Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Cabrio- the amazing popsicle car

I have a miracle car. My 2001 black VW Cabrio has been my best friend for several moves and grooves since I've had it. The car has been a willing companion when moving children to school, or from apartment to apartment. I have filled the seats with groceries, gifts, people, cats, furniture, and most recently, plants and dirt, compost and leaf mulch.

The car has not uttered one complaint. I mean, sure, it whines for gas every now and then, but as for the water- not a peep. I clean it out fairly often, but not nearly often enough.

When the girls and I returned from our fall vaca, went to my car ( that we left home) to run some "back home" errands and found the passenger side floors were full of water.

FULL. Like- I -opened- the- door -and -a -family -of- water bugs, earthworms, and mosquitos -rafted -out -into -the street- full. The youth director at home church happened by and helped me siphon it out. I put the rugs on the line.

I got in the car and took off for the grocery for some land food. I had the distinct feeling that I had brought the ocean back with me. Silly, me. I turned a corner and felt a spray of wave lightly brush against my face. When I came to a red light, the ocean tided again into the floorboards and I immediately pulled over. I sat in a state of after-vaca- disorientation and slowly slipped my tongue out over my lips and stretched it as far right as I could, hoping to catch a drop of the wave spray that had hit me a few seconds ago. Hmm. Wet. Nasty. But fresh, not salt water. What in the world??

Although the mats dried out and the carpet dried out over a few warm fall days, the sloshing took a while longer. When at last, the water had evaporated, I drove relieved. I took Calvin the Cabrio to my mechanics and they said it was most likely the roof leaking, a common problem in convertibles and they recommended someone for me to visit with the problem. ugh. $$$$$$

I waited. I drove. The rains came and I sloshed. The itsy bitsy spider climbed up and got washed out countless times, the sun drying up the rain again and again. My eldest daughter who is savvy in many things, sent me to a self cleaning car place that had a wet vac. Thank Gosh.
Fear and cost clung to my socks. I kept putting off taking the car in to the shop.

People who rode with me grew accustomed to the sound of water lapping at their feet,just as they had gotten used to the psycho window on the passenger side that had acquired an aversion to going all the way up. My regular riders had learned the pattern for getting the window to close all the way. up halfway then up a bit, up a bit, up a bit and we're all the way there.

A friend who was aware of my earlier fall plantnapping kept asking me if the combination of dirt and damp had sprouted anything yet?

If nothing else, passengers find the ocean sound effects lulling. Good to know.

I grew accustomed to parking with two tires up on the curb to allow the water to drip out more effectively. Two loving work peers commented that they could tell what the weather was based on how the cabrio was parked.

Before Thanksgiving, my daughters surprised me by taking it in and having the handles adjusted hoping a tighter fit would stop leaks. I was so surprised by their sneaky thoughtfulness. I was speechless. My little girls were big enough to do a really adult thing for their mother. woah.
One moment,please, while I absorb yet another big clue that they are transitioning into growny friends from babes. excuse me just one more moment.....

There. Okay. So I went along happily and stayed dry for a few weeks, and then last weekend we had torrential rains and the lake filled again. sighhhhh. I had plans with a few youth friends from church and so they had to ride with their feet up. They made the best of it and created a song called waaaaaater. Every time I turned a corner they'd hug their knees in tighter and sing, "wattttter"

I drove to my new favorite hang out- the car cleaning place, and vacuumed out the floors. Driving around caused more spills, so by the time I took them home, the floors were full again. I took the car back and cleaned it inside and out at length. With armor-all at my side, we got that Cabrio looking new and spritely!!

That night, a hard freeze came to town. When I got up the next morning, every car parked on the street in front of my townhouse was frosted. Neat. First real before winter frost. Wow.
I left for work, the morning chill putting a crispness into my step. I got into the car, cranked it up, and turned on the defroster. Then I waited. I adjusted my seat, squirmed into a comfortable pose, and turned on my windshield wipers. They slid smoothly against the glass, but my window was still frosted. That just didn't make sense.

I leaned back into the cold leather of my seat and slowly brought one gloved hand up to my mouth. I bit into the glove and pulled my fingers out. Then I reached for the windshield and scratched. My nails filled with ice. The inside of my windshield was frosted hard!!
AS were all of the other windows.

Then, I threw a cold sideways glance at the floor mat. It gave me a frigid stare right back. I leaned over and touched it. I learned something.

