31 October 2008


Imagine you are Mary Silva of Socorro, NM and you are having coffee one morning when there is a knock at the door.

The man at the door says... 'your lot holds remains of the dead'.

Oh my.

FLASHBACK: February 21, 1862

The Civil War is in full swing and has found its way to the New Mexico Territory.

After routing Union Forces at a river ford along the Rio Grande and six miles north of Fort Craig, the largest fort in the southwest, over 2500 Confederate Calvarymen from Texas led by General Henry Hopkins Sibley marched 25 miles north to Socorro, NM where they ousted Union troops, 3200 men strong led by Colonel Edward Richard Sprigg Canby, and took over the local hospital to treat their wounded. Over the next two months 27 men were buried on a hill west of town.

These are just some of the soldiers who died in the Battle of Valverde. Over all about 256 men lost their lives and are buried in what are now unmarked graveyards in the area.

But Ken Garrason, the man at Mary Silva's door, knows where his Great Great Grand Uncle Thomas Garrason is buried: on her lot. A rocky patch of land as nondescript as any lot in this hardscrabble neighborhood of modest houses, ramshackled mobile homes and abanonded trailers.

Ms. Silva had no idea the land she had intended to leave to her children would find itself the center of a dispute between Civil War preservationists, the city of Socorro and herself.

Ken Garrason, a Civil War buff and officer with the New Mexico Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans says Silva's lot likely holds hundreds of human remains in a long abandoned cemetery.

NM state law prohibits Silva from doing anything with her land since it has officially been designated 'unmarked burial grounds'.

In 2004 when the city of Socorro paved Peralta Drive in front of Silvas house at least four suspected grave sites were unearthed.

If the property cannot be maintained as a cemetery Garrason wants the bodies exhumed and moved to a respectful site.

Mary Silva just wants land to pass on to her family and in fact would take equal value land in the same area. The state just has things on hold like a typical bureaucracy and nothing is being done at this point.


In 2005, Ghosthunters of the Southwest did a para-normal investigation of the Valverde Battlefield and had some eerie results. I highly recommend you check out their results on their website.

....ghost? smudge?? condensation???

Lots of pictures including re-enactment photos, photos of possible ghosts and most eerie of all, EVPs [electronic voice phenomena]. Yikes.


Excuse me while I turn a light on.

Check out the Southwest Ghost Hunters Association site at:



I'm out.

27 October 2008


I did not discover the mystery books of Tony Hillerman until I had lived in Los Angeles for several years.

Tony's books covered the adventures of Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee, native american investigators who solved murders and crimes in the southwest/four corners area of Arizona and New Mexico.

Several of his books have been turned into movies including The Dark Wind, Thief In Time and Coyote Waits.

Sadly he passed away Sunday in Albuquerque at age 83.

I've mentioned before that his books were fun and easy reads and where they worked best were in the descriptions of the customs of native people. Very colorful very informative.

It is his books that feed my hunger for discovering the state of New Mexico. He'll be missed.

26 October 2008


My friend Travis in OKC is the cub reporter for LAND OF THE ZIA and sent me pics from this years GHOULS GONE WILD, the second annual Halloween parade in downtown OKC.

Thousands of people dress up in their best costumes and march through the streets with torches. The Grand Marshal is Wayne Coyne, who with his bandmates of Flaming Lips follow the procession.

Albuquerque had something like it this past May called Crawl of the Dead. where everyone was encouraged to dress up ghoulishly and march up Central Avenue in Nob Hill going from bar to bar ending up at the Guild Theatre watching an anniversary edition of Night of the Living Dead.

This time of year is usually pretty cold and often rainy in Albuquerque; however, this week its going to be quite nice!!! No word on if there will be any kind of event here...dang.

I'm out.

23 October 2008


The Albuquerque Isotopes and the Los Angeles Dodgers have agreed to a two-year Player Development Contract (PDC).

“We are excited to welcome the Dodgers back to Albuquerque,” said Ken Young.

“The Dodgers franchise enjoyed so much success here over the years and they have a very strong fan base throughout New Mexico. While we feel that Albuquerque has really become an Isotopes town, we also know that there are generations of fans who still love the Dodgers.”

