After much preparation, we headed out Thursday night after work. I was off at 4:30, and on the road at 5, thanks to the ready-loaded rig and all of Birdie’s packing!
We grabbed Little Caesars Pizza & filled our tank in La Grande. On our way to Sumpter, we passed an old-fashioned horse & buggy tour in Baker City. We pulled in to Southwest Shore Campground by Phillips Lake around 8:30 PM. I wanted Birdy and the kids to try it out, so we could compare it to the one next door. (I think Miller’s Lane is our favorite.)
We had a quick, cold breakfast, and the kids walked down and played by the lake while I prepared to leave. I’m getting into a routine now, raising all the jacks, closing windows/vents/etc.
We still had half a tank in John Day, so we pressed on for Prineville along highway 26. This is a pretty, hot, & scenic drive with almost no cell service. Naturally, we ran out of gas.
That’s right! I, the eagle scout, the ‘always prepared’, self-proclaimed responsible guy ran out of gas! (This has never happened to me before.) As the truck first sputtered I thought, “it can’t be gas… the gauge says over 1/8th… I ran it down past red, near E before… it can’t be!” I looked over and Birdy was asleep, so I couldn’t consult her.
It seemed to only sputter when I gave it lots of gas, so maybe the filter’s plugged, maybe the pump is going out? (I just replaced the filter this winter, though. The injector pump would keep us going if the pickup pump had failed…) For a minute or two I kept driving, noting properties along the way. Did that one look friendly? Did they have heavy equipment (and therefore Diesel?) *Sputter*
I had passed Mitchell quite some time ago, so surely the Ochoco Reservoir area should be just ahead. *Sputter…* If only I can make the top of this hill… sputter… sputter…. sputter… Okay, that’s it, I need a pull-off NOW. “Honey,wake up… we have a problem.” At a stop, it was idling, but giving it any gas led to coughs. Not wanting to dry the lines (if it was gas), I turned it off. Now what…?
Walking around, there was no service what so ever. Birdy has AAA, I have a Ham radio, and there’s some houses around. We decide it’s likely quickest to try the nearby residence first. If they didn’t have diesel, we could hopefully use their phone to call AAA. A truck from Prineville could get here in no time, whereas it might take a while to raise anyone on the radio.
I took my walk of shame down the hill, as the kids had lunch and played on a boulder. On one side was a driveway with red, white & blue mailbox next to 3 posted no trespassing signs & 2 layers of gate. “Yeah,” I thought, “that’ll get me shot at.” Next to this was a singlewide trailer that looked abandoned. Lastly, a well-groomed house and apple orchard, bingo!
I called out “HELLO” as I passed through 2 unlocked gates and near the house. Eventually, I knocked on the door and was greeted by a nice old lady. Naturally, she was wary at first, and no doubt thought me a city slicker tourist. However, we got to share some conversation as I was on hold with AAA, and she warmed up when she found out how much we had in common.
None of her equipment used diesel. AAA had called two towing outfits, and neither would be available for at least 4 hours. While they kept calling around, we went to bug some neighbors. No answer on the phone didn’t mean much, as they could be out of the house working. The first neighbor wasn’t home, but we managed to inconvenience a ranch hand at the next place. I was so embarrassed and took my lumps as he gave me the obligatory tongue-lashing. With some cash and conversation, he perked up too, and eventually rode over on his 4-wheeler to see how it turned out.
With 5 gallons more in the tank, I gave the ignition a turn, no luck. I thought (even hoped) that the kids were just too loud to hear the fuel pump kick on. In fact, when I turned on the ignition, it wasn’t making any noise. Half-relieved of my shame, I decided to knock on it a bit. (That’s helped get it going in previous Chevy’s.) I tapped on the pickup pump with a rock, while Birdy turned on the ignition, and it sputtered to life!
Maybe I’m bleeding the line… “bdddddt” (pump the pedal as I crank) “bdddt” pump “bddddt” pump, repeat… CHAROOOM!!!
“IT’S ALIVE!” TBear exclaimed maniacally.
Thanks were expediently handed out, and the kids shoved in, so we could make the most of our recovered mobility. Rolling down the road never felt so good, as we made it the 35+ more miles to Prineville. We filled up here, without any further fuel issues for the rest of the trip. (Except me filling up too often…)
After 12 hours, we arrived at WaxMyrtle Campground in the Siltcoos Recreation area of the Siuslaw National Forest. (Say that 5 times fast.) Our reserved site was right on the river and (while it was close-quarters between sites) it had lots of thick brush separating each site, with nifty little trail/holes weaving throughout.
Instead of eating out for seafood that night (as was the plan) we settled for burgers on the grill, and a relaxing campfire instead. Stay tuned for my next installment, where all the beach-time & other fun happens!