Monday, May 27, 2013

Pie Town and Candy Kitchen, New Mexico~Sweet!

 Warm blueberry pie with ice cream~Delicious!
After spending three quiet nights at Datil Well BLM Campground, we headed north to visit Steve's friends Bob and Nancy who live in the Ramah section of the Navajo Reservation, southeast of Gallup.  On the way, we had a nice lunch at Pie-O-Neer Cafe in Pie Town, New Mexico. 

This restaurant has been featured in many travel magazines and has won some awards for its pie.  We were a little disappointed to learn that they no longer serve many entrees ("We are a PIE shop"), but then I tried the green chile stew and it was every bit as good as the pies.  

Pie Town got its name from being a place that was well situated for travelers to take a break, and over the years every merchant in the town has offered pie.  We had our choice of several places to stop to eat, but Pie-O-Neer was the place where all the cars were.  

After our stop in Pie Town, we headed north on NM Hwy 37 which takes you through the Zuni Reservation, then went a little ways east on NM Hwy 53 to the town of Ramah.  I wish I had some photos of Hwy 37--it's a beautiful, lonesome stretch of road with lots of red and yellow rock mesas, and interesting houses and outbuildings made of the yellow limestone.  It's also very green, with a groundcover of scrubby junipers.  However, Steve and I are still getting used to driving and riding in the Beluga, and that road was a little scary for us.  It's a fairly narrow two-lane highway with no shoulders, and there are lots of hills and turns.  Steve was busy at the wheel, and I was busy clenching and gnashing in the passenger seat. So, no pics. 

Bob and Nancy live on a parcel of land in the Ramah Navajo Reservation, which is a smaller part of the Navajo Nation that's south of I-40 (most of the Navajo Nation is up in the Four Corners area, north of I-40).  The Ramah reservation is a checkerboard of tribal, government, and private land.  

 Nancy at the door of the Pinehill Post Office

Our friends have lived up here for full-time for about 11 years.  They have a neat little spread with a house, guest cabin and other outbuildings, and a couple of RV hookups for visitors.  

 One of the gravel roads we drove a few times this weekend
They have to drive pretty far to take care of any sort of business--their PO box is 15 miles away at Pinehill, a small town that is the business center of the reservation, so they pick up and drop off mail for several neighbors when they make their weekly trip to the Post Office.  Seeing a doctor or making a major grocery shopping trip involves at least a half day, going either to Grants or Gallup.

 Drummers at the trading post's birthday celebration
Over the past couple of days, we've made a couple of trips to Candy Kitchen, a town even smaller than Pinehill.  There's a nice store there, the Candy Kitchen Trading Post, which was celebrating its second year in business this weekend with a flea market and drummers.

 Our tour guide, Rae, giving dog treats to a wolf

We went back to Candy Kitchen yesterday for a tour of the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary.  This is a nonprofit that provides a forever home for wolves, wolf-dogs, and various sorts of feral or wild dogs.  They rescue the animals from a variety of situations...breeders who are shut down by authorities, zoos that go out of business, animal hoarders, individuals who realize that their "pet" is really a wild animal, etc.  A few of the rescues are dogs that happen to look like wolves (malemutes, for example) that are sent to them by animal authorities, and some of these can eventually be adopted.  But there are about 60 animals that have to stay at the sanctuary because wolves and wolf-dogs are not pets.

 A Minnesota timberwolf, rescued after someone dropped him off in a Minnesota State Park--he has more of a dog type personality and loves people.  He whined with happiness when our tour group came up to his enclosure. 

Interestingly, the wolf-dog crosses are the most challenging animals to deal with, because they can have sort of an identity crisis.  They don't really fit in with either the wolf or dog population, and they can be difficult to manage.

 Wolves are definitely quicker than I am!
Our tour lasted over an hour and was well worth the $6 admission.  The grounds are very nice.  The critters have large enclosures and the staff thoughtfully accommodates the most shy animals with the largest places to live, so they can hide from visitors if they wish.  

 The original "candy kitchen," which is now part of the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary

Candy Kitchen is an interesting community that got its name during Prohibition.  A local moonshiner needed a cover for why he purchased so much sugar and why so many folks stopped by his cabin, so he started making pinon candies which he sold over the counter while selling liquor under the counter.  It's still a town full of characters.

Steve, at the wolf sanctuary

We've been here at our friends' place for the long Memorial Day weekend, and we'll head out early tomorrow morning and cross into northern Arizona for more adventures.       


  1. This is cool. Never heard of Candy Kitchen or the Wolf Sanctuary. More places to explore!

  2. It is an interesting area, and it's nice and cool at night and doesn't get too hot during the day, either. If you want to camp in this area, Bridget, the wolf sanctuary has its own campground. No hookups, but I believe they provide firewood for your enjoyment, at $15 per night, and you can listen to the wolf howls during the night.

  3. Is there more than one wolf sanctuary in the area? A friend volunteered there for years, but I think it was called Zuni Wolf Sanctuary, or some such. So much to enjoy in New Mexico and Arizona !!!

  4. Not that I'm aware of, Judilyn. Unless they changed the name at some point?

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