Saturday, June 4, 2011

Day 15: Requiem for an Alternator

(listen to today's theme)
The morning started in the back parking lot of a Mercedes dealership. As soon as I opened the hatch, a roadside assistance B class rolled by, and one of the dealership employees blurted "You can't park here! This is all employee parking!". After explaining him my situation, he gave me a business card for an master tech who had left the dealership to start his own shop. Then, he gave me a jump and got me on my way.

At 8 sharp I arrived to Silver Star Autohaus, where I scheduled an urgent alternator replacement. The correct Bosch part (my own was a cheap aftermarket replacement the previous, clumsy owner had put there) would arrive around noon, so I was politely driven to a mall to kill some time.

Chris Wagoneer, owner of the shop, drove me to the closest Barnes and Noble in ecstatic bursts of acceleration in a late model Benz. Such beautiful sound! Such breathtaking force against the seat!

In the mall, I split my time between writing a diary entry, food and drooling over the latest Craftsman creations at Sears. I went to Fuddruckers for the first time, where I devoured a heaping pile of meat and a milkshake, as the diet of the previous day had only been beef jerky and a small Burguer King meal. It was nice to remember how wedge fries tasted like, as it had been so ridiculously long since I last tried them.

I headed to Sears with the intention of getting myself a ratchet and a wrench set, but all I did was to get a headache and a slim stream of drool at the side of my mouth. The range of options was so ridiculously varied, I could not make a rational decision. If I went with the small sets, they would not include wrenches; however, if I went with the bigger, $199 set, I would have most tools I would ever need for a beginner DIYer, but no space to put it, and a full set of American tools I would never use. Such was the confusion, I decided to wait until I get settled in a somewhat permanent place and build a decent collection. I am honestly tired of hauling clutter from one side to the other and selling things for a pittance because of space concerns. I shall wait, and I shall sprawl.

Back in the workshop, there were good news and bad news. The good news was that the car was charging correctly; the bad news was that they could not find a Bosch alternator, so they had to go for a Napa one. I was bummed, but the trip had to continue; I might return it as soon as I have the privilege of a lift and enough time and tools to do the job in my future job. Oh well. I changed both fuel filters for good measure, and resumed the journey, heading towards the North-West.

The drive to Monument Valley has been the best one so far. Never a dull moment, moving in permanent fascination by the reddish and yellow rock formations, changing constantly as the sun sets behind the plateaus.

The landscape is... spiritual, to say the least. The light, gliding down the bare stone; the heaps of sand at the feet of steep cliffs; the thought of the slow process of corrosion on these magnificent structures; the abandoned shacks and gas stations; the smoky mountains in the background; the long, cracked spine of the road; the emptiness of it all.

At 10.15pm I arrived to a gas station, where water was more expensive than ice tea (!), so I went with a couple gallon jugs for good measure.

Forty minutes later I was idling in front of the closed door of the Monument Valley Visitor Center. I made a U-Turn and parked in the lot of a health clinic, under a street lamp. The night was cool and calm, very dark, without a hint of where the Monuments were. But I was tired, so the little Scotty was home to me once more.

The outskirts of Albuquerque.

A woman in a gas station told me "I hate this place!".

My office setup in a Barnes and Noble.

So much knowledge to be had! All, compacted under one roof!

This is the motherload. And it went in no time.

The headache starts. Oh gosh, the choices.

What... do... I... do?!

This was the point I started to reach a state of desperation.

Chris Wagoneer (Silver Star Autohaus) and his team.

We all have jacked our car. But, an entire building?

Out of Albuquerque, heading North-West.

The mountains are smooth, but soon they will get steeper.

Gorgeous rock formations. They will be there when you and I are gone.

The most pleasant drive.

The light likes to play in the little rock creases.

No shadow in this cliff will be the same as the day goes by.

Suddenly, everything was bathed in orange.

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