Got Gas?

Montana wins the award for making you feel like you are in the middle of nowhere.  Having lived in Texas and traveled from El Paso to Beaumont, I feel qualified to make that assertion. 


After visiting Devil’s Tower in Wyoming, we ignored the Welcome Center Lady’s driving instructions and struck out on our own to get to Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota.  The route we chose included about 150 miles on a small, straight Montana highway that essentially had one ninety degree turn.  Somewhere along the way, when Jenni was resting her eyes, I did a mileage/fuel calculation in my head and realized Wanda (the van) might be sucking fumes by the time we reached an interstate. 

As fate would have it, that one ninety degree turn was on the outskirts of Ekalaka MT.  The road sign claimed that they had food, gas, lodging, and a hospital—a virtual metropolis.  I made a left turn into the town and had to choose between the two streets—one paved, one not.  Main Street was paved. 

Driving down Main we noticed a couple bars, a restaurant, bank, museum, and even saw the schools.  We reached a ‘T’ at City Hall (it was on a dirt road).  We could not find a gas station.  I remarked that if I was putting in a convenience station I would locate by the school but that didn’t pan out.  How can you not find a gas station?

After crossing over Main with no luck we pulled beside a rancher in a big red truck and politely asked if he could tell us where the gas station was.  He said there were two.  The easiest, that took credit cards, was “just past that red pickup you see down there on Main Street.”  The second was on the outskirts of town.

Well, the second red truck in town was easy to spot so we went for that.  I made the block on dirt roads. This was the same Main Street we had already driven looking for a sign that said “Gas”.  Sure enough, right past that truck was an abandoned garage and old shop.  There was no indication that it was a functioning business.  There were four pumps sitting out front.  They should have been on display in the museum across the street.  These were the kind with the rolling numbers like we used back in the 70s.  Evidently the town genius had wired a credit card machine to these antiques.  I could only read half the words on the screen so I had to trust my gut but eventually I was entrusted with a maximum of 21 gallons.  What seemed like 10 minutes later, it clicked off.  I looked at Jenni and said “I guess a receipt is out of the question.”

We laughed about our good fortune and then a large wasp landed on me in the van and all fun and games were over.

We never did find the second gas station.

1 comment

  • Dave, you should write a book about your travels and your experiences. You always make reading them so interesting and enjoyable. Thank you for sharing them.

    Martha Foster

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