Stranded, Summer 1996
A True Story by Luke Galyan
The following is a recount of every detail I could remember
from that day. I typed it a few days after it happened while all of the
details from the day were fresh in my head. Hope you enjoy the
story. Even tough that day kind of sucked, I look back on it and
just laugh about it. We still tease Kevin to this day about his
actions. It is all in fun but it fun to see him squirm with a
guilty continence over it.
I got up at 6 o'clock that morning and left about 6:30 to pick up Tucker at 7 am. We were going to meet
Kevin and Ed at their house at 8 o'clock and leave from there to go four
wheeling in the desert with them and Jose. I needed to go to the
bank and pick up some money so I could get gas and also spending money
for a party I was supposed to be at later that night. The bank
didn't open till 9 o'clock, so I called Kevin and let him know we were
headed for the bank and were going to wait there until it opened, get
the money and head over there.
We headed for the bank, got off the freeway and
right around the corner from the bank my Scout died. So I opened
the hood and checked the carburetor, thinking the float had stuck again.
It wasn't that. We were holding up traffic so we decided to push
it out of the way. I wasn't sure we'd be able to since it had to
go up hill a little and was a very heavy vehicle. I tried to
start the engine one more time and surprise, it started. We drove
to the bank parking lot. There I played with it a little and it
died again. Since I was in a nice empty parking lot I went ahead
and started poking around and found that the fuel pump had gone out.
Since it was only 2 and 1/2 months old I thought it might still be on
warranty. So I called Kevin again and let him know what happened.
Tucker and I went across the parking lot to Blueberry Hill pancake house
to get some breakfast while we waited on Kevin and Ed to come pick me up
and go exchange my fuel pump.
When they got there Kevin and Tucker stayed with my scout, while Ed and I
went in his van to do the exchange. I was
glad to see they exchanged it no questions asked. We went back and
put it in. It worked great so Kevin and Ed left and I went into
the bank. From there we went to gas up, buy some water and snacks
then call Kevin to see where we were going to meet. They decided to
meet where I-95 made a right to go toward Search Light just before
After meeting them we went about 10 miles toward Search Light and turned off to the
left to go toward Eldorado Canyon and Nelson.
We drove for about 3 or 4 miles and turned off to the
right onto a dirt road that followed some power lines. We drove on
this dirt road for about 3 hours (they liked to drive slow). Along the way we would
find hills and rocks to drive over just for the fun of it. During
this time I also decided to stop and take the driver side door off my
Scout. We made a left onto a fairly smooth dirt road that followed
another set of power lines toward Knob Hill. We drove
another 15 - 20 minutes down this road, fast this time just for the fun
it and made it to Knob Hill. This place had some big sandstone rocks
/ hills all around the area. It looked like several giant rabbits
stopped there and took a dump. After looking Knob Hill over a bit we
started down into a big canyon headed toward the Mojave River and Aztec Wash.
I did not know at the time these places were called Knob Hill and Aztec Wash.
Shortly after getting on the power line road near Nelson.
Luke playing in his Scout over a rock.
Luke coming down a hill in his 67' Scout.
Just a little ways down into the canyon we
stopped at an overlook with a good look over Lake Mojave and our
surrounding area. The river in the distance was a nice shade of blue and
behind that the mountains looked purple and red. Between us and
the river you could see all the little canyons leading up to where we
were. I took a few photos side by side so I could later paste them together
for a panoramic view. We got every one there, standing
in it. I never put the pictures together to make the panoramic, but here they
are so you can see everyone on the trip.
Kevin and Luke (me).
Jose and Tucker.
After enjoying the overlook, we continued down into the canyon. We
finally reached the lake at about 4 o'clock or a little after. The
spot we had come to had a small island about 50 feet out. The
water was only a little over knee deep all the way to it, so I drove my
Scout through the water onto the island. Jose and Kevin drove
their Jeeps onto the island and parked on both sides of my Scout.
We took pictures, did some swimming, and just sat around enjoying the
moment. When I pulled my Scout back off of the island, I got a
little too far too the left where the water got deeper flooding the
floorboards of my truck. My shoes and socks were in the
floorboards so they got drenched.
