Confessions, chapter 3: How NOT to go on a road trip with a rabbit.
I’ve discovered, since deciding to move there, that most people have no idea where Albuquerque is. I can’t really judge, though – I recently had to ask which cities the Twin Cities were. I’m still not sure which state they’re in.
Just in case you’re not sure, Albuquerque is in New Mexico, just south of Santa Fe, a day’s drive east of Phoenix, and 5,314 feet above sea level. To get there from San Francisco, it’s about a 15 hour drive (that’s if you don’t stop for snacks, gas, repairs, or a detour to the Grand Canyon) through America’s vast, dry, southern deserts. You pass through some of the most beautiful parts of the country on your way – but they’re also some of the hottest.
I was about to undertake this trip with my friend Simin and my new bunny, Chewy. I had a full tank of gas and an entire apartment boxed up in the back of a van I had bought the day before. It was 7am and foggy in San Francisco. We hit the road.
Central California is a beautiful land. Rolling hills, dotted with little oak trees, scattered with farms – then 9am hits and it starts to get hot. We pulled over and picked up some water. All good.
Then 10am hit and it was hotter than the fiery pits of hell. Air conditioner time!
Did I mention I had just bought this van the day before?
The vents were blowing hot air. We fiddled with the controls. Hot air. We gave it time to warm up (so to speak). Hot air.
We fiddled with the controls some more.
I had done some pretty extensive research about taking a rabbit on a road trip, and the one thing everyone said was, “Don’t let your rabbit overheat!”
I looked over at my little bunny. Of all the worst-case scenarios that had popped into my head, (I’m good at those, remember,) the air conditioner failing me had not been one of them. I had sudden flashes of what an expression of utter disappointment would look like on Marcy’s face. If I killed my first rabbit only 12 hours after getting him I would never forgive myself. And he was all cute and stuff.
We pulled into the first store we came across (which was another 30 horrifying, sweat-soaked miles) and bought a giant bag of ice. I put it in Chewy’s carrier with him. He made friends with it real quick.
Simin and I realized that we weren’t even close to the Mojave desert yet and the heat would only get worse. We had to get the stupid air conditioner fixed or we could all die. (That’s what I was thinking anyway – Simin was very rational and actually having a good time. Me – I was worst-case-scenario-ing my brains out.)
We pulled into a tiny, dusty shack off the freeway that looked like it might be a repair shop. It was – but they didn’t fix air conditioners. They pointed us to the guys down the street.
No luck. “Go about 20 miles that way – they can probably do it.” We wondered how anyone survived out here with no one that could fix an air conditioner. Why be a mechanic at all if you can’t fix one stupid air conditioner WHEN YOU LIVE IN THE DESERT??
Ok, so we drove 20 miles “that way” and came across and auto parts store. They seemed unreasonably busy for being in the middle of nowhere, but one employee suggested we buy a kit and install it ourselves. Considering I haven’t opened the hood of a car since I was 16, this seemed like a bad idea. But, he couldn’t tell us if there was even a repair shop open anywhere around, so we went ahead and bought it. He said he would show us how to install it as soon as he was done with the next customer. I imagined poor little Chewy sitting out there in the van with a melting bag of ice. We left.
Another few blocks down we came across a Big O Tires. I ran inside and asked them if they knew anyone who fixed air conditioners. They pointed us another couple of blocks to J & J auto repair. It was a slightly larger, slightly less dusty shack than the ones 20 miles back. But, they could fix my air conditioning and they had a nice cool office. I stuffed Chewy in a canvas bag with some hay and a water bottle and went inside.
At this point in the story, I’m pretty sure all of the SaveABunny volunteers are absolutely horrified with me, and Marcy is regretting ever having subjected one of her helpless rabbits to my utter incompetence. So why am I blogging about it? Firstly, I have nothing else to do right now, I’m sick, my only friend here is working tonight, my new job doesn’t start until Monday, and I live alone with a rabbit. I could be unpacking but I don’t really have any shelves yet to put my stuff on. Most importantly, though, I hope this tale of danger and woe provides a lesson to all you readers out there: MAKE SURE YOUR FREAKING AIR CONDITIONER WORKS BEFORE YOU START DRIVING THROUGH THE DESERT IN AUGUST.
Back to the story. Our mechanic Jose (one of the two Js, I assume,) dug around in the engine for about an hour and a half while I sat in the cool office with a very cute, very curious, and slightly damp bunny. I gave him little Styrofoam cupfuls of water. He peed on me. We bonded.
The moment that Simin came in and told me the air conditioner worked, I was elated. I joyfully slapped down $200 and we were back on track. I left the half-melted bag of ice on the sidewalk (I’m pretty sure it sublimated) and replaced it with a fluffy dry towel to keep my bunny comfy.
Next stop: the Mojave Desert. Thank you, Jose.