The short cut from hell

Let me tell you a little road trip story…

We had spent all morning hiking around the Badlands and after lunch were driving to Wind Cave National Park for our next adventure. We had two choices:

Choice One involved interstates and highways and a very roundabout travel plan:

Choice Two involved a few side roads with a much more direct route that isn’t available for preview on Google Maps but basically follows that red line.

I showed the map to my husband. He agreed that the more direct route seemed like the better choice plus it went through the southern portion of the Badlands so we thought it would be a cool drive. He was driving this leg of the trip so I asked him how we were doing on gas since Choice Two looked pretty rural. His response, “I feel comfortable.”

So away we went. The first nine miles were a dirt road out of the park, no big deal – we hit freshly paved asphalt in no time. And then a few minutes later… we were back on dirt roads. Hmmm… the navigator (that would be me) checked her map again and realized the map key showed our direct route as 80% dirt roads.

That certainly slowed things down a bit. Then I heard the car go “bing.” I looked at my husband, who said “we have 40 miles of gas left, I still feel comfortable.”

Well the damn dirt road went on & on & on… to put it mildly, I wasn’t feeling so comfortable anymore. It was so remote that we literally drove through two ghost towns. There was a point where I was running through a scenario in my head where one of us was going to have to walk to find gas. It was 90+ degrees out there and who knows how far we’d have to walk. My husband isn’t in good enough shape for that. I am in good enough shape but it didn’t seem smart for me to walk through the Indian reservation/desert/remote-as-hell landscape alone either. (my husband later admitted that he was running through the same scenarios in his head)

Then the car bings again… it no longer shows a range of fuel it just says low fuel. And there is no asphalt, town or person in sight.

Then we get to a paved road. Hooray! We are approx 10 miles from our destination. Hooray! But there’s no gas station in sight. Boo! I knew even my husband was concerned because he didn’t accelerate on the highway. My internal dialogue told me that it would be easier to hoof it on the state highway so we’d be fine no matter what. And then over the hill… salvation: A gas station! We had less than 1 gallon of gas in the car. Or as my husband noted, “plenty of gas to get us there.”

There are two morals to this story:
1. Read the map key before you suggest a short cut.
2. Don’t trust my husband when he says he’s “comfortable” with the amount of gas in the car.

That was the longest short cut I’ve ever been on.

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2 thoughts on “The short cut from hell

    1. Fists clenched, stomach in knots & definitely sweating. And yes – I had my running gear with me, luckily it didn’t come down to a long, lonely, hot, dusty, desperate run!

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