Red souvenir stand at Akela lures tourists


     New Mexico needs a Thing.

    If you've traveled Interstate 10 between Las Cruces and the Arizona border, you may have come to the same conclusion. Why should Arizona have all the fun? How has New Mexico survived all this time without a Thing?


  • COUNTY:  Luna
  • LOCATION:  22 miles east of Deming
  • NAME ORIGIN:  Unknown
  • GNIS Info & Map

    On the off chance you have no idea what I'm talking about and won't be driving I-10 westbound anytime soon, I'll explain. Some enterprising person in Arizona discovered someThing strange, and now showcases it along with other curios and souvenirs at a roadside souvenir stand. To make sure people visit, four thousand billboards (at least!) have been posted along west I-10 in New Mexico enticing motorists to witness the Thing for themselves.

    What is the Thing? I don't know, but a friend of mine - who knows about these Things - says it's a mummy. Another friend says it's an iguana. Someone else told me it was a crocodile that "hadn't been born right." Such is the beauty of the Thing, I suppose: its essence cannot be pinned down. It is all Things to all people. If it could be described in words, it would not be worth describing. You know, like that.

    Anyway, sandwiched between the come-ons for the Thing is tiny Akela. Once a railroad siding, Akela now serves time as a roadside souvenir stand. Akela is a very red place, and it's like that for a reason. The redness and the garishly-cool falsefronts of a make-believe Old West town catch a passing motorist's eye as suredly as a pretty flower attracts a bee. (I suspect that technically the flower thing is not botanically correct, but let's run with it.) You really want to make friends with Akela, but you get the feeling it would always be calling during dinner.

    Which brings me back to my initial proposition:  New Mexico needs a Thing. And Akela is the place for it. Why would people bother driving all the way to Arizona when they've got a Thing in their own backyard? So as not to seem like we're copying, we could call our Thing "The It" instead. Then we could put up signs along I-10 eastbound in Arizona that say "Forget the THING! Come see the IT!" and "Some THINGS Are Better Left Unseen" and "You'll Never Get Over IT!" and so on.

    This could be big. Who's with me?


(click on the thumbnail image to see a larger picture)

We could move all this stuff
of the way to make room for
The It.

Akela's false false-fronts are
a creative way to get you to
pull over.

From the highway, this looks
a lot more real.