Freedom and Apple Pie – Pie Town, NM
The long, lonely road to the West
Leads to more than just one kind of open space.
This is not just a different town,
It’s the kind of place where
A whole different kind of person settles down.
You either love it or you hate it,
And if you stay long enough,
You may just stay for life.
Nina Fussing, May 2011
Rather poetic, is it not?
I have to admit inspiration is just the kind of thing that happens around here. We’re deep in the midst of 8,000-foot mountains in the dead center of a very remote part of New Mexico. Here the wild open views and western land roll ad infinitum to the horizon, and you can literally feel the spirit of freedom ooze through your body. This place is the reason people went West and it still attracts the same kind of folks. People looking to stake their claim to the land and live a different life on their own terms.
And, of course…those who like to bake.
It all started with a Texan named Clyde Norman. He was a man’s man with an interesting side-penchant for making pie. So, in the 1920’s he settled a little rocky ridge in New Mexico and did what he did best. Word got around, the pies became famous and a town got its name. Pie Town hasn’t changed much since Clyde’s day. It’s still a sleepy little western town, small enough that you might miss it if you blink, and it’s still famous for its pies.
This, of course, was something we couldn’t miss. We took a day-trip to the original spot, the Pie Town Cafe to meet with the locals and sample the fare. The cafe draws a regular crowd with people from 40 miles away coming together for a slice and a chat. And it did not disappoint. The lunch was great, the pies sumptuously delicious (we went for the New Mexican Apple…highly recommended) and the local color was just as bright. We met the artist who moved from civilization to write a book, the couple from San Diego who were now building a house in the boonies, and the sheriff, a great big burly fellow (with an equally impressive gun) who was probably the most social of them all.
It’s rather a romantic tale, but nonetheless true and I’m not the only one to have been drawn in by this place. Russell Lee photographed over 600 shots of the town just after the depression, and the Smithsonian wrote a brilliant article on the place in 2005 (a must-read before you go).
So, to those who take the different path in life our bellies thank you for the meal and our minds thank you for the spirit. This is most definitely the kind of place I could end up staying for a very, very long time.
Post Edit Note: While enjoying ourselves out here in the boonies we’ve increased our camping budget by a whopping 25% to stay in a gorgeous BLM site near the VLA and Pie Town. Costs have thus exploded from $4/night to $5/night. Despite the strain to our wallets and the risk of budget cuts, we’ve resolved to bear the burden and will review this wonderful spot next on the blog….stay tuned…