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Old 06-17-2021, 07:58 AM   #1
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2019 27' International
2014 25' International
2006 23' Safari SE
Fort Saunders , Wyoming
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Service Station Tango... be careful

Service Stations offer fuel, fresh water, concessions inside, soda, etc. The etc. includes Restrooms which are always... popular.

Their primary function is to provide Fuel and the rest enhances prices.

If you are towing your trailer... be careful. Not all Service Stations had lots of space to place the entire operation. They may place the Fuel Pumps at angles or tight spaces, very little room to make an entry to the pump (diesel use to be bad but often outside pumps only have Diesel, but many have Diesel at all pumps).

Truck Stop pumps often are only for Truckers with credit cards through a Company or the Fuel Provider. Many do not offer service to a casual driver with a trailer in tow to use the High Volume Diesel Pumps, anyways. Be careful...

There are concrete and steel to prevent amateurs towing not to wipe out the end pumps. They will not move when you engage with them doing the 'Tango'. Damage will be severe. Look at previous colors of paint and tire marks on them.

Scout out the Station BEFORE you enter.

The longer your Airstream, the more attention to detail is increased! Anything over 15 feet... If you have an Airstream under 16 feet... tell us about that Service Station. We will avoid it...

Gallup, New Mexico... We stopped for fuel this June to discover the Stations were all packed in small locations and bumper to bumper traffic. I have never seen a small town with so much traffic. It was no doubt THE CENTER of the Regions retail market. Stay on the Highway and find a Truck Stop. We were coming from Colorado and the State Highway runs through the center of the very narrow community business district... but very long to the Highway.

I prefer Outside Pumps. You will too. Often you have to consider if your trailer is completely blocking traffic, or not.

What are your experiences?

What about those who Stop. Park. Use the facilities indoors. Have lunch and then come out to pump fuel. They wanted their auto in the shaded area under the pump awnings to keep their interior... cool. Why park in the Hot Sun? I look at the license plate... hmmm.... there is a correlation if you see this often.

Take your time. Do not feel pressured to make quick entrance and departures. Have the passenger step out and be your second... opinion. A few cents saved per gallon could cost you $10,000 in aluminum repairs... or worse.

Any comments? Anything interesting?

Be aware that the Entrance and Departure on big dips for water drainage could take off your rear bumper, skid plates or just your Rear End hung for all to see and watch. Sway can be fixed with a better Hitch.

Service Stations are a choice. Best in the West are Mavericks. Best prices and often lots of space at the pumps. We will find an area off to the side and spend the evening after filling up at the pump. Refill your Coffee Pot for under $3.00 for 60 ounce of your choice, clean restrooms, water for your trailer, sometime air pressure... See you on the Road. Not stuck at a culvert entering or exiting a Service Station to save 3 cents.
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Old 06-17-2021, 08:05 AM   #2
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I usually look for Love's stations when I'm on interstate highways. They're designed to accommodate bigger rigs and trailers, and they often offer other services too like RV dump stations and CAT scales. On backroads, I follow the same logic as you do. I look for outside pumps, easy access in and out, etc. My wife and I sometimes eat lunch in the Airstream at a fuel stop, but I pull away from the pumps and find a spot to park that's not blocking anyone. I haven't had as much luck at Flying J stations. They're often old and dirty. I try to avoid them.

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Old 06-17-2021, 08:24 AM   #3
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Central Valley , California
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Service Station Tango

Ray, as always good points and an entertaining read...

I remember going through Gallup about 7 years ago with a SOB trailer and thinking about how happy I was for the 36 gallon tank in my Ram...

On our trips we have always been cautious about the entry and exit to a station. My only close call was at a Chevron in Shasta with the aforementioned SOB trailer where on departure the fresh water tank drain elbow was pulled off on exit... Luckily it was able to be threaded back on with no issues...

Our rule now is to start looking for fuel when the rig is at 1/2 a tank...This gives us plenty of time to find a good "Tango" candidate - many times from the vantage point of the highway...We have found that this approach keeps us out of crisis mode, where we may have to take a chance on a less than optimum entry/exit condition...
- Lots of people are engaging in risky behavior, but most of them just don't know how risky their behavior really is...

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Old 06-17-2021, 08:34 AM   #4
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Now that the pandemic is abating nicely, I think folks want a "road trip" especially in their RV as I perceive it healthier. We recently took a 3 week trip to California, our first Airstream trip in two years. The fuel stops were the pits.

