Running on Fumes

It started out, as most days do, with an early morning wake up and a quick check of the weather. These days, my 4am is what most people’s 7am is. The early morning is a quiet time, with occasionally just a whisper of wind. Living in Kansas, you treasure those still moments, and that also makes it the best time to see fireflies. Saw my first one of the season, last week, and he announced his presence with a glaring neon green flash right in front of my nose.

Of late, we’ve been looking for still mornings with a few clouds to add some zing to the sunrise. Smooth talker that I am, I badgered the Mrs into trying her own drone on for size. She was a bit apprehensive at first, but gamely strapped herself in for a little aerial photography. And today was perfect. A nice mix of clouds before sun up, to add some drama for picture taking.

I got her all set up and she pushed the Go Fly button and off her drone went. Next I sent my drone on the same Greet the Sun mission, but at 400 feet vs her 150 foot altitude. While I generally create any excuse to bump into my wife, head on collisions in mid air loses a bit on the romance scale. Things went well and we came back in the house to have a cup of tea and view our sun rise photos and post them on FaceBook. That’s what it’s for, isn’t it? One would think that should have set the tone for the rest of the day, however…

Her plan was to head to Ark City, pick up the grandkid and go shopping and maybe see some chicks and ducklings at Orschelns, a local farm store that coincidentally stocks farm stuff. Not always a given in these strange and modern times. My plan was to use a jig I made to mortise a door I was building. An hour of so later, I’m out in the shop, covered in sawdust and muttering curses at my mortising attempt, when I get a call from the Mrs. saying what a bust the trip turned out to be.

No grandkid because the people in charge of the grandkid were still drooling into their pillow and it’s now 10am. A 4 year old little girl answered the door and seemed to be the most level headed individual in the whole crazy house. She informed the Mrs that those concerned had not yet roused from their wild living induced slumbers and thanks for coming. It seems modern youths, 4 year old females excluded, don’t seem to know the value of keeping their word or even being awake when life comes knocking at the door.

I, on the other hand was having communication issues with my router and door frame material. Which caused me to go to Plan B and a few less angry wood chips to grind under my heel. After confirming Plan B was a go, I decided to change venues and mow the pasture before it rained again. The 2N Ford fired right up, after sitting all winter and we went to mowing. And of course, the mower deck decided that it was such a beautiful day, what say we throw a bearing and grind that outside blade gearing to dust. Why not, it was a bit breezy and my eyes were starting to itch, sounds like a good idea. Of course, I had a plan B for this too. You do have a plan B for your projects, don’t you? Mine’s a brush hog, what’s yours?

The lady of the house gets home, we bitch about our setbacks and have a fine lunch. During lunch, I mentioned that I needed more gas for the tractor, weed whip, chainsaw and things of that nature and also needed to pick up 3 pieces of black pipe from the boys at WISCO, our local industrial hardware purveyor. So we set off for town and ended up running into road construction on the North end of the entry to town. Kansas is famous for vague and confusing cone placement. New Mexico has the same problem, but we live in Kansas now. We get flagged to a stop, cool our heels and watch the flag lady get sunburned. A seemingly long time later, we get waved through to the other side, where the flag dude is waving for us to hustle it up. So I did, and failed to notice where the hell the lane we were supposed to drive in, was. So I improvised and picked what I thought was the right way to go. By the time I hit the first cone barrier, blocking my way, the Mrs helpfully mentions that maybe we weren’t supposed the be in this lane. I glanced in my review mirror and noticed all the rest of the sheep dutifully trundling along in the correct lane. Well, screw that, when you’ve chosen your path, it’s better to ask for forgiveness than beg for permission and stepped on the gas. I slalomed through 3 successive cone barriers of some very tight openings between the cones. I gotta say, when it comes to sticking a rampaging 7 foot wide Dodge Ram truck through a 6 and half foot opening and not bobbling either cone, I still got it.

We laughed all the way to the South end of town, non rule following rebels that we were, and stopped to put some gas in my 2 gas cans I had in the bed of the pickup. That went well until I slid the very full plastic gas containers, standard 5 gallon gas cans, sold all over the US of A, as approved for fuel storage and transport, to the front of the truck bed. I didn’t push hard and the second one just kissed the front of the truck and, wait for it…. busted. The bottom corner of the plastic gas can broke and started burbling highly flammable gas all over the back of my truck. Mom always told me there’d be days like today.

I jumped up into the truck and tipped the gushing gas can upside down. Which stopped the gushing part from leaking, much, but the spout end started dripping. Now, I’m not a guy to freak out over a five gallon gas can spilling its guts all over a gas pump that sits on top of a tank holding a couple thousand gallons of highly explosive fuel and insist that other people share in my misery. No sir, I like to keep and handle my troubles to myself. I made a command decision to get away from the apocalyptic scenario playing in my mind where the gas station and South end of town goes up in a whump, and take our ticking fumey time bomb next door to a very large parking lot. The Mrs, another cool head in a jam, suggested we get another gas can and transfer said loose fuel to an unbroken gas can, rather than leak 5 gallons of gas all over a hot muffler and go boom. I endorsed this as a winning idea and she trotted off to procure a brand new gas can. I stayed with the vehicle, to prevent Mr John Q Public from walking near by and flipping a cigarette in my local direction. From past singed experience, I had learned that fumes travel an amazingly long way on a hot tar surface. I phoned the Mrs and said maybe a couple gallons of water would be a good thing too. Roger.

She comes out, and I saw how she paused to see if the parking lot was on fire, and heads to the truck. I took one gallon of water and doused the bed of the truck and used the empty gallon jug for a funnel. Now, my idea of fun on an 88 degree day, is not pouring gasoline out of a broken gas can into a shiny new gas can in the middle of a public place. There was some spillage that added to the fun, but I got the gas from one can to another without going up in flames and noted that only about a gallon of fuel got loose. Took the other gallon of water and doused the bed of the truck. Pro Tip: Did you know that gasoline turns milky colored when mixed with water and floats on top, but will still burn?

The wife, in her authoritative mother voice, informed all in earshot that maybe a time out for me, the truck and gas fumes would be a good idea. I didn’t argue, this time, and so we took a walk around the shopping mart and grabbed a few more gallons of water. After a good 15 minutes to let the majority of the gasoline smell dissipate, headed back to meet our fate.

As we were at the checkout, I told the wife that if we notice a yellow orange glow coming from the parking lot and lots of screaming, just act nonchalant and head back in and grab some hotdogs, buns and mustard. Call it my plan B. Didn’t need it, so we doused the truck with a few more gallons of water and decided to leave now before the EPA and FEMA got involved. I told her to not buckle up when we drove off, just in case. Murphy musta been busy with someone else, because we were able to leave the parking lot and a somewhat large puddle of watery gas without any sort of kaboom.

Made it to the North end of town and WISCO, totally unsinged, and the boys got a laugh at my story of a soon to be Superfund Site near the South end of town. As we headed home, still not buckled in for luck, I mused that any gas spill you can walk away from, without your hair on fire, is a good one. On the way out of town, we waved to the road construction boys as their faces showed recognition of the crazy Dodge Ram Slalom contestant. The East German judge marked us down a couple of points for excessive gas fumes, but whatever, man.