The Difference Between 1/4 and Empty

      Since we have taken the children out of school to go on a road trip we have the responsibility of a little home schooling.  While traveling History is easy to teach, Geography a breeze and even math is fun with games like Yahtzee and Farkel.  On Sunday we used an interesting method to teach the kids the difference between ¼ and empty.


   Sunday the roads were dry, the wind was calm and Mike allowed me to drive Big Bertha.  I like that name for our RV; Bertha was my Dad’s Mom’s name and she wasn’t a large woman at all.  The kids have been trying to come up with names for the RV and I haven’t heard one I have liked yet.  Josh thinks K2 is a good name, Abby likes Shamu, Mike says P4 and I hadn’t thought of any until just now.  I’ll have to run Big Bertha by the family to hear what they think.


     In any case.  I hadn’t been allowed to drive the RV on Saturday because there were high winds, two-way traffic and who knows what other reasons floating around in Mike’s head.  Hence the reason we didn’t make it very far into South Dakota Saturday.    


     So when we left the gas station in the middle of nowhere South Dakota on Sunday Mike said I could drive.  With no big towns in sight and no traffic to speak of I got behind the wheel of Big Bertha.  She drives better than our pick-up truck or our white van and I had no problem getting the speedometer up to 75.  I thought maybe there were built in governors on RV’s that wouldn’t allow them to go beyond 50 but much to my relief she sped along quite nicely.  I hadn’t been watching for speed limit signs so I asked Mike what the speed limit was to which he answered, “The speed limit is 75 but I have been keeping it right around 70.”  I took that as a suggestion to slow down.


     Then talks of Wall Drug came up.  Should we or should we not stop at the famous Wall Drug?  The kids had been there years ago but of course didn’t remember it so we decided to take another look.  Thank Goodness Wall Drug in November isn’t a busy place and I found an entire lot empty for me to park the RV.  After I successfully parked the RV taking up only 4 parking spots Mike commented on how I could have just taken up 2 spots.  I had Big Bertha pointing in the right direction ready to drive out of the lot without having to back up or anything so I was still proud of my accomplishment.


     When we got out of the RV to check out Wall Drug I noticed a sign in the parking lot.  It happened to say something about no trucks or RV’s in that lot to which Mike said, “That’s so people don’t take up 4 spots with 1 RV.”  I wasn’t worried since the streets and parking lots looked more like a Ghost Town than Wall Drug so we went on our way. 


     We roamed through the various stores at Wall Drug with the kids oohing and ahhing over souvenirs you find everywhere.  “Can I buy this?” “I want this!” The usual chorus of children’s singing heard in any retail store.  We took pictures of the kids next to the statues before heading to the Backyard to show the kids a real Jackalope.  Unfortunately the gate was locked and the kids could only peek at the Jackalope and not get their photo taken with it.  Back through the store and out to the RV we went.


     Much to my surprise I was allowed to get behind the wheel of Big Bertha a 2nd time!  I guess my parking job wasn’t part of my driver’s test or surely I would have failed.  On the road again we made our way towards Mt.Rushmore.  All was fine until we exited the interstate and started going through some winding and hilly roads.  Mike advised me I could put the RV in a different gear when going up and down the hills.  He also gave me some other helpful hints for driving with two-way traffic.  I was busy counting dead deer along the roadside and pointing out neat things along the way.  The scenery was so beautiful back there but for some reason Josh was nervous we weren’t going to make it to Mt.Rushmore.  I have no clue where he got that idea from…


      From yesterday’s blog entry everyone knows we made it safe and sound to Mt.Rushmore.  We checked out the museum and did the ½ mile President’s Trail in spite of Abby’s protests.  Then we left with Mike tucked safely behind the wheel of Big Bertha for the drive to Devil’s Tower, Wyoming.


     After Devil’s Tower I was amazed when Mike asked if I wanted to drive again.  Of course I would even though the children interjected with questions about why he was going to let me drive again.  I was insulted but got comfortable in the Captain’s Chair and started driving stating the gas gauge appeared to be close to empty.  Mike assured me there was plenty of gas because that was the marking for ¼ of a tank remaining.  Somewhere along the deserted stretch of road between Devil’s Tower and the Interstate we taught the children the difference between a ¼ of a tank and empty. 


     The generator had been running when we left Devil’s Tower then it mysteriously shut off and wouldn’t restart.  About 20 minutes later Big Bertha wouldn’t respond to the pressure of my foot on the gas pedal and fought me as I tried to turn the wheel.  With no power steering I eased her onto the shoulder and coasted to a stop.  I calmly stated, “I think we’re out of gas.”


     Now what?  In the middle of nowhere Wyoming with very little traffic on a Sunday afternoon and out of gas.  While Mike fretted over what to do and tried to get a cell signal to call AAA.  I quickly opened the door, saw a white pickup truck coming and tried to wave at it from partly inside the RV.  I hadn’t even figured out how to put the flashers on when the pickup returned. 


     Mike jumped out of the RV to explain our situation to the driver and his son.  While inside the RV I was explaining the situation to our children.  No need to worry as the man went to his truck, grabbed an extra tank of gas and filled us up on the spot.  What are the odds of the first person we flag down not only stopping but also having an extra tank of gas on their truck?  Maybe in Wyoming the chances are good and for that we were grateful.  We had enough gas to make it to the next gas station and we learned to read Big Bertha’s signs of dehydration. 


     The rest of Sunday was quite uneventful in comparison.  With Big Bertha’s help I’m pretty sure our children not only received a quality math lesson for the day but also a lesson about why mom should be allowed to drive her more often.