Fuel stations were designed for VW beetles, not heavy duty pickups that tow efficiently and safely. I do look for a diesel pump that I can get into and out of. I can use a semi-truck big nozzle pump, but as you mention paying for the fuel is a hassle. Block the pump, learn you have to pay first and run inside, wait in a line for the cashier who says "how much do you want?". Fill up please. Then leave your card here they say. Nope. So I guess at an amount. Run back outside and start filling while a big trucker glares at me. I put in my $40 guess. I pull forward carefully weaving around trucks and poles. I discover I'm only half full as California fuel is much more expensive. Now I look for another full stop in the next hundred miles.

I consider terrible inconsiderate of folks to "park" in front of a fuel pump while going into the store for whatever reason. We Airstreamers just don't do that.

I believe the "fun" of RV travel will soon abate right along with the pandemic. Full fuel stops, full campgrounds, harrowing antics on the highways, bad roads, RV technical problems and bad weather will encourage folks to stay home.

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Old 06-17-2021, 08:48 AM   #5
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Since you asked .....

Worst so far was an act of stupidity on my part.

We had done a "circuit" looking at the available options. None looked great. Rumbling into the second pass, there was one that *appeared* to be ok. The part we could see looked nice and open. You could not quite get a clear look at the entire route ....

Down the acres road we go (I won't call it a driveway ...). Sharp turn left between two buildings. Sharp turn right around the corner of one of them. No way out, no way to back up. We made it, I have no idea just how..

You then come out between two buildings. The entire access to the station is down this route. There are now 3,627 people in line behind you. You pull up and can see that there is exactly *one* pump you can get to from this angle. That pump is occupied by ( I'll bet you can guess ...) an empty vehicle. Indeed, probably half the pumps have empty vehicles at them..... hmmm .... there's a line out the door ....

Waiting for that vehicle does not make 3,625 of the folks behind you happy (the other two were on their cell phones ...) they start up a racket. Needles to say, this doesn't improve things any at all. Probably best that Airstream does not offer a rear mounted paintball machine gun option ....

Ultimate answer, pull on through and find another station. For all I know, that car is still sitting empty at the pump.

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Old 06-17-2021, 08:49 AM   #6
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I look for stations where the pumps are parallel to the building. Straight in/straight out. I'll do perpendicular if I have to but often have to wait for cars to move so I can swing wide to exit.
Pull in with an eye to pulling out; you may want to leave a lot of room on the driver's side because you'll turn left to leave.
Also don't be afraid to re-aim your mirrors to see your trailer wheels and wheel wells. When that steel post is 2" from your shiny metal, It's good to know.
I also scope out the transitions from street to station and avoid scraping the bumper.
Beware short cuts. I ended up in a drive thru once thinking I could take a shortcut through a parking lot. I had to back about 100'. Thankfully, the cars gave me room, they avoided the 'crazy man'.
Lastly, don't be pressured to "go". I've been patient with cars many times, now they can be patient with me this time.
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Old 06-17-2021, 08:57 AM   #7
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If you have a diesel, getting the TSD Logistics fuel card is a must. Gives you the ability to use truck stops at great prices
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Old 06-17-2021, 09:22 AM   #8
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I’ve dealt with the tango issue a couple of times with service stations, mostly dealing with other cars that are parked, waiting, or pumping. After our Trans Canada trip two years ago, I’ve gotten the hang of scouting service stations before entering them with the trailer.

There are two additional issues worth mentioning regarding service stations: angle of the entrance driveways, and access to air pumps.

I have a Blue Ox Sway Pro hitch, and the sway bars have a relatively low clearance. There have been a lot of times that the entrance drive to a service station has a high angle relative to the road, causing the bars to drag along the pavement. Entering at a slight angle sometimes helps, but sometimes I’ve skipped entering a station entirely if their driveway is steep. [Even one of the driveways for the Seattle Airstream dealer had this issue.]

As for the air pumps, it is quite irritating. A lot of stations place their air pumps in rear parking areas that have no pull through capability for a trailer, or provide a long enough hose to reach the trailer tires. Sometimes the compressors are set to a low maximum pressure. I learned this the hard way once when trying to fill my 80 PSI tires, but ended up losing pressure instead.

For tires, I’ve found it best to head to truck stops or tire service centers, where I’m always able to fill up and have enough space to maneuver.
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Old 06-17-2021, 09:40 AM   #9
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Service Station Tango

Having done that dance a few times, our routine is now to fill the TV before hooking up for the day's drive. Day before while doing groceries, the morning of etc. We've found that our F150 Ecoboost pulls our 19 27FBQ Globe-trotter about 450 miles on a tank and that is all you want to drive in a day. Repeat as needed until trip is done. Much more relaxing.
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Old 06-17-2021, 09:42 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by geo View Post

As for the air pumps, it is quite irritating. A lot of stations place their air pumps in rear parking areas that have no pull through capability for a trailer, or provide a long enough hose to reach the trailer tires. Sometimes the compressors are set to a low maximum pressure. I learned this the hard way once when trying to fill my 80 PSI tires, but ended up losing pressure instead.
This is why I bought a Viair 12 volt air compressor. You should too.

