Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Day 27: Give me PIES!!!!

May 17: I woke up and hit the trail at my usual 7:00am start time. It didn't feel as cold as the last several mornings. Partly because the elevation was lower, but also, I think, because I was on largely flat, empty terrain and the warmth of the sun could work on me a bit after it rose. The sun rose above the horizon much earlier this morning than in the more mountainous and tree-covered terrain of the last several days.

I continued my cross-country jaunt a couple of more miles before finally reaching Highway 60. There was one last barbed-wire fence in the way. It looked like a pretty solid fence, though, without a good gap to go under or through the fence, and a bit too high to go over it. So I followed the fence line along the road until I found a good place to climb over and was officially back on the CDT--as well as Highway 60 into Pie Town.

The highway walk had a pretty decent shoulder to walk on, but the road was moderately busy and therefore not a fun place for a walk. It could have been worse, though.

Highway 60, the road into Pie Town

A couple of miles along the highway, I reached the Top of the World General Store. It seemed like something of a misnomer to me--we definitely weren't anywhere near the "top of the world." Not near the north pole, not at the highest peak in the world--not even the highest peak in New Mexico for that matter. The name probably comes from the fact that we're near the Continental Divide, but that's hardly the same as being the top of the world. Heck, as flat as the ground was, calling anything around here a "top" seemed like a misnomer.

But names aside, I dropped into the store. Strictly speaking, I didn't really need anything, but I wouldn't have minded stocking up with some perishables like cheese for the rest of the trail into Grants. I was a little disappointed with the store, though. It was called a "general store," but even that felt like reaching it to me. It was more like a convenience store and really didn't have much to offer. I wound up buying a Coke and an ice cream sandwich to snack on immediately, but that was it.

Outside on the patio, I settled in and made myself comfortable. After finishing my snacks, I pulled out my phone and got online to check messages. Finally! I was a little annoyed the evening before--camped less than 10 miles from town with no mountains in the way and not getting any hint of a signal.

I picked up a "Big Bopper" sandwich and a Coke for a snack.

While checking messages, I noticed a figure in the distance, slowly approaching the store along the highway on foot. That must be Evenstar, I thought, even though the figure was too far away to positively identify.

But it was her, and I hung around long enough for her to catch up and we could fill each other in on our adventures. She had been walking the road wearing her Crocs because her feet hurt so much. She had walked miles and miles further along the road than I had, and--as I suspected--camped along it the night before. She was making some phone calls and trying to get her shoes replaced when I finally left to continue the rest of the hike into Pie Town.

My first stop was the post office, which was a good thing too because it turned out to close at twelve noon and did not reopen again after lunch. I got to the post office with a half-hour to spare.

Nooo! The Pie Festival has been cancelled?!!!

Then I headed over to Pie Town Pies for lunch, which was pretty much the only restaurant still in business in town. Pie Town is a small town, a very small town, and there wasn't even a signal for my phone to pick up. So I headed to the restaurant for lunch where I ordered a burger, Coke and--since I was in Pie Town--the obligatory purchase of a pie. I selected apple pie. There's an ordinance in this town that everyone passing through is required to buy a pie. Okay, maybe not... but there should be. =)

Although the town did not have a cell phone connection for my use, the restaurant did have a wi-fi connection available, so I made extensive use for that and sat around for a couple of hours even after finishing my meal. It was a lovely location, outside in a covered area and used hay bales as seats around the tables. In the shade with the wind, it was a little cold, but nothing a couple of extra layers couldn't handle.

A few minutes before noon, I saw Evenstar walking by and I called out to her, "Hey! How's it going?! Welcome to Pie Town!" She turned and started ambling in my direction, but I waved her off. "No! No! Keep going! The post office closes in three minutes!" I knew she had a few packages to pick up, and if she didn't get there within three minutes, she wouldn't be able to get them until it reopened again tomorrow. I know she was really excited about finally getting her laptop back. Allegedly, it was waiting for her at the this post office. She hadn't seen it since we left Lordsburg weeks ago and it took a tour of California and Texas before landing back in New Mexico here. About three weeks, in fact. She had work to do!

