columbus, nm

While staying at Pancho Villa State Park waiting for dental and optical appointments I decided to check out Columbus.  It is a very small town and very spread out.  I got out my hiking shoes and checked out the Historical Museum directly across from the campgrounds.

While there I met Jack and Paul who were the museums coordinators.  They were very interesting guys who gave me many tips on where to travel in the immediate area and where to eat in the town.

This clock was hit by a bullet during the Pancho Villa raid.  It stopped at 4:12am and never worked since.

One side of the museum was devoted to the Pancho Villa artifacts such as the clock while the other side was devoted to Columbus history.  They had many guns and other artifacts dating back to the1800’s.  This is an old desk just as you would see it in it’s day.

I’m not sure I would want to cook on this stove.

Outside they had a lot of railroad equipment from the early days.

This was the old Columbus Jail.  I would hate to be in it during the hot summer months.

An old fire engine.


An old Columbus hotel.

And finally the court house.  I am not sure if it is still in use.

I was invited by Paul, who I met at the Historical Museum to come to the town hall where he works and he would should me around there.  Supposedly there is a lot of local art works on display there.  I will probably do that later in the week.

pancho villa state park

Pancho Villa State Park is right on the border of New Mexico and Mexico.  It is only 3 miles from Las Palomas, Mexico and within the town of Columbus, NM.  Columbus is a very small town population 1,812.  Not too much going on there.

This is my camp site.  It was not too close to the highway so I didn’t hear any traffic to speak of.  The Border Patrol would come by about once per day and sometimes I would see their helicopter fly over.

The area is full of many different types of cactus and small trees.  They only get 9.4 inches of rain annually so it is a wonder that you can even see flowers sprouting up everywhere.

This is a grease rack used by General Pershing to service his cars in 1916-1918 in his attempt to apprehend Pancho Villa.  Very primitive but it worked.

Next we have the old Customs House.  It is still in very good shape.

While I was checking out the Customs House I happened to run into a road runner.  What a trip!  It wasn’t afraid of me and didn’t run away.  I followed it taking pics as I went and he went up the ramp of the Customs House.  Maybe he was used to going through customs in his travels to and from Mexico.

I finally made a short video of his travels.  The clicking noise is not me or the road runner but is created by my camera.  It only happens now and then so don’t know what is wrong.  It was fun to follow this critter.

This is a very pleasant park and one I would highly recommend. You have to walk about 1/2 mile to the nearest grocery store which has limited supply and the restaurants are even further, but all in all it was very nice.  It can get hot during the day but there was always a pleasant breeze.

pancho villa state park – visitors center

After the folks from the rally left I decided to stay at the park for several reasons.  The first was that I had made a dentel appointment with Dr. Karla in Las Palomas, Mexico.  Prior to making this appointment I talked with many people about the quality of dental care in Mexico.  Everyone I spoke with kept saying the same thing.  It is very professional and just like going in any dentists office in the US.  They also have all the most modern equipment.  The biggest incentive was the price.  You can get your teeth cleaned for $35 or a crown for only $150.  Everyone just praised their work.  So that was good enough for me.  I called and made an appointment.

While I was in Mexico, I decided to see about getting new glasses.  The last pair I got in California cost me $550.  I ordered 2 pairs (regular and sun both made to my prescription)  in Mexico and had my eyes examined as well on their modern equipment for only $245.  What a bargain.

The Pancho Villa State Park has an incredible visitor’s center.  It tells the story of Pancho Villa who with his gang invaded Columbus, NM in 1916.  This truck even had bullet holes in it from the raid.

General Pershing was assigned the task to travel into Mexico and apprehend Pancho Villa.  They even used Dodge sedans to help in their pursuit.

Aircraft were also used.

They even have a DVD that contains interviews with people that actually saw the raid.  At the time they were very young children but remember all the bullets flying throughout the town.  The pursuit by General Pershing was unsuccessful and they were never able to locate Pancho Villa. If you want to read more about Pancho Villa click here.

Saguaro Chapter 21 Escapees Rally

From Albuquerque I traveled south and spent one night at the Elephant Butte State Park.  It is one of the parks that was highly suggested by my new friends I met in Albuquerque.  I was joined there by four other Lazy Daze rigs.  This is the sunrise I saw the next morning.

Sunrise on Elephant Butte Lake

As much as I would like to stay here longer, I made plans to meet an Escapees group at the Pancho Villa State Park.  They are having a rally from 10/11 – 10/14 and I thought it would give me an opportunity to meet new people.  They are the Saguaro SKP’s Chapter 21 from Saguaro, AZ.  I had a really good time with them and met a lot of really nice people.  One night they had a band in to play and it was fun.

The next day we all went over to “The Pink Store” in Las Palomas, Mexico for lunch.

I took a video of the group having lunch.  It sounds like there was a whole mariachi band playing, but it was only one guy.

I haven’t seen a sign like this for a long time.

The time with the Saguaro Chapter 21 SKP’s didn’t last too long but it was fun none the less.  They are located in Benson, AZ and I’m sure I will run into some of them down the road.

balloon fiesta glowdeo

Each night if the weather cooperated (wind speed had to be less then 9-10 mph) the balloons would be blown  and tethered to the ground and then they would do bursts of propane to light them up.  The announcer would say 5..4..3..2..1 and all the balloonists would fire them up all at once.  What a site that was!