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Old 06-17-2021, 09:48 AM   #11
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Annapolis , Maryland
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Simple rule

While towing, our simple rule with gas stations and other facilities-

If you canít see how you will get out, dont go in.

This helps us avoid the tango.
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Old 06-17-2021, 10:09 AM   #12
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Chadron , Nebraska
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Hello my old friend. I always heed you have to say. Iíve moved from Nebraska to Wisconsin. I certainly miss boon docking in Wyoming but I have a whole new area to explore in my retirement. Still Airstreaming solo. Youíre a great teacher and Iíve learnt a lot from you and on my own.

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Old 06-17-2021, 10:16 AM   #13
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The biggest problem are stops with pumps perpendicular to the building. Even worse are those with parking just past the pumps where the vehicles are perpendicular to the building also. In those cases since my fill is on the drivers side of the TV, I'll look at that far right pump in the string of pumps. In most cases the next challenge is to check if you have enough swing room to the right to pull out with. Sometimes that far left pump is also good if you have room to approach that left pump from behind the building or enough swing room to go far left and make a big right swing so that you are facing away from the building.

My worst experience was getting behind a guy with a landscaping trailer hauling a big mower. I really needed the gas at the time so I got behind him. No one in the trunk nor was anyone pumping. I made the assumption he was inside paying for his gas. I sat there 15 minutes and assumed he probably was paying and using the restroom. He comes out with drinks and food and at that point starts pumping gas. He goes back inside and finally comes out and pulls away. Station had lots of room for him to pull his rig aside but he manages to spend over 20 minutes in front of that pump that I'm waiting for.

Sometimes pumps rather that being perpendicular are angled. As long as the station doesn't allow parking against the curb in front of the station, I can usually find enough swing room to use any of the pumps.

I recently went by a Loves and they used perpendicular pump placement with parking in front of the store. Far right pump already had a line of trailer pulling vehicles waiting so I passed the stop by.

Going somewhere else for fuel is not foreign to me and most times I start looking at the time I just get below half a tank. And as noted I'm critical about access so I do watch for tail dragging situations and will pass stations with that.

The other thing I am critical about access back is if the station is on the right and I have to make a left out of the station. If there are multiple lanes of traffic with a pretty good flow of traffic, I will make a right out of the station and look for a controlled access with signals to make a safe reverse to the direction that I wish to go in. Big parking lots are great places to get turned around and then back on a connecting road with a traffic signal. Takes a little more time but it's better than trying to drag 55' of tow vehicle and trailer across multiple lanes trying to find a break in each direction of traffic.

In some case the stations on the left have better access but again you are dealing with multiple lanes of traffic. It's not unusual to pass that station by, look again for a controlled access connecting street and a parking lot that gives me swing room to get me on that connecting street where I can make a right turn and head back to that station which is now on my right.

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Old 06-17-2021, 10:17 AM   #14
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There is a chain of gas stations out west that advertise a very low price on large signs on the interstate. The trouble is, that price is for fuel pumped out of only one of its pumps; the other pumps offer gas at higher prices than other stations in the area. I got caught just once by that trick, pulling in and filling up, then finding the total much higher that I was expecting.
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Old 06-17-2021, 10:20 AM   #15
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Plastic Bags over Diesel/Gasoline Pump Handles

This Summer many stations ran out of Fuel. We were keeping a close watch on our fuel situation and distances from one remote town to another. The smaller the town... the more plastic bags over their pump handles.

No Fuel. Whoa... goosebumps and new strategies for Pump Hunting.

This last trip... very few with Plastic Bags over pump handles. Many with Credit Card system down. No receipts. Rejections of credit card so had to go inside to get it processed to start. Cash left as credit to pump and go back inside to get your change.

We learned. We figured it out. Next time... we are prepared to encounter difficult situations and make it work. Best advice. If fuel is out at a major truck stop... find a good place to park and the fuel will get to a major Truck Stop before going to Quemado, New Mexico or Farson, Wyoming.

We Airstream Pioneers are getting smarter over the years. This was a very exciting 2021. Looking forward for many more interesting years.

Fuel price too high in Duck Village, Utah...? Pay it. It will average out over the next five years... Maybe.
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Old 06-17-2021, 10:31 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by AlphaStream View Post
Hello my old friend. I always heed you have to say. Iíve moved from Nebraska to Wisconsin. I certainly miss boon docking in Wyoming but I have a whole new area to explore in my retirement. Still Airstreaming solo. Youíre a great teacher and Iíve learnt a lot from you and on my own.