Ed let his pet iguana take a swim on the leash.
Kevin's jeep parked by the water.
The 3 of our vehicles parked on the island.
Tucker had ditched school without his mom’s
permission to go do this with us. We knew we would be a little later
then planned so Tucker hiked around with Kevin's cell phone till he got
reception and called his mom. He told her he went to a friend's
house and she told him he had to be back by 6:30. Jose told us
there was a faster way out and that we were all going to take that out.
Tucker and I decided to leave at 5:00pm. The others were going to
be there for a while longer and we needed to get Tucker home so we had
to get moving without them, since we already had too little time. Jose gave me directions out.
We drove up the road a little way and turned off
at an arrow painted on a rock this turned out to be a dead end a couple
miles up the road. We went back out and found another arrow and
turned on that road. That turned out to be a dead end in about 3
miles. When we got back out of that one we decided that instead of
exploring each one till we found the right one, it would be a better
idea if we just went back the way we came. When we got to the power
line road that would take us to Nelson, we would just go straight and continue straight out to
I-95 then home.
After a couple miles we discovered we still had
Kevin's cell phone. Since we were running late I decided I'd give
it to him later rather then go back. At about 5:45 or 6:00 the
truck died and this is where the fun starts! I checked to see that there was gas and then
discovered that my brand new fuel pump had just died! After a few
minutes it worked again so off we went up the canyon again. It ran
for about 3 or 4 minutes and died again. So I gave it another
break and it worked again for another few minutes. This went on
for a while. So I got the impression that the pump was getting
over worked and if I let it cool down we would get further. We let
it sit longer and longer between uses. Each use also continued to
get shorter and shorter.
Since my floor boards were still holding
water I used my shirt to soak up the water and use it to try to cool the
pump each time we stopped. I had even tried gravity feeding the
fuel pump from a water bottle we had. This didn't work. I
tried to get a hole cut in a water bottle to insert a hose so I could
fill the bottle with gas and let it feed the carburetor. But all I
had to cut the hole with was a steak knife and I couldn't get a hole cut
that a hose would go into and not leak gas around it, so this idea
wasn't going to work. At one time when we were stopped I even
tried turning the pump on and sucked gas through it to see if maybe it
needed to be primed. All that did was get my mouth full of gas and
burn my lips! So I grabbed the water jug and rinsed my mouth out.
From then on the water had a faint gas taste. At one of the stops
we put my door back on because it was starting to get cold outside.
On each of the stops we made, Tucker would
say "Luke we gotta get outta here!!” I would tell him "I know."
He would then say it again at the next stop. Each time he said it, he got a little more of a distressed tone in his
voice. After a while he would tell me "we gotta get outta here" and
I'd tell him "I know", he would immediately say in a scared and
frustrated voice, "No I mean we really gotta get outta here!!!"
After a while that kind of got to me so I had to kind of yell at him to
get his emotions back in check. I raised my voice and told him, "Tucker! I don't have any options!
If I had any options I would give them to you, but I don't, so I
can't!!!!" Then I walked off for a few minutes and left him there
trying to cool down the fuel pump. After this he seemed to mellow
out a bit. I knew he was very worried about getting home so his
mom would not find out he lied and ditched school to hang out with us.
Around 8:00pm we decided to hike up the side of a
hill to get to a peak, and try to get reception on one of the cell
phones (mine or Kevin's). We got part way up the hill and I
stopped and pointed to one of the cactus and told Tucker to be careful.
Since there was a lunar eclipse that night it was very dark and we could barley see.
After I told him be careful it wasn't two steps later I ran my leg into
one! I let out a yell. These cactus leave a ball stuck to
you the size of a racquet ball and had needles all the way around
it, so you can’t pull it out with your hand. If you use your hand
to pull it out, you'll just get it stuck
in your hand too. So I picked up a couple of rocks and used those
to pull it out. Then I pulled the needles out of my leg. It felt
like they were hooked because when you pulled them out your skin pulled
away from your body before the needle came out. When I got each
needle out, it burned bad for about a minute. After I got over
the burn we moved on and a few steps later Tucker got one in his leg,
and he let out I yell too. So he pulled that one out the same way
I did mine. When he was over his burn we moved on up the hill.
