I made a mistake. I blame it on being tired and partially on my general increasing forgetfulness.
After quite a pleasant drive from Tok to Glenallen despite the general achiness and stiffness of long drives, I arrived in Glenallen with a serious need for coffee and a pitstop. Took care of business, got in my car, and headed back out into the evening dusk.
It wasn’t until Gakona that I looked at my gas tank and realized something very stupid. I forgot to gas up in Glenallen!
I debated about heading back to fill up the tank but felt I was far enough away from Glenallen that I thought I better keep going. I put in a call while I had momentary cell signal to my husband and asked him to figure out the next gas station between Gakona and Tok.
He called back to say Gakona was the next one. Of course, I had already passed Gakona and noted a big red “X” through the gas pump symbol on the sign of services along the highway.
“Where’s the next one?”
He asked his buddy who makes the Tok/Anchorage drive pretty often.
“I don’t think there is another one until Mentasta Lake,” he told me.
“I don’t think I can make it to Mentasta Lake on about 1/4th of a tank,” I told him. “But I could swear I saw at least one other gas station past Mentasta and before Glenallen.”
I scoured my brain for the image of a gas station somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Now where WAS it?
“Possibly Chistochina?” he said hopefully.
I remembered Chistochina from my drive to Anchorage when I saw a horse wandering along the highway. I had stopped at a trailer park where I saw a guy warming up his car.
“Hi there, I just saw a horse in the road,” I told him as I rolled down the passenger window to speak with him.
He sauntered over to my car, curious.
“A horse along the highway, I just saw it and wondered if you knew who’s horse it was?”
“That’s Charlie’s horse. It’s been out there for about 3 months now,” he chuckled.
“Okay, just checking that nobody lost a horse,” I said and headed back to the road to Anchorage.
Chistochina. Maybe there’d be a gas station there.
The roads past Glenallen began to get icier and the sky darkened quickly.
By the time I began seeing a few mailboxes and tiny lights from houses behind dense trees and the school and crossroads, it was cold and dark.
And then I saw Posty’s on the left side of the road. Gasoline!
After 30 degree weather in Anchorage, the biting cold snuck up on me then bit into my hand as I pumped gas into the 4Runner. Guess I should have put on my gloves.
The lady in Posty’s let me call my husband on her phone to let him know I had a full tank. She asked what kind of phone I had and explained that ACS works well in Chistochina and AT&T works well 20 miles outside of town either way but not the other way around.
“Had to switch from AT&T to ACS just to get a signal in town,” she explained.
I thanked her for use of her phone and headed back into the frigid night.
One Smart Moment
Having lived in Wyoming, I’m pretty diligent about monitoring not only my speed but to keep a sharp eye open for wildlife on the side of the road that might dart out any moment. As I got closer to Tok, I knew I couldn’t relax because it was nighttime and that’s when the forests come alive.
I saw the sign for Tok 10 miles and had a fleeting thought that “many car deaths happen less than 10 miles from home.”
And then there was a moose in the road.
I didn’t panic. I braked gently.
The tires didn’t grab the road but instead I began to slide, ice crunching under the car.
The moose began to walk across my lane.
I eased to the left, into the oncoming lane. And came to a stop inches from the moose’s path as he completed his stroll across the lane where I had just slid. He made it to the other side of the road.
If there had been oncoming traffic, that moment would not have been pretty. Instead, I moved back into my lane, leaving the moose – intact – behind me.