From Pancho Villa State Park in Columbus, New Mexico:
Today is Moving Day again! We just wrapped up our 14-day stay at Pancho Villa State Park, one of our favorite state parks in New Mexico. We stayed here last year over the Thanksgiving holiday and enjoyed it so much that we had to come back this year. It’s a very laid-back kind of place, but there’s a lot of history here, and with the border crossing being close by, there’s opportunity for some interesting day trips.
Since we’ve already seen the museums here at the park and in Columbus, this stay was more about just hanging out and enjoying the sunny, comfortable weather. Some days got a little windy, but we never had to turn on the air conditioner. The nighttime temperatures were generally in the high 30s to low 40s, so we used our electric heater in the early mornings to take the chill off, sometimes supplementing with the propane furnace when it was extra cold.
We made two trips across the border into Puerto Palomas, once on my birthday and then again this past Monday. Both times we had lunch at The Pink Store, which is THE place to go in Palomas. Since we were here last year, they have greatly expanded the store and the restaurant, so I guess business has been good. The same mariachi band as last year was playing at lunch, and Andy gave them a big fat tip to play a couple of songs for me on my birthday.
On both trips to Palomas we visited the local panadería (bakery) to get some fresh pastries. We’re always amazed at how inexpensive they are in relation to the quality of the product. Both times we were there a little later in the day so the selection was a little picked over, but again, this seems to indicate that business is really good and we’re happy to see that.
While we’ve been here I was able to do some geocaching, going on three different hunts and locating all three. One of them was actually hidden inside The Pink Store, so I was able to log my first international geocache on our first visit there. I had forgotten to bring my little bag of trinkets to swap with the items in the cache, so I wound up leaving my Sacagawea dollar coin that I carry around in my wallet. Fortunately we made a return trip to The Pink Store for lunch this week, and I carried my swag bag with me, revisited the cache, retrieved my dollar coin and left a more suitable trinket in exchange.
We made a couple of trips to Deming while we were here, which is the closest town of any size. It’s about 30 miles one way, so it’s not somewhere that you can just make a quick trip to the grocery store for some forgotten item. We made one trip to do laundry, having lunch afterwards at Burger King (the Impossible Burger rocks!). We made another trip for groceries and supplies at Walmart, after having breakfast at IHOP.
Our third trip to Deming was to hopefully put an end to the saga of the water pump. You may recall that while we were at Elephant Butte State Park, we had taken our broken pump to a local shop to get a new one, but the shop owner tested the pump in his workshop and it seemed to work just fine, so Andy reinstalled it and we went on our way. Well, while we were here at Pancho Villa, the temperatures were forecasted to dip below freezing one night, so at nightfall Andy disconnected the water hose from the spigot outside and drained it so it wouldn’t freeze. We turned on the water pump so we could use the water from our onboard tanks overnight for toilet flushing, etc. The pump worked fine all night, but the next morning when Andy went to turn on the water in the sink, the pump conked out again. We decided to go ahead and replace it since it’s not reliable, and we found an RV shop in Deming that had one pump in stock. We purchased it and Andy installed it. Ironically, we haven’t had to use it since then as the temperatures have been warm above freezing, so we’re just hoping that the issue was the pump and not the switch or the electrical system.
While we were in Deming to pick up the pump, we decided to try a local eatery for lunch, and based on glowing reviews in Yelp, we went to Si Señor, a Mexican restaurant. It just wasn’t good. They were packed, so evidently the locals like it, but our food wasn’t that good at all. First of all, they got my order wrong (to their credit, they offered to replace it, but I wasn’t in the mood to wait). The refried beans were watery and runny, and the chips were hard and cold. At the table right next to us, there was a child that screamed the whole time we were there, the sound echoing off the tile floor (again, not the fault of the restaurant, but just another thing that ruined the experience). They did serve us complimentary fresh, hot sopapillas for dessert, so that was a plus. But we won’t be visiting there again.
We’ll be pulling out of Pancho Villa State Park later this morning after Andy has his breakfast and takes his shower. We give high marks to this park for their clean, well-maintained bathrooms and showers, as well as the friendly park hosts and staff. While there are a lot of rigs here, there always seem to be first-come first-serve sites with electricity available, and they keep them groomed and in good working order. They have a very nice visitor’s center with an interesting museum related to the history of the area (this was the site of Pancho Villa’s raid into the United States from Mexico), and there are several original structures still standing which were part of the original Camp Furlong that was located on this site at the time of the raid.
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The campground kitty has begun making regular visits to our rig a couple of times a day, looking for food. We find him curled up in our camp chairs, and sometimes he just comes up to the screen door and looks in. That always leads to a tense “conversation” between him and the girls. But he never leaves our rig without a full tummy. #rvlife #fulltimerv #lifeisgood #kitty #cat
The downsides to the park are the distance to a good grocery store (there is a small one in Columbus, but it has very little in the way of produce), and the lack of nearby hiking trails. The park is only three miles from the border wall/fence, and there is a lot of Border Patrol activity in the area–not sure if that heightens or lessens the perception of danger, but we’ve never encountered anything or anyone that made us feel threatened. On the contrary, everyone on both sides of the border here is friendly and helpful.
Yesterday we spent some time going through all our clothing for the change in seasons. Our winter clothes were packed in a storage bin in the back of the truck, so we had to unload about half of our belongings to get to the bin. I went through my clothes first, and wound up purging a lot of things that either I had never worn, or that I had completely worn out. By the time I was done, I was able to fit my entire wardrobe, both summer and winter, into my little overhead storage compartment, and had nothing left to go back in the storage bin. Andy went through his clothes next, and since he’s a little more reluctant to part with things, he still had some stuff to go back in the truck. But as he said, he needs to keep that bin in the back of the truck anyway to create a flat surface on which to store the solar panels when they’re not being used. Honestly, the back of the truck is like a big Tetris puzzle!
So, where to next?
We have two days left on our annual pass for the New Mexico State Parks. We are going to try our luck at getting a first-come first-serve site at the nearby Rockhound State Park which is located just south of Deming. If we can get in there, we plan to stay for 9-10 days until we make our trip east to Mississippi for Thanksgiving. If we cannot get a site at Rockhound, we will probably try at City of Rocks, Oliver Lee or Leesburg Dam State Parks. All three of these should have sites available, but they’re a little more out of our way for where we want to travel. If we can get into any of these state parks, we will most likely purchase another annual pass on November 1, which will then be valid through November 30, 2020 (13 months).
We plan to allow ourselves about one week to travel to Mississippi. Once we enter Texas, we will have three days to have both vehicles inspected (since we were out of state at the time our tag renewals came due, we haven’t had them inspected yet), so we have to allow ourselves time to have that done. We considered heading east a little earlier and doing a bit of meandering and sightseeing across Texas and Arkansas, but then decided we’d rather just get across Texas as quickly as possible. West Texas is boring, and we’re not excited about the possibility of getting caught in some of the intense fall storms that the Dallas area is famous for. So once we head east, we’re going to high-tail it to Tupelo as quickly as possible.
We’re really excited about seeing the family for Thanksgiving!!
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