Some 60 miles east of Lordsburg, halfway to Las Cruces, the dusty ranching and farming community of Deming (pop. 14,855) advertises itself as “Deming—Home of Pure Water and Fast Ducks.” This odd motto makes more sense than it may at first seem: Deming’s water comes from the underground Mimbres River, and every year at the end of August the town hosts the Great American Duck Race (888/345-1125 or 575/544-0469) for living ducks, not the rubber kind, racing 20 feet in less than two seconds!

All this may be little more than a cheap ploy to get hapless (or bored stiff, or both) travelers to turn off tedious I-10 and visit the city, but fortunately, Deming’s not a bad place, boasting the excellent Deming Luna Mimbres Museum (301 S. Silver Ave., 575/546-2382, Mon.-Sat., donations), three blocks south of Pine Street (old US-80), Deming’s main drag. Besides the usual range of old pottery, sparkling rocks, and pioneer artifacts, the museum displays an endearing collection of old toys, dolls, quilts, and dental equipment—well worth a quick look at the very least. Don’t be worried by the big tank parked out front—the museum is housed in the old Armory building.

Deming also offers great Mexican food (chorizo y huevos, fajitas, etc.) at El Mirador (510 E. Pine St., 575/544-7340).

Rooms are available at Hampton Inn and other national chains. The best place to camp is southeast of town in Rockhound State Park (575/546-6182, $5 for day use, $8 per night for primitive campsite, $10 for developed site), where, besides finding nice sites with hot showers, you can take home up to 15 pounds of geodes, agates, or quartz crystals.