Three people work to make the Jeep spotless. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

I didn’t know my parents had a penchant for clean cars until I was an adult. One of the first things dad did when he came to visit me was get the car washed. It didn’t matter that it was going to just get mucked up again from the dirty, snowy streets of Lake Tahoe. It didn’t matter the bugs of the Central Valley of California were going to meet their death on his windshield on the return trip. It didn’t matter the inside was still pristine.

It didn’t seem abnormal to have to wash the car as a kid. I’m sure I whined; that’s what I did when it came to doing chores.

What was abnormal was the required level of detail to cleaning the inside and the waxing. I don’t remember any of my friends having to wax the family car. I was doing this well before I was driving, so it wasn’t about the right to the keys to the car.

Through the years my desire for a clean vehicle has waned from annual waxing to seasonal washes. Sometimes it was hard to care depending on where I lived because it seemed to get dirty the day after it was cleaned.

During wood gathering season in Tahoe (all summer, the fall, and in low snow years, winter, too) the Jeep was a mess. Bark, twigs, pine needles – they just settled in the back, becoming fixtures, wedging into places the car wash vacuum didn’t reach. I’m surprised pine trees didn’t start to grow back there.

Workers here are detail oriented. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

The dog hair. Oh, my. The passenger’s seat is AJ’s. I’m leery of anyone sitting there because unbeknownst to them their backside will be covered in blonde hair. It’s gotten to where I take the seat cover off – if I remember – to avoid this potential embarrassment.

Now the Wrangler seems to be dirtier than ever before. Such are the hazards of dirt streets. I’m driving with the top up, and windows either not in or rolled down. The black interior seems a constant shade of brown, while the cherry red exterior is dull with dust.

It became customary that I would wash my vehicle before going to my parents or before they came to visit. Age hasn’t changed my habits, nor has moving to Mexico altered this quirk.

Mom arrives in a matter of hours. The Jeep got cleaned today.

The Jeep rarely looks this good. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Car washing is a little different in Todos Santos. I’m used to taking the Jeep to a do-it-yourself car wash. I haven’t seen one of those here. I don’t want to do it myself in the driveway. Drive-throughs were never an option with a soft top; not that there is one here.

I took it back to the place that did it before because I was so impressed. That time they said it would take two hours. What? The Jeep is pretty small. Whatever. I came back in the specified time to find three people finishing up. They had taken everything out of the Jeep, then laid it all in the back. All the better so I knew where things were.

They cleaned it so well there was no evidence it spent 16 years in Tahoe. (This kinda made me sad, as it had made me smile to occasionally find a pine needle). It was cleaner than I remember except the day I drove it from the dealership. AJ was with me. I thought about having her run along the Jeep, but knew better. So began a new round of dog hair to contend with.

Today there was only one guy working. He said it would take an hour. This time everything wasn’t removed. Just as well. That really only needed to happen once. All of this for only 150 pesos, or about $7.50.

I don’t think mom cares if the Jeep is clean or not. I’m sure a therapist could have a field day with this need of mine to have it clean when she sees it. Whatever. I hope she visits more often; it really is nice to have a clean ride.

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