By Abe Villarreal
We continue our adventure from last week as we travel through small towns with big personalities…
The first town we passed in Catron County was Pleasanton, which looked pleasant enough but too quick a destination to stop by and say hello.
Turning a corner, a sign read Glenwood – A Place You’ll Never Forget. That is a tall order for a community to live up to but the people we met there and the beauty of the landscape made it easy for the slogan to be true.
Highway 180 let us right into a buzzing street market that had vendors lined up directly onto the asphalt. We visited each table and met artists proud to showcase their handiwork.
It seemed that everyone knew how to make everything. Perhaps survival mode forced the residents to become welders, painters, soap makers, and jewelers.
Across the street from the market, we met up with Donna and Joyce, two white-haired friends who were chatting away while listening to classical music on CD.
The sun was beaming down on them, and they were happy to tell us that everyone is happy in Glenwood. “The people here are just enjoying life, and they do a lot of volunteer work,” said Joyce. “You never hear anyone arguing.”
They told us about Mogollon, a ghost town just up the road. “Drive carefully and watch out with Dead Man’s Curve,” warned Donna.
We were hungry and avoided the ominous named curve that led to Mogollon that was a few miles off of the highway. Instead, we headed straight to Alma, home to a single store and the Alma Grille. The 2000 census reported a population of 0, although we met a few happy locals.
A young lady told us about the sweet jams her step-mother makes so I bought a small jar flavored Mesquite Bean to have with my breakfast toast.
After a comforting plate of huevos rancheros, were back on the road. We passed a sign that read Cosmic Campground and wondered what majestic views of the heavens might be experienced underneath the dark skies of these middle-of-nowhere places.
When we reached the Village of Reserve, suddenly we felt like we were in a big town. A gas station, bar, general store, emporium, courthouse, and handful of restaurants made this community of about 300 the hub for several of its diminutive neighbors.
We were brought back to earth when we saw a petition signed by several residents complaining about the lack of an updated phone book. The petition called this act of negligence a “disgrace.” Another sign reminded residents that store charges in the local emporium where still acceptable as long as only one charge, or IOU, was made at a time.
Feeling like we entered a time warp, we set off for our next destination, Pie Town. We passed Quemado, a lovely looking place of fewer than 300 residents. Our stomachs were grumbling for a town named Pie, and in about 20 miles we came driving in, stopping at the first building we eyed.
Turns out that Pie Town businesses owners really know their customers. With only three to four places to visit, each one offered robust slices of cold and fruit-filled desserts. I like anything with a crust, and being a proud New Mexican, had the state-named New Mexico pie. It was filled with apples and pinons, and layered with a coating of Hatch green chile.
As the three of us dug into our sweet treats, the servers at Pie Town Café told us stories of how the town was founded, and they invited us to the upcoming annual pie festival which boasts popular horny toad races and of course, pie eating contests.
We would have kept going but not ever knowing when we would make it to the next gas station, we turned back, and the afternoon drive was perfect for picture taking. An overcast sky and the droppings of a few sprinkles freshened up the air, so we rolled down the windows and took it all in.
For many miles, we were the only people on the road. We felt we owned the place and were happy to welcome anyone who crossed our paths.