“We are thrilled to affiliate with the Isotopes,” stated Dodgers Chairman and Owner Frank McCourt. “They are a first-class organization and run one of the finest facilities in Minor League Baseball. We look forward to an excellent relationship and we feel those generations of Dodger fans will be very supportive.”

The Dodgers were previously the Major League affiliate of the Triple-A Albuquerque Dukes (1972-2000) as well as the Double-A Albuquerque Dodgers (1963-71). The 29-year relationship between the Dukes and Dodgers produced such Major League talent as Mike Piazza, Pedro Martinez, Orel Hershiser, Pedro Guerrero, Ron Cey, Bill Russell, Davey Lopes, Mike Marshall, Tom Paciorek, among dozens of other standouts.

During their partnership with Los Angeles, Dukes teams won eight Pacific Coast League championships under such well-known managers as Tommy Lasorda (1972), Del Crandall (1980-82), Terry Collins (1987), Kevin Kennedy (1990), and Rick Dempsey (1994). The Albuquerque Dodgers enjoyed similar success, winning Texas League championships under Roy Hartsfield (1965), Duke Snider (1967), and Del Crandall (1970). As an affiliate of the Dodgers, Albuquerque teams posted nearly 3,000 wins, racking up an overall record of 2,898-2,618 (.525).

The Isotopes enjoyed incredible success on and off the field as the Triple-A affiliate of the Florida Marlins from 2003-08. The club was 429-430 (.499) over those six seasons and won their division title in 2003. The club’s attendance has consistently ranked near the top of all of Minor League Baseball, and the 593,606 fans who came through the Isotopes Park gates in 2008 established a single-season franchise record.

“Florida was a great partner for six seasons,” said Young. “We are grateful to them for being so good to work with and wish them nothing but success in the future.”

The new affiliation with Los Angeles will bring a new coaching staff and players for the 2009 season. Details regarding those announcements will be forthcoming.

The Dodgers were the Major League affiliate of the PCL’s Las Vegas 51s from 2001-08. The 51s amassed a record of 561-586 during those eight seasons, including a 74-69 (.489) record in 2008.

As far as I know they name will remain Isotopes. I sure hope they change the hot dogs though to Dodger Dogs. I have been to one game since moving here [I'm just not a Marlins fan what can I say] and the hot dogs were barely three-biters, they were steamed not grilled and they were just as bland as can be.

Hey batta batta batta SWIIIIING!

I'm out

19 October 2008


The design for the 2009 New Mexico Rose Bowl Parade float was revealed today. Unlike last years winning but controversial entry this one seems to be wildly approved by the local-yokels.

Will Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner play as well in the 2009 Rose Bowl Parade as last year's space-aliens float, which won the Grand Marshal's trophy for "most creative concept and design"?

Float designer Raul Rodriguez thinks they will. "I was talking with (Tourism Secretary) Mike Cerletti," said Rodriguez, "and I asked him, `What's the state flower? What's the state bird?' When he said roadrunner, I thought `Beep, beep.' I knew we had a winner. "Everyone's in love with Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner," said Rodriguez, who grew up in East Los Angeles and will have 15 floats in the parade this year. New Mexico's theme is "Hats Off to New Mexico — Beep! Beep!" under the parade's theme, "Hats Off to Entertainment."

Rodriguez works with Warner Brothers in designing floats for Six Flags' amusement parks throughout the country, so he said getting permission to use the cartoon characters was no problem.

At an unveiling party of the float design at Chuck Jones Gallery on Thursday, director Mike Bundy talked of Jones' inspiration for Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner. "At age 7, he read Mark Twain's `Roughing It,' " said Bundy of Jones, who died in 2002 at the age of 89, after creating about a dozen character for Warner Brothers. "There's a passage where Twain describes a coyote that is so hungry and emaciated that he'd even eat a roadrunner." Bundy said Jones had always remembered the passage and that's where he got the idea for the characters.

Rodriguez explained that every inch of the two-story-high float has to be covered in natural materials. "We use blue statice for the Road Runner that we dry, and then we cut it and make it into a powder and glue it on," said Rodriguez. "The float uses every conceivable natural material from dry seeds and seaweed to orchids and uva grasses." The float is being built by Fiesta Parade Floats of Pasadena, Calif., under contract with the New Mexico Tourism Department. New Mexico's last Rose Bowl float cost about $180,000, with $75,000 covered by sponsors.

