Bruce Draper <bruceaa5b@...>

This is from the Pack Rats mailing list, so some of you have probably already seen it. I’m wondering if Duffey has similar stories to tell.


Rover Challenge #162

It has been a long first day of the contest.  While nothing spectacular has happened, it has been going okay.  The multi-ops seem to drag their feet as usual and the telephone number you have for the biggest multi-op in the area doesn’t work.   Digital modes have produced contacts, but QSY opportunities are lacking.  You hear tons of digital mode signals that would be easy to work on SSB if someone would just call CQ.  This seems to be the new normal however. 

It is getting very late and most activity has wound down.  You are about 40 minutes from your overnight stop and looking forward to a shower, and some rest.  It won’t be a long rest since you are planning to get out around 6am-ish but the shower and rest will be enough recharge.  If all goes well you will be activating three new grids by 10am.  Two of those are really good locations and you expect to pick up lots of Qs and mults. 

You come up on a rest area on the highway.  You stop to get some water, and a little snack.  It is now that you discover your wallet is missing.  It isn’t in the rover and you think back to the last time you had it out.  That was over five hours ago and 140 miles back.  It was when you last filled the tank and got some dinner.    You hope it was there. 

No cash, no credit cards, no driver’s license.  This isn’t looking good.  Good news, you looked up the place you used it last, called, and they have your wallet!

Can you continue your rove and pick it up on the way back?   You didn’t have a room reserved much less pre-paid since you weren’t certain you would make it all this way.   Maybe sleep in the car?  Oh wait, you aren’t out of fuel yet, but there is no way to get thru four or so hours in the morning without needing to fill up. 

Okay, you think maybe better part of valor is to head back and get the wallet?  By now it is after 2am and it’ll be 4:30-ish by the time you get to where it is.  What then?  Stay there?  But that is over 3 hours away from the grid corner you intended to activate in the morning.  If you turned around immediately after getting your wallet, you would be an hour and a half late for your intended start time and have gotten no sleep at all.  This does not bode well for your rove plans.

Then you have an unwanted though.  Can you even get back to where your wallet is?  The fuel gauge shows two thirds of a tank but you know it is very non-linear and at a half tank it seems to go towards empty at an incredible rate.  Experience also suggests a half take indication is usually a bit under a third of a tank.  So two thirds doesn’t give you much confidence. 

Maybe some math is in order.  You know with all the antennas, the rover’s highway MPG is just a hair over 15 mpg.  That is with the antennas facing forward and you have been swinging them all over during that 140 miles.  That can’t help.  With 22 gallon tank, that should be a 330 mile range.  Okay you only went 140 miles and with 330 mile range, you should be good.  Then you remember that yes, it may have only been 140 miles, but it also has been five hours since you filled the tank.  The rover’s engine has been running the entire time.  It is looking very iffy. 

It gets better though.   You are on a tollway and can’t just turn around.  You must proceed to the next exit, pay the toll and double back and paying the toll again as there is no practical alternate route.  

And then there is still the problem of how to pay the toll.  Fortunately you are prepared for that.  You routinely dump your extra change into one of the cup holders specifically for tolls.  And since you got tired sorting out the quarters from the pennies and dimes, you pretty much only have been dumping quarters in it, and it looks fairly fulll.  So maybe there is enough to pay the tolls and get some extra fuel? 

You look at the toll slip and see for the next exit the toll will be $4.10.  So right off the top $8.20 of that precious change will need to go for tolls.  And that next exit isn’t for another five miles adding 10 miles to the route needed to get your wallet.  That is another two thirds of a gallon you will need. 

Will the rover make it all the way back to get your wallet?  Will there be enough change for the tolls?  Will there be enough extra change to feed the tank if needed?  And wouldn’t it be your luck that law enforcement will take an interest while you don’t have your driver’s license on you?