Well, it turns out that we had a long, long way to go! I followed the road around curve after curve through a wooded area without any houses, buildings, or gas stations around. I kept watching my gas gauge, and it kept getting lower and lower. Finally, we saw a highway sign up ahead.
Whew! I thought. This must be where we get off. But when we reached the sign, I couldn’t believe it. We had twelve miles to go to one city, seven to another, and both of them were further away from home — and in the next state!
We don’t live too far from the state line, but it takes at least twenty minutes to get there by the shortest route. Now my only choices were to turn back or continue on to one of these towns. I stopped to ponder what to do; the way back was long, and I already knew there were no gas stations between where we were and home. A kind woman in a car that pulled up behind us confirmed that before she went on. We had to move forward with no gas, but which way?
We chose to go the seven miles, though I knew that town was smaller than the other. Surely, though, they had a gas station. If only we could make it…
My children didn’t seem as anxious as I felt — in fact, it was quite an adventure to them. We drove up the hills and coasted down them, all the while traveling through a wooded area with no one around. Finally we saw a cyclist on the road, and my daughter Cassie let out a cheer.
“Now, Mom, if we run out of gas, we can get him to call someone on his cell phone.” I was pretty sure there was very limited service where we were, but at least it was an idea.
Finally, after about four miles, we started to come upon individual houses here and there, eventually passing a farm.
“Yay!” the kids shouted. “Farmers have gas for their tractors!”
“True,” I replied, feeling a little comforted. At least we had somewhere we could go if we ran out completely.
I don’t know how, but the car kept going, the gauge reading below empty now. A few more curves in the road, and we passed the fire department, then more houses closer together, and then we came upon the town.
The town was small and quaint, tucked back into the mountains. We stopped at some railroad tracks and looked around. There were antique shops, the police station, and restaurants — but no gas station! A man was standing by the tracks with his dog on a leash, so we asked him where the nearest station was.
“About a mile down the road,” he said, and I sighed. A mile more to go!
We started off again, turning on the road he had indicated, and soon we saw them — two gas stations, right beside each other!
“Hooray!” we all shouted as we pulled in at the pump.
“Wouldn’t it be funny,” Cassie said as I opened the van door, “if we didn’t have any money?”
I glanced around the floor of the car. “My purse! Do you see my purse? I think I left it at home!” We had left in such a rush, I didn’t even think about it before.
Keep calm, keep calm, I thought to myself. None of us could believe it. I started searching through the glove compartment. I had once put an extra set of checks in there. Maybe they were still there, and…
They were! I took a check inside the gas station and pleaded with the attendant. I didn’t have my license with me, and we were from out-of-state. The attendant thought about it for a minute.
“How much do you need?” she asked.
“$5? $10? Just enough to get home!” I answered. She let me have $10 worth, and I went back out very relieved.
As I was pumping the gas, my daughter Lillie opened the window. “Look, Mom, look!”
I didn’t want to look. I didn’t want to do anything but pump the gas and go home. But as I glanced up, I saw what she was talking about. Her sharp eyes had seen what I was ignoring…