Pictures are Worth a Thousand Words… and a Few Laughs
“What’s going on?” I ask my older brother Brandon. We had just safely pulled over to the side of the road after the old, red station wagon, which I nicknamed Myrtle the Mom Mobile, had suddenly turned off and left us cruising sixty miles on hour down the freeway in neutral.
“I don’t know…” he replied as he frantically searched through the obvious answer to the mysterious behavior of our vehicle. Out of battery? No the lights and radio still work. Out of gas? No, according to his calculations we should still have five miles left. The engine isn’t smoking, the car smells fine. What could be wrong?
It was the end of June and we were about three miles outside of Tremonton, Utah on our way to Brigham Young University. He was enrolled in the summer semester and I for the BYU gymnastics sports camp. I was sixteen and we were on the last leg of our tiring twelve hour car ride hoping to arrive in Provo by eight that evening. It was now five-thirty and we were stopped between a mountain and a ditch with only billboards and never ending green fields with lonely small houses dotting the side of the road for miles.
Brandon finished his assessment of the car and the only conclusion is that somehow, though his calculations say otherwise, we must have run out of gas. His explanation of how at the rate at which the car burned the gas against the speed we were going and the head wind that must have been present didn’t mean a thing to me. I only understood that we were stuck, in the middle of nowhere, Utah, with no gas and no one within a two hours to rescue us.
“I’m going to go over to that house…” he said pointing across the ditch down a dusty gravel road.
“And do what exactly?” I replied. Was he crazy? How did he know that anyone was even home? No way was I going with him.
“I’m just going to stay here”. After securely locking the doors, I watched my brother climb down into the ditch, hop the barb wire fence, and trek up the driveway to some stranger’s house. As he reached the door, a man came out of the garage. From my safe location, I could see them talking. Then the man went to pull his truck around as Brandon headed down the driveway. I felt my phone vibrate. It was Brandon.
“Hey, he’s getting his truck and said that he’ll drive me to town to the gas station. It’s just a few miles up the road. We’ll be back soon. Call Kim and tell her we’re coming but will be a bit later than expected” Well that’s an understatement but whatever you say. So I dialed my older sister’s number as I watched Brandon drive off in the stranger’s truck. Our conversation went something like this:
“Hey Kim, so guess what? We ran out of gas outside Tremonton, Utah. Brandon overestimated our gas mileage and now I’m sitting alone in the car while he’s off with some guy who happened to live across the fence from where we’re stopped. So we’re going to be a little late tonight. This remind you of anyone?” I hear her laughing in the background. I was referring to the multiple occasions my dad has similarly overestimated his car’s abilities and left him mysteriously out of gas.
“Yeah. No problem… in the meantime why don’t you take pictures? It’ll make the time pass by quicker, plus I want to see when you get here!” Um, because that’s weird?
“Ok sure Kim. Whatever you want. See ya.” So… what should I do? Oh, take pictures. Right. I rummaged through the piles of suitcases, backpacks, duffle bags and pillows necessary to ensure comfort while at college until I found my camera.
I searched for something interesting on the desolate landscape and my eye came across a billboard maybe two hundred yards away. I zoomed my camera in to see what it said.
“Travel J’s of Tremonton Utah: 3 miles ahead.” Click. Putting two and two together I realized that this was the nearest gas station. Wow, Brandon was cutting it really close even before we ran out of gas. As this realization hit me a car passed by rocking the car and my heart along with it. Click. I watched it speed passed and grow smaller and smaller until it was out of sight.
I continued my search for interesting things to take pictures of. A semi-truck came way too close rattling the car so hard I thought it was going to tip. Click. After recovering from the rocking I looked out at the freeway and saw no other cars coming. When would I ever get an opportunity like this again? I have always wanted to stand in the middle of the road, especially a freeway, because they’re usually way too busy. I was drawn to the idea the instant it occurred to me. Doubling checking that there really were no cars, like I had to, I cautiously got out and walked to the median of the two lanes. Click. Myrtle was sitting there looking as embarrassing as ever and, though the experience was thrilling, hurriedly I jumped back into the car. I scanned my pictures I’d taken so far. Billboard, car, semi-truck about it hit our car, and the car on the side of the road. Wow, what a collection. I began another search of something to take a picture of.
I found another billboard, on my side of the road, was one of those “Pass it on” messages. This one sported a picture of Thomas Edison with big black letter that read, “On the 10,000 try there was light… OPTMISM, Pass it on.” Another car shook me as it passed by without stopping to help my lonesome self. Click. Wait, what did that say? I could not believe it. I had to get a picture of the incredible irony of the situation. Click.
I continued sitting for what seemed like forever, by myself, with only an empty Cheez-its box (click), a few oatmeal cream pies (click) and Edison to keep me company. Finally, my brother returned with a full gas can and a thankful heart to the Good Samaritan who drove him to get some gas. Oh, Kodak moment! Click. Soon we were back on our way to Provo.
I showed my sister and all my friends on Facebook, the beginning of my summer adventures. The story of us running out of gas outside Tremonton has become a joke in my family. Anytime my sister passes through, I get a text saying, “KayCee, guess where we are…?” Running out of gas outside Tremonton has become the highlight of that trip. I give credit to my sister and how she made me take pictures of the semi-traumatic experience.