Monday, February 24, 2014

One of THOSE Days

My plan was to drive to Abilene in central Texas and hit the Anytime Fitness branch there for a workout and shower before driving the final three hours to my daughter's apartment in Hurst, TX outside of Fort Worth.  This was the final day of this decade of my life, what could go wrong?  Google Maps had navigated me along state roads that were occasionally interrupted by small 1500 person Texas towns that sometimes hosted a gas station and sometimes didn't.  (This is called "foreshadowing" in the Blogger community).  As I approached Abilene Google Maps showed I had 12 miles to go to Anytime Fitness but just as I looked at that data the Tank's gas warning light came on.  Normally, if you drive a vehicle with a gas warning light when it comes on you have a couple gallons of gas remaining and that fuel provides you with 25 or 30 miles to find a gas station.  (More foreshadowing!)  I had run out of gas in the Tank one time in the past because Chevrolet, in it's design wisdom, had decided that the Tank's gas warning light would remain off until there was only one half gallon of gas remaining.  The Tank, bless it's heart, gets 10 mpg as configured so a half gallon means I have 5 miles to find a gas station after it comes on.  I was on Texas 83 heading south into Abilene.  At this point Hwy 83 was a 4 lane limited access 75 mph highway.  With the gas warning light screaming it's warning I approached an exit with a cluster of nondescript buildings at the end of the ramp but it wasn't apparent any had gas pumps.  Without certain knowledge that I could fuel up there I continued past the exit and as soon as I got PAST the exit a sign appeared announcing that a convenience store at that exit had gas for $3.25 a gallon!  I'm certainly no marketing genius but wouldn't a Marketing 101 course suggest that if you wanted customers to exit the highway and patronize your store you put a sign announcing your store's presence BEFORE the exit not after it?  So now you know what happens next.  I get about a mile past the exit and the Tank's engine revs up to about 4500 RPM's (which seemed curious since it was running out of fuel ) and then shut off, leaving me seconds to steer over onto the side median and out of the 75 mph traffic.  I had become one of those guys you drive past and shake your head thinking to yourself "How could anyone ever run out of gas?"

Readers of the blog know I carry a mountain bike affectionately named Wally after the store he came from.  I got Wally down from his carrier on the back of the Tank and rode the mile back to the convenience store with the savvy marketing campaign and purchased a $9.99 plastic gas container (no markup there) and one gallon of their $3.25 gas.  After awkwardly pedaling back to the Tank balancing the gas can on the handlebars I dismounted and got ready to assemble the gas can's pour spout so I could get the gas into the Tank and get going.  I'm a mechanical engineer by training and tasks like figuring out a $9.99 gas can spout NORMALLY don't offer me an insurmountable challenge, but I was coming to the rapid conclusion that this end of the decade day was anything but "normal".  There was no physical way to attach the pour spout of the $9.99 gas can to the can itself which would allow gas to be conveyed to the Tank's gas spout without most of the gas leaking onto the ground.  I concluded that an extra part, which my can was bereft of, was required to secure and seal the spout where it attached at the gas can.  Did I mention that cars were screaming by three feet from me at 75 mph?  I prayed none of the drivers was looking down texting their "bestie".  So I threw caution to the wind, opened the Tank's gas door and sloshed the gas directly from the spoutless $9.99 gas can into the Tank's gas line, spilling quite a bit down the side of the Tank but probably getting 3/4 of a gallon in.  Elated that I now had 7.5 miles of driving available I hopped into the Tank and proceeded to the next exit BEFORE which a sign proclaimed $3.25 a gallon gas available....yay!

Walking around the back of the Tank after filling up something seemed missing and then it dawned on me that Wally, the faithful mountain bike, was not hanging from his carrier.  In the post-3/4 gallon excitement I had jumped in the car, taken off and left Wally standing on his kick stand by the side of busy Hwy 83!  I think God made it hard for us to kick ourselves in the butt for days like I was having, although I could have just asked a stranger to do it.  I headed back the way I had come fully expecting Wally to have been kidnapped by one of the numerous pickups streaming by but I had to at least go look.  Looking across Hwy 83 as I approached the spot of my debacle there was Wally patiently awaiting his rescue!  No one had stopped to steal him.  (My brother, after hearing my story, opined it probably looked like a police sting to any experienced bike thief).  So I went under the underpass loaded the bike onto the Tank's carrier and finally made it to Anytime Fitness. 

This story is true, only the names haven't been changed to protect the idiotic.

Here's some photos I took the next day on a hike with my daughter along Fort Worth's biking/hiking Trinity Trails.

Trinity Trails run for 40 miles along both sides of the Trinity River. 
A Trinity River turtle family.

Thanks for reading! (and laughing).

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