Thursday, September 10, 2009
Montana Check Points and Canadian Gasoline Bandits
I thought I was going to get carjacked by a group of gasoline bandits when I was driving across Montana in the middle of the night one time. As navigator on a month-long road trip, I'd planned a route off the interstate across the northern reaches of Montana. It looked good on a map, but gas stations that closed at 8pm and a booming deer population that had no fear of running around on the road ratcheted up the intensity. That intensity peaked when, after not seeing another vehicle for hours, a woman holding a stop sign in front of a car parked across the middle of the road insisted I stop. She stood beneath a light so bright that it effectively washed out everything beyond its range. I could hear stuff going on in the dark, but it was impossible for me to see their Mad Max cars and homemade gatling gun. I knew they were creeping up to steal my friend's teal Ford Taurus and all our camping gear. Loads of gas station Stay-Awake! meds likely contributed to my paranoia, but my friend was also certain we were getting robbed. His opinion may have been influenced by me shaking him awake and telling him we were getting car jacked. After a standoff of a few minutes, the woman flipped the sign to 'slow' and pointed at a truck marked 'pilot car' that we were meant to follow. It lead us off the road and onto the plains, and right when I expected them to park the car and get out and take our stuff, we pulled back onto the road where my headlights lit up another woman holding a sign that said 'slow.' We got out of there as fast as the deer wandering the road would let us. Something odd was going on; Montana wouldn’t do 24-hour road construction in the middle of nowhere. The Canadian Gasoline Bandits probably let us go because they saw our sweet hatchet in the backseat of the Taurus.