Ben Alford, “Highfalutin'” – Ben Alford moved to Gallup with his family in the summer of 1993, just a couple of months after his seventh birthday. He attended Indian Hills Elementary School for one year before transferring to Rehoboth Christian School where he would be a student from 3rd grade all the way until the end of high school.
After graduating from Calvin College in 2009 with a B.A. in Music, Spanish, and International Development Studies, he moved to New York City in search of adventure and employment, both of which he has managed to find enough of.
Wanting to maintain ties with his favorite community magazine as well as with the community at large, Ben (along with Eli Gjeltema and Gabriel Kruis) requested a regular column in the Gallup Journey in which to relay the alien social, psychological, cultural, political, and physical landscape of NYC to readers back home. The column is called “Highfalutin” and can be found towards the end of the magazine each and every month.
Though he has lived in New York for over a year now, he still thinks of New Mexico as his real home. He will never stop missing stars seen through the jagged spaces between ponderosa pines, nor the wind blasting up Hale Canyon on a chilly night in spring, nor hot pickles and Chu Chu’s Pizza.
You can read more of Ben’s writing at peopleherd.wordpress.com.
Ernie Bulow, “West by Southwest” – Ernie started his writing career in the ninth grade. The summer he turned eighteen he was the editor of a small daily newspaper in Ely, Nevada. He has been writing ever since. He has published six books including Navajo Taboos and Uncle Ernie’s Guide to Old Time Rodeo. His best selling book, a collaboration with Tony Hillerman called Talking Mysteries, sold thirty thousand copies in hardcover. His first article for the Gallup Independent was in the late sixties and he has written hundreds of pieces, mostly on Indian art, for the Indian Trader over the years. He has several books currently in the works, including his last collaboration with Navajo artist Ernest Franklin, Uncle Ernie’s Guide to Cowboy Music.
Greg Cavanaugh, “Driving Impressions” – Born and raised in West Michigan, Greg has been a lover of all things transportation-related since before he could even walk. His mom always reminds him of how he used to just watch dump trucks and bulldozers for hours on end and he still does now! Greg moved to Gallup in the summer of 2002 to do his student teaching and has taught 6th grade Social Studies in GMCS since 2003. Married to Meghan, he has one daughter. When not working or spending time with his family, Greg enjoys biking, playing soccer, making music and being with good friends.
Eli Gjeltema, “Highfalutin'” – Eli Gjeltema lives in New York City where he is attending New York University School of Law. He grew up in Gallup and visits often. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tommy Haws, “Money & You” – Tommy Haws born in Farmington, NM and grew up in Gallup. He graduated from BYU and started work in the furniture credit business. He has been in credit and lending for 15 years, at Pinnacle Bank for 8 of those years. He is married to Eileen England Haws and they have four children, aged 9 to 16. He stays busy with Church, community events, including Kiwanis and RMCHCS Foundation, School committees, etc. He is currently the Senior Vice President of Pinnacle Bank, managing the three branch locations in Gallup.
Kari Heil, “Lit Crit Lite” – Kari Heil grew up on a sizeable island in northeastern Wisconsin, in Lake Michigan, helping her parents (high-school-English-teachers-turned-entrepreneurs) run a small inn and restaurant. In the busy summer months, she worked as a dishwasher, housekeeper, and waitress. She swam in the lake and rode her bike around. After graduating at the top of her high school class of ten (yes, ten), she attended Lawrence University in Appleton, WI. College was so fun! Kari loved reading and talking about books more than anything, and college was one long opportunity to do just that. After Lawrence, Kari went on to enroll at Indiana University in Bloomington and received her master’s degree in English. Grad school wasn’t quite as much fun as college – at least not the reading and talking about books part. After studying and teaching freshman English in Indiana for two years, Kari married Steve and moved to New Mexico, where they have been living happily ever since. They have two children, Ray, who is 7, and Willa, who is 3. When Kari isn’t reading books or writing about them, she works as a writing tutor at Western New Mexico University-Gallup Graduate Studies Center.
