For the Victoria Day long weekend, like any good Canadian celebrating a national holiday, we headed south to the US for some outlet shopping. We booked us and three other families into our timeshare in Birch Bay, WA. Eight adults, six kids under four and good times to come.
The ladies made a plan to drive to the Premium Outlets at Tulalip, just over an hour south of Birch Bay. The men folk stayed home with all the kids, with the exception of the little miss who joined us for some girly fun. We decided to take the “Magic Van,” the Awesome family vehicle. (It’s really a Honda Odyssey, but the little man believes the doors open by magic so it’s now known as the Magic Van.)
The I-5 between Bellingham and Tulalip on a Monday morning is somewhat intimidating when you’re not used to driving alongside huge semi trucks that seemingly pass each other for sport instead of necessity. I held my own, but I also held very tight to the steering wheel, at “10 and 2” as we were taught in driving lessons way back when. I didn’t dare take my eyes off the road for more than the split second needed to check mirrors when I occasionally got brave enough to change lanes.
Mr. Awesome typically drives when we go out as a family, and he’s always on top of the gas situation (insert all the gas jokes you want here, he won’t mind). Well, I didn’t realize it, but I’ve basically fallen out of the habit of checking the gas gauge when getting in the vehicle.
This in no way exonerates me, but I just want to point something out. As I mentioned, while driving my hands were basically glued to the steering wheel at 10 and 2, as if on a clock face. Well, thanks to the geniuses at Honda, when your hands are in this driving instructor-recommended position YOU CANNOT SEE THE GAS GAUGE. At least, not all of it. Especially that little yellow light that indicates that maybe you should think about refueling at some point.
We were about 55 minutes south when I felt an awful sensation under my right foot…nothing. Or at least the promise of nothing. “Um guys, we’re out of gas” was all I could say as I checked all my mirrors and proceeded to get us safely across two lanes of traffic and one on-ramp to the shoulder. (Despite all evidence to the contrary, I am a reasonably good driver.) Apparently the ladies just thought I was saying that we would need to stop for gas at the next exit, because SURELY I would have noticed earlier that we were getting low. As we glided to a stop on the side of the interstate I assured them that no, we were well and truly OUT OF GAS.
There was an awesome moment of silence, followed by a smattering of nervous laughter and then some mild hysterics…mostly from me. Huge trucks thundered past, shaking the van as we discussed our options. Do we walk the unknown distance to a gas station? Who does the walking, given we have the little miss fast asleep in the back seat? Do we call 911, or GOD FORBID, call the men to let them know what’s happened? Given the onslaught of sarcastic comments I was sure to receive from Mr. Awesome the second he found out, calling the men was not an option.
We looked ahead and behind us and could see no signs indicating a magical gas station within 100 feet. We looked to our right, as to our left were only hundreds of screaming trucks. There was a rather steep, rather overgrown embankment that ended in a rusty barbed wire fence, then a side road and some house-type buildings. And a sign. Wait a second, did that say POLICE? Next to one of the houses there was indeed a sign that said “Police” with an arrow pointing up the driveway. In the best of times I might have questioned the fact that this didn’t appear completely official, but this was not the best of times.
The four of us aren’t really the types to sit around waiting for something to happen, so Michelle stayed with me and the other two jumped out. Okay, I guess that means Michelle and I did actually just sit around waiting for something to happen, but SOMEONE had to stay with the van and the baby, right? Before we knew it, they were down the hill and crawling under the barbed wire. I have such good friends.
We watched as they made their way up to the quasi-police station, spoke to two gentlemen who we assume were police officers, and pointed to the van. They looked up the hill, obviously to get a glimpse of the moron that ran out of gas on a simple 60 mile trip. The next thing we know, one of the two cops has a gas can and is climbing over the barbed-wire fence and up the hill. Four minutes later we have a gallon of gas and we’re on our way to the gas station a half mile up the highway. I offered to pay for the gallon he’d given us, but our knight in cream-coloured cable knit (again, not looking all that official) refused.
What are the chances that EXACTLY where I run out of gas there is a police station in sight that actually has gas at the ready? We considered stopping at the Tulalip casino to take advantage of our incredible luck, but there was shopping to be done and we were already 40 minutes behind schedule.
And yes, we did tell the men what had happened. We pretty much had to after Michelle texted her husband with pictures of the cop climbing the hill with the gas can in hand. I guess there isn’t really a “Hos Before Bros” rule when one of the “hos” nearly strands her friends on the side of the highway.
And yes, Mr. Awesome is still making fun of me. And yes, I am letting him.