Day 26: (4.5 miles) Rest Day!! 🙂 Our intention wasn’t to rest today but when we called the ‘campsite’ we hoped to be pedaling to, they informed us that they do not host tent campers but for $80 we could rent the bunk house. That wasn’t an option. As a result, our next days mileage was extended to over 50 miles with significant climbing so we decided to rest for the day. In an effort to make some menial headway, we transferred from the Travelodge to the Super 8- 4.5 miles down the road. Other than that we headed into to town to try to buy a spare tube- no luck. While we were out we stopped at Subway for lunch and then headed to the historic El Rancho Hotel. Gallup is known and the ‘Indian Capital of the World’ according to the mural on the hotel wall. Their downtown is lined with Indian trading posts. Unfortunately, it was Sunday and all were closed. After completing or rest day duties we enjoyed dinner at the Cracker Barrel. Ya can’t beat the country welcome and affordable prices. On our way back to our room we stopped at the Sonic nearby and treated ourselves to a ½ priced Oreo peanut butter milkshake and watch the Patriot (roughing it).
Day 27: (55.3 miles) We woke up this morning and had the best continental breakfast we’ve had yet. Waffles, eggs, sausage, English muffins, and fruit. We indulged, packed up, and hit the road for what we anticipated to be a long, cold, windy ride. We were pleasantly wrong. By the time the wind picked up it was at our back so we cruised from little town to little town and ventured through Zuni reservation territory which consisted of amazing views of red and tan rocks, horse and cow pastures. Arriving at our destination, the El Morro National Monument, the only other patron we saw in the campground was a fellow touring cyclist from L.A. We greeted him, discussed our travels, and headed on to set up camp. After finishing our scrumptious dinner of Vienna sausages and Idahoan potatoes Chris bumped into another camper here to hike to monument trails. He was excited to hear of our journey and generously offered us a couple of beers knowing we were traveling lightly. It was a pleasant way to finish out the evening in a beautiful place after a long, productive day on our bicycles.
Day 28: (43.8 miles) There was a blanket of snow covering the ground and our tent this morning which made the task of packing up this morning not very enjoyable. What got us through the numbness was knowing that a mile down the road was a café, and undoubtedly a coffee. We arrived at ancient ways café, ordered two cups of joe and and a breakfast burrito to share and started to thaw out. It was here that we met Larry. A fellow cyclist pedaling from Savannah to Northern California. He had been on the road two months, and had spent the last couple days at the RV park attached to the café, enjoying the views and hiking the monument. He too suggested we should hike it but it was already pushing 11am- we couldn’t feel our toes and the weather forecasted temps in the teens for the night so we figured it best to head to Grants after our warm-up. Larry asked about our gear and told us some stories from his journey. We ordered a scone to go, Larry snapped four photos of us on our bikes and we were off to Grants. The wind was at our backs and we climbed until we reached a new elevation record and the continental divide at 7,882 ft. Along the climb we saw three mule deer- the first deer we’ve seen so far. We cruised down the mountain after capturing some photos at the top, ticking off mile after mile we thought we would climb into Grants hardly breaking a sweat. Reality struck when we turned a corner and ran head on into the wind that we had been enjoying on our backs. A 20mph wind feels entirely different when its working against you. It felt as though each of us had suddenly added an extra 100 lbs. to our bikes. After plowing our way through it, we eventually checked into the Travelodge and immediately began looking for a Chinese buffet because Larry had told us there was a good one. Having worked up quite an apatite after the last eight miles of our day we settled on our closest option- The Asian Super Buffet. After devouring our body weight in food, we headed back to our room to do some chores, relax, and get a good nights rest.