Day 9: Stillwater

Worried that the A/C is crapping out on us. With a nationwide heat wave and local temps in the 80s to 90s and high humidity, the thought of driving for an entire day without air conditioning did not please me. Oh, at some base level I’m sure there was a bit of self-directed schedenfreude, some writerly sense that a road trip wasn’t going right if something wasn’t going wrong. But common sense prevailed.

Mechanic hard at work

I took the Passat to my father-in-law’s local mechanic. He told us it was likely the A/C compressor or clutch, and after told us he’d call around to price out parts used or new. He called us back a few hours later to tell us that it’d cost us about $700 new, and that it’d be three days before he could get the part, but by that time we were halfway to Stillwater.

Downtown Stillwater

Stillwater is about half an hour east of St. Paul, on the St Croix River that separates Minnesota from Wisconsin and which keeps Michelle Bachmann safely away from the cheeseheads. Yes: this is Bachmann territory, picturesque rolling hills and old main street lined with brick buildings and mortared with family values. It is also the home of my decidedly more down-to-earth sister-in-law. Yes, there is a Liberty Ave.

Tickles in Pool = The Good Life

All in all though, it’s a great place to raise a family, and she and her husband are doing a terrific job with their three kids, Maddie (15), Sam (12), and Ben (9). This is a neighborhood where neighbors borrow cups of sugar, kids roam the quiet hilly streets from home to welcome, and there is always a competitive sport being played, be it hockey, baseball, gymnastics, or disc golf. You want hunting? Stay in St Joseph. This area is far too genteel. You can just kick your feet up at the pool, beer in one hand, good book in the other, and let slip the hours as passive trickles of sweat fall lackadaisically to the warm concrete.