Thursday, 11 September 2014

A Stop in Albuquerque to Shop for a Hubcap

At American RV Park, Albuquerque, New Mexico…

I don't know exactly when Mae's left front wheel cover came off, but it was somewhere between Estes Park and Denver. We noticed it after walking back to our rig after a lunch stop, and I really didn't realize how the mere loss of a wheel cover could make a car look so much like a junker. And it's not as though we had a cloaking device; a big motorhome pulling a red dinghy is not something that goes unnoticed, you know. Now a gray motorhome pulling a red HHR is not exactly a study in color harmony anyway, but Mae's missing wheel cover seemed to make the incongruity so much worse. I imagined we looked for the world like gypsies looking for the next carnival. (Parenthetical information: While I am very pleased with Mae, our Chevy HHR, I don't like the red paint job. It's just that I got such a good deal on it, I was willing to ignore the color. Now I'm not so sure; I'm thinking about a new paint job.) 

Unfortunately, I had to suffer this indignity for several days while I called around to Chevy dealers and junk yards along our route trying to find a replacement. None could be found until I called a Chevy dealer in Albuquerque, who agreed to order one for me from the factory and have it waiting when we arrived. I picked it up today and conned a service writer into putting it on for me at no cost. How, you may ask? Well, I have a slight arthritis limp anyway, but I confess that I may have accentuated it a bit while I was in the shop asking how to install the wheel cover--something that would have been obvious to a six year old. The guy had to conclude, I think, that I was not only crippled, but stupid. He insisted on installing it, and I didn't offer much of an objection.

As shameless as this bit of subterfuge was, it worked, and the service writer seemed delighted to put it on for me.  I have the photo to prove it:

Before you shake your head in disapproval, you may wish to consider this: I offered to pay the man for his trouble, but he adamantly refused.  More important, however, was that both the service writer and I reaped a benefit from this little episode: The guy got to feel good about doing a kind deed for someone elderly, infirm (and, obviously, addled), and I got to feel good about keeping my hands and clothing sparkling clean. Win-win! (I guarantee you, this gentleman will recount his good deed to his wife at dinner tonight, and she will place her hand on his arm, smile, and tell him how proud of him she is.)

I can't help but wonder what's going on with wheel covers this year. In an earlier post, I wrote about losing a hub cover from one of Phannie's rear wheels and the rather steep cost of a replacement. In that case, however, I had to install it myself; Sandy didn't buy for even a second my bad limp routine. (The woman is so cold, she has to lie down in a freezer to warm up.) Okay, I'm kidding; she is the exact opposite, actually.

After checking out a few restaurant reviews online, we tried some dining venues in Albuquerque over the time we were here. I didn't take photos, because the restaurants were not particularly noteworthy; here is a summary of my impressions, however:

The Monte Carlo Steakhouse - Even though this place had been featured on the Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives TV show, we had a couple of unacceptable steaks. The grill was apparently too hot, and the steaks were so charred by the iron grill grates that they tasted very bitter with carbon. The french fries were too chewy, and the "baked" potato had been boiled.

Mac's Coffee Shop - This 50s-era joint had all the ambiance (nothing changed in 60 years) that would signal a good restaurant, but we were quite dissatisfied. The enchiladas were unidentifiable as such in a glop of chile sauce and cheese, the tacos were tasteless, and the green chile sauce tasted as though out of a can. The chile relleno was passable, and the sopapillas were pretty good.

Mary's and Tito's Cafe - Classic New Mexican-style cooking, but not exceptional. Pretty good green chile sauce. Awful salsa.

Sharkey's Mexican Seafood - Ceviche was fresh but too watery; the shrimp cocktail had plenty of large shrimp in it, but I prefer the sweeter tomato base of some Mexican shrimp cocktails. This one didn't have enough flavor and was also too watery.

Blake's Lotaburger - Pretty good burger, but no competition for Whataburger.

By the way, here's a photo of Mae with her new wheel cover. I also need to mention that the American RV Park was one the nicest we have seen on this trip, and one of the top five we've visited anywhere. I highly recommend it.


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