Running on E

August 4, 2017


This summer I went on the most amazing, crazy, jam packed road trip ever. My mom, Aunt Christy and cousin Ryleigh and I drove over 2,500 miles in six days. We named ourselves the West Coast Dominators! Grab a coffee, have a seat and buckle up for part one of the wild ride with the WCD's! :)


Friday June 30th, I hopped on a plane at Detroit Metro with a dream and my cardigan (oh hey Miley) and jetted off to Colorado for the first leg of our journey! I was so excited for the adventures we had planned. Hiking the Rocky Mountains, site seeing at Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon, cruising up the Pacific Coast Highway from San Diego to Los Angles! I was SO excited! I had flown to California over the years but I had never been "out West". It was on my bucket list to do a road trip so when the opportunity presented itself I said YES!


On Saturday July 1st, we woke up in Boulder, Colorado, cue the Chainsmokers song, Closer, and hiked the Rocky Mountains at Estes Park. The hike was absolutely beautiful. I honestly did not know what to expect when I landed in Colorado but wow it blew my expectations out of the water! At the end of our hike was Gem Lake. It was breathtaking. I think I said "wow" 400 times. It was soooo beautiful. 


We could not get over how stunning the view was. We sat down and soaked it in for twenty minutes before heading back down the mountain. I never wanted to leave. I can see myself living in Colorado hiking the Rockies every weekend. (sorry Mom!)  So pretty.  


My cousin Ryleigh was at a conference near Estes Park so once we conquered the Rockies we picked her up and headed to Utah, en route to Bryce Canyon National Park. Let the road trip officially begin! 



Bryce Canyon was supposed to be an eight hour trip from where we were in Colorado. The eight hours turned into eleven. There was traffic backed up all though the Rockies and  unfortunately it was the only way to go. We had no other option but to sit in traffic. Ugh. Thankfully I had such wonderful company and gorgeous views along the way it made the eleven hours fly by. We turned up the radio and sang at the top of our lungs, laughing and chatting the entire way.


At about 11pm, in the middle of Utah, our gas light came on. "Carley can you look up where the next gas station is?" Mom asked. I grabbed my iPhone and opened the safari app. Safari cannot open this page flashed across the screen. I looked at the top of my screen and saw two words that I did not want to see in the middle of Utah, with no gas, at 11pm: No Service.  All I could think about was that this is how scary movies begin. Four girls, no cell service, running out of gas, in the middle of nowhere. We were doomed! 

We had no choice but to continue driving. As we continued to make our trek across the flat lands of Utah praying for a miracle, a green sign appeared in the distance that read, “Gas 75 miles”



“SEVENTY FIVE MILES!!!?” The four of us screamed in unison. Oh no oh no oh no. We were all on the brink of anxiety attacks. This cannot be happening. We will never make it. We are sleeping on the side of the road. We are goners. All of the sudden out of the blue I was able to get cell reception. I called my brother, Cam, who is a Marine stationed in California, I knew he would be awake this late considering it was 2:00am back home in Michigan. The phone rang a couple times.

Hurry Cam pick up before I lose service! 



“Cam we are in Utah with no gas and limited cell service!” I shouted through the phone. 

“I am not coming to UTAH!” he yelled from the other end of the line.

I began to explain to him our dilemma.

“No you do not have to come to Utah but if you do not hear from us in an hour then call the Utah police because that means we are out of gas and have no service and we need help so call the police!” I was talking so fast because I had no idea when I would lose service again.  

“Got it. Call you in 45 minutes and if you don’t answer I will call the Utah police for help?” Cam asked.

“YES! Thank you! Love you, hope to talk to you soon if we don’t die!”

I hung up. 


The next 75 miles were stressful, scary and overwhelming. I had never been so stressed in my whole life. It was honestly so terrifying. You are probably thinking to yourself  'this cannot be thatttt stressful' but I am telling you IT WAS! Ask my Mom, Christy & Ryleigh they will testify! 

 I like to be in control of situations. I like knowing what I am going to do next. When I was unable to control where the next exit was or when I would get cell service back, it was a scary, stressful thing.

Without knowing we were on the longest stretch in the United States with no gas station, exits, or signs, seriously you guys that is a real thing, my mom began to pray. As soon as she finished her prayer a shooting star flew across the sky. “Did you guys just see that?!” I shouted from the front seat! “A shooting star!” 


[We were so scared I think we laughed the entire time to cover up our nerves!]

My mom gripped the steering wheel with white knuckles. Christy and Ryleigh were praying in the back and I kept trying to keep my eyes from wandering to the needle on the gas gauge slowly creeping below E. My mind raced to the scary places. Mountain lions, coyotes, bears, oh my!  Deep down I had a weird feeling we would be just fine and make it to the gas station but in all actuality the flashing gas light on the dash told me otherwise.


60 miles, 30 miles, 15 miles, we were getting so close. 10 miles, 2 miles, then we saw it. Lights. Signs. Civilization. A gas station! We might have rolled into the gas station on fumes but we were not going to have to sleep on the side of the road in the rental car. We were not going to die! Our phones began to light up, yay for cell service! We made it! I let out a huge sigh of relief. We danced and hugged as we jumped out of the car. I had never been so excited to see a gas station in my life! I called Cam and let him know we were safe and were filling our gas tank up to the brim!

Phew, no more running on E! 


Now I have a questing for you. Are you running on E today? Is your tank empty? Is the craziness of life catching up to you? Are you exhausted? Scared? Worn out? Worried? Are you searching for a sign that says everything will be okay?!


I was absolutely terrified on that dark night in Utah. I was afraid of what could happen. So many ‘what ifs’ ran through my mind. I was allowing worry to ooze it’s way in and take up space in my head. Then I saw the shooting star. I truly believe that the Lord made the star dance across the sky for us to see as a reminder that we were not alone. Just like the rainbow He painted across the sky to Noah after the flood. (Genesis 9:12-17) 


We do not have to be afraid because the Author of the stars and sky is watching over us. The shooting star was God’s way of demonstrating His love to us and reminding us that

He was in control.

He was taking care of us.

He was going to guide our car to safety. 

Even in the middle of Utah with nothing but darkness surrounding us.

He was there.


It can be so hard to see the Lord working in your life when you are walking through darkness. You feel alone. Afraid. Broken. Lost. Worried. But be encouraged because He is working in you, where you are, right now.

He is mending your broken past, redeeming your present and preparing you for a beautiful future. The Lord is on your side. Even when you are worn out, worried and overwhelmed. You might not see a shooting star or a rainbow after the storm but that does not mean God is not with you. We have to change our focus from the darkness and turn our eyes back to the Son. 


The Lord is on your side even when everyone is against you and your world feels dark. I am trusting and believing in His Word and in the grace of Jesus. Will you believe it? His goodness is not dependent on our circumstances, it is dependent on Who He is - He never changes! 


God is FOR you! God LOVES you! God is on YOUR SIDE! 







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©2017 by Carley Cottingham.