Miles City, MT - 9/2
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We had a great last day.  After Denise got up around 9:30 am, we both got dressed and went to the bridge to fish with Lewie.  Then after a chili dog lunch (we're cleaning out our refrigerator), Lewie and I fished the north lake in the boat.  We got real lucky in that we had no fish to clean.

Around 5:00 pm, Lewie and I returned.  I was kind of sad as I cleaned all of my stuff from the boat.  But when we got back to camp, Denise joined us and we had a few beers and it was nice not having the job of cleaning fish looming over us.  On each trip back to the ice chest, I put something else away.  What a way to pack!

Around 8:00 pm, our neighbors (Jerome and Betty) and their 3 year old great-grandson (Zachary) came out to build a fire.  They used the ring right in Lewie's camp and all of us sat around the fire.  Well all but Zach.  He was quite busy playing with logs, fixing his motorcycle (a plastic Fisher-Price tricycle), and scolding our dogs for barking.  Zachary is a real cute kid and we've enjoyed him since his arrival with his great-grandparents last Saturday.  He's very talkative and speaks well for a three year old.  Jerome and Betty refer to him as "jabber jaw".

Around nine, I grilled the steaks we had planned to cook the previous evening.  Lewie fried fish (we're having "steak and lake"!) and Denise fried potatoes.  We had our supper and were in bed by 10:30 pm.

Today we were off by 8:20 am.  It was sad for all of us but this was the first year Denise didn't cry when leaving.  Her tears usually don't last long but they have been there the previous two years.  If I had allowed myself, I could have shed tears to take the place of her's but that's not what men do.  But once underway, my lump had cleared and I was ready for whatever lie ahead.

It was an uneventful 542 miles to Miles City, MT.  Well fortunately it was uneventful.  When we departed Ten Mile Lake, I had 83 gallons of diesel on board.  Now normally I get between eight and nine miles to the gallon when rolling down the interstate at 70 mph, but today I was fighting the wind.  Seems there was a low pressure system over North Dakota so the wind was from the southeast in the eastern side and from the northwest on the western side.  Well this brought the mileage down to slightly better than seven.

OK, so 7 times 83 is 581 and we only have to go 542 so we still should have enough fuel to make it.  But about 80 miles from Miles City, I had only 10 gallons remaining.  Hummmm.  10 times 7 is only 70 but the mileage appears to have increased to around 8 or 9 since the winds subsided when we entered Montana.  And then the last time I thought we were on fumes, there were still 5 or 6 gallons left so the gauge lies.  But I decide that if there's fuel at the next town, I'll get some anyway because I don't want to take the chance.

Well to make a long story short, eastern Montana on I-94 is a lonely, desolate place with little services.  With 60 miles to go, I was down to 5 gallons.  I didn't think I was going to make it.  With 40 miles to go, I had a mere 2 gallons according to the gauge.  There was an exit for the town of Tracy, just about 30 miles from Miles City and the highway sign said it had fuel.  We took the exit, only to find an old gas station that had long since been abandoned.  There might have been fuel in further but I did not have the reserve to go on a wild goose chase.  I opted to return to the interstate and pray something else was up the road.

But there was nothing.  As I crested each hill, I hoped and prayed I'd see signs of civilization but only found more interstate.  Denise was reading and I tried my best to keep my concerns to myself.  She was aware of the situation but I don't know if she knew how bad it was getting.  The gauge showed only on gallon left and had quit bouncing around.  We were still 20 miles outside Miles City.  I really didn't thing we'd make it at that point and began planning in my head what I would do when the engine made its final sputter.  With power steering and power brakes, I was going to be a bitch to get the rig to the side of the road and stopped.  Besides, I'd only have one shot because where ever I landed, that would be it.  I'm strong but not strong enough to push a 23,000 plus pound rig.  Please let there be a gas station over the next hill.

So what else to do but keep going.  Either we'll make it or we'll be on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck.  Miles City is now only 10 miles away.  We press on.  Luckily, our exit for the RV Park (Big Sky Camp & RV Park, exit 141) was 2 1/2 miles before the main exit.  Good, at least I can get the rig parked and then go on my own for fuel.  That way Denise will have somewhere to stay while I wait for the tow.

We get set-up and then I head for fuel.  Fortunately, I made it without any problem.  Oh how relieved I was when I finally stopped next to the diesel pump, knowing I made it.  The price was $2.079 but I didn't care.  I'd pay any price at this point.  But after all that grief and worry, it only took 80 gallons to fill my two tanks with a combined capacity of 85 gallons.  Yes, it was close but there had to be another 2 or 3 useable gallons before I ran out completely.  Why can't fuel gauges be accurate and leave the responsibility to the driver?  If my gauge was accurate, then I wouldn't have had the worry and I wouldn't have to guess how much more do I really have when the gauge says empty.

Anyway, it was uneventful.  After returning, we sat outside until the sky threatened to rain.  Then we went into town and had dinner at Taco John's were we've eaten before and loved it.  However tonight, we wondered what the big deal was because it wasn't that good.  Just regular "Taco Bell like" tacos.  But it worked and kept us from dirtying our own dishes.

Tomorrow is a shorter day, just 485 miles to Idaho Falls, ID.  Well it's almost 10:00 pm so I better get to bed.

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