I got ready to go into town, tied up the loose things, stashed the loose bits, rolled out onto Pothole Lane, and switched on the Air.
whap whap whap, ka-flumpa
happity-bappity, rumbledy bumbledy
BUMP kruncha kaboodledy BLAM !!!
Switch off the air: silent.
Air switched back on: front end roars.
At the local Toyota Dealer Services Center they knew instantly:
Desert rat drawn and quartered in the AC fan.
"It's like a hamster wheel, see, but with blades inside,"
the nice young man in blue told me, grinning and wrinkling his nose.
"They climb in the intake ducts. Good that you came in right away,
before it started to rot."
The fellow in latex gloves who had to wash out the "mouse carcus" (as typed in the invoice) was very helpful and showed me where to try and place some screen to block the critters, but also shrugged and said they can chew through most materials and creep in anywhere. They also found a rat's nest in the engine air intake box, feathered with shredded air filter.
Next stop Ace hardware, where I got a clamp and a "hobbyist" size miniature bolt cutter. Ace threw in a foot of wire mesh for free. Back at my Horton Creek campsite I rigged a short tube of mesh and clamped it around the air duct under the air filter so that the tunneling mouse would be blocked from homesteading the filter box. In the cab, I switched the air circulation mode from outside air to inside air, which may or may not effectively block rodent access to the air circulation system.
As I worked, across the road my neighbor Doug scraped old coating off the roof of his bus-sized RV in preparation for installing solar panels. Constant modification of transport/living space comes with the territory, and my mouse blockade marks my first on-the-road RV modification experience. a milestone in the RV camping lifestyle!
So, you may ask, what have sunset photos got to do with car repair?
What, you wanted to see pictures of ripped-apart rat?