In search of Pancho!
I went on a little ride this weekend – I finally got out of town with my new long-distance motorcycle seat! You can read about my last motorcycle trip here on RTA, last summer. That one ended up with me almost crippled for LIFE (uncomfortable original seat), so I refrained from any long trips on the bike until I got the new Corbin seat, which is made for comfort (it has better support and “tail ergonomics”).
My ride started Friday night in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /><st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Phoenix</st1:place></st1:City>, with a short ride to Globe, AZ (about 101 miles). On Saturday morning, I got started toward <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:City w:st="on">Columbus</st1:City>, <st1:State w:st="on">NM</st1:State></st1:place> at 8:00 a.m. My route went through <st1:City w:st="on">Safford</st1:City>, <st1:State w:st="on">AZ</st1:State>, Lordsburg and <st1:City w:st="on">Deming</st1:City>, <st1:State w:st="on">NM</st1:State>, then south on SR11 to <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:City w:st="on">Columbus</st1:City>, <st1:State w:st="on">NM</st1:State></st1:place>. I’d start riding after each stop, and cruise along at about 60 mph. The motorcycle runs very smooth – in fact it hums along like a jet. Pretty soon, the speed would start slipping up little by little, first 65, then 70… then… well, never mind. Let’s just say that on many western highways, with few towns and lots of miles to cover, you can really burn them off! Later, along I-10 between Lordsburg and Deming, it got windy. My bike is fairly light (less than 500 lbs), so I get blown around a bit when the wind is blowing.
<st1:City w:st="on">Columbus</st1:City> was my goal for this ride – it was the site of Pancho Villa’s invasion of the <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">United States</st1:place></st1:country-region> in 1916. This was the first foreign invasion on <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">U.S.</st1:place></st1:country-region> soil since the early 1800s! General Villa sent his troops to <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Columbus</st1:place></st1:City>, vowing to kill every American living there – the reason for his ire has not been determined according to Señor Angel Borrunda, a docent at the Museum and himself an immediate descendant of a rebel General! Some think that it may have been the Americans’ refusal to deliver guns for which Villa had already paid; others think it was because the United States allowed the Federalist troops to use the railroad that ran along the border (and through Columbus) between Bisbee and El Paso. Another theory is that Villa merely wanted to "withdraw" some money from the bank.
Anyway, in a 2 to 3 hour pre-dawn “raid,” the Mexicans encountered spirited resistance from the townsfolk and Army troops stationed there – even the local telephone operator, a courageous 19 year old, risked her life repeatedly to get the word out the town was being attacked!
When the Mexicans withdrew (on the run), there were many more of them dead than dead townsfolk. Within a few days, the American Army under General Pershing (whose aide was a young lieutenant named George S. Patton), had almost 5,000 troops deployed (and ultimately around 10,000). Using Columbus as a base, they chased Villa around northern Mexico for a few months, but never caught him. Pershing said at the time, “Villa is everywhere and Villa is nowhere.” But the officers and troops learned valuable lessons about 20th Century warfare which later served them well in Europe in 1918.
I spent the afternoon at Columbus, talking with Señor Borrunda, who had promised to answer ALL my questions (he's a spirited 77 or 78 yrs old), and examining the relics in the Museum. Then I headed west toward Rodeo, NM on SR9.
There’s nothing quite as pretty as southwestern desert grasslands in the golden light of a springtime afternoon. The highway (SR9) is a narrow two-laner, and runs along the grades built for a railroad (the <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">El Paso</st1:place></st1:City> and Southwestern), but the rails have been ripped up -- the last train ran in 1961, I think. You can still see the elevated grade, and here and there piles of ballast, or the remains of trestles. At Hachita, I got some photos of an old water tank, leftover from the days of steam! Off in the distance to the north, some thunderstorms were dumping rain on the desert -- but it was always sunny where I was!
Intersecting with old Route 80 just north of Rodeo, NM, I entered <st1:State w:st="on">Arizona</st1:State> again and headed toward <st1:place w:st="on">Douglas</st1:place> for the night, with a quick stop at Apache, near where Geronimo surrendered for the last time in Sept. 1886. In <st1:place w:st="on">Douglas</st1:place>, I got a comfortable and clean room at the Border Motel and then went out for a steak dinner at the Red Barn Restaurant.
