No Relief At The Pump

By Jerry D. Haight

Close to the end of a 350 mile day, fuel gauge low, road side sign says gas at the next exit. What a relief. But wait. Is there clearance enough for our motorhome? Is there room at the gas section of the station? Oh yes, many long motor homes nearing forty feet use 87 octane gasoline. Few are the stations that serve gasoline in the section for big rigs and those usually serve only 89 or higher. Sometimes there are gutters deep enough to wreak havoc on a long overhang. And, sometimes this danger becomes obvious only when it is too late as the scraping sounds of motor home against concrete reverberate like the inside of a guitar box. Then when selecting the route to the pump, taking into consideration the turning radius of the motor home, trajectory of an exit (that is if there is a suitable exit) traffic (parked and moving) the crisis is rather to abort or proceed and accept all the attendant risks.

There is no good solution here as the time needed to fill a thirsty tank is way beyond the tolerance of four wheelers, the length of the motor home usually obscures both front and rear pump and often traffic to the store or fast-food restaurant usually parallels the last pump posing a further danger to those exiting the motor home from fast moving four wheelers heading head-long to those facilities oblivious to fact that people might just be exiting from the motor home. Leaving the station becomes a white knuckle experience as well. The “exit” around the store building turns out to be a dead end. Navigating between the pump island and the store amid vision impaired drivers attempting back out poses an equally challenging experience.

It seems that fuel stations for the most part are unaware of the existence of large gasoline powered RV’s. Even those acclaiming RV friendliness are not so to those. We are 39 feet excluding our tow and developed a fueling strategy. First, we try to plan our fuel stops around midday when there is usually less activity at the fuel stop. Then we make sure we “spy” out the station with powerful binoculars. We boycott certain national chains that have proven difficult to navigate and gravitate to others have not.  Often as not, our initial view tells us not to venture further and we have to move on.

We conclude that long gas RV’s do not belong in the gas island with two and four wheelers. But, as long as accommodations are so scarce in the diesel isles, there is no other reasonable choice. The best solution, of course, is at least one gasoline pump in the diesel section designed for long rigs that is well marked and visible from afar.