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I listen to your radio show every week and read your column even though I'm
only 11. We have a 1988 Plymouth Grand Voyager with 82,000 miles on it. Our
poor air conditioner died last summer. Here's the problem. We're going on a
three-week camping trip next summer through the Tetons and Yellowstone
National Park. We will be driving over mountains, through valleys, across
rivers and streams, and most important, through deserts.

I don't want to fry in the car! We use spray bottles (with water in them)
to keep cool. I don't think it's a very good way to keep cool. My parents
wouldn't get the air conditioner fixed because it would cost $750. My
question: Should my parents get the air conditioning fixed or not? How
should I keep cool? -- Sabetta

TOM: You kids are always complaining. When we were little, our dad's car
didn't have an air conditioner either.

RAY: In fact, I remember when Dad got a COVERED wagon. We thought that was
luxury! No more rain and harsh sunlight beating down on our heads.

TOM: No more "duck and cover" when a flock of pigeons flew by!

RAY: Personally, I think your parents are nuts, Sabetta. After three weeks
in the car together without air conditioning, you're all going to hate each
other. I mean, it's tough enough to live in such close quarters, but when
your thighs are sticking to the seats, and you're breathing 95-degree air
laced heavily with Dad's B.O., someone's going to end up hitch-hiking back.

TOM: I guess it's up to them, Sabetta. If they can take it, certainly they
can expect you kids to tough it out, too. People survived for many
centuries without air conditioning. And "misters" and spray bottles do help
keep you cool, as evidenced by their widespread use at the Olympics in
Atlanta.

RAY: But if you ask me, I think it's worth the $750 to get it fixed. More
for their own comfort than for yours. You'll still need to pack your
mister, Sabetta, because the temperature in the back of these greenhouse-
like minivans never goes much below 86 even with AC on full blast.

TOM: But at least when you decide to sell the Voyager, you won't have to
search far and wide for wackos like your folks -- who like driving around
in a rolling sauna. Enjoy the trip, Sabetta.
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