Since it was so dark we couldn't see them very well. All the way
up the side of this hill we would get stuck at various points on our
legs and shoes. Each time we would let out a yell and stop to deal with
it. We made it to the top of that hill and found the road again!
We still couldn't get any reception on the cell phones, so we went
back down the hill to the truck. On the way back down the hill we
didn't get stuck as many times, but we did get stuck. From an outsiders point of view this had
to be a funny site. Two people going up a hill then back down
again, stopping at various points to yell and pull cactus needles out of their legs then
starting out again just to do it all again.
When we got back to the truck, I
realized the phone I had in my pocket was gone! Knowing I had to
have dropped it along the way up the hill, I
grabbed the flashlight (yup you guessed it, we were not smart enough to
take it the first time.) and went back up the hill looking for the phone.
When I got up to where the road was again I found the phone sitting
there. This time I followed the road back to the truck. I
found we could have avoided a lot of pain if we just walked up the road
a ways. I only had to walk about 1/8 of a mile and I was back at
the truck. With it being dark it looked like we were going
up a steep hill side to a high point the road did not take us to.
After seeing what we had really done, we felt stupid. We went
through a lot of pain and only went about 1/8 of a mile up the road and
still got no reception.
We decided to see if the truck would get us any
further. We only got about another minute out of it. So we decided
it was time to make a call to his mom even if we had to hike a long,
long ways to get to a place where the phone would get out. We
decided to stay on the road this time, since the cactus thing had us in
pain already. We hiked for about half an hour and got to a place that
was open and fairly high compared to where we'd been before.
The first call was to Tuckers mom. Since the battery on both
phones were low, I told him to keep it as short and simple as possible so
we could use it to call for help. Tucker knew that by this time, his mom would
be very worried about him. With this in mind it’s kind of funny to
look back on what he said when she answered the phone. He said in
a distressed voice,
"Mom, I don't have a lot of time so just listen, OK????!!!!!" I
heard her say something and he raised his voice and interrupted by
saying "just listen OK!!!!!" Then he told her, “mom I lied to you,
ditched school and went four wheeling in the desert with Luke. His
truck broke down and we are stuck. Don't worry I'm OK but we are
stuck and it’s going to be a while before I get home. I'm on a
cell phone and the battery is low so I'll call you when I can but don't
worry about me.” All the while I could hear her saying OK in a
very short angry tone.
When he was done with his call, I tried to call some friends to let them
know what happened to get some help. Then for some reason we lost
reception. Then both of us turned on our phones and started
walking around watching the signal strength meter until we got
reception. It was another moment that would have been funny to
watch as an outsider. We were both running around with a phone and would yell
out, "I got it!! Nope never mind, it went away" and start walking
again. When we finally got reception, I called Kevin and left a message
on his machine. Later I found out all he got of my message was
After thinking we got a help call out to Kevin we went back to the truck and tried it again.
When it died we took a nap. Tucker slept in the front seat
and I laid down in the back with a blanket. It was getting very
cold out there and my wet shoes and socks were making my feet feel like
At 2:20 Tucker woke me up and I couldn't believe
I'd slept that long. It wasn't a heavy sleep but it did take the
edge off. He said he didn't sleep much at all because he was too
cold. So we tried it again and it only ran for a few seconds.
Then we knew that if a few hours of letting it rest didn't help, it
was time to start hiking out. All we had was about a glass and a
half of water and a couple hand fulls of Doritos’s. So we let the
truck coast back down the hill, got it off the road, put rocks behind
the tires and left the doors unlocked (incase anyone wanted to break in at
least they wouldn’t break the windows).