The next morning, Sunday 4/17/05, I got started toward home at about 8:30 a.m. with stops in Bisbee, a quick-time “parade” through Tombstone (been there before!) and then I mixed it up with droves of motorcyclists and bicyclists who were out for Sunday drives along SR82 through Sonoita and Patagonia – I left SR82 at Sonoita and headed north to I-10 and Tucson on SR83.
By then, I was running late, so after a quick lunch, I skipped my original plan (from <st1:City w:st="on">Tucson</st1:City>) of using SR89, SR77 and SR177 to get to <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:City w:st="on">Superior</st1:City></st1:place> (GREAT motorcycle roads), then home on US60. Instead, I used I-10 to <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Phoenix</st1:place></st1:City>. It’s not as much fun, but it was QUICK.
I figured a running average for my gas mileage – from Globe back to <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Phoenix via Columbus</st1:place></st1:City>, it was 676 miles -- and I averaged 51.43 mpg! The total for the trip was 777 miles – but I lost my gas receipt from Globe so could not average the entire route. I normally get about 56 mpg in town, but got less on this trip perhaps because of the extra weight of all the stuff I carried in the bags.
Unlike last summer’s ride on old Route 66, I was not in physical pain afterward this time – I got a little fatigued and saddle sore – and a bit stiff – but later in the day after my return to Phoenix and home I was not feeling any of it – once off the bike, it went away.
I am SO ready to get back out there again! If you want to see one of the most beautiful parts of the southwest – and a land full of Spanish, Mexican and American history, I recommend this route. These roads are all in great shape. Come visit <st1:State w:st="on">New Mexico</st1:State> and <st1:State w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Arizona</st1:place></st1:State> – where you can still see what the old west looked like. Bug-eatin’ Bob
Sounds like a perfect way to spend a day. Thanks for the report!
I've posted a few photos from the weekend if you'd like to see them! They are in the album titled "Columbus." Bob
Note: the photo album mentioned in this post is no longer available for viewing. Bob 6/29/05
Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 02-23-2011 at 09:12 PM.
Reason: unfortunately these images are not longer there
Hey great road trip report!
You've been to many places I visited last December:o) I can recall the scenery and almost feel the sun on my skin just by reading your post!:o) I really enjoyed SR9 too. You should've seen the look on the faces of locals in Rodeo, Patagonia and Columbus when they saw my Quebec plate, it was hilarious!:o) I didn't visit Pancho Villa SP, I wanted to, but I had to get back home as fast as I could:( so I kept on driving to El Paso. I really loved the ambiance along the border (Nogales, Douglas and Columbus) and the Mexicans were really nice... ahem a little too nice actually:-), but it's ok. Next time, you'll have to bring me along or I won't forgive you, I adore this area! And thanks for the history lessons by the way, I always love to learn about the particularities of that area.
Que souvenez-vous vous?
Speaking of your Quebec plate and local peculiarities, I have always wondered what it is that you remember (Je me souviens) on your plates?
Je me souviens...d'un tas de choses!
It is our official motto of course:o). There still is an on going debate about what exactly that motto was about. It was first put up by Eugene Taché in 1883, the architect of the Quebec Parliament who carved these words at the top of the front door of the building. He also put bronzes of Natives, early explorers and missionaries, militaries, public administrators of the French and English regimes (like gen. Wolfe for instance) on the front of the building. He also let some empty space for the future generations but he didn't left us any writings about his piece. The contemporary interpretation is that he simply meant that we should remember about all that happened in our province. As simple as that!:-)
Beautiful. A short, fact filled response that went right to the heart of my question. You are not the first to whom I have posed this question, but you are the first to even have a clue as to the answer. I love that the explanation involves both local pride and a happenstance of history.
The Inviting Highway
Bob -- What a great posting. I truly felt I went along for the ride. I have been on most of the roads you mentioned and your vivid descriptions made me feel like I had visited once again. I enjoyed your pictures, too. My only critique is that the picture entitled "Long Lonesome Highway" should be changed to "Long Inviting Highway!" When I see pictures of such beckoning roads, I want to learn to ride a motorcycle and go!
Thanks! Long lonesome highway and long INVITING highway are kind of the same thing for me though... :) As far as motorcycles, I say go for it! Even if you've never ridden before, you can do it. Check into a Motorcycle Safety Foundation course near you! Bob
Awesome posts! I read them and I think "Pancho Villa sin camisa" while I'm doing it. This is a (danger)pleasure of travel, is getting taken in by an area's history, usually by exploring a town or even a street name, like "Mauch Chunk Rd." Sweet!