We were through Chadron, Nebraska two weeks ago. Nancy and I remembered your first and last name going through town. Furniture came to mind... Camped at Fort Robinson for a day. That place is now a modern RESORT destination for those who love Western Attitude and Environment.

A couple camped next to us at Robinson, from Valentine, Nebraska, knew your name. Small world in the Nebraska Panhandle.

Gentleman... Jo is a top notch Airstream solo driver. She is smart. She and Nancy are good looking and in great shape. She can back up herself, pickup truck and make it easy to attach the Airstream. Nebraska lost a great citizen. Enjoy your new home.

A group that attended the 2014 GREENHORN Adventure at the Taylor Park Reservoir, Colorado all survived. Everyone who attended were suppose to be new at trailer Boondocking... wrong. They were all able to find Taylor Reservoir.

Photos of Dave and Dixie with Ray... Hello. Nancy and I next to the snow drift on the Continental Divide... This was June 2014. Snowdrift in Colorado high country.

A snowmobile shop has Gasoline available at the SE end of the Reservoir. No Diesel as I know, but times change. Go to Crested Butte to the West... a nice tourist town and fuel. Camp at Taylor Reservoir. Wide open camping anywhere...
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Old 06-17-2021, 10:45 AM   #17
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Canfield , Ohio
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We have a TSD card and use truck stops to fill up. We found that having the card makes the stop faster as you do not have to go in.

But sometimes truckers can be very inconsiderate. We pulled into a lane to get diesel. The guy in front of me spent 10 minutes filling up both his tanks and we assumed went in to pay cash. We waited with a truck behind us. It was a very busy truck stop.

After 15 minutes of waiting both me and the trucker behind me were getting a bit miffed. I went in to tell the cashier to find the driver. She announced the lane number over their PA system and that the driver had to pull up his truck.

I went back out and sat waiting in my TV. The trucker behind me stuck his head out the window and ask where did that Asxxxxx go? 15 minutes later the lane next to the one I was waiting in was going to open. I told the driver behind me to take it. He was very considerate and said, "I can fill up in a fraction of the time that you can". He backed up and let me move into the open lane. Some truckers can be very considerate!

Five minutes later the missing trucker came back with wet hair and carrying a towel. Imagine that.
Tom & Doty
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Old 06-17-2021, 10:59 AM   #18
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Just to add before I go completely senile.

Twin Falls, Idaho. Parked at one of two Truck Stops. One across the street from other. Several hundred 18 wheelers, vehicles pulling trailers and those sleeping in their vehicles. Nice stations.

All night... each Truck Stop announced an empty shower stall ready: "SHOWER #147 Available"... etc.. Both truck stops. All night. Truckers listening for their number to be called.

This is sometimes the novelty of Large Service Station Boondocking. Showers were really a hot item at these two truck stops. We slept well. But did not need a shower... yet. It had been only ten days into the trip...
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Old 06-17-2021, 11:16 AM   #19
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New Travel plan

We are starting our Wild West trip today and are on the lookout for Buc-Cees where you have lots of room with 100 pumps, no semis and can leave your rig at the pump while you go in to the store to the cleanest bathrooms we have ever seen on the road. Plusís they have delicious pulled pork sandwiches and lots of other choices for food. No truckers are allowed on these facilities.

We may only travel in the future where Buc-Cees are located? I-20 west bound outside Atlanta a billboard near our lunch stop at racket Barrel for their lunch of the day, informs me we are 87 miles away from the next Buc-cees. 187 miles to empty. We will stop. Wonder if we will see more on the trip out to Denver via Branson, MO = a must stop for all crossing the middle of the country!

We have experienced all the aggravations provided on this thread and just found Buc-Cees this past year when they opened one up two miles from our home. Plus they have two locations on I-95 at St Augustine and Daytona Beach. This might make our offer of courtesy parking more attractive?

They started up in the great state of Texas, so I hope to see some more out West. Let us know where else you have seen them!
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Old 06-17-2021, 11:17 AM   #20
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Naples , Florida
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I’m generally a calm and fairly patient driver, but nothing lights my fuse at a service station more than when a patron pulls up to a pump, goes directly into the station, shops for food/drinks, ambles out, slowly stashes the purchases and FINALLY begins pumping fuel. All the pumps are full, here I sit just wanting fuel.
I try always to stop at Pilot and FlyingJ plazas, partly because they are spacious, but also they offer 5 cents off per gallon to Good Sam members—it adds up.
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