Ever since our Route 66 experience a couple years ago, Chandler and I have been fond of seeing America from the vantage point of the winding narrow state highway versus the straight, wide Interstate. Like the Disney movie, “Cars,” we prefer to roll through the little towns rather than whizz past and never even know they were there. The one-lane roads — often without shoulders — disappear into the landscape much more easily than four lanes of divided highway that level hills, raise dips and create a sense of monotony where the most exciting thing is navigating through the big trucks. The state highway presents a view of America many don’t see anymore.
Like Pie Town, New Mexico, on Highway 60 that consists of three cafes that actually bake pies. You eat them steaming hot with ice cream, not because they were microwaved, but because they just came out of the oven. And inside these cafes are the friendliest people you will ever encounter. As the story goes, Clyde Norman’s car broke down on the site of Pie Town in the early 1920s, and he got an idea to bake pies and sell them to travelers until he could make enough money to fix his car. Apparently, his pies were so good, he never left, and an unincorporated town was formed called Pie Town. You can check it out; it’s on the map. But there’s not a word about Pie Town on nearby Interstate 40.
Further back in our trip, on Highway 64, on the way to Taos, New Mexico, we passed through a wide valley in the mountains where the towns of Eagle’s Nest and Angel Fire are located. Our first sight of this was to come around a corner and see American flags attached to the mile markers on either side of the road. This continued all the way into and across this wide valley where hundreds of people were already camped out for the weekend. It got to be that wherever there was a stake in the ground there was a flag attached to it. Hundreds and hundreds of flags. It felt like we were in a motorcade.
Little did we know that on Memorial Day weekend, this valley turns into a haven for bikers celebrating America and those who have died preserving its freedoms. Many of these bikers were proud veterans of the Korean war, the Vietnam conflict, Iraq and Afghanistan — all undoubtedly thinking especially of friends and buddies who never came back, or came back in a bag. There were flags all over Eagle’s Nest, but not enough flags to represent everyone who has given their life in a war on other shores. It was an impressive sight, nonetheless.
We have a number of members in our Catch community who have served in the military — some are veterans of foreign wars where they have lost friends and comrades. We honor you all today. I wish we could point you out or have you stand, but maybe best to simply have everyone stand wherever you are reading this, put your had over your heart and recite with me: “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”