Remember when…? – Stranded

We spend more and more time on the road, whether it is for work, or pleasure. We might be alone, with a loved one, with the whole family. So much can happen during those travelling times.

One winter, as I was on my way to work, my car ran out of gas. The gas gauge was broken and we knew that filling up would allow us to drive at least 400km without any problem, however, someone had only put a little bit of gas instead of filling up, and there was no way to know how much mileage I could go.

Not fun, the temperature outside was about –30C and it was windy. A bad day for being stuck, on the side of a small highway, alone. Not too much traffic either. What choice did I have? Back then, cell phones were not common and obviously, I didn’t have one.

All alone

A lone woman, stranded on the side of the road, in the middle of winter, at –30C. Nowhere to walk as it was miles before there would be a single house. So, what did I do? Something I never thought I would do: hitchhiking. Having been raised in a big city, and hearing of horror stories, I was always taught never to do that. But now, I had no other option.

Reluctantly, I put my thumb up hoping for a good Samaritan to stop. Having done karate, I replayed, in my head, the practice we had on how to knock out someone who might want to take advantage of me, hoping I would not need it. As I stood there, on the side of the road, the very first vehicle that came, seemed to slow down.

Oh no! It is a man!

The wait was not long! but as the car came closer, I realized it was a man. Oh, did I wish it were a woman instead! The anxiety rose inside me. Replaying those karate moves again. Finally, as the car stopped and I had a good look inside, I realized that it was our own parish priest! A familiar face. Breathing again!

F. Guerette drove me to the nearest gas station. I borrowed a canister from the attendant, filled it up and we drove back to the car. It was very cold outside and although I had gloves, he didn’t, but he stayed with me helping out until the car started again, and I was on my way.

That was a fun story with a happy ending that i love to share (lucky it had such a happy ending and I didn't need my karate moves), but of course, I have no picture for it! Did you ever help someone stranded? Or did you ever get help while stranded? Or did this story spark another memory? Share your story. We want to hear.

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9 thoughts on “Remember when…? – Stranded”

  1. In 1990 we bought a Nissan Patrol 4WD and looked forward to lots of travelling in the Australian outback. We joined Tag-A-Long tour to the Snowy Mountains region, complete novices who had never even slept in a tent before. The trip was for 9 days – and it rained on 8 of them! We had an absolute ball learning how to drive in mud, use a winch and help get other cars out of trouble, and this was the start of a long association with Geoff, his wife Lisa and various other members of his staff, mostly friends and relatives. We did the most common 4WD trips – Simpson Desert, Canning Stock Route, Kimberley – and some not very common ones as well: Geoff liked adventure and was never happier than when finding his own way through the Australian desert, faithfully followed by a gaggle of 4WDs of various shapes and sizes.
    Geoff had a nickname – the Rain God. Only he could find rain in the middle of the desert, in the middle of the dry season! One occasion was very memorable. We were at the 21st day of a 20 day trip and were running low on everything; we still had food as we always packed extra, but fuel was getting low and time became a factor as some on the trip had places they had to be. Very heavy rain had occurred overnight and we got to a river crossing to find the river running very deep and very fast, definitely not safe to cross. Plan B – there was another crossing higher up-river that might be easier to cross. Satellite phone conversations with the appropriate authorities gave us permission to try this crossing and use the road on the other side, even though it was officially closed. Off we went, full of optimism – you had to be prepared for anything if you travelled with Geoff.
    We found the crossing and also found another car stranded there waiting for the river to go down. We offered to help them cross but they declined (I don’t know why!). Geoff and Bruce (who was Tail-End Charlie on this trip) walked the crossing to check for holes, depth etc. Geoff, 6 foot plus, said it was not too deep; Bruce, 5 foot 5 or there-abouts, was up to his armpits and nearly swimming. After much discussion we decided to go ahead. The first couple of cars crossed with no trouble, then disaster – Trevor’s Utility was so light it started floating and drifting down river! Always calm, Trevor merely put the car into reverse and drove out backwards! After this we roped the car crossing to ones on the other side, just for safety.
    Our turn came. We had a tarpaulin on the front, a snorkel, we were high off the ground – what could possibly go wrong? Gently into the river, creep forward knowing there was a deeper bit coming, watch the water come over the bonnet, then up the windscreen and help! In all our preparation we had forgotten to close the airvents!! No panic, just wet legs, close the vents and continue. Finally everyone was on the other side, safe and actually dry – we were the only ones to have any water come in and ours was minimal. How relieved we all were, and how proud to have conquered a difficult situation. And I was extra proud – I had kept the video running the whole time!!

    • Wow! i can just picture the scene with your description. Are you able to grab still photos of the video? that would be awesome in a “storyboard” format! Thanks for sharing.

          • Dianne I did many trips with the same people and learnt very early on to always expect something to go wrong. One particular occasion we had an hour to kill before returning to camp so decided to try a track called Misery Spur – 5 hours later the last car got into camp and Misery Spur became famous! Despite the problems we always had a good time, made lots of friends and saw parts of Australia we would never have seen by ourselves.

  2. The people I helped who were stranded were my father and myself. When I was a girl, he had an old Scout pickup truck that he would take me riding in and pretend to get “lost.” We always found our way to a root beer float, or an ice cream malted (which was the real point of these trips). Anyway, the old Scout stopped dead in its tracks one sunny day and there was no one about because he had driven us far out in the country. Dad opened up the hood and discovered that something (I don’t remember what) had jiggled apart. He said he just needed a piece of wire to hold it together until we got back home. He tore his truck apart but there was no wire to be found. He was getting pretty frustrated when I noticed he had an old wisk broom in the car. I don’t know if you know what they look like but they were made of straw and the top was held together with (you are ahead of me by now) wire. Pretty sturdy wire at that. I pointed this out to my dad and he looked at me as if I had just been dropped from Mars (I had and have shown no practical handy skills before or since). Anyway, he unwrapped the wire from the broom, and used it to fix the problem under the hood and off we went. I don’t know how long it would have held together but it got us back home which is all we needed. Not sure how I would scrapbook that but thanks for the memory. 🙂

  3. That was a lucky turn of events, lol!

    I grew up in a small seaside village here in England and we used to hitchhike down to the beach every day in the summer. We used to hope it WAS a guy… a cute one, haha!

    • Thanks for sharing. It is interesting how the culture of various locations can be so different! Now think of one time when you DID get picked up by a cute guy! Wouldn’t there be a story there too?

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