Thousands of remote, offbeat destinations line the back roads of America, all leaving imprints on your heart as you roll away to somewhere new. As full-time RVers we get the chance to revisit those magical places whenever we want, but life can get in the way and oftentimes the opportunity never seems to materialize.
But when the cosmic road map finally aligns your present journey with an old favorite destination from the past, well that’s a sign you just can’t ignore.
Going Back to New Mexico’s Church of Pie
Recently while headed to Las Vegas, Nevada, we jumped at the chance to drive Highway 60 to get there. That two-lane route is a little out of the way to Sin City, but taking the slow lane would allow us to make a pilgrimage to The Pie-O-Neer cafe in Pie Town New Mexico.
This magical spot perched atop on the Continental Divide won us over way back in 2008 as we traveled with Jerry, and just like our sweet boy, it’s been in our hearts ever since.
In Search of Mystic Pie
We waved goodbye to Waylon Jennings’ spirit and booked it out of Littlefield, Texas early one morning, high on caffeine and anticipation of our destination: the sweetest spot in New Mexico, about 3 hours southwest from Albuquerque.
We needed to get there before the Pie-O-Neer Cafe closed at 4pm but were so excited we managed to arrive by 1pm. What a joy to see that the cafe was exactly as we remembered it! The moment we stepped onto the cozy front porch and opened the door, the heavenly scent of homemade pies wrapped its arms around us like an old friend.
In that moment we were transported out of our own reality and ushered into a sweet spiritual vortex where strangers instantly became friends. Where handmade pies by Kathy Knapp and her crew are an art, all waiting to nurture our souls and ensure that we leave happier than when we arrived.
“If you’re going to eat something, it should nourish you on many levels. If you’re going to make it a pie, it should be beautiful as well as taste good.” — Kathy Knapp, aka the Pie Lady
Nothing has changed since 2008, but all in a good way. The lunch menu is still simple, easy and tasty: homemade quiche or green chile stew with a side salad, both meant to tease your belly and leave for the day’s inspired collection of homemade pies.
The Pie-o-Neer offers up a traditional mix of pies, from blueberry to apple, but adventurous souls also have more offbeat choices like the surprisingly tasty combination of apple and green chile with pine nuts.
The green chile apple combo (pictured left) was my pie slice for the afternoon. I went out on a limb to try something different and . . . It. Was. Fabulous! Apple and green chile? Only in New Mexico!
There’s no doubt about it; Kathy’s pie pastry shells are better than my mom’s, better than yours, better than anyone who hasn’t poured their heart and soul into the piemaking art, day in and day out since 1995. Her dedication to the Art of Pie is worthy of a Nobel Piece Prize! Our amateur photos don’t do these masterpieces justice:
A visit to the Pie-o-Neer is a trip to the sweetest spot on the planet, if not the tastiest corner of the universe. You can’t even imagine how good it is until you actually taste these desserts.
People drive for hundreds of miles to meet Kathy and sample her dreamy inspirations. Through the years, the Pie-O-Neer has put Pie Town back on the map after Kathy and her mom took over the place in ’95 and returned the pie making spirit back to this tiny little frontier town.
Today this delicious roadside attraction regularly gets media coverage from around the world, There’s even a a series of novels about Pie Town and a short movie,all about the magic that wafts out the windows of this little church of pie.
Kathy and her crew make the Pie-O-Neer well worth your detour. Their welcoming smiles and friendly chit chat always makes you feel like part of the community.
Nowhere else on earth (except maybe Luckenbach Texas) have we ever felt more at home and welcomed by total strangers. We lingered and talked with Kathy and the crew for over two hours, about everything from our dogs to . . . well, pie.
We even got invited to a community fundraiser for dinner, where we felt the realness of genuine community spirit . . . one that is so rare in this world, it gave us hope for humanity. When we left this amazing group of hearty souls we realized: when the shit hits the fan, Pie Town is where we want to be.
Although Pie Town is short on accommodations for most people, it’s got plenty of room for RVers and campers. You’ll find a sweet little city park with free camping, right across the road from the cafe so you can stumble home and walk off your pie coma. We would’ve stayed longer if we didn’t have to get to Vegas in such a hurry. If you’re anywhere between Las Cruces and Albuquerque and headed west, don’t miss Pie Town. We’ll be back again to worship at the Church of Pie sometime in the future. Hope to see you there!