Thanksgiving in Pie Town, NM

Bike tourers like to daydream. After all, those long, open roads furnish a lot of thinking times. Life thoughts to be processed, aspirations to be shared, views to be aired. So after the Night of the Fire Vigil, Jeff, Jason and I idly conjured up a Best Case Scenario as we rode, somewhat triumphantly, into the quirkily titled Pie Town.

First, we eat lots of pie. Second, we find somewhere warm to stay the night. And third, someone invites us a Thanksgiving Feast.

I’m pleased to report that Pie Town certainly delivered…

Excellent news, as pie is very much what we were hoping eat... Here's Anna, who's also cycled down from Alaska, via the Pacific Coast, Yosemite National Park and Death Valley. And George, who joined our merry band of travellers after walking the length of the Great Divide Trail. I quizzed George about his beard; he begun to grow it in Glacier National Park, at the beginning of the trip, and the net result represents some 5 months of growth. Impressive.

Aside from pies, there wasn't much to Pie Town. The story goes that during the Great Depression, an enterprising individual would trek seven miles to sell pies to weary travellers heading for California. From this grew a 4 room hotel, a cafe and a community: Pie Town. Nowadays, there's not even a grocery store or a telephone. Just 62 people, two pie shops and a Post Office...

Oh, and three churches.

Luckily, Pie Town is also home to the Toaster House, a free hostel geared to bikers and bikers journeying along the Great Divide. It was closed for the season, but after Stan from the Pie-O-Neer Cafe flicked the necessary switches, we had a home for the night. And there could have been no better place to spend Thanksgiving than the Toaster House. It was a beautiful, atmospheric abode with a wood burning stove, a warm vibe and a guestbook crammed with scribblings.

The Toaster House is owned by Nita, who graced us all with generous bear bugs before setting off to spend Thanksgiving with her daughters. It reminded me of the 4-hugs-a-day advice I'd been given outside a gas station in Idaho.

You can't miss it, we were told. Just look for the toasters.

I lost track of how much pie I ate. But it was a lot. Apple, Cherry, Pear, Pumpkin, Pecan & Oat, Sweet Potato, Very Berry, Peach...

Here's Jeff and pie empressario Cathy, who ensured the pies just kept coming...

Mind you, we did work for our food, chopping and hauling wood in return for pie. Here's Stan and his 1960 GMC truck; he's owned it since he was 19. Using an antique chainsaw, we spent the afternoon gathering wood, loading it into the truck and honing our manly axing skills.

In fact, it wasn't just Stan who could have stepped out of another era. Pie Town seemed caught in a time warp. The rusting hulks of cars...

... dilapidated houses...

... post office boxes from the '20s...

... and ancient pickup trucks parked up in every yard. The men too were classic. More often then not, they sported broad rimmed hats, thick moustaches, toothy smiles and greying pony tails, loping along with a tall, gangly gait.

In fact, Pie Town had a completely unpretentious feel to it. Very down to earth, like much of New Mexico, so it seems. None of the smugness that can sometimes pervade the more upwardly mobile mountain towns.

Musicians drifted in and out, jamming in the cafe in the evening; an ancient astronomer, a zen buddhist, a herbalist. Steel string guitars, a violin and a double bass. Like everyone else, we were welcomed in with open arms; fed and watered with unremitting generosity. 'May your mocassins leave many happy tracks,' said guitarist Jim.

We even managed to escape for a pre Thanksgiving Dinner ride, striking out into the nearby Datil Mountains, in the Cibola National Forest. The climb to Davenport Lookout, at 9354ft, was a loose and scrabbly affair, and might just have worked off a few of those pies...

Best of all, we caught sight of eight bull elks stampeding across the desert, kicking up a plume of dust into the evening light. Then it was time to feast...

3 thoughts on “Thanksgiving in Pie Town, NM

  1. Jack H

    Hoping to hike the CDT this year. Hopefully I’ll get to eat as much pie as you! Any chance you’d be open to posting larger pictures? I’d love to be able to click on them to see some of the detail…

    Reply
  2. otbiking Post author

    Thanks for the comments. I hope to develop the site some time, which will include bigger versions of the pics. In fact, if anyone has any ideas about blogging with wordpress offline, I’d love to hear about good programs for this.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *