Finally, we were on vacation.
The Romance Writers of America annual convention in San Diego was over (that was work because I dutifully attended as many craft sessions as I could squeeze in). We’d visited good friends for two days. And we were on our way to my son’s house to spend ten days dog-sitting while they were on vacation.
Oblivious to the peril that hid in the steel bowels of our little red Ford Focus, we blithely left the coast and headed for Palm Desert for a quick visit to more friends before heading to Las Vegas.
The problem? It was the middle of summer and the temperature had climbed to 102.
“Is this thing working?” I cranked up the air conditioner to full blast, getting a teensy breeze about as strong as a waving palm frond.
“The car’s hot inside. It takes awhile for the air to kick in.” Capt. Mark drove on, cranking his window open to “let the hot air out.”
An hour later my cotton tee shirt was sticking to my back. I put my hand over the vent feeling slightly cooler air. “I remember reading somewhere that Ford’s have really good air conditioners. Do you think this one’s giving up the ghost?”
“Nah. It’s just too hot outside. It’s working too hard.”
He was right. The weather app on my phone said it is now 104.
We drove on. I gulped water. Didn’t help. Maybe the vents on my side of the car are blocked. Then I remembered the time we locked the keys in the car and the window had to be pried open. It never closed properly after that. Okay, that must be it. Hot air is getting inside.
When it was my turn to drive I cranked up the AC and pulled out of the slow lane (I drive my kids crazy when I drive because I like to follow trucks) and as we passed the rest stop in Mojave there was a loud poof and it looked like a cloud of steam covered the car.
“What was that? Should I pull over?”
“Nah, we probably have a loose hose.”
The car continued to move and the engine didn’t overheat. The people in the car were sweltering. No air in the car meant the windows had to come down a bit.
When we arrived in Las Vegas (106 now) and discovered the temp was to rise to 112 by the middle of the week we promptly found a place to get the “hose” fixed. One completely new air conditioning unit later (yup, the compressor blew), installed at a cost nearly equal to the value of the car, we decided it might be time to revisit our long-held habit that we drive a car until it dies.
This car has run its course.
And I won’t miss all the rattles.