Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Wow, have we been spoiled by the public campgrounds we have been frequenting recently: Valley of Fires, South Llano River State Park, LBJ Municipal Park, Jim Hogg COE Campground. Here is Albuquerque, we are back in a commercial park - American RV Park (read our review here), the nicest in town, but it feels crowded to me after the huge sites we have enjoyed in our recent travels.

I think this is our fourth visit to Albuquerque, and I always wonder the same thing: why don't we come here and stay awhile, instead of just passing through? It reminds me a bit of Tucson, a city we like - except the river here (the Rio Grande) has water in it, and the city is much more easily navigated.

Albuquerque has done a great job of preserving its Route 66 roots, and today we spent time exploring the part of the old Route 66 that runs right though the middle of downtown, Central Avenue. The day actually began with some rather boring errands (checked out the route to the Cummins service center for our visit tomorrow, mailed a package at the UPS Store) so, before we could begin our exploratory walk, I wanted lunch. Driving west on Central, I spied just what I was looking for: the Standard Diner.

The entire neighborhood looked recently rennovated, the streetlights hung with banners that said "EDO District": East of DOwntown. Though the Standard Diner looked like a diner from the heydey of Route 66, it is actually housed in an old car dealership - I have learned that "adaptive reuse" is the term for this, rather than rennovation.

Odel okayed my choice of restaurants, so in we went. The interior was less diner and more art deco, with dark walls, huge windows, deco light fixtures. We had a comfortable booth in the big front room and made our selections from the long, interesting menu.

Odel ordered a Crab Cake Po' Boy and a draft beer; I had fish tacos with chile-apple salsa. We both were completely satisified and happy when we stepped back out the door to take a walk down Central. It's great to stumble upon a wonderful restaurant when hunger strikes in an unknown neighborhood!

Our walk down Central Avenue whetted my appetite for exploration, and I renewed my intention to return to ABQ as a destination, rather than a short stop on the way to somewhere else. EDO, downtown, the University district, the hike/bikeways along the Rio Grande, the restored Route 66 motels, neon and diners, the new developments north of the city... there is a lot to see and do here - later!

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