The 2009 float will cost about $220,000 with an estimated $170,000 from the Tourism Department's advertising budget, and the rest funded by sponsors, according to a department spokeswoman. The roadrunner's legs will be fashioned of yellow split pea beans applied one by one. And, of course, he'll be going full speed with revolving circles proving how fast he's running. The float's rock formations will spin and wobble to the musical sound track and the Road Runner's "Beep! Beep!" Wile E. Coyote will be riding an ACME rocket of dynamite — in an effort to catch the Road Runner — made of some 8,200 brilliant red carnations.

The backdrop of New Mexico will include more than 50,000 roses, with its rock formations in butterscotch and bronze chrysanthemums. Yucca blossoms will be made from more than 10,000 white dendrobium orchid florets. Black chive seeds and white sweet rice will pave the Route 66 roadway with signs to Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Roswell and Las Cruces along the way.

With more than 40 million Americans in 16.5 million households tuning in to the Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year's Day, the exposure brings national and international attention to New Mexico, said Cerletti. New Mexico hopes to bring more than 100 volunteers to Irwindale, Calif., near Pasadena, to work on the float. Bobbi Baca, a financial analyst for the U.S. Forest Service in Albuquerque, is coordinating the volunteers. "My sister-in-law and I went last year to volunteer and we had the time of our lives," said Baca.

The volunteers pay their own expenses to fly to California and for lodging. They work in two shifts a day from Dec. 26 until 6 a.m. on Dec. 31. "For me it's a working vacation," said Baca. "I was fascinated by the time and the creativity." Anyone interested in volunteering can contact Marian VanderSys with the New Mexico Tourism Department at 827-7417

I'm out.

16 October 2008

FIESTA DEL GLOBO [continued]

Here's the conclusion of the season premiere. The following are videos I took of the 2008 Albuquerque International Balloon fiesta. Enjoy!

Here I am at 5am on the balloon field. Believe it or not there ARE several hundred people out there with me. man it's early.


For the second year in a row the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta was marked by a tragic balloon death. The accident happened about the time I was getting on the bus to go back to the park and ride.

About 8am the Wings of Wind balloon piloted by Keith Sproul and Stephen Lachendro flew into a power line. The gondola caught fire and separated from the balloon envelope falling to the ground. Lachendro was killed and Sproul severly injured.

The balloon is of a triangle design and in the following video you can see it inflating. It is kind of creepy to have one of the last videos of this fateful flight.

12 October 2008


Welcome back to the third season of LAND OF THE ZIA!

Man, I have been busy looking into various adventures for this upcoming season. Scouring the internet and travel guides etc. I sure hope some of you can join me LIVE. If not you can bet I will post them here for everyone to see.

Winter is fast approaching the southwest so my post may be few and far between.
The Original Farmers Almanac predicts a colder winter but not as wet. We'll see.

It's October and that means Fiesta del Globo [Balloon Fiesta]. Tag along won't you...

Going to a mass ascension means getting up EARLY. Most days i have to be at work by four am so this is not so bad.

i do recommend getting there early. I was at the balloon fiesta park and ride by 3:45 am and was the first one in line.

Park and ride is really the ONLY way to go -- drive and you will find yourself in a looooooooooooong line not to mention having to find parking, etc etc. Trust me, take the park and ride, its free!!! With-in 45 minutes the bus was full and we were on our way.

Now even though you will see some cool pictures posted here, they simply do not do justice to BEING there. I would need to be a poet to just scratch the surface the emotions you get seeing these giant balloons rise before your eyes.

The experience of getting there in the chilly morning, blurry eyed and sleepy with thousands of other people, eating a green chilibreakfast burrito, seeing the first rays of sunlight coming over the Sandia Mountains and hearing the 'wooosh' of helium inflating balloons is something that stays with you.

Not to mention witnessing weather man Steve Stucker in his 'balloon fiesta pin' jacket and hat.... lol

The first balloons up are the Dawn Patrol. They record and report weather conditions especially wind speed. Balloons will not go up if the wind is over 10 mph.

The dawn cometh.

"Hello, Allstate? Yes, I'd like to file a claim please, hit and float..."

Thanks again for returning and i look forward to your comments!

i'm out.