Carnes: Becoming reconditioned to air conditioning
Thirty-seven summers here in Happy Valley, and not once have I longed for the Texas days of my youth when we played outside all day but lived for running inside to enjoy the ice-cold sensations provided by air conditioning.
Don’t get me wrong: I loved growing up in Dallas during the summers of the ’60s and ’70s, but except for brief respites to the Rocky Mountains, I never realized a summer could actually exist without air conditioning.
And that all changed upon moving here.
No matter where I lived, from a tiny house on Main Street in Minturn to apartments in West Vail to a house in Edwards, I thought about air conditioning only a few times a year, and that was usually when I walked into a grocery store on an exceptionally hot afternoon and thought, “Damn, it’s too cold in here.”
I always enjoyed walking back out into the crisp mountain air, regardless of the temperature.
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But then it all started to change again a few years ago, beginning around 2012.
Each summer seems to be a little bit hotter, a little bit drier, and with a lot more fires, providing smoke-filled skies from here all the way to the Pacific Ocean.
Last summer was the final straw for us, as we told ourselves never again would we spend another miserable night with all windows closed to keep out the smoke and a few fans to blow around the hot air already inside.
So off to Home Depot we went, and returned home with a portable AC unit on wheels because our windows are the wrong type for a standard window unit (besides, those are butt ugly from the outside). Called up a contractor friend who has been in the valley for over four decades, and within a few days and one 6-inch hole cut in an outside wall and — voila! — air conditioning in the master bedroom.
Timing is everything, as the very next day the Sylvan Fire began.
The big window was shut, the bedroom door closed, and we slept like a couple of babies for the entire night, except for that moment when my over-60 body consistently requires me to … well, you know.
The following two weeks we used it sporadically, as the rains came and the nights were cool again (like they’re supposed to be, right?), but we were happy to know it was available if needed.
As I write this on Sunday afternoon (July 11), the smoke is moving in from everywhere west to add to the Morgan Creek Fire up around Steamboat, which has grown from 100 acres Friday night to over 2,000 now.
Looks like we’ll be using it nightly again for the time being.
No matter what your thoughts on climate change (global warming … whatever you want to call it), reality demands we acknowledge Happy Valley is hotter and drier than it used to be, fires are becoming normal annual events, and while politics didn’t cause it, they might be the only way to attempt solving it.
On a positive side, though, even though smoke-filled summers are in our future, at least Home Depot and AC installers will benefit along with the customers.
Richard Carnes, of Avon, writes weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.