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Day 6 - Deming NM to Columbus NM - 40 miles / 65 km

Deming columbus

This is going to be a short day, down to Columbus and the Mexican border. After a late start I head south down Highway 11. The mountains are beautiful and I pull over into the dirt to take a picture.

Then I get back on my bike and both tires are dead flat - I had rolled over a piece of dead cactus with HUGE spikes that pierced both front and back wheels, simple as that.

I sit on the side of the road with both wheels off the frame. Big pickup trucks roll by with the solo white males impassively looking at me as they passed by.  Twice, beat-up cars loaded up with Mexican families stop to offer help.

Interesting contrast.

The highway to Columbus is a long slow incline. Finally Columbus appears

and I find the Sun Crest Inn that (surprise, surprise) has vacancies:

I check in (cash only) and the proprietor tells me not to get worried about flashights shining into my room at night. "That'll be the state troopers looking for wetbacks - jest tell them to f*** off."


I clean up and play tourist. Nearby is the Pancho Villa State Park. I walk in and the four State employees running the Park fall over themselves helping me get oriented and absolutely insist that I sit through the short video about the park. I guess they don't get alot of tourists.

I did enjoy the Park - quite the variety of cacti and other extremely hardy plants that made the desert their home.

60 varieties of cactus

Some history around the naming of the Pancho Villa Park:

From 1910 to 1916 Mexico had been embroiled in a violent revolution, with opposing political and military forces struggling for control of the country. In 1913, United States President William Howard Taft sent a large military force into Texas and stationed them along the Rio Grande to protect Americans in the region. This show of American military force caused Mexican militants to redirect their violence from their own countrymen to Americans.

An increasing number of border incidents early in 1916 culminated in an invasion of American territory when Francisco (Pancho) Villa and his band of 500 to 1,000 men raided Columbus, New Mexico.

Elements of the American 13th Cavalry repulsed the attack, but there were American casualties. Immediate steps were taken to organize a punitive expedition of about 10,000 men under Brig. Gen. John J. Pershing to capture Villa.

Pershing was subject to orders which required him to respect the sovereignty of Mexico, and was further hindered by the fact that the Mexican Government and people resented the American invasion. Advanced elements of the expedition penetrated as far as Parral, some 400 miles south of the border, but Villa was never captured.

Pershing's name lives on as the name of a mobile missile used by the U.S. Army:

Off in the distance, the Mexican border and Puerto Palomas. I take the ride down and cross the border, just to say that I entered Mexico on the trip.  It certainly feels different, and I am pretty obviously a white gringo that everybody pauses to look at.

I decide that I would have dinner on the American side of the border, so I head back to Columbus and its only restaurant, a cantina that serves me up a mexican meal of tacos and refried beans.

With not a whole lot to do, I go back to my motel room, double bolt the door and squirm around in bed until I make a comfortable spot on the lumpy mattress. I fall asleep with the black-and-white TV fading in and out of snow.  Outside, there are trucks and conversations that pass in and out of my sleep.

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