Lee POV: you’re going the wrong way

Driving our X3 through the Big Bend region of southwest Texas

Guest post by Lee – see MeLinda’s version of the same story on her post

I am the driver. When we go on trips my job is to get behind the wheel and drive. So when we made our drive to Big Bend National Park I was behind the wheel for the whole drive. MeLinda’s job is navigator, restaurant locator and to sit there and look pretty.

For those who know me I don’t have the greatest sense of direction but sooner or later I will find my way to the destination. MeLinda is my navigational security blanket and most times I shut down my brain when driving. When I’m on my own I do survive with the help of GPS and Mapquest directions.

On our drive down to Big Bend National Park in southwest Texas we had no problems finding our way there and the drive was smooth. But what is a trip without a little driving frustration?

We had just begun our long trip back to Wichita (a 14-hour drive once we got out of the park itself) and had stopped about 30 minutes outside the national park for lunch (pizza, of course…there are perks to being the driver).

Happy times: Pizza at Guzzi Pizza in Marathon … before the wrong turn

After I had my pizza fill we got back in the car and MeLinda said we would be heading back to Fort Stockton, which was where we had stayed on our way in a few days ago. Driving on the highway I noticed there was also a sign for Sanderson, which I assumed was the same way as Fort Stockton so I continued on the same highway and didn’t ask for any MeLinda input as she was already involved in reading and looking pretty.

About 40 minutes later MeLinda noticed we weren’t going the right direction and politely asked if I knew where I was going. I would like to state that I was beginning to get a sinus infection, which probably didn’t allow me to think clearly. At least that is the story I’m sticking with.

So after a minute of calm conversation I found the proper directions and headed to the next city. At this point we were already low on gas and either we filled up at this city or we had to make it to the next gas station, which was 64 miles away according to my phone.

In my 25 years of driving I have never run out of gas. The person sitting next to me has run out of gas in every car she’s owned. We even ran out of gas in the grocery store parking lot about 200 feet from the gas pump.

On this trip, we had MeLinda’s SUV so I don’t have a true feel for the type of gas mileage it gets but it does have a feature that shows how many miles you can drive until you’re empty based on how much gas you currently have in the tank.

So putting all of these items into the equation and the fact I was mad at myself for driving the wrong way, I made the call to keep going and not stop at a gas station.

One of many sparse roadways on our trip

As we headed on this 64-mile trek into the dead zone with nothing but paved highway, I was informed by the geniuses at BMW that we had 80 miles of driving range. A 16-mile cushion seemed like enough. But after about 10 miles that cushion begin to shrink at an uneven pace and in the back of my mind I was thinking maybe I should turn around and just get gas to be safe.

Turning around would add another 30 minutes onto this drive and I didn’t want to add any more time to the drive at this point, so I pushed on. I made it to the halfway point and it was now a push to whether we would have enough gas to make it to Fort Stockton. My cushion was gone and I was to the point of no return. I shared none of this with MeLinda, though I’m sure she could tell what was going on.

So I pulled out information about driving backlogged in my brain that would help save gas, like driving a little slower and trying to take advantage of the hills and coast a little bit of the way. Though I felt I was doing a good job, the BMW drive-till-empty-system wasn’t impressed, as now I was showing there was no longer a cushion and we wouldn’t make it.

At this point I start thinking about how far I might have to walk to get gas or I do have AAA but wasn’t sure how long it would take to get them out there. Of course, what I feared most was what MeLinda was going to say or do.

Only 10 miles to go but would the gas station be right there when we came into Fort Stockton or would I have to drive further into town? The gas gauge showed empty and zero was flashing for the number of miles left to drive until empty.

This must have been how the Jews felt when they continued to watch the candle burn even though there was supposedly only enough oil for one day. OK, that might be a little sacrilegious but since their story was never verified I’m willing to take some leeway on this statement.

I finally see the city and start to feel a little better at least knowing I’m in walking distance and I continue to push on. Five minutes later we are in the city and I pull into the first gas station I see not even wondering if I could drive a few more miles and find a better deal (old habits die hard).

I get out of the car and really want to know how close to empty I was. When all is said and done we had six more miles before we would have been completely out of gas.

We plan on going to the Grand Canyon this summer and I will apply my knowledge from this previous trip and pledge to MeLinda I won’t turn my brain off and I will do my best to navigate on my own.

Now, go read MeLinda’s post to hear about this incident from her point of view!


This entry was posted in Lee, travel, Weird shit that happens.


  1. Holly March 13, 2013 at 4:35 pm #

    Lee – if you could only have read the texts she was sending me through all this. Priceless!

    • Melinda March 14, 2013 at 3:25 pm #

      Holly!! Sisters before misters!

      You aren’t supposed to share confidential texts :) And that was a few hours after this actually happened…I had to have a cooling off period.

  2. Quailman March 13, 2013 at 4:42 pm #

    haven’t read your side yet, MeLinda, but Lee is right.

    • Melinda March 14, 2013 at 3:26 pm #

      Well you’re already jaded before you even get to my version!! lol

  3. Elyse March 13, 2013 at 5:36 pm #

    Melinda, you have no idea how awesome it is that Lee even drives anywhere! One time my dad took a wrong turn visiting us in OKC and he never took another trip again.

    • Melinda March 14, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

      Oh wow! I wondered what the turning point was for your dad. He doesn’t even want to drive to the west side of Wichita now!

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] you might have picked up on this factoid about me if you read the he said-she said posts that we wrote when we took a wrong turn deep in the heart of Texas and nearly ran out of […]

  2. […] No. We learned our lesson from the scare in Texas. […]

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