The Ancient Way Café and Outpost

Yesterday, Jamie took us out for a drive to explore a new part of our surrounding region and then for a surprise lunch.
There is no direct way to get to Ramah from Thoreau. You either have to go to Grants or Gallup first to pick up Route 53 or Route 602 respectively. We drove east on I-40 to Grants, took exit 81 B and then picked up 53 south also known as Ice Cave Road. “Route 53, The Ancient Way, was the traditional route between the Pueblos of Zuni & Acoma. Along this path, came the Zuni, the Hopi and Acoma and all the other Pueblo traders and travelers. It was also the route taken by Coronado’s expedition. The conquistadors came along looking for treasure, attempting to conquer. The Cavalry and settlers also traveled the route on journeys west. Through ancient villages, finding crucial waters, sandstone landmarks, on to cross the Divide then along the malpais, this route guided traders, explorers and adventurers for over a thousand years and still does. Today, Route 53 is one of New Mexico’s most scenic and historic drives” (from
The country is as beautiful as it can get.  We passed through San Rafael, Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano, El Malpaís National Monument, El Cibola National Forest, El Morro National Monument, some Zuni land and Vanderwagen, Red Rock.
Most of the 50 miles off the I-40, we were the only ones on the road (Route 53). The scenery kept changing from dry rock to sage brush and juniper, from rolling hills to high plateaus and canyons. The colors ranged from a sandy beige to black (lava rocks) with different shades of green, red, and brown in between. Heaven.
We ate at the Ancient Way Café and Outpost in Ramah (pronounced, ray-mah), NM.  I noted the rainbow flag that is a bit worn and faded and thought to myself, “they don’t need to replace it, those who need to know, know already.” We shared the lunch deck with a transvestite, a shaggy sheepdog, and a very friendly cat that lay on its back in the sun. Our server, Amy, has lived in Ramah all her life and though she had a hard time pronouncing my name, she insisted on giving me a bag of peanut M and M’s just because I pointed at them and said I liked them. The food was good, but the best part was the home-made pies. Jamie chose the apple pie with green chile and pine nuts, and I got the tart cherry pie to have with tea when we got home. They had good crusts, were not over sweet, had real fruit in them. They were really home-made.
After lunch we continued on Route 53 and then hung a right onto Route 612 heading back north to Gallup where we wanted to pick up some milk and deposit a check. Another 43 miles of mostly solitary road until we were back on I-40. The 30 miles stretch between Gallup and Thoreau is still my favorite in terms of landscape minus the highway traffic. Gorgeous.

Jamie stopped the car and let me take pictures. As you can see there is no shoulder, so he just stopped, right in the driving lane. I walked out and clicked three times. This was the last shot with me standing in the middle of the road (like an Indian cow, I guess!) contemplating the road we had covered and the beautiful, beautiful, yellow wildflowers that had sprung up after the rains. Mind you, it’s September!
Here’s a close up:

And these are the wildflowers all around our Teacherage:

And the evening sky in front of our Teacherage.

Thank you, Jamie.