Monday, July 14, 2008

... the Air Conditioning Vents?

"On Pins and "Needles"
July 5, 2008
Miles traveled: 150
Fingernails bitten: 10

Those who know me know that when I'm planning anything I make lists. I even make lists of lists. As I'm planning a drive through the California/Arizona desert, my lists included items that can only be chalked up to paranoid worry:

"What if we run out of gas?"

"What if we get four flat tires?"

"What if a dust storm comes up and buries our car?"

I know... tThese worries completely ignore reality. But without them I wouldn't be the Angie you know and, if not love, at least tolerate. Still and all, I really am a belt and suspenders kind of gal, which is why we are traveling with OnStar, AAA, GEICO roadside assistance, cash, traveler's checks, credit cards, and cell phones.

To thine own self be true.

After weeks of planning and, of course, fretting, the day of the trip finally arrives and I take on a striking resemblance to a racehorse in the shoot: stamping, snorting, and ready to run.

So with a 2360-mile car trip ahead of us, why am I so freaked out about this first segment?

Two words: desert heat.

I'm what you would call "climate-challenged." If it's over 75, I'm too hot and if it's under 72, I'm too cold. My kind and wise husband endearingly calls me his "Little Hot-House Flower."

You have to admit that's far more flattering than simply calling me "High Maintenance."

I hear you ask, "How is Miss High Maintenance Hot-House Flower" planning to survive the Cold-Hot-Humid Midwest?"

Two words: climate control.

Which brings me back to my chief worry about the first leg of our trip - the strip of arid wasteland between Victorville, CA and Flagstaff, AZ:

"What if we loose our AC?"

Now our car is almost two years old, has never had an issue with the AC, and is very well maintained - what me worry?

Damn straight. There go 10 fingernails.

The drive is smooth out of LA and through Barstow. We get on to Interstate 40 and, as expected, the outside temperature rises (all captured in glorious real-time thanks to the thermometer in the rear view mirror). That's when I notice our AC doesn't feel as cold nor does the airflow feel as strong.

OK, not panicked yet.

I figure it's getting hotter outside, so let's just turn up the fan. Suddenly, our vents belch out a plume of ice crystals and now the Hot-House Flower is about to look like Munch's The Scream.

My husband remains as cool as can be. "No worries" he says. "We'll stop for lunch in Needles and if we need to wait out the heat of the day, we will." Like any other distressed plant, I sit back and conserve energy, hoping relief will come before I wither on the vine. Luckily, the AC has regained some of its cooling ability as we roll into Needles, California.

Lovely Needles.

I have always thought "Needles" was a fairly apt name for this city. After all, "Barren Patch of Hell" would probably be too long and "Hell" was already taken by a city in Michigan. We see the Golden Arches looming off the interstate like an oasis and pull in for lunch and climate-controlled air.

After lunch we got back in the car and, with a sense of dread, kick on the AC.

It works just fine.

It blows cold, no restricted airflow, no plumes of ice. It's just like the hiccup before had never happened.

At this point I figure my car simply has a sick sense of humor (either that or two secular humanists has just received Divine Intervention). It was then my husband remembered a similar problem with the AC in his office. The diagnosis was a frozen condenser. If that was the case here, he reasoned, then the 111 degree furnace of Needles seemed to have thawed it out.

OK, maybe Hell's Little Half-Mile has it use.

In climate-controlled comfort the Little Hot-House Flower bloomed and we continued on our journey...

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