Long Way From Minnesota


Well, we made it.

About the trip, surprisingly little needs to be said. Nothing happened that will provide an amusing anecdote, which is usually a good thing when dealing with travel–it’s the ones you’ve got side-splitting stories about that were the worst to live through. So the trip can be summed up in a few pithy phrases–Books on Tape are good; Nebraska is boring; New Mexico winds do bad things to a panel truck; Loki howled for nine hours straight one day, causing me to rethink many essential points about animal cruelty; and the town of Brush, Colorado, is surrounded by feedlots, making an evening spent at the hotel there an olfactory event of near-Biblical proportions.

But we arrived. The apartment is lovely, the heat’s not that bad, and I will post photos soon, once I am back on DSL and not this friggin’ dial-up that Qwest has sentenced us to until Friday. Saw my father again after about thirteen years (we weren’t estranged or anything, we’re just both bad about writing, and fate kinda conspired to make sure we were never in the same place at the same time. But he lives down here, now.) So that was cool. We are unpacking. Or rather, we were unpacking, because while the trip was uneventful, the third day of our stay in Arizona began a series of events that set our timeline off significantly. (I’d shorten it with the cut tags, but LJ won’t let me get to the FAQ. Sorry.)

Our faithful Honda, which, despite being held together by hoarfrost and rust, made it down from Minnesota, died Sunday. Two thousand miles without a hitch, and then we went to go see the Matrix sequel and it sputtered into oblivion at the bottom of a freeway offramp.(Thank god it lasted through the trip–this would be a much more horrible tale from the middle of New Mexico.)

This is where I learned that people in Arizon are nice. Rather shockingly so. The car hadn’t been stalled for more than fifteen seconds when a guy leapt out of his truck and helped us shove it onto the verge, saying “Long way from Minnesota.” Lots of people waved cellphones at us (in two languages) generally saying some variant on “Long way from Minnesota.” I called my father, who cheerfully came and rescued us–he’s evidentally got a backlog of fatherly bailouts that karma requires him to provide, which I hope does not mean that I will be breaking down weekly until whatever deities oversee that get the books back in line. Then again, he loaned us his car for a few days, so as far as I’m concerned, he’s completely in the clear on such matters–it’s a convertible, and if you step on the gas, it actually moves unlike the Honda, where if you stand up on the gas pedal and chant hymns to Cthulhu, the engine does exactly nothing, only slightly faster. Called Triple A. Friends, Romans, countrymen–if you drive, get Triple A. It’s fifty bucks a year, if you travel at all, you get that back in motel discounts immediately, and the free tows are a life saver when you’re at the bottom of an off-ramp with a mall on one side and open desert on the other.

So anyway, we got towed, and further proving that these are amazingly nice people despite the fact that many of them are wearing guns, the tow truck driver gutted our bill, saying–yep–“Long way from Minnesota.” (I began to detect a theme.) We towed it to a parking lot, and determined to try to start it the next day.

Now, the blue book value of an elderly Honda held together with rust and hope is, I b’lieve, listed as a book of stamps and a candy bar. We were not going to put more money into this car, which has no A/C, but we thought maybe if we could get it running, a dealer would give us some token amount on a trade-in. Alas, no. The car sputtered to life, sputtered a block, and sputtered into oblivion. We broke down next to a car dealer who said “Long way from Minnesota” and called their salvage yard for us.

And this was when we discovered a horrifying fact.

Junkyards didn’t want our car.

Seriously. We called a dozen places, and as soon as I said “Minnesota” there would be either a moment of dead silence, or an “Oooouw!” noise of pain, followed by the statement–it was never a question–“Lot of body rust then.” And then they would tell me, either politely, or firmly, that things don’t ever rust in Arizona, and thus they couldn’t sell a rusted car for scrap, and they wouldn’t send a tow truck for it. In some cases, even if I paid them. “But the rust isn’t that bad!” I said (lying, of course, the car looked like tetanus-laden swiss cheese) “I can’t sell rusted parts down here,” they would tell me, and that was the end of it.

The dealer we were at suggested that we blowtorch the VIN numbers off and push it into a gully, but there was the problem of getting the car running, and then finding a gully in the middle of downtown Scottsdale (they’d let us borrow the blowtorch.) But I gritted my teeth and called one last place, and did the one thing that was probably going to get me results, which was to go into my oh-god-I’m-a-helpless-female-from-Minnesota-please-make-my-problem-go-away-before-I-cry sequence on the last guy. Grandma always said that sort of thing worked for her, and after the obligatory “Long way from Minnesota…” and to my mingled horror and intense relief, an hour later I’d gotten a free tow truck, and sold my four-door millstone for a whopping twenty-five dollars to a man who didn’t even want the keys to the beast. I felt unclean, but anything to keep from the blowtorch option.

So that’s the saga. And now we’re car shopping. Funny how life works out. Long way from Minnesota.

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