For a Transcript Bulletin staff writer, Fridays are relaxing 99.9 percent of the time.
It can be a day off. Or, you might be out and about gathering information for a feature story.
Friday, April 22’s agenda for me included a relaxing morning drive to Ibapah to report on an Earth Day Celebration with the Confederated Tribes of the Goshute Reservation.
However, photo editor Francie Aufdemorte, my wife Mary, and I nearly ended up in deep trouble near the Deep Creek Mountains — all because I didn’t pay attention to the gas gauge.
Well, I sort of paid attention to the gauge, but thought “it’s not that far from Wendover to Ibapah.”
Plus, we were running late because we all had to visit the restroom in Wendover before going any farther.
I now know it’s a 120-mile, round-trip drive from Wendover to Ibapah — and there are no gas stations in Ibapah or along the way. There might have been a sign indicating that fact as we left Wendover, but I missed it.
“I always gas up in Wendover when I’m going to Ibapah,” Transcript Bulletin Publisher Emeritus Joel Dunn told me the following week.
A bit of nervousness started to set in for me and my passengers when the gas gauge needle inched closer to “E” just as we were about to enter Ibapah.
“Man, I didn’t know Ibapah was out this far,” I said.
“It’s not too much farther,” Francie said, trying to be encouraging.
“I don’t think we’ll make it back to Wendover,” I stressed, trying to make my passengers nervous.
“We’ll be OK,” said Mary, my power-of-positive thinking wife.
“I don’t think you and I are in good enough shape to walk back to Wendover,” Francie said.
We enjoyed visiting with people on the reservation and hearing their stories about Ibapah. Their lives in the remote community are fascinating.
With information and photos secured, we started the drive back to Wendover. We were not as secure, however, that we would make it back to the gambling town.
“I think those gas gauges are tricky,” Francie said. “There’s probably more gas in there than you think.”
One feature I like on my truck is a device that tells me miles-per-gallon in real time. It always fluctuates from as low as 1 mpg to 99 mpg.
While coasting downhill, I assured my passengers that we were getting 99 mpg, but on steeper inclines, I didn’t let them know we were getting 8 mpg.
When we hit the Old Lincoln Highway or U.S. Route 93 or the Great Basin Highway, we had 34.7 miles left to Wendover.
I continued my coast-whenever-possible plan, but when the only car on the highway passed us. Francie said, “We’re doomed.”
Fortunately, Ibapah sits at an elevation of 5,282 feet above sea level, while Wendover is at 4,462. And I needed all of the downhill I could get.
“Uh-oh, the low-on-fuel light just lit up,” I told my anxious passengers. “Hope we can limp into Wendover.”
Another feature on my truck is a gauge that says your fuel will take you so many more miles. I think that hit about 12 miles.
The song “Running on Empty” by Jackson Browne came to mind.
Suddenly, we could see the city. The goal was in sight.
“You better just go to the nearest gas station. Don’t worry about the price,” Mary said, aware that I’m a cheapskate.
While we fueled up, Francie took some photos.
“This should be your next Out and About,” she said.