Treaherous Footing - A Cross Country Experiemce

When I heard that the Gallup cross country running team was not going to particpate in the Grants invite race I wondered why. After all, Grants is less than an hours drive from Gallup. The answer I was given: It is too dangerous. I wondered at that statement until I actually got to the course and took a look at the conditions. Lots of rocks and lots of uneven ground. Loose dirt and erosion from hard rains. Plenty of places for an athlete to misstep and twist an ankle or injure a knee. Here are a few images from the race, starting with a shot of one of the climbs on the course, which runners had to pick their way through.

The varsity girls cross country runners climb up the first rocky hill Friday during the Grants Invitational Cross country meet at New Mexico State University in Grants. During the race the front 13 girls took a wrong turn and missed the third hill of the course, resulting in them running a shorter course and finishing with a significantly faster time. Officials had no choice but to disqualify the whole group.

Grants Lady Pirates Elaine Torivio and Samantha Morgan run at the front of the pack at the start of the Grants Invitational Cross-Country girls varsity race.

Boys varsity runners begin to string out into a line at the start of their race in the Grants Invitational meet held at New Mexico State University campus in Grants, NM. Thoreau's Dustin Walthall finished the race the fastest, with teammate Marcus Toya close behind in third place.

Thoreau Hawk runner Dustin Walthill runs the final few yards to the finish line, taking first place in the varsity boys race of the Grants Invitational Cross Country Meet.


Looking Back at A Kidnapped Mayor

Former Gallup mayor Emmitt Garcia recounts his experiences surrounding his kidnapping and the ensuing gun battle between police and two Native American Activists, Larry Casuseand Robert Nakaidene, in March of 1973. Casuse was killed during the incident and Garcia still has 56 shotgun pellets in his body from being shot by Nakaidene. Garcia said, "They had justification for doing some things. Not for capturing and trying to kill the mayor."

Former Gallup mayor Emmitt Garcia recounts his experiences to a standing-room only crowd at Universtiy of New Mexico-Gallup's Calvin Hall, talking about his kidnapping and the ensuing gun battle between police and two Native American Activists, Larry Casuse and Robert Nakaidene, in March of 1973.

Former Gallup police chief Manuel Gonzales, left, and former mayor Emmitt Garcia talk together before telling their accounts of the 1973 kidnapping of Garcia by Larry Casuse and Robert Nakaidene in which Casuse was killed and Garcia wounded with a shotgun blast to his back. The two former officials spoke to Dale Mason's Indian Studies class at the University of New Mexico-Gallup Campus and answered questions from the audience.



Gallup Lady Bengal Erica Sowers spikes the ball over the net Thursday as they battled the Cibola Lady Cougars varsity volleyball team at Gallup High School.

Gallup Lady Bengals RayLynn Toadlena dives for the ball as the Bengals hosted the Cibola Cougars varsity volleyball team at Gallup High School.

Gallup Lady Bengal Mallory Chee (7) bumps the ball.

Gallup Lady Bengal Ashley Jackson (3) bumps the ball Thursday while teammate Vanessa Dick (11) moves behind to back her up.


Pedestrians VS. Trains

The problem with Gallup is the same reason Gallup exists today: the Railroad. Gallup was the name of the paymaster for the railroads way back, and so the town was named after him. The trains have been here ever since, and the city has been built around it, split into north and south by the tracks. WE have an astimated 100 trains travel through here each day, and right in the middle of downtown is a swithcing yard. The most direct route from the one side of Gallup to the other is to cross the tracks downtown, which can sometimes be blocked for 30 minutes or more while trains shuffle back and forth, switching tracks and dropping or taking cars.

The result is that people get impatient. People will try and beat the trains when the gates come down. Usually they do it in their cars, but sometimes while on foot. Today, as has happened far too many times before, one of the two men crossing the tracks didn't get across fast enough.

An orange evidence marking cone rests next to a pair of eye-glasses Wednesday after a pedestrian was struck by a train at the Second Street railroad crossing in downtown Gallup. The victim survived the impact, but died en route to a trauma center in Denver, Colo.

Gallup police crime scene investigator Emery Holly picks up a hiking boot while gathering evidence.

Gallup police detectives scour the scene Wednesday to gather evidence after
a pedestrian was struck by a train at the Second Street railroad crossing in
downtown Gallup. The man was airlifted for emergency care with head injuries, a
broken arm and other injuries, but reportedly died as the ambulance arrive at a
traume center in Denver, Colo.


