Hanksville, Utah – Population 215. There’s not much in Hanksville. For a town that has a sum total of two restaurants and one gas station, and a place where nobody seems to know who Hank is (and believe me, I asked everybody), they do have a lot of one thing… Dinosaurs. Which is exactly why we were in Hanksville, Utah.
I was part of an excursion team from the Burpee Museum of Natural History. We were there to explore a dried riverbed, which was home to many dinosaurs including two triceratops that were found near each other.
The morning after we arrived, I drove out to the dig site with my dad. Now the dig site was literally in the middle of nowhere. 45 minutes from the nearest town. There’s no sign of life, and definitely no traces of cellphone service. In fact, it actually resembled Mars, since the only thing you could see for miles was hills of red rock and clay. To even get to the dig site, you had to have a 4 wheel drive car, otherwise its not possible. Temperature that day was expected to hit 102. We had a cooler in the back of the car, packed with, snacks, and Gatorade to get us through the day.
Work went really well, and the morning passed fast. Before we knew it, it was lunch time. Sitting in the hot sun, I had the great idea of eating my lunch in the air conditioned car instead. I ate my lunch, listening to AM radio (since even FM radio didn’t go this far). Having thoroughly enjoyed my break from the sun, I resumed work that afternoon with renewed vigor and energy. At the end of the work day, everyone packed up and headed back to town. Me and my dad were one of the last ones left at the dig site. Well we got into the car, dirty and tired- looking forward to a shower and some hot food. My dad went to start the car. It made a noise that sounded like the last thing you would want to hear in any situation, let alone when your 45 minutes away from the nearest town – in the middle of nowhere.
My dad looked at me. And I looked at him. And after multiple times of failing to start the engine, we came to the realization, that the battery was dead. We were totally perplexed on how the battery could have died. Me and my dad went through every possibility, retracing our steps, trying to figure out how this could have happened. We came to the sudden realization that after I had finished my quiet lunch, I’d left the car on idle – leaving the air conditioning and the radio on. So while we were digging away, our cars battery was slowly draining. Now we were in the middle of nowhere, with no cell phone service and no car. As far as we knew, me and my dad were gonna have some nice quality family bonding tonight at the camp. Lucky for us (me), there was still one person left at the dig site. Only one catch, he didn’t have any jumper cables. And did I mention it was 45 minutes to the nearest town? Boy was my dad happy at that moment. Our savior was nice enough to drive us all the way back to town to get jumper cables and return us back to our “dinosaur” of a car, where he jumped the car and got the engine started.
Normally my story would end here… but there’s more
We were finally on our way back to Hanksville, and my dad gave me a lecture on how I need to be pro active and not so forgetful. I.E. stranding ourselves in the middle of nowhere… for future reference of course. As we’re driving back, we took the lead, with our good Samaritan following behind. Looking through the rear view mirrors, we saw the paleontologist that helped us, get stuck in the dirt. Not knowing if he was really in trouble or not, my dad got out of the car to make sure he was okay. But seeing that my dad was so forgetful as to have left the car running, which we all know can drain the battery. Being proactive like my dad had told me, and wanting to show him I was a quick learner, I reached across the seat and turned off the ignition – feeling very proud of myself. When he came back into the car I showed my dad what I had done. Much to my surprise, instead of the proud father I was expecting, I truly met the incredible Hulk in person… in a closed car. I have never seen my fathers face turn quite that shade before. And I now wear hearing aids… okay, that’s not true, but he may have broken the sound barrier. Well, I learned yet another lesson that day, which is never ever, under any circumstances, turn off a car that was recently jump started because it will die again. Who would’ve known, using the car would help replenish the cars battery. That is definitely NOT true of my cellphone. Luckily, when my father turned the key, our car started up again. Today was just not my day.
We made it back to Hanksville – two and a half hours later than everybody else. They say you learn something every day… and lucky me, I got to learn two things in one.
I am currently in an orphanage, no just kidding. My dad was all right after he ate some food. Male bonding… gotta love it.