Places Called Home: Gallup, New Mexico

Up until December of 1991, the entirety of my writing career had been freelance. I cobbled together magazine articles, got in some photography work and all around working in and around the drilling business.

Picture 099But Gallup was where I started earning my living as writer. I landed a job as a Sports Writer for the Gallup Independent and for the next two-plus years I was all over New Mexico and Arizona, from Santa Fe to Phoenix, covering high school, college and pro sports. They have an annual balloon rally that is amazing to watch, especially if you find a great spot.

It was also where I got married and became a dad, a much more challenging, and rewarding, undertaking.

There are far too many memories to try to work into such a brief blog post. Suffice it to say that Gallup remains a very special place to my wife and I. We stop in and visit anytime we are close by. We wound up moving away in 1994, returned for about a year in 2008 before moving away again and I think we have stayed at least one night there nearly a dozen times since.

I chose the Gallup area, and the nearby Navajo, Hopi and Zuni reservations as the background for my first novel in the Jack Del Rio series. In fact, many of the places I mentioned in Reservations you can go and visit for yourself. Richard’s Cafe in the book, is actually Earl’s in real life. The first time we visited Gallup after Reservations was released, we stopped for lunch at Earl’s and the waitress unknowingly seated us at the very table location I had described in a scene involving Jack and the city leaders of Gallup in the book.

In Escaping Infinity, inspired by my first appearance on The Writer’s Block, when Henry Parke was describing a dish called “Cowboy Cobbler” at an upcoming Cowboy festival in Southern California, I had the dish (Peach Cobbler) served at a restaurant in Gallup that Pete Childress and his friend, Charlie, stop and eat at before they encounter the Infinity. That restaurant is in real life, Grandpa’s Grill in Gallup.

It is a special place, filled with many wonderful memories. It will likely never be home again. But it will always be a place I look forward to seeing again.

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