Monday, April 30, 2007

Route 66 Repair

Everyone knows mockingbirds can mimic the calls of other birds, but grackles do it too. I was down at Bret and Jim's Auto Service in downtown Amarillo. It was time to fix the AC/Heater blower in the Jeep. With 260,000 miles on it, it was finally breaking down. I had been having problems with it for some time now. On nice days, when you really don't need an cooling or heating, it works fine. But when I was driving around Death Valley in the summer, the AC would quit erratically. It 'healed' itself after that, so I did nothing about it. There were occasional fifteen minute times of failure but it worked mostly reliably until this past trip to California. Then, on the coldest mornings, seeking dawn photo shots, the blower wouldn't work, leaving us with no heater. After that it was reliably unreliable. So, heading off on a new trip that will hopefully include Rocky Mountain National Park and Yellowstone, it was time to get the heater fixed.

We're in Amarillo for a few days, staying with my parents, so we could risk doing without the Jeep long enough to get it repaired. With a long history in the area, I headed first for our favorite small garage, Bret & Jim's. They are on Sixth street AKA Historical Route 66, and I pulled into the parking lot and waited for the person in front of me to be taken care of. After a glimpse around the raised hood, I moved closer -- it was my Aunt Joy! After a hug and a chat she had her car's fluids checked and the tires inflated and she was off. It was my turn.

He checked out my Jeep and the computer reference manuals. Yes, he could do it, but parts would have to be ordered, etc. I called Mary Ann to pick me up and while I waited, I walked a few blocks back and forth on the road. High in the tree in front of the next door antique shop, grackles were calling, but at first I didn't recognize them. They had mimic'ed the sounds of their surroundings. One bird's call was like a squealing fan belt. Another sounded like a transmission ready to self-destruct. I've heard others variations in other places. Sirens, car-alarms. Grackles can mimic a lot of obnoxious noises.

I walked on down five or six blocks, taking in the flavor of the road. There were bars and antique shops, drive in's and BBQ places, churches and the YMCA. I reached the Shell station and picked up a Diet Coke and headed on back to wait for my rescue. Now I wait, typing my blog and looking at all the signs and trinkets in the waiting room. Seated across from me is a skeletion in a tuxedo.

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