Gabriel J. Kruis, “Highfalutin'” – Gabriel J. Kruis is a 3rd-generation, die-hard New Mexican who has left the Land of Enchantment to spread the good news about his home state and town. Currently he lives in New York City, and, along with two of his Gallupian roommates, writes a monthly column entitled “Highfalutin’.” Their column is about how they miss their home. Hard. They also address the many ways New York is not as good as New Mexico. Despite the perfidy of leaving his homeland, rest assured Gabriel will someday return to be buried in that red, New Mexican dirt.
A 2007 graduate of Calvin College, Gabriel studied English Literature and Writing; previous to that he attended Rehoboth Christian School from the 8th grade year until graduation. In an unquantified era previous to that, he was a self-educated, semi-feral homeschooler. After he writes this bio he is going to spend the rest of his life working on finishing the many long-form fiction projects he has planned, which will span most mediums and invent, mock, or desecrate others. Look for his plays on stages, graphic novels in comix shops, books in fires, and poetry under piles of dust. Coming this eon!
Become a part of his and his roommates’ tiny collective consciousness at: peopleherd.wordpress.com.
Larry Larason, “Rounding the Four Corners” – Larry Larason grew up in northwestern Oklahoma. He lived in Nebraska, Louisiana and Arizona before moving to New Mexico. He holds degrees in Anthropology, Library Science and Industrial Engineering and has been a lifelong rock hound.
Brett Newberry, “Money & You” – Brett is a CPA and Profitability Consultant with Newberry & Associates, Ltd. He has been a CPA and Business Consultant for more than 25 years in Gallup. His passion is to help the small business owner improve their business operations and impact their income and quality of life.
Fowler Roberts, “8 Questions” – Fowler Roberts is a pen name for a Gallupian who is well known to some of our readers, but wants to retain a sliver of mystery with his contributions to the Journey. From the very beginning, he has done the Eight Questions interviews for us and he has occasionally written other features like his Year-One story about the founding balloonists of the Red Rock Balloon Rally and his recent project of trying to track down whether singer Bob Dylan ever lived in Gallup, as he claimed early in his career.
Andy Stravers, “Izzit?!” – Born in 1977 to missionary parents working in the Philippine Islands, Andy began drawing from the early age of minus one-half – that’s right, inside the womb! His mother would complain throughout the pregnancy of sharp “pencil-like” pains, yet at the same time she had the strange feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction – like one might feel after, say, completing a mural on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Later, she would make the connection, as she observed her now-air-breathing child progress as a young genius artist. Throughout early childhood he found his tropical home to be full of inspiration. Though surrounded by a never-ending context of plants animals and people, Andy would ultimately feel the pull of more intellectual sources like long sermons in church and Don McLean’s “Miss American Pie.” By the age of 10, Andy’s parents had moved the family to the U.S. The suburbs of Chicago became the next backdrop for his art and also his discovery of rap music and 2-liter bombs. Andy spent his college days west of the Mississippi among the corn cradle of America in Iowa. As an art major, Andy put his skills to use filling pages of notebooks with caricatures of professors and pretty much any creature with razor sharp teeth. After a post-college road trip to Utah and New Mexico and the purchase of a mountain bike with some graduation cash Andy knew that life out west would harbor his best chances for survival. And that is pretty much the truth about how Andy ended up in Gallup.
“Fine Art has always been the one thing I knew I was good with. Sometimes it seems like it’s the only thing I’m good with. I understand art and I think it understands me. When I’m feeling really alone sometimes it just finds me. Like the day Nate and Chuck asked me to draw a comic strip for the second ever edition of the magazine. I remember sitting in the Journey headquarters sketching out, for the first time, the main characters. I believe one should never underestimate the power of an image, especially hand drawn or painted. Great art has the potential to communicate across any barrier imaginable. For me, creating these images is life breathing and ultimately one of the most meaningful things I can think of doing.”
Sometime, when you get a chance, ask Andy about: his childhood obsession with carnivorous plants, his future goal of running Jeep Trail without shoes, the tragic but true story of Starsky, and his belief that green chile is the secret to world peace.
Chuck Van Drunen – Chuck Van Drunen is a photographer, graphic designer, and writer who has unusual addictions to cycling and espresso. Chuck and his wife, Jenny, have resided in Gallup for 10 years, and are currently attempting to raise their 2 young children.