I learned that car carpet and mats can freeze. I learned that frozen car mats crunch when pressed. I know this to be true.

I was determined to stay chipper and bright, so I reached for my window scraper and tried scraping the inside. I learned something.

I learned that I should have paid more attention to geometry when I took it in High School. Angles Angles angles. The scrapers are designed to scrape the outside curves of the window NOT the inside ones. I scratchedacross and got a line that gave me all of a clear view about .000000000000001 inch wide.

Being cold, my brain cracked. Did you hear it? If you drove by that morning, I suspect you did.
I scratched a few choice words, backwards, on my windshield, then I pulled out an overextended credit card and put it to good use. Then, I learned something else.

I learned that I wish I had paid more attention in Science class as well. As I scraped the front window, I began to see a lovely pile of shaved ice form on my dashboard. At the same time, I heard a gentle and steady drip behind me. The back window defroster was doing a fine job of melting the back window ice, and when ice melts, it becomes water and when that happens INSIDE your car it is called RAIN.

By the time I scraped a large enough space to see through, I had rolled a miniature family of snow people on the dashboard of my car. They accompanied me to work.

When I got to work, I called the car place and made an appt for the next day. The day came and went. It stayed below freezing all day with a hard wind.

I left work, and walked out to the parking lot where my popsicle car was parked. Hanging from the doors on both sides were icicles. Murderous sized icicles, I tell you. The water had been trickling out all day and freezing along the way. The icicles met the asphalt. I learned another damn thing.

Icicles, murderous sized ones at least, make a heinous crunching sound when they are forced apart from asphalt where they have been happily frozen all day. In addition, if it is cold enough for a car to drip icicles, then it is cold enough for any moisture inside the car to Re-freeze on the windows. dejavu boo hoo vu.

I drove to the front of the church just as some coworkers were leaving. They stopped dead in their tracks. I got out. One said, " What is wrong with this picture?" She looked around, scanning the street and parkinglot then returning her gaze to Calvin the frozen Cabrio.
" I don't see any icicles OR frost on anyone elses' car but yours, church chick."
"So, I guess you can see that I am Obviously the lucky one here, right?"
By this time, her kids had approached, opened the doors and were scratching pictures and words on the inside of the windows.
"Cool" said one.
" Yah" said another.
I looked at the boys and thought to myself, " Gee, I used to really like those kids."

The next morning was the same except that I wasn't a rookie anymore, and as soon as I got in, I pulled out the now-worn- overextended credit card and scratched a driving peep hole.
On the way to work, I caught a red light. I took advantage of the time and scratched the peep hole bigger, but something kept nagging at me and glanced at the car beside me, only to see a big-a__ SUV with a cowboy driver, hat tilted back, staring at me. Although I would love to have taken hold of his bandana and tied it extra tight around his lovely, glaringly red neck, i just shrugged and said, "What?" Then the light turned green. I drove off and the Cabrio and I left him in our frost.

I got the car to the shop, and a few hours later, they called with good news. "It's not the roof"
They announced that as if it was the grandest thing in the world that the roof was not leaking, and that it was perfectly A OK for water to be flowing through the car for any other reason.
Like, I could add a few goldfish and leave a happy customer. Really?

The explanation was complex, and I will probably need to explore it with another shop should the water return, but for now, the short story is that the drains were clogged underneath the doors and that a seamseal is clogging them along with pine straw and leaves, so they made the drain holes bigger and oh-by-the-way- you might want to keep a screwdriver handy so you can poke those holes open every little bit , few days or so, to keep the drains running. Get a car cover, don't park under or near trees, build a garage, have a nice day.

I asked them if they could wet vac the carpet and they said, " Well, the mats are still frozen to the carpet, so not until they thaw out. " I had a turkey thawing out at home and wondered how long it would take a mat to thaw out in a cold car. Let's see... 2 lb mat requires 3 to 4 hours if vehicle is parked in a sunny spot. This info according to the Joy of I mean the Joy of automobile care. ugh. Eventually, they did vac it out for me at no additional charge, too. How about that?

So as I write this on the last day of this eventful year, the mats remain dry, with no stirring or sloshing in the sides. Who knows what next year will bring, but i know one thing for sure- squatting down and poking a screwdriver through near-invisible holes under the doors of a car really works the quads.


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