"The Follow-Your-Bliss List" of suggested winter travel destinations
in the October 24 issue of New York Magazine
is billed as "fifty euphoria-inducing destinations that will make you forget about crummy weather, bad traffic, and just about anything else" and "50 destinations dreamy enough to turn your world upside-down." Were the authors merely out of inspiration when they arrived at destination number 50? Or are the other destinations as wrongheaded as this?
(50) Ramah, New Mexico
Take the family back to the old, old days.
In the early morning, when the desert cool hasn’t yet burned away, it only takes about 25 minutes to walk from the visitors’ center of Ramah’s El Morro National Monument park out to Inscription Rock. There, you can explain to the kids that the 2,000-plus birds, stars, hands, bighorn sheep, and maps that purportedly lead to a hidden pond were drawn seven centuries ago by Puebloan tribes. While you’ve got their attention, point out the various signatures and “I was here” scrawls left by passing Spaniards, settlers, and other travelers since, and then tempt them up the more strenuous Mesa Top Trail with promises of a Martian landscape (the otherworldly Chain of Craters). Reward them with a Navajo fry-bread taco with Anasazi beans at the Ancient Way Café and Outpost.
El Morro is not in Ramah
. Ramah is several miles west. El Morro
is part of a National Monument surrounded on all sides by the Ramah Navajo
reservation. A bit east and south of Ramah is the Navajo land; a bit west of Ramah is the Zuni
reservation; a bit north of it is a part of the Cibola National Forest
. The eating-spot
mentioned is near the ice caves and also not in Ramah, although it, too, has a Ramah mailing address; the ice caves were historically a private profit-making attraction near the lava beds or malpais
area. All of these are on 53, a road that swings south between Grants and Gallup, crossing the Great Divide. It is extremely treacherous in the winter and not to be lightly driven by anyone not familiar with it. The terrain is not desert; it is the pinyon-juniper ecosystem for the most part, with aspens and ponderosas a bit north at slightly higher elevations. The general elevation in this entire area is about 7,500 feet above sea level, and winter temperatures have been known to sink to thirty, forty, almost fifty degrees below zero. A Navajo taco customarily contains mutton, and not of the best quality. One suspects that this area was not
visited by the New York
travel writers, at least not during the winter.