Stories from the Road Less Traveled…
There comes a point in RV travel when it’s time to ask the critical question: “How far to the next service station that sells diesel?” It was beyond critical when we stopped at a very remote fishing lodge to ask where we could get diesel on the narrow road to Agness, Oregon. The answer we heard brought a shockwave of dread.
The decision that got us into this situation was our disregard for the advice of our GPS, which told us to continue southward along the coast from Gold Beach for several miles across the state line into California. It then routed us inland from the coast eastward toward I-5 and then insisted that we turn north again to reach our destination, Mt. Shasta City.
We combined our instincts and love of adventure with the tiny black line on the map pointing toward our final destination to ignore the advice of the GPS. The map implied a more direct route over a little blacktop road.
There was no indication that it was like a flat-line EKG – doom was near. Disregarding the GPS’s advice, we turned left onto the scenic Jerry Flat Road, which merged into Agness Road. And that took us to the remote gas station and fishing lodge that showed up on our GPS… where diesel was nowhere to be found. At that point, it was impossible to ignore the yellow low-fuel light blinking in time with the beep…beep…beep that reminded me that the gauge was pointing to “E.”
The lodge owner cautioned that the road ahead tapered until it wasn’t wide enough for us to make it past Agness a mile ahead, where there is no fuel, and we wouldn’t be able to turn around. Anxiety filled our souls. We assessed our choices –we had either to retrace our 27-mile route back over a narrow, winding road with our fuel gauge reminding us of its dire thirst, or we could become full-time residents of Agness, Oregon.
Situations like this don’t call for panic; it’s time to take countermeasures, which, in this case meant it was time for me to climb deep into the enclosed bed of our GMC to wrestle out the two-and-a-half gallons of diesel I always store for situations like this (and there have been several over the years).
“Will that be enough to get us back to civilization?” Monique asked, knowing that we burn about one gallon for every 10 miles of normal driving pulling our travel trailer. “Yes,” I replied, doubting my own confident tone.
Following the advice of the fishing lodge owner, we made a U-ey in the parking lot and began a slow, cautious, nervous return to Gold Beach.
It is our RVing custom to put appreciation for natural surroundings ahead of trepidation about potential disaster, and it kicked in again. Almost immediately after leaving the “end of the road,” I parked on a gravel pullout to enjoy the beauty at the confluence of the wild-and-scenic Rogue and Illinois rivers. Looking at the picturesque vista before us, we noticed blackberry bushes lining the road. The next half-hour was a feast of nibbling the sweet berries and filling a pot for tomorrow’s pancakes.
With darkness approaching and the menacing thought of what might lie ahead on our return to Gold Beach, we mounted up and drove onward slowly along the same tight dapple-shaded road that got us in this predicament. Facing curve after curve, undulating blacktop pavement with no shoulders and not a house that could offer refuge, we crept onward, trying to conserve fuel while mindful of the onset of darkness. I was constantly expecting the engine to cough in thirsty desperation and considering what I would do to save us.
Time out. Thus far what are the lessons from all this? 1) Keep extra fuel in the rig for the unexpected; 2) Don’t be opposed to asking for advice along the route; and 3) Always trust the GPS – just kidding! Like everyone else, we have stories of near disaster from listening to that sweet GPS voice. And 4) look at real maps to make sense of the route.
Our truck and trailer, measuring 50 feet from bow to stern, wended the way back to the coastal highway, where we turned south and into the first gas station with diesel. I computed that we had enough fuel to go almost five more miles.
With our tank full, we crossed the California State Line, stopping briefly to watch a herd of elk ignoring us along the road. It was then onward to a free-parking overnight at the Blue Lake Casino. From there the GPS easily led us to our campground by Mt. Shasta. Thankfully, the peace of what the Native Americans call a sacred mountain enveloped us, practically erasing the tinge of terror from our Agness Road adventure.
From the Never-Bored RVers. See you on down the road.
About the Author: Barry Zander spent a decade as a newspaper reporter and editor, was president of an advertising/PR agency, and was in marketing before retiring in 2006. That was when Monique suggested selling their home and buying an RV to travel North America. After five years full-timing, they bought a cabin in the mountains of Southern California, the base for continuing travels. You can read more of Barry’s adventures on his blog, On Top of the World (ontopoftheworld.bz).