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  • Writer's pictureAlana

26. Gallup to Ramah, NM

May 9, 2024

Deserts are hard.

I systematically underestimated the deserts of the American Southwest, their sweltering days, freezing nights, punishing winds, and desolate expanses.

Today unleashed all of the above.

The proprietor of Sports World in Gallup, a quiet and generous soul named Todd, knew what was up long before I did and prepared me for it. I had stopped by his shop to get some supplies. He didn't have any snacks for sales, but instead gifted me with energy drinks, gels, and candies from his own stash.

What a mensch!

When I told him I was aiming to reach a remote B & B at mile 67, he advised that I set a more modest goal: a small Mormon town called Ramah at mile 44 (population 350 soaking wet).

"They're good people. They'll take care of you."

And it turned out they would need to. A piercing headwind focused on the sinus between my eyes, coupled with miles of steady climbing, made the going super slow. I also had to meet with my therapist for an hour, per the conditions of my leave from work. There was no way I would make 67 miles this day.

At around 6 pm, the temps took a nosedive and started to head south of freezing. I don't know how low my sleeping kit can go, and so I wanted to sleep inside.

And so in Ramah, I stopped at the Stagecoach Cafe, a low-slung building untouched since the 1940s. To my surprise, the joint was hopping. At the center was a family with a whole lotta kids, at least one mom, and a fella with an impressively bushy beard sitting at the head of the table.

I overhead this father telling his children, "North Korea is the happiest country in the world. At least, that's what their government says."

The moral of this story? Don't trust the government.

I also overheard a woman at the table mention an AirBnB. I went online and sure enough, Ramah offers an AirBnB. I put in my request for it and waited.

After an hour, a burrito, and a milkshake, I hadn't heard back from the AirBnB people, and so I started to ask around the cafe. Its owner offered his camping trailer.

"It's a little dusty, but it has electricity," he said. I was stoked.

I chitchatted with some folks from Calico Rock, AR (I have met a surprising number of Arkansans on this trip) while the cafe closed up. In the meantime, the AirBnB folks got back to me. Rather than trouble the cafe owner to prep his trailer, I stayed at the AirBnB: a comfortable double-wide trailer tricked out with up-to-the-minute interior design details, including a huge claw-foot tub in which I went for a swim.

On my way to the AirBnB, a herd of at least a dozen deer greeted me from the roadside. Ramah is good people and good deer.

Distance: 44 miles that felt like 400

Climbing: 2.08 K feet

Totals: 1,268.3 miles, 47 K feet

Song: "Running Up That Hill" by Kate Bush


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