Bernalillo, NM and points West!

Since I am a wee bit behind in my blogging, I had to go back to my calendar to make sure I had the dates correct on this next leg of my adventure.

On Wednesday, 8/24, we packed up the Jeep and I drove Ellen to Albuquerque to catch a flight back to her home and I turned around and drove back to Bernalillo, the home of my dear friend Jami, whom I have known and loved since we went to high school together in Danville, IL – oh so many years ago. Jami’s health is not good, so even though she really had hopped to be part of our mimi-reunion in Prescott, she just didn’t feel up to making the trip. But she and I spent a day and an evening catching up and sharing what had happened in our lives since we had last seen each other. It was a very quite, peaceful visit, topped off with a lovely evening with drinks and dinner at the Hyatt Tamaya Resort.

The next morning I was up early and ready for a long drive. I headed south on I-25 (I know, it’s an Interstate) but only for an hour when I hopped on US 60 in Socorro and headed West toward Pinetop/Lakeside, AZ – my destination for the night. I had chosen this route mainly because it seemed the most direct, not knowing that I would be taking one of the most beautiful drives I had taken so far! I would be driving up into the Datil and San Mateo Mountains and I was not prepared for the vast, open plains with high mountains in the distance. All I could think of was Clint Eastwood in High Plains Drifter.

My photos do not come close to showing just how beautiful this part of the country really is.

One of the places I drove by was the National Radio Astronomy Observatory VLA Telescope.
– also know as The Very Large Array, one of the world’s premier astronomical radio observatories, consists of 27 radio antennas in a Y-shaped configuration on the Plains of San Agustin fifty miles west of Socorro, New Mexico. Each antenna is 25 meters (82 feet) in diameter. I didn’t know what I was seeing and of course thought…‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ as Roswell, NM is just a wee bit southeast of this location and everyone knows that where aliens have always chosen to land when visiting us.

I wish I could have stopped and toured this facility, but it was not open to the general public – or at least not open the day I drove by.

As it was getting to be quite a bit past the noon hour and my tummy was letting me know I had had a very small continental breakfast at the Days Inn a long time ago, I thought it was time to find a place to rest and dine. And all of a sudden I was climbing up…and up into the Sawtooth Mountain range and into Pie Town, NM. Now there is really…no, there is absolutely nothing in Pie Town, NM except the one place I found open and selling what else but….pies! Fresh backed and delicious pies of every kind and berry and fruit, all topped with ice cream, of course, if that was your pleasure. Oh, they did have a small sandwich menu to go with your slice of pie.

I heard all about the menu as soon as I stepped out of the Jeep as the owner was climbing up a ladder to change the sign to tell everyone passing by about the big ‘Pie Festival’ to be held on Labor Day weekend.

He told me there were no stores within 50-60 miles and to really shop for groceries or clothes or household goods, you planned far ahead and drove back up to Albuquerque and loaded with a few months worth of stuff! This place is really a long way from any place!

He told me I had to ask for Helga, the best waitress in the Pie Town Cafe, to wait on me personally. Turns out that Helga, who still has her Swedish accent, is the only waitress that the Pie Town Cafe has. And since I was trying to be good and not eat pie for lunch, she talked me into taking 2 ‘mini-pies’ (4 slices each) fresh out of the oven, pipping hot, with me as a house-warming gift for Cousin Nancy in Pinetop! At her recommendation I chose a Hoppin’ Hot Cherry (fresh bing cherries with red chili peppers to spice it up!) and New Mexican Apple (fresh Grannie Smith’s, pinenuts and green chili peppers). Both were fabulous!!

After lunch I crossed the border into AZ and drove through Springerville and Eager (where John Wayne had a ranch for many years) before heading up higher and higher into the White Mountains (the ones that made the news as they were burning like crazy not that long ago!) and into Pinetop/Lakeside where my cousin Nancy and her husband Tom have a beautiful home. (Little Bear Lodge)

As you can see from the picture of my guest room, bears are the theme and there are quite a few real ones roaming the area this year – so much so that the human population of this area have become quite leery of them. Nancy have pictures of them in her drive way and peaking in the living room windows!

Tom treated me to a lovely dinner at the country club and we all enjoyed the pies I brought as desert. It was a quick visit, only one night, and after breakfast with Nancy,

I was on the road to Prescott and my mini-high school girls reunion.

Until next time….

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