When You Run Out of Gas in Yosemite Valley

When You Run Out of Gas in Yosemite Valley

It was a foggy morning.

After having a quick breakfast that we had to pick up from the VONS grocery store in Oakhurst ( due to lack of Free Breakfast at our hotel), and questioning if Hiking in Yosemite Valley was really the best plan for this day of our vacation, as we had two kinda sick family members thanks to the joys of airplane cabin air, we set out.

Plans are plans and we embarked… as planned. At no time did I look at the gas level. Not. At. All.

We had been driving our rental car for 4 days at this point and that alone was an interesting experience because while you would imagine an SUV from 2016 would have a working key fob… ours did not. We only had a key- like a real key-like from the eighties. This pretty much meant that every time we unlocked the car- with the key- the car alarm would go off… this happened every day- every time we had to get back into the car the car alarm would go off until we hastily put the key in the ignition.

Nonetheless by day 4 of our vacation I think my brain re-wired itself to think “unlock car with key, hear car alarm, put key in ignition as quick as possible to stop car alarm”….that neuro-pathway used to say ” unlock car with car fob, put key in ignition and start, check gas level.”

At no point did I even look at the gas until my mother asked ” how are we on gas?”

By this time we had been driving for about 45 minutes and we’re officially inside the park- but only just. Which meant that all gas stations ( located outside of the park) were behind us and we still had about an hour  to go before we reached the valley.

This is a good time to note that while in real life the trip from Oakhurst to Yosemite is only about an hour,  if you’ve never driven mountains before and are going the token 40 mph when you’re not going 25 mph – it will take longer than the hour when the hour is based on 60 mph. Frankly- I didn’t want to be responsible for the deaths of anyone in the car, so I drove slow. Yes I am that person.

The gas light came on… and really on the roads in Yosemite there’s just lots of trees… no phone reception, no people, not too many turnouts to pull over into and no gas stations. So we drove and drove with the gas light on for over an hour. By some miracle we all ended up inside Yosemite Valley which at least had people. Which meant if worse came to worse I could see if anyone would let us siphon a bit of their gas.

Right at the Intersection is the AAA Yosemite Valley Emergency Garage.

yosemite AAA garage

At this point the fear of breaking down on a curvy road without any berm or phone service had taken its toll. I would have used my credit card to helicopter a couple gallons of gas in if that’s what it took.

My sister went in to get the lowdown and then came back out and said I, the driver, needed to go in and tell them details. The fact that people thought I would be in state to actually conversate with anyone was cute. A mix of frustration and fear I was pretty close to a complete meltdown.

Luckily, it only took me saying the words ” Yes, this is an emergency. Eleven dollars a gallon is fine. I have to buy five gallons? That’s fine I have a credit card. Yes it really is that low. No I can’t drive another 16 miles to the gas station. We may break down outside your door here.”

And there it is. 55 dollars later.. a nice guy with a large red tank of 5 gallons of american unleaded fuel was standing next to the car, filling up the tank.

I do believe that AAA really needs it to be an emergency though- this gas isn’t just given out willy nilly—so do consider that if you ever find yourself in this situation. Or ya know, do what normal people do and get fuel before you embark on the drive into Yosemite National Park. 🙂

point lobos_-102










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