I was going to title this post “Why you need to have gas stations on opposite sides of the main street” but then realized that it would require four stations by the time you’re done.  And, if you have an interesting main street, it could be even more.  But, it didn’t makes sense.

I was writing this post in my mind as I was scrambling Sunday afternoon.  My wife and I had taken a trip to Port Stanley, one of our favourite places, and were enjoying going in and out of the little art shops wondering how things like what we saw were inspired and also how the price is determined.

Coming down the hill into town, I was aware that I was running low on gas so would need to fill up.  The tank was uncharacteristically low (for me anyway), running under a quarter full.  I saw the prices and I just knew that I could do better than 1.07.9 so didn’t stop.  I was also aware of the dark clouds in the western sky.  Could we finally be in for the desperately needed rain?

As we were walking in and out of stores, my watch vibrated with a Google alert that south-western Ontario was under a thunderstorm warning.  Good.  We’ll take water however it comes.

After our browsing, we headed out the back roads to get to Highway 3 and then head home.  The 401 isn’t an enjoyable Sunday afternoon drive and there was construction around Chatham so this made sense.


We’re on our trip enjoying looking out on Lake Erie as we go.  I’m keeping half an eye on the gas gauge when my watch vibrates again.  Thunderstorm warning for Chatham-Kent.  This time, the clouds are really dark and all of a sudden the rain just comes down incredibly hard.  Good, it will get the bugs off the windshield.

As quickly as it starts, it ends and the sky clears up.  Five minutes later, another vibration.  Thunderstorm warning for Chatham / Erieau.  Same deal with the rain.  And, it’s over.  We made the turn and headed into Blenheim.  We’ve played baseball there many times so I know that there’s an Esso station near the high school.  As I pulled in, I thought it was unusual that the electronic sign that would normally display the gas price was off.  Come to think of it, the street lights were off and there didn’t appear to be any lights on in the store.  Power out.  Grrr.

Now, I look a the gas gauge and it’s about 1/8.  Fortunately, there’s a Petro Canada station just up the street.  As I pull up to the pumps (the price posted was 1.03.9), a young lady came out, one ear glued to her cell phone, to let me know that their power was out and the pumps were not working.  Uh oh.

Well, at least there’s a Tim Horton’s so we went to grab a coffee but there was a huge line up waiting for the drive through.  I’m not going to idle there and burn gas so pulled over and parked on the street to walk in and get some of the good stuff.  While in line, I chatted with a town resident who said that the power was off on the south side of the town but on for the north side.

Back out and a quick loop around the block and we’ll be on our way.  Except that there’s a one way street going the wrong way for us.  Grrr.

So, eventually, I get back on Highway 3 and head out.

Now, this is where technology is either a blessing or a curse.  The dash has a display showing the kilometres left until empty.  73 km.  My wife, who is now aware of my anxiety, says, well that should get us to Leamington, right?  Probably, but I know that there are a couple of stations in Wheatley.

From my years of watching auto racing, I go into fuel conservation mode.  I turn off the air conditioning, roll up the windows, set the cruise control, cross my fingers and take it nice and easy.

In the back of my mind, I’m working on my Plan C, D, …

  • Who do I know that lives on Talbot Trail that I could call?
  • What are the kids doing and would they know how to get here?
  • We have roadside insurance but would they be responsive on a Sunday afternoon?
  • Is the Harley Davidson dealership open on Sunday?
  • We’re passing a bunch of farms; I wonder if any of the farmers have a tank?
  • There’s a kid cutting a lawn; I’ll give him $20 for what’s left in his tank.
  • There’s no gas station anywhere.  You’d really have to plan well if you lived here.

I was never so glad to see the sign for the turnoff to Campers’ Cove.  I knew that I was close.

And there’s beautiful Wheatley.  Hopefully, the storm missed them.

I know there’s two gas stations in town but I’m not taking chances.  I pull into the first one and get filled up.  A very pleasant young lady did the job.  (Normally I hold out for a self-service station but desperate times…)

The best part?  Gas was 1.03.9!  Winners all around.


