“Take water! Take plenty of water!” We were finally turning east from the Pacific coast, and our friend Bonnie was worried. She and Chuck had been spoiling us for a few days in San Diego, but they’d heard reports of 100-degree temperatures in the desert. That would be a far cry from the sweater weather we’d been enjoying, as we enjoyed elegant drinks by the beach at the posh Coronado Hotel.
A couple of hours of driving confirmed two things: 1) It was hot. 2) The air conditioning no longer worked.
Despite its faded glory and advanced age, the Squid Wagon is the most “luxurious” vehicle we’ve ever owned. That means we have features we’ve never had on another vehicle, like cruise control (yay!), power windows (boo!), and air conditioning. The AC worked great when we bought the van in Florida in 2004. Our long-haired feline traveling companion appreciated it. But after she passed away, we never used it. Who needs AC in Seattle?
At a campground outside of Yuma, Arizona, I sat down on the ground next to an old-fashioned phone booth and pulled out the phone book. There were at least 15 listings specifically for Auto Repair – Air Conditioning, plus another half-dozen mentions of AC under the general Auto Repair category. Evidently, air conditioning is a high priority for Yumans.
So how does one select the best auto repair place out of a phone book, with no other knowledge? I studied the ads, then went on a hunch. “Here’s a place that’s been in business since the 1960’s — and the owner and service manager have the same last name.” My logic was that a family-run business that had been around for 40 years would treat their customers fairly.
And the folks at Midtown Auto did just that. We walked in and said, “We came down from Seattle, and we forgot to bring any cold with us. Do you have some you can put in our air conditioning system?”
Father and son worked on the air conditioning unit, and Mom sent us over to Bubba’s for a leisurely breakfast. When we came back, we had a nice chat with her. She was very curious about our lifestyle when she found out we were traveling from Seattle to a boat in North Carolina via Yuma, Arizona. “Are y’all missionaries?” she asked.
“No,” we laughed. We explained that we were just out traveling, seeing the world, and meeting the people in it. She was very encouraging, and when we left ($400 poorer, but most of that was freon, not labor), she wished us safe travels and a happy life. Literally, she wished us “a happy life.” Wow.
As we drove away from Yuma, the air conditioner put out ice-cold air as the hot sun shone on an amazing desert landscape. “Look at those rocks!” we exclaimed. “Hey, I just saw my first saguaro!” “Oh boy, TUMBLEWEEDS!”
I don’t know if it was the nice lady’s wishes, or just the way of the world. But we were definitely having a happy, happy life.