OK, an embarrassing story.
In September of 2017, my wife and I took a trip around the perimeter of the US from PA to Idaho to California to South Carolina back to PA. We hit a number of bucket list locations for me from the Wright Brothers memorials in Dayton to Yellowstone, Glacier, Devils Tower, Yosemite, Death Valley, Barber Museum, Kitty Hawk and many others. It was a great ride other than running out of gas. Yep, I ran one of the longest range bikes on the road flat out of fuel.
Basically, we had a hotel reserved in Madras, Oregon and we left Interstate 84 at Rufus. I was at about 3/8 a tank of fuel and showing around 85 miles to empty. Rufus had fuel, but we had just taken a rest break a few miles back on the interstate so I figured we’d ride another 40-50 miles and get fuel. Route 97 looked to be a well traveled route and a state like Oregon could not possibly have a paved road that would got 94 miles without a gas station, right?
So, about 7:00 PM we passed through Rufus and took a small road up over the hill and then merged into 97 just past Wasco, which had no gas. The Nav 5 showed a couple of stations along the route, but as we came to each one it was clear they were closed and not just for the night. The one place that had fuel, was a commercial fueling stop for trucks and you had to have a company card to buy gas there. This place was about 76 miles from Madras and I was showing 64 miles to empty. While we were there looking at the pumps wishing we had a way to operate them, a truck driver pulled in to fill his rig. He was a super nice man and tried to buy us gas, but his card would only operate the diesel pumps. I asked him where the next gas stop was and he said he thought Madras, but wasn’t sure. The GPS still showed one more station along the route.
The smart thing to do would have been to backtrack 20 miles to Rufus and fill up, but it was now 7:30 and I figured there had to be gas along the way and I thought if I nursed the LT gently it just might make it. Keep in mind the 64 miles - 76 miles = -12 miles. However, I didn’t do the smart thing and thanked the trucker for his help and told him I was going to try to make Madras. Well, we rode along at 50 MPH which gave good mileage, but this road was fairly hilly so fuel economy suffered. The DTE varied, but was always 8 - 16 miles less than the distance remaining to Madras. About 20 miles out of Madras, I noticed a truck following me. I was moving to the shoulder to let them pass as most were doing 60 or more, especially down the long hills to get a start for the next hill. I was poking along. This truck, however, refused to pass. As our fuel gauge got down to no bars lit we were 13 miles from Madras and facing a long uphill grade. I told Linda in the intercom that this would likely be the end of our ride as I was sure we would not make it over the hill. I got very little response as it has been a very quiet ride from the pillion seat. Sure enough, about a 1/4 mile short of the top and with exactly 12 miles remaining to Madras, the LT sputtered and died. Fortunately, there was a dirt road that exited route 97 at that point so I had a place to pull the LT well off the road. As we were getting off the bike and removing our helmets, an 18-wheeler pulled in behind us. It was the trucker from the fuel stop 60 miles back and the one who had slowed down to follow us. I’ve unfortunately since forgotten his name, but what a guy to go out of his way like that. Turns out he was from CA and heading home on one of his last runs as he was about to retire.
I secured the LT as best I could and we hopped in his truck and he drove us into Madras and dropped us off almost at our hotel. I tried to buy him dinner or give him something for this time and trouble, but he was having none of it and wished us well and drove away. I got Linda settled into the hotel (still with steam coming out her ears) and started working on my rescue plan. No stores were open to buy a gas can as it was now dark and nearly 9:00. I did find a gas station that had an old jug they would loan me, but it was missing the pour spout. So, I bought a funnel from them and filled the gallon jug and we used some plastic wrap to plug the hole where the filler spout should have been. The jug smelled like diesel when I filled it, but I was hoping there was so little as to not bother the full gallon of high test I added.
I then needed a ride back to the LT. Madras has no taxi service, at least that is what I was told. The desk lady at the hotel told me should could not leave her post and that was completely understandable. She said she would call a few of her friends and see if she could find me a ride. Just then the hotel manager, who was off duty, happened to stop in to check on things. I explained my plight to him and he said he would drive me back to the bike. So, we loaded the gas can and headed out in the dark. It was a little tricky to find the bike, but we did and then had to get gas into it in the dark. He had no flashlight, but I had my little oil check light and my cell phone. The cell phone was brighter so he held that as I poured the gallon into the bike. The old faithful LT fired right up and I rode it back to the hotel. I then got the gas can and returned it to the gas station and the day finally ended at nearly 10 PM. We had missed supper and not much was open so we decided to call it a night. And that was my most embarrassing moment on my LT.
And Linda still reminds me of that every time I mention going just a little farther before stopping for gas.
You expect to go 90 miles between gas stations in Alaska and Nevada, but never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that route 97 in Oregon would go 94 miles without a single gas station. We even went through a town with a high school that had a nice track and football field and not a single gas station (I think Moro was the name). In PA, my town has a population of less than 600 yet we have FOUR gas stations. Go figure...