Sunday, 1 August 2010

length of an island on fumes

The Isle of Wight isn't that big. About 27 miles along the long side. We'd been visiting friends at the far eastern end and needed to get back to the ferry, which was close to the far western end.

"Almost Empty" chimed a little display in the car as it made three ding sounds.

"It'll be fine", responded the driver. We were on our way to our friends' place at this point.

Several hours later, we left and the car did it's little bing again. Still no urgency, but a special route back across the island. I was intrigued that we drove for what seemed like an hour but didn't go past any petrol stations.

I would try not to say anything or panic.

"That's unusual", came the response. "Most of the petrol stations have either closed and gone, or are closed for the evening."

We reached the ferry. No petrol stations. We drove past the ferry to the next town. No petrol stations. I could lean across and see the little dial on empty. Next to the yellow warning light and the Special Warning Message. Past the first empty line marking and hovering on the second empty line marking.

I tried to admire the sunset. To imagine not having to walk along a deserted road trying to find a place to get a "gallon" of fuel in a metal container.

We headed back to the ferry, silently noting the extra 14 mile round trip we'd just done to two extra petrol free towns. We parked in the lane for the ferry.

Would it start again to get us onto the ferry? Would the remaining fumes be enough to get us off the ferry when we returned to the mainland?

During the crossing we asked someone how far it was to the nearest petrol station on the mainland. He gave us comprehensive instructions which included a couple of phrases like "then go along the really long stretch to the nearest roundabout."

We drank coffee and waited for the ferry to reach the terminal. Then back to the car. Would it start again?

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