I hadn't thought to suggest that she could drop off her pack and leave it with me while she trekked on to the post office. Maybe she could have walked a little faster unencumbered with the pack. But I hadn't thought of it in time--I just knew her window of opportunity was closing fast and told her to keep going.

I really enjoyed the covered patio at the restaurant. Notice the blankets covering the hay bales that are used as seats?

I figured she'd return maybe 10 minutes later, either carrying a package or telling me that she hadn't made it to the post office in time, but she didn't come back until well over an hour later. She had gotten to the post office in time and picked up something like 4 or 5 packages, she explained. What?! So many?! Then she carried them on to the Toaster House to set up there for the night.

The Toaster House is a legendary establishment on the trail. You hear about it from the start at the Mexican border, and it's a house that's been opened for thru-hikers (and bicyclists) to use at no cost, although donations are accepted. It's also pretty much the only place in town for thru-hikers to stay. The town doesn't have any hotels, although perhaps there's somewhere to camp nearby. But I didn't want to camp. I was getting plenty of that in the backcountry. When I'm in town, I want to sleep in a room with walls!

So I caught up with Evenstar some more. She ordered a pie or two and I don't remember what all else, and I was about ready to get going so she gave me directions and I wandered to the Toaster House on my own.

I never really knew why it was called the Toaster House. Pez, earlier in the trip, said he thought it was a American, low-cost budget hostel chain. Kind of like a Motel 6, but for hostels. Evenstar and I thought that was pretty amusing, but the truth was, we didn't really know much about it either except that it was a singularity located in Pie Town.

But as soon as I walked up to the place, I knew exactly how the Toaster House got it's name. It was decorated with toasters! Tons and tons of toasters! I imagined that might annoy some neighbors who probably feel it's dragging down their property prices--although I'm not sure property in Pie Town is exactly an expensive commodity in the first place. But it has a certain charming eclectic look to it that really appealed to me. =)

It immediately became apparent to me how the Toaster House got its name! But it still begs the question... why toasters?!

I found an empty bed on an upper floor, sharing a room with Pigpen, Twain and Evenstar. And chatted briefly with Swift who had done a nearly 40-mile day today. Holy crap! Crazy! I had done a measly 9 miles to get into town.

There wasn't a laundromat in town, nor a washer at the Toaster House, so I rinsed (but didn't wash) my hiking clothes in the shower. And mostly I relaxed the rest of the day. I hadn't shipped my laptop to Pie Town knowing services were extremely limited here, and--in fact--there wasn't even wi-fi at the Toaster House so I had no way to get online. No cell phone signal, no wi-fi. The mail drop I picked up at the post office only contained food--since Pie Town also didn't have a proper grocery store available.

But it gave me plenty of time to sit back and relax, reading books and watching Netflix shows that I pre-loaded onto my phone. And meeting all sorts of new hikers! The place was packed with probably close a dozen other hikers. I heard stories at the restaurant from locals who reported that the Toaster House was hosting something like 30 hikers per night just a week or two earlier. We were a little behind the bubble. 

When Evenstar came back, she showed me her packages which were covered with photographs of her and her husband. It was hilarious! Why didn't I get a photo of this? But how brilliant is that? She could pick up packages even if she lost her ID--her ID is on the package! And it wasn't like there was just a single photo of her attached to each package. The packages were covered with photos. It's hilarious!

Some of the hikers got more pie than they wanted to eat and gave the rest away, so I consumed a couple of more half-pies later in the evening. I ate more pie today than I probably had in the past 5 years! Not that I was complaining.... =)

And that's where I ended my 27th day on the trail.....

Top of the World General Store

Lunch was delicious!

And, of course, I was required to buy the obligatory pie while in Pie Town. =)

Entrance to the Toaster House

Evenstar shows off her lovely pie. =)

The hiker wall of Dead Shoes at the Toaster House

1 comment:

Michael said...

Didn't your mama teach you not to eat ice cream and drink coke at the same time? That must have been bubbly fun in your stomach.