Of course, it wasn't going to be all *that* easy (sigh) and once I'd hit highway, I found that a week of not driving had left me quite uncomfortable with driving.
I guess all the things I'd kind of gotten used to on the final day or so of the drive down had been forgotten, and suddenly driving her at speed was scary again.
Luckily, most people leaving head south rather than north, so I was able to slow down.
Yes, people RUSHED by me, but the first roads heading out are straight and it's easy to pass so I just happily let the GOTTA RUSH people pass me and slowed myself down to a speed that felt vaguely comfortable.
I think at first I was going about 30mph... anything over that felt quite unstable, scary and unsafe. After a while, I got up to 40, and then it was curves and twists so slow was fine again, and eventually I started to feel ok again with being on the road and I got up to speed and comfort. Phew.
It was chilly, being morning and all, but that desert sun doesn't stay down for long and so my layers came off, but the windows stayed closed which meant a little bit of music could be listened to, yay!
I was, still, very nervous about gas. When I'd arrived on playa I had just a little over half a tank. But I'd filled past the "full" mark, so I'd probably used a half a tank. But now, a week later, it seemed I had under half a tank. Which meant I didn't have enough to get me where I needed to go. Ugh. And that level fluctuated... up a little more sometimes, down a lot more sometimes... and as Jason had said, just trust and stop worrying about it, I did what I could to trust that I'd have enough gas. Plus, I told myself, worrying wasn't going to help fix or change anything. I hadn't gone to the southernly city, and I hadn't filled up my jerry can so I had what I had and that was it. I tried to stop obsessively checking the gas gauge and told myself it would all be fine. Sigh.
I'd been using a combination of google maps and my GPS (someone told me that google maps actually uses very little data, I'd not used it before because of data concerns, and I knew that Telus would be notifying me when I got close to my data limit, so I'd been using it) but with no service, I only had the GPS. Which was fine, although when I was leaving the playa it wasn't able to "find" anything... which was a little intimidating... Calculating...lost signal... calculati....lost...cal... lost signal... calculating.... etc etc. But it figured itself out (or the playa gremlins left) and I kept track of how long it would be until I could get gas! I'd topped up my oil and coolant before I'd left and so it was really just the gas that I was worried about, vehicle wise.
I was a couple hours out, and the drive had been pretty calm and easy traffic wise. I was approaching the first small sort of town, with about half an hour or so left to go before gas and I was vaguely comfortable with where my gas gauge was showing. Phew! I slowed as I approached the town limits and then suddenly something went WHOMP!
That's the only way I can describe the noise. There was a giant, loud WHOMP and I thought I'd blown a tire. I was instantly terrified, but my Dad had told me that if you have a bad tire, the vehicle will pull to that side, so I took my foot off the pedal and my hands off the wheel and the van didn't pull to either side, so I figured maybe I had hit something or something else, I didn't know, but I pulled into the town and pulled myself over, shaking and frightened.
There are always people in this little town as burners will often stop for food or coffee or a break, so I felt ok about stopping and getting out. My adrenaline was pumping, that had been a pretty scary noise and sensation... but I still had no cell service so couldn't call Jason to find out what to do... I inspected all my wheels... everything seemed ok. I got down on the ground and looked under the van. Nothing was dragging. Everything looked fine.
Maybe I had, actually, just driven over a log or something... that I hadn't seen. Maybe it was just that. Right? Sure. Yeah. Nothing was visually wrong. It had just been scary. Nothing was broken or hanging and the tires weren't low. Plus I needed gas. And had no cell service. It was about twenty minutes until I got to the gas station, that wasn't far... I needed that gas.
So I took a bunch of deep breaths, got back in the van, and started her up again.
Deep breaths, it was going to be ok.