The balloon fiesta lasted 10 days.  I didn’t know anyone when I first drove into the park but I certainly left knowing I will have many new friendships that will last for many, many years to come.  We all went our different ways and at different times but it was hugs and handshakes all around.  I know I will be seeing many of my new friends in new places down the road.  I have already planned on meeting them back at the 2011 Balloon Fiesta

Albuquerque, nm – old town and balloon museum

The RV park offered a round-trip bus trip from the park to Old Town Albuquerque for only $5.  What a deal !!  The bus driver was very informative about various sites in Albuquerque.  Old Town was very nice.  It had a central park where a mariachi band was playing.  The shops all around the park were loaded with a lot of your typical tourist stuff, however several stores contained a lot of neat artwork including paintings, pottery, and local artisan’s wares.

The best thing was that I was able to get through the afternoon without spending much.  I bought a nice card to send to my Mom and a wine stopper.

The next Thing I did was go to the Balloon Museum.  That was really a neat place.  It contained numerous exhibits on all types of balloons.  There was a guide who went through each exhibit and gave you detailed information.  She was really great!

They even had the balloon that circled the globe pictured below.

This one also circled the globe but it was  a much lower and circled around Australia.

They also had many older balloons as well.

It was a very neat place.  This is something you should not miss if traveling through Albuquerque.

Balloon Fiesta – Fun stuff

When over on the field watching the balloons take off I also noticed some rather strange things as well.  This a mariachi band playing while the balloons were taking off.  Almost like the band in the movie Titanic.

A couple who actually got married at 5:30am in front of the funnel cake vendor.  I’m sure they saved a lot of money doing it this way.  How much more romantic can you get?

Taking a pic of a guy taking a pic.

The inside of a couple of balloons that were ready to take off.

There was lots going on so early in the morning.  Also a million vendors selling your typical fair food; roasted corn, huge turkey legs, pulled pork, stuffed potatoes and huge cinnamon rolls.  The only thing I got was a large New Mexico Pinion coffee which was very good.

balloon fiesta – up close on the field during the launch

One morning I got up at 5:00am (I really did) because I wanted to go across to the field and see them launch.  It was an experience that I will not forget.  The very first thing I noticed when I got there was the number of people.  It was about 5:30 and it looked like the county fair but twice as crowded.  Soon I realized why everyone came out so early.  They have what they call a Dawn Patrol each morning.  They are certain balloons that are selected to ascend in the dark.

The field is about the size of 2-3 football fields.  It is huge.  Each balloon has a designated spot where they lay out their balloon prior to launch.  They lay the balloon out on the ground and then start these huge fans to begin to inflate them.  Once they get to a certain size they can then start filling them with hot air from propane tanks in the gondola.

This pic shows the first balloon to ascend.  It was very dark and cold outside at this hour but thousands of people were there.  You can get right up to the balloons which makes it very exciting.

This is right up close to the action.

Once the sun started to appear all the balloons started preparing for “Mass Ascension”.

I took this picture so you could see the size of some of these balloons.  This wasn’t even the biggest one.

This crew is just getting their balloon laid out and ready for the fans.  You can see one of the crew members inside the balloon getting it all smoothed out and checking all the lines.

This pic shows balloons in different stages.  Some are already in the air while others are just getting blown up.

I like these pics because they show just what it was like on the ground.  There were balloons everywhere and anyone could walk through them.

This was a really great experience.  The balloons are wonderful to see in the air, but to get up close to them prior to ascent is really a huge thrill.  That is where all the action is.

balloon fiesta part 2

I will be at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta for 10 days so I am dividing it up into several entries.  I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.  Each day started very early and everyone was out watching all the balloons with their coffee in hand.

This was one of the special shapes balloons.  When I got up close it was really huge.

This was a great pic of “The Breeze”.  The nice thing was that I parked it the very first day and haven’t driven it since.

This cat belonged to Jim and Gayle, who are also fulltimers like myself.  The cat enjoyed just sitting up on the dash sunning herself.

I had several upgrades done to my rig while I was there.  Here you see Terry replacing my taillights with new LED taillights.  They are about 3 times as bright as the old ones were.  They make a huge difference, especially when stopping, signaling or flashing during the day when the sun is very bright.

Mike and Lisa also did several upgrades as well.  They hard-wired in a surge protector that will protect my rig and all of my appliances from damage caused by faulty wiring in a campground.  It also protects against too low voltage, which occurs on a hot day when everyone in the campground is running their air conditioner.  They also installed a Sea Level II Gauge that accurately shows the amount of fresh water, grey water and black water in each tank, battery level and LPG level.  I love this especially since the old gauges were so bad.  Finally they did a complete routine prevent maintenance on all my appliances including my generator.  This was money well spent.

Finally we had a pot luck dinner on Wednesday.  Everyone brought a dish to share with the group.   Mike and Lisa were also invited and Mike was kind enough to answer questions from our group.  He is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to RV’s.

It was a great get-together and we all ate well and learned a great deal about our rigs.  This was a very friendly group.  Everyone enjoyed getting together each night to discuss our days and have an adult beverage or two.