Thursday, 4 August 2011

A story as long as the road was

We thought it would be fun to follow Historic route 66 for a bit as we left Santa Fe.  So on the appointed morning, we headed out using our GPS navigation system; we call “Mother.”  I have no idea what I was thinking as we left Santa Fe but we set out with much less than a full tank of gas. 

 Now, being a “man guy,” I couldn’t admit that I screwed up plus I was sure we would have plenty of gas to get to a gas station along the way.  So, I glanced at the fuel gauge, mother’s screen and that was just about the time Elena said, “Wow, this road is so straight, you can see this road all the way to the horizon.”  Followed by, “I don’t think there is another car on this road.”  You would think that a smart guy like me would at this point say, “Hey I messed up, we need to go back to Santa Fe and get some gas.”  After all, it was only 15 miles behind us.  But no, I check the fuel computer and it indicates we have 80 miles of fuel range.  Then the next big mistake, I hear myself saying, “ Honey, I should have gotten some gas before we left Santa Fe but I think we won’t have a problem getting to the next town.”

 Elena being a rational being asked the only rational question, “Where is the next town?”  My irrational answer was, “Hmmm I’m not sure…but I’m sure it is down this road.”  Elena looks at mother’s screen and pushes the scale button and all we saw was a white screen with a red line down the middle and our car indicated as a little tiny arrowhead at the very bottom of the screen. 

Okay, so you would think I would get a clue and turn the car around.  But we had gone another 15 miles and now I’m thinking we are past the point of no return and it would be better to press on.  So we have 65 miles of fuel and a road that runs to infinity…without another visible sign of civilization.

Now I’m thinking out loud, we have 3 bottles of water, a couple cans of Diet Coke, and a petrified French fry under the seat. 
40 miles of fuel left.  Before us, the horizon is tipping up…is it a hill or a mirage…is it 5 miles away or 50 miles.  I glance out of the side window and realize that vultures are gathering all along the route.  Why is that?  Every time we take a walk, they gracefully circle above me catching all the wind currents.  I guess it is a new definition of patience.  They know!  It’s just a matter of time.

25 miles of fuel left.  We are at the crest of the hill and there is another road.  That is when we learn that we a driving on “Yacht Club Drive.”  There is something supremely ironic about a highway department that would attach that name to this road.  I don’t think there is a body of water within miles. 

20 miles of fuel left.  We continue along Yacht Club Drive.  My life is literally flashing before my eyes.  All the times I have taken ridiculous risks and up to now, have always gotten away with it.     

15 miles of fuel left.  Is that a mirage, or is there a road sign ahead.  The fuel computer has stopped flashing “fuel low” and is now flashing “you’re an idiot.”  Now, we are approaching the sign, it reads, “Clines Corner 4 miles.”  Then in the distance, you see a tower.  Then I see, reflections, possibly the sun reflecting off of windshields or is this the bright light people talk about as part of the death experience.

  We pull into Cline’s Corner with 11 miles of gas in the tank.  Now, the reason I really think Elena is the most wonderful woman in the world.  She says, “Wow this is really interesting, let’s take some pictures.”  So, here are a few pictures of our special Oasis and the kickoff point of our Historic Hwy 66.  Also, a place where as I pump gas, I realize I am still the luckiest guy in the world…A wonderful wife and an accurate fuel computer.


  1. What a terrific story, Russ! Well written, beautifully illustrated. Yours is the second story like this that I've heard in the past 10 days. At least, unlike my two other friends, you didn't have to coast down a mountain to conserve your last drops of fuel! --Carol Leigh

  2. Carol, Thanks for the comment. Coupled with your friends saga, does it make you want to check the fuel gauge before embarking with either of us? Looking forward to the class in September.

  3. Wonderful story! Thanks so much for sharing it. Your story was major dejavu for Chris and I but instead of being nearly out of gas, we started out on a journey across the pass between Taos and Chama without realizing what we were getting into! In a two wheel drive car, we were excited when we saw the first snow flakes. Then the temp dropped to the 20s. When we finally reached the top of the pass, the truck in front of us stopped and the gentleman got out and walked to the back. I exclaimed to Chris "He's locking his wheels"!!! I approached him and asked if he would mind keeping an eye on us on the way down the mountain and he agreed. Chris had never driven on ice and snow so he suggest I drive. On the way down, we saw more than 5 cars slid off the road! We started slipping out of control a couple of time so I was sure it would happen to us any moment. I was holding the steering wheel for dear life until we finally made it down. Inside the Elkhorn Cafe in Chama, the proprietor couldn't believe we just came over the pass. "Didn't anyone tell you NOT to attempt it after first of Nov?" Thankfully (as in your case) we lived to tell about it :-)

  4. Oh, Marianne,

    Your story is seriously scary. I can only imagine what you felt driving on ice in the mountains.
    That is when one really appreciate the happy end.