Difficulties Continue – Grants to Albuquerque

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This horse was the cutest – an stallion with 3 mares, he came up to the fence at a full prancing gallop to check me out. I stood and greeted him with a knicker for a while. He answered in kind. He was stunningly beautiful.

The walk from Continental Divide to Grants was very uneventful. Weather was a bit challenging, and somehow I was still just tired, tired, tired, God awful exhausted. Still, I got to Grants without much drama. I was planning to stop in Grants to write some articles, before heading out towards Albuquerque. With that in mind, I started to couch surf hoping for a host – and I was lucky. Dave came through for me with my last minute request, and we had a really great evening with him and his wife. I got my writing done, and started to head out towards Albuquerque. But – this wasn’t to be an easy stretch. Before I got out of town I got sick, as in a raving, nasty, flu with high fever, that included fever chills, shaking cold and aching all over. I found a very cheap hotel and holed up for 4 nights – which was all I could afford. By then the fever had mostly broken, but I was still not “well”. Then I headed out and found a camping spot for another 4 days, coughing, hacking up yucky stuff, and generally weak. Being that sick in a tent sucks!

Finally several of my friends talked me in to finding a doctor – all of them fearing I had pneumonia. This required a three mile walk to the nearest ER, and packing up my camp. I wasn’t too thrilled with the prospect, but took the advice. (in this case, I shouldn’t have, I should have stayed in my tent and slept two more days) About 1.5 miles into the walk I was much, much too drained to walk any further. I sat down, coughing, shaking with fatigue and tears pouring down my cheeks. I tried to get up and walk a little further, but kept being stopped by the coughing and feeling dizzy weak. Finally, I gave it up and called 911. The ambulance took me to the ER – I was really only 1.5 miles away. Like the ER in Gallup, Grants have 29.1% white population, but the hospital was staffed by 90% white people – it made me uncomfortable. It is simply so wrong that a major employer can’t find ways to hire equitably – and if the people of color need additional training – offer it! And well, I was poked and prodded every which way to forever – it was a nasty flu and bronchitis – nothing to be worried about. Late afternoon I was back on the roadways trying to find a camping spot. They promised rain and thunder that evening and all the next day. I knew I still wasn’t strong enough to walk as well, so I had to find a decent camp site.

About one mile away, I found something in a major field I thought was perfect and got set up. And the weather did roll in that night. Being in a tent during a major thunder storm is something else – every time the clouds and thunder came my way the wind picked up – essentially flattening the tent around me – I was surprised the tent held up as well as it did. A few times I could feel the earth under me shake when an especially loud thunder boom rang out – but from counting seconds between flash and boom the lightening was never closer than 7 km away. During this day I managed to really start to eat again, and I was resting a whole lot – starting to gather up some strength.

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Thunder and rain clouds behind me.

And the following day I managed to walk – tired and coughing still I managed to walk 7 miles, where I found an gas station and subway sandwich – it was a nice solid meal after having been so sick. I was now in the Pueblo of Acoma, and the landscape was gorgeous – old, black lava flows with plenty of vegetation peaking through. It was lovely, and I enjoyed it.

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Horses among the lava flow and vegetation.

The second day walking I came to San Fidel – a teensy tiny town on The Reservation. San Fidel has an amazing amount of dogs, and they are frankly, not friendly. Twice I got rushed and attacked by large pit bulls, and for the first time ever, I used my pepper spray – grateful that I had it too! At least one of those times I have no doubt I was in serious danger. It was three pit bulls coming at me, snarling, canines showing, hackles raised and headed directly for my legs. Yes, it was scary.

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Wild flowers in the desert and among the lava flows. This is still Pueblo of Acoma.

The next day I pretty much made it through the Pueblo of Acoma – that last night I got permission to camp on the campus of the Church of Latter Day Saints – I was grateful, they locked the gate at night, which meant no dogs would be able to find me. What a relief! And I had to decide if I wanted to walk through the Pueblo of Laguna on the back roads, or go on the freeway – I-40 – for 37 miles. I tried to find someone with connections into the Reservation, but with no luck. So I opted for the freeway.

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Pretty scenery on Pueblo of Acoma – New Mexico is relatively less dry than Arizona.

Folks – here is the thing – the Reservations are their own countries. They are owned by the Indigenous people – and we white folks have no rights to assume we can just walk through. I didn’t like having to pepper spray the dogs on the Pueblo of Acoma Reservation – but it was me or them. Without connections, permission or even a sense of the culture I decided to be respectful and not walk straight through the Reservation.

So, on to the freeway I went. At the end of that first day walking on the freeway the Laguna Police found me. They were kind and concerned for my well fare – as well as intrigued by the walk. No problems there! After hearing of my trouble with dogs, they also agreed that I was doing the right thing – and I passed through with no trouble. That first day I broke all my previous records – which up to then was 12 miles on the day – and walked 14 miles on the day. I was drop dead tired at the end though. Tired and sore. The next day I had planned to try for another 14 miles, but only made 12. Still – my range is getting seriously extended. Tired and sore still applied. On the second day the Laguna Police checked up on me again – again, they were respectful and kind. In fact, I had realized I was low on water – the weather was hot, the sun relentless and I was sucking down water like a fountain. So, the officer drove back to his headquarters to get me a gallon – Thank you Officer Treviso.

Third day on the freeway passed me out of the friendly Laguna Police territory – my goal this day was the rt 66 casino – 11 miles down the road. Now, I was in  the territory of State Police, and of course, within 90 minutes of leaving Laguna Police territory, I had a couple of troopers crawling up my backside. First (of two) troopers to arrive was an idiot who worked hard to establish dominance – frankly, I just saw a wet-behind-the-ears mid-twenties youngling living in a patriarchy, and therefore having an inflated sense of ego. The other guy seemed more laid back – but after Officer “wet-behind-the-ears” managed to sound completely dominant when he asked 5 or 6 times if I really was ok. Ask me once – sure, yes, thank you officer for asking, I am doing well. Ask me twice – maybe you didn’t hear me. Ask me thrice – yes, bonehead, really, I know I am a middle aged, grey haired, fat woman – but you know what? I am completely capable of determining myself if I am doing well – now, child, buzz off, or I might go looking for a fly swatter.

And I blew in to the casino right ahead of a major rain storm. Grateful to get out of it, and hoping it would pass by the time I was done getting a solid dinner. The casino, well what can I say. I arrived, tired and hungry and found an restaurant. Soon after I ordered a very young male server stopped and asked about the walk – he had passed me a couple of times on the freeway and was curious. I introduced myself and the walk, and he got excited. It was sweet. I saw him talk excitedly to a few tables as well as his fellow servers, and it made me smile. 30 minutes later someone from another table asked if I was walking cross country – I confirmed, and she gave me $10. Then at the end of a huge meal – three servers came to my table. Instead of a bill on the tray, there was $20. They had pooled their money, paid my bill and gave me $20. How touching is this? I came away with a full belly, and $30 extra. People are so incredibly generous and I was in tears as I left to find a camping spot.

And onwards I went! now just two days solid walk from Albuquerque. They frankly were uneventful, so I wont bore you with the details – I arrived well at my hosts place in Albuquerque and have settled in to really start fund raising.

I did have to walk straight up a 5 mile hill – and I did it in 3 hours, and then continued to walk another 5 miles on the day. I am getting so much stronger and my range is really expanding.

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This is the view behind me after climbing 5 miles!

 

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