and the proprietors were waiting for me so they could close up. I was able to make a fine meal out of their leftovers, the delicious bread sticks, and the array of cheeses and grapes, olives, and pickles on the table. I then FOLLOWED Linda to her house. We decided not to introduce Maggie and Juliet to her 15 dogs until the next morning.