Monday, October 19, 2009

In the footsteps of Black Jack Pershing

A major part of our New Mexico trip was a joint rally of the Escapees Chapters 21 and 23 at Pancho Villa State Park in Columbus, New Mexico. In all, over 50 RV units attended this three-day rally on the Mexican border.

pancho-villa Columbus is the town that Mexican Revolutionary General Pancho Villa attacked in 1916.

John_J_PershingThe United States sent General John J.  “Black Jack” Pershing and the Army’s 8th Cavalry Regiment on a “Punitive Expedition” which chased Villa all over northern Mexico with absolutely no success.

We had an awkward start at the Rally. This was the first joint rally our two chapters had ever attempted, and the planning was at best difficult between the two chapters’ styles. Many of us were left in the dark as to what was to happen and when. We pulled in at 2:45 on a Tuesday, only to learn that the registration and games had begun at 8:00 that morning! When we asked about Happy Hour, we were told it started at 4:00, so Suzy rushed through preparing her big tray of salami, cheese and Ritz Crackers. We found out Happy Hour started at 3:30, so we were late again. Another OOOPS: while the Happy Hour started at 3:30, the hors d’oeuvres weren’t wanted until 5:00. when half the group went off to a dinner theater show!

It took us a couple of swigs of “amber fluid” before we relaxed enough to begin enjoying ourselves. And enjoy ourselves we did.

IMG_4478 Although we had missed a presentation by the State Park Rangers, we did attend one by a representative of the Border Patrol. Agent Gene Lewis gave an enlightening and enjoyable narrative about the history and operations of the Border Patrol.

(To see larger versions of our pix, click on the picture. Then return by closing the new window.)

100_3991We learned, for example. that all new agents serve a two-year stint on the nation’s southern border, even those hired specifically for northern border assignments. Agents manning those pesky “checkpoints” along the highways of our southwestern states quickly develop a sixth sense about the vehicles passing through,.They begin to know almost instinctively which ones can pass and which ones require a higher level of attention.

100_3994 Wednesday evening was a group dinner at the “Pink Store” in Palomas, Mexico. Although there were 70 of us going to dinner, the restaurant was able to take individual orders and serve them flawlessly, piping hot, in a very short time. Margaritas flowed freely before and during dinner, and the gang flowed freely through the store afterwards, buying gewgaws, trinkets, artsy stuff, and of course liquor at Mexican prices.

IMG_4564 We even came home with a new Kokopelli figure for the motorhome and a Kokopelli-decorated corner vase for our casita.






Oh, yeah, and a couple of bottles of coffee liqueur as well. One bottle of that will be donated to Chapter 21 for a Polar Bear Party later this year.

Before attending the rally, we had been warned by people we met casually not to enter Mexico, because of the drug gang wars. In fact, the Mayor of Palomas had been murdered just the previous week. Border Patrol agent Lewis, upon learning that 70 of us were crossing into Palomas, had simply said, “Enjoy yourselves!” He told us the drug gangs weren’t interested in us, they were just fighting over turf for their gangs. He did admit that “collateral damage” does sometimes occur. That didn’t slow any of us down.

As a matter of convenience, once you park your car at the border, shuttles from the Pink Store are waiting to carry you across the border, and they drop you off at the front door. When you are done, the same shuttles convey you back to the customs station and drop you at the door! For Suzy, that was bad. She didn’t have her mobility scooter, and parking was too far away for her to walk at the end of a busy day. A kind Customs Officer showed Suzy where she could sit, and where I could bring the car around to pick her up. I carried our purchases back to the car, came around, and saw that a lady from the Chapter was sitting and waiting with Suzy, keeping her company until I arrived.

Thursday, each Chapter separately held its annual meeting. As newsletter editors, we were there to take notes and pictures, and to ask questions.

IMG_4494 President Ron Chojnecki (you pronounce it, I can’t) led a good meeting, and sent us on our way.


That evening we attended the dinner theater show at the Tumbleweed Theater. They served a fine spaghetti dinner, then the staff climbed up on stage and gave us an hour of what they called Buffalo Grass music, not really bluegrass, but close to it, all dished up with some really cornball humor.


Friday morning was coffee and donuts, hugs and goodbyes until next time.We drove away, smiling as we remembered a very fun three-day rally. It was 86 miles to our next stop, Rusty’s RV Ranch in Rodeo, NM. We’ll tell you about that next time in … Our Life on Wheels.


  1. In spite of a rough beginning, it sounds like you all had a wonderful time together. At least Suzy didn't have to attempt a hike back to your car.

  2. After what sounded like a bit of a rocky start, it sure sounds, and looks, like you had a great time at the Rally. The trip to Mexico sounds like fun, I liked the idea of being taken right to the restaurant door and then back to the border again!!

  3. As always, I truly enjoy your posts!!

    Donna Daniel

  4. Awwwwww yes, the good old Pink Store. We really liked that place & made about 5 stops in there while getting glasses & some dental work done in the plaza behind. And I think I remember the Tumbleweed theater too. Thought Pancho Villa was a nice well kept RV Park. Nice little library there in Columbus as well.

  5. We were sorry to miss this rally, so thanks for reporting on it. Glad you had a good time. Don knows the Pink Store well, but that's an adventure I look forward to. It sounds like it's best to go with a group.

    I'm envious of your new Kokopellis. Can't wait to see them!

    I'm just catching up on your blogs; sorry for the delay in commenting.


Here's your chance to tell us what you think!