A few minutes after she left to refuel the van, Lisa came over to my "office" looking forlorn and said, "I don't want to worry you, but your van won't start."
While concerned, I figured that there are much worse places for this sort of thing to have happened. If the van needed some sort of servicing, we could have AAA tow it to the GM dealership in Sublimity (about 15 km west of here). If it needed extensive service, I could probably stay one more week here without causing a ruckus at work. So we walked back over to the van to examine the situation.
The van had been slightly slow to start over the past couple of weeks, but I'd put that down to the cold weather and the fact that I hadn't been driving it every day. But the latest storm is warmer than expected, so temperature shouldn't have been an issue. I checked to see if I had left an interior light running and run the battery down (I hadn't) and tried the ignition. The motor turned over just fine, and there seemed to be plenty of charge, so that wasn't the problem.
I knew the fuel tank was low, but the normal operating range on the van is between 450 and 500 miles, and I'd only gone 376 since the previous refueling. However, I suggested that maybe I was out of gas. Lisa got a small portable tank and we put a few liters of fuel in the tank.
The van started on the first try. All we can figure was that the last time Lisa refueled the van, she'd not completely filled it up. Filling from the farm tank is not an exact science, as there's no kick-back valve and you have to play it by ear, literally, listening for the tank to sound fuel. It was probably three or four gallons short of a full tank, and that played me false. The fuel gauge on my van reads slightly low, so I hadn't been too concerned when driving back from town last time that I was on empty, becuase I normally have at least 50 miles left when it gets there. It would appear that I got home on fumes, and the next time we tried starting it, there wasn't enough left in the tank to restart the vehicle.
Fortunately, everything worked out okay in the end, and in a few minutes, assuming I can clear my deck of any pending jobs, I'll be running into Salem with Lisa's father. Lisa is going to take a nap because she didn't sleep well at all last night and she's going to take advantage of me being available for errands.
*As some of you may know, Oregon generally prohibits self-service gas fueling; however, Lisa's father has a large fuel tank on the property and buys gas in bulk from the local farm-supply company. We refuel the vehicles from that tank, which avoids the self-service restriction. Don't bother fretting about gas-tax evasion; he's buying fully-taxed fuel, even though some of it goes to fuel tax-exempt vehicles like the large John Deere mower.