Our cars have been failing and rather than drive one of them to visit our oldest son, Herbie, I took the advice of a friend:
“We rent cars when we go out of town,” he said recently. “You can’t believe how good the deals are. Check it out.”
Rent a car for an out-of-town trip? Why would we want to do that? We have two perfectly good cars.
That was then. Before having steam rise off the Jeep’s engine like the hot springs at Yellowstone. Before being roadside warriors waiting for a tow truck. Now, two perfectly good cars are more like 1½ good cars.
We have older cars and if they were people, they’d be signing up for Medicare. While they still live independently, they are one missed-step away from ending up in assisted living.
Our plan was to drive to Yucca Valley, where Herbie occasionally performs in the Sunday band at Pappy and Harriet’s, a great old roadside inn that was built as a movie set and is now a restaurant, bar and an internationally known venue with a super cool vibe. People like Paul McCartney and Robert Plant have dropped in while driving through the desert.
Side note: Whether you rent a car or drive your own, Joshua Tree and Yucca Valley are a California treat. They are in the high desert — around 3,000 feet — and have all kinds of interesting terrain. The hiking in Joshua Tree National Park is excellent. Bruce Springsteen was enamored enough of the area to have filmed part of “Western Skies,” his new movie, there.
“I’d like to rent a car for 24 hours,” I said, to the man on the phone at Enterprise. “How much would that be?”
How much? I asked him to repeat it. You mean I can rent a car for one day and get unlimited miles for $52?
Fifty-two bucks booked us a purple, midsize 2019 Kia with low mileage, the kind of car, I’m not used to driving. It had cruise control, an eight-inch touchscreen display, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility, six speakers, Bluetooth wireless phone and audio streaming, a backup camera, park distance warning — reverse (PDW-R) and blind spot collision warning.
I was in a new car and the new car was in me. I felt that new car happiness. Together we could drive and maybe, if we felt like it, take off and fly.
It took five minutes for the iPad-carrying customer care representative to check us in and give us the keys. Where has this been all my life? I was in rent-a-car love.
It’s like staying in a hotel. The sheets are clean, you can choose to hang up your towels or not and they have stocking-stuffer little soaps and shampoos waiting for you like presents.
This wasn’t our car. If it broke down, we’d get another one. If that broke down, a third one. They had acres of parking lots filled with shining new cars.
The weekend was fun. The Sunday band was rousing. The drive was joyous and relaxed.
I’m looking forward to Round Two. It’s like a blind date and I can’t wait to see how pretty she is. Kris Kristofferson put it right:
“And we're gonna ride,
We're gonna ride
Ride like the one eyed jack of diamonds
With the devil close behind
We're gonna ride."