The first two or three miles of the hike were up a steep hill winding
out of the canyon. After those few miles we were back at Knob Hill
and could stare across the dessert and
barley make out the headlights and tail lights of cars on I-95 in the
distance. We kept walking. At 4:00am we were able to get good
reception on the cell phone, so we called Kevin. WE knew we had to
keep the conversation as short as possible since the batteries were very
low on both phones. When I got Kevin on the phone, he thought I was
messing with him when I told him we were still out there. I told
him I was serious and wouldn't call him at 4:00 in the morning just to
mess with him. He apologized later but he said something that
pissed me off at the time. The phones battery was going dead and I didn't want
to take the time to try to argue with him. He told me to call him
back in three hours so he could sleep some more. I told him I'd
call back at 6:30am. This is the moment we have never let him
fully live down.
We kept walking for the highway. Since
we only had a little bit of water we would only take one mouth full of
water each time we drank. The water tasted nasty because after
rinsing my mouth out earlier, I got gas on the opening of the jug and
each drink tasted like gas.
On minds wondered a lot during the hike. We
sang songs to each other to pass the time. We also noticed how our steps were in time with
each other. If we were to focus on it our steps would get out of
the minute we quit trying our steps automatically fell back in time with
We reached the road at about 6:15am and I called
Kevin at 6:20am. He told me to call back in fifteen minutes after
he called Jose to figure out what they wanted to do. Then Tucker
called his mom and she sounded more relaxed. Then she told him he
should have just told her and she would have let him go. It was
weird to think that if he had done that, we wouldn't have been in such a
hurry to get out of there and we would have stuck with the rest of the
group. When we broke down it wouldn't have been such a big
Then Kevin paged me (yes I had a pager too), and when I tried to call him back his
phone battery died. Since my phone wouldn't get any reception I
put my battery on his phone and called him. He said Jose had an
extra fuel pump he would loan me and they were on their way out to help
About a half hour later a couple trucks came by
and took off down the road we were just on. They were D.O.T.
trucks and were going to work on the power lines. A
couple more came by and I stopped them to let them know my Scout was
down in the canyon and not to worry about it. I let them know it was pulled off
to the side so they could pass throuh and I was coming to get it
after our friends
got here with a fuel pump. The driver noticed we didn't have any
water in our jug and offered to let us fill it up with water from the
truck behind him. As we were filling our water jug the passenger
got out and came back and told us he had some candy in the front if we
wanted some. We said yes we would. We went up and he gave us
a pack of Hostess doughnuts and a hand full of butterscotch, jolly
ranchers and some chocolate covered cookies. I tried to pay him
but he wouldn't take it. I put the money on the floor boards of
his truck then when he got my hands full of stuff he put the money on
the ground got in the truck and they drove off. We sat back down
and started on the doughnuts. Doughnuts have NEVER TASTED SO GOOD
IN MY WHOLE LIFE!!!!!!!!! As we ate them, we both were laughing
and almost yelling out of sheer enjoyment of FOOD!! Then we
started on the chocolate covered cookies and as we started to eat them
we both looked at each other and made a face as if to say ewwwwe,
yuck. Then both of us shrugged our shoulders, said oh well and
started eating them as fast as we could. It was definitely one of those primal moments in life.
As we were waiting for Kevin and Jose a police
officer drove by then stopped, turned around and came back. I was
thinking cool a policeman that is going to check on us rather then just
drive by like the others did. As he was getting out I went over
and told him thanks for stopping and everything was OK. We had
friends coming to get us and go fix my truck which had broke down in the
canyon. He then looked at me and said step over there, pointing to
the front of his car with a mean tone in his voice and a pissed off
look. We did, then he took our licenses and ran a check on
them. Then he asked if we had help on the way. We said yes
and he got in his car and drove off. He had a definite attitude
problem. This is the kind of experience that makes you hate cops.
I understood he was doing his job and needed to maintain a safe distance from us just
incase. The attitude that was rolling off of him was not something
he should have displayed to someone stuck in the middle of nowhere.
Shortly after Kevin and Jose showed up. We piled in
Kevin's jeep and drove back to my truck. We all agreed it was
about ten miles from the highway. When we got to it, I put in the
fuel pump and drove it out. I took Tucker home, then went home
myself. I got home at 11:00am, got another hour of sleep and went
to work at 3pm (I worked swing shift). That was a very long night.
Kevin and Jose watching me put the fuel pump in my Scout.
Luke (me) thanking Jose for the loaner fuel pump and driving out to help.