nice picture!Here's an update - thanks all for your response. Requested picture of scooby + sled is below.
RE: running out of gas - I'm thinking more and more it was a heat related fuel expansion issue - i.e. vapor lock. Now that I think about it - a while before it happened I smelled gas fumes. Thought I was just dreaming things but it must have been. I think the gas expanded and combined with 106 degree heat and everything else I think it was starting to boil and vapor lock. A fresh tank of gas / different type of gas may have made the difference for the rest of the day.
South Dakota was certainly hard on the car. I tested the oil before I left NY and am having it changed now. I will have it tested again to see a before / after - and will post the results. I am running Amsoil - have about 12 on the oil now (tested fine around 9k).