3 thoughts on “Whew!

  1. As I read your post, I think about how anxious I get when my gas tank goes below 1/2 a tank. My step-dad, who’s known for the gas light coming on, asks, “How will I ever know if my gas light works?” Maybe it’s okay if I never find this out. 🙂 Glad your story had a happy ending all around.



  2. Good morning Doug!

    One quick initial response, and one longer story:

    1. Imagine having an electric vehicle, and looking for a charging station during a power outage.
    2. Many years ago I had to replace my vehicle. Because I was anticipating regular travel, I opted for a diesel engine. Here is the story:

    I picked up the vehicle from the dealer here in Belleville late in the afternoon, with the anticipation of checking It out on the highway drive to London for a workshop the next day. While dutifully avoiding the cruise control and periodically adjusting my speed as was recommended at the time while burning in a new engine, I played with the power windows, enjoyed the new sound system (there was a fancy CD player with a six-disk magazine in the trunk), and probably had the sunroof open for a bit. The vehicle arrived with a full tank of fuel, and I was keen to see how it stacked up to the advertised claims in terms of fuel efficiency on the highway. I was pleased to make it all the way to London and back to Belleville without having to think about refueling.

    Queue the weekend. With 21-month old son number one bundled up in his backseat carrier, and son number 3 months away from arrival, we headed off on a drive to Ottawa to visit my brother. In addition to the promise of excellent highway mileage, the high vehicle safety rating for my then-young family was also a big priority. The car performed admirably on the trip to Ottawa that Saturday. I’m sure we played with the windows, the radio, the sunroof, and all the other stuff.

    Perhaps you can see where the story going.

    Sunday afternoon arrived, and it was time to head home for Belleville. The fuel warning light came on, and I was informed that I needed fuel. Fortunately, we were still in Ottawa when this happened. We started looking for a gas station, and found one. As it would turn out however, they did not sell diesel. No problem. we continued on the surface street looking for the next service station. As it would turn out, that one did not sell diesel either. We continued along, periodically finding stations that were either closed, or that did not sell diesel. It was a perfect storm: A new fuel requirement in an unfamiliar city with the flashing fuel light on a Sunday afternoon. Fortunately, son number one slept through it all. (I would later discover that both boys would sleep well in the vehicle during long car rides.)

    The final purchase of the fuel was anticlimactic. We bought fuel and drove home. However, I marveled at the fuel efficiency of the vehicle. I had driven from Belleville to London to Belleville to Ottawa on a single tank of fuel!

    I quickly sourced a soon-to-become-favourite fill-up location once we were back in Belleville. As it would turn out, the closest station to our home sold diesel fuel! Jackpot! It then became my practice to make sure the tank was topped up before any highway trip. Unless it was a long multi-day trip in dne direction, in most instances I can make it back home on the same tank. Failing that, I have of course found out that monitoring the gauge and taking advantage of an OnRoute solves the problem nicely.

    In closing, I have a couple of observations:

    1) Diesel fuel was about 10 cents cheaper than gasoline when I purchased the car. Within six months, there was a convoy of 18 wheelers blocking the 401 in protest at increases in the cost of diesel. For most years since it has remained higher, although the kilometres per litre efficiency of the engine is still amazing compared to gas. In the last year so it has dropped down below the price of gas.
    2) The car came without an option for a block heater (“We just put a big battery in them instead”), a practice which has since been reversed in newer models. There have been a small number of February mornings when the car has refused to do its duty. Parking outside of a garage when a string of -30°C Canadian mornings hits is not advised.

    As we move forward into the future, I wonder how electric cars will do in these frosty Canadian climes?


  3. Great story, Andy. Will this become a blog post like your Filemaker Pro comment too?

    You did bring up a couple of things that I thought of that didn’t make the post. Obviously electricity and it does take a while to charge. Farmers would typically have a diesel pump – but then there’s the whole issue of dyed diesel. Would it be illegal to use it in an emergency situation? That was strange about the block heater – I thought they came standard on a diesel car!


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