May 20, 2016 § Leave a comment
Suddenly the truck lost power. I could feel the change in the accelerator pedal immediately and glancing at the dashboard display revealed my worst nightmare. The gas tank was empty and my gamble had failed. Just 3 minutes earlier I was in the queue at a Sunoco Station in the Service Plaza just prior to Exit 7A of the NJ Turnpike. The queue was long, and my gauge didn’t look like it was that empty. I knew from familiarity of the area that Exit 8 on I 195 has a Valero Station and that is less than 4 total miles from where I was currently detained in the queue. Why don’t I take a chance? In addition it had been a pretty lucky weekend overall. We had planned a 2 night 3 day backpacking trip into Tuscarora State Forest, and the 10 day forecast all week looked dismal. However it started to brighten on Thursday, and as it turned out, the rain stopped not long after we parked our vehicles in the hiking lot at Colonel Denning State Park. What luck! Furthermore, it only improved as the day progressed. The sun started to make appearances, and we had a clear sky all night. We watched the moon traverse a large arc in the heavens. Saturday started out as great as anyone could hope. Sunny and warm. Rain did eventually arrive, but tarps we possessed and deployed them we did, and after two fronts moved through we were good for the night.
So after all that good luck, why shouldn’t I try to make it 4 more miles? Off I went, and now the Tundra was losing speed on the ramp incline just shy of the toll plaza. I engaged the emergency blinkers, and pulled out of the travel lane. It wasn’t completely hopeless, as my insurance has coverage for just this sort of emergency, but what did the tow truck driver say to me the last time I used his service? “95% of my service calls are because people ignore their low gas warning and then ran out of gas. What idiots!”. Now I was one of those idiots! Or was I? I could simply pick up the phone and dial, or I could wait a moment, and simply turn the key. What is the worst that could happen? It doesn’t start? Well, it wasn’t currently running, so that doesn’t really change my status. But it could start. So, I turned the key, and it started! Now I just had to see how far I could get this time. I may not even make it to the top of the ramp, but then again, I might if I could just get some speed built up. I threw it into gear and eased my foot onto the accelerator and sure enough, I moved faster and faster and over the top of the hump. I let off the gas and coasted through the toll machine with “EZ Pass Paid” displayed and I kept rolling right on through to the entrance ramp for I 195 East “Shore Points”. I took a chance and depressed the pedal a little more and I picked up more speed. I had one more initial hump in the overpass over the Turnpike. I cleared that easily, and then the exit sign for Allentown (Exit 7) came quickly. I didn’t want that one, because there are no services on that road, and it would be a longer distance to the Valero. So I pushed my luck further and on to Exit 8. Exit 8 has a long swirling ramp that ends at stop light where most vehicles make a left turn. Fortunately for me that queue was short and it didn’t block the right turn I could make onto 539 South and to the Valero Station which was right there. I had made it!
The truck owner’s manual lists the tank at 25 gallons and change. How much change? Well the Gauge on the pump indicated I put 26.34 gallons into the tank. That is the most ever! Whew!