Sharing and Caring for Our Troops

More than a dozen members of the Navajo Nation Honor Riders arrive on their motorcycles Tuesday at the Gallup Cultural Center with Navajo Nation Council speaker Lawrence T. Morgan to present care packages to the South West Indian Foundation for distribution to US Troops in Iraq.

Members of the Navajo Nation Honor Riders surround Navajo Nation Council Speaker Lawrence T. Morgan as he reads a proclamation Tuesday morning at the Gallup Cultural Center following a motorcycle run from Window Rock to Gallup. The Care Package Honor Run began in 2003 and are a collaboration between the Office of the Speaker, the Southwest Indian Foundation office in Gallup, NM, and the Dept. of Navajo Veterans to provide packages for active-duty service personnel.

Kyle Crandall, 4, (left to right) Brandon Reyes, 4, and Patrick Reyes, 5, hold hands with Leonard Day Sr. as they walk to their vehicle Tuesday after watching the Navajo Nation Honor Riders arrive at the Gallup Cultural Center on Historic Route 66 in Gallup.


Smoked! (A car fire)

Pedro Flores uses a garden hose while trying his best to douse the flames burning in his wife's Buick LeSabre as Gallup fire fighter Joshua Bond attacks the flames with a more powerful hose at 303 Ray Street in Gamerco, NM. The car, which had just recently had several hundred dollars in repairs completed, was a total loss.
Enveloped by toxic smoke, Gallup fire fighters use their SCBA gear to breathe while working to open the hood of a burning vehicle Monday morning at 303 Ray Street in Gamerco, NM.


The Cost of Uranium Mining

The following images are for a story series we have been working on at The Independent dealing with the effects of exposure to uranium by mine workers. Many have still not been compensated for their disabilities and in the midst of the issues of compensation and cleaning up the contamination, companies are trying to get the uranium mines to re-open in the Navajo Nation area.

A close-up look at Cippriano Lucero's hand reveals a strange growth on his index finger. Lucero says that many of the miners he knows have similar growths on a variety of places on their bodies.

A Sign attached to the fence surrounding the Rio Algom mine north of Milan, NM., state that the area is a radioactive materials site.

Johnny Lucero, a former uranium miner who lives in Milan, NM., talks Wednesday about his near fatal work experiences while working at the Anaconda mine. Lucero is suffering from a host of health problems, as is his brother, Cipriano (background), that they blame on their exposure to radiation while working in the mines.

Helen Savedra listens Wednesday as Linda Evers shares her experiences of working for a uranium mining company in the late 1970's, and the aftermath of her exposure to radiation which she says caused both of her children to be born with birth defects.

Chili Kicks on Route 66 restaurant owner Molly Chavez, a former uranium mine worker, reflects for a moment inside her Grants, NM business on the number of miners she knows who have died from illnesses believed to have been a result of radiation exposure.

A sign attached to a barbed-wire fence warns people to stay out of the area
as a grader and other heavy equipment move dirt around and churn up dust
Wednesday afternoon at the Rio Algom mine site along Hwy 509, north of Milan,

A heavy equipment operator wears only a ball-cap and a safety vest as
protective equipment on Wednesday while moving dirt around at the Rio Algom mine north of Milan, NM. Signs attached to the fence surrounding the area state that the area is a radiation materials site.

Strong winds carry misted water through the air and toward Hwy 605 at the
Homestake mining site near Milan, NM. on Wednesday.
(The water is the band of white seperating the forground from the hills, and during the interviews with miners I heard one person refer to the water as being contaminated. Whether it is or not I am unsure, but it certainly had a foul odor to it as you drive along the highway, which is downwind from the mine site.)

A closer look at the water being misted into the air at the mine site.


Friday Night Football

I found out just how out of practice I am at covering football with tonight's game. Added to being out of practice I was also trying out my newly acquired 300mm f/2.8 AF-I Nikkor lens. (Used for the first image). So, here's my results.

Gallup Bengal running back Damon Scerriffee (32) carries the ball up the middle of the Kirtland Central Broncos' defensive line Friday night at Public School Stadium in Gallup.

Gallup Bengal Zach Truncoso extends the ball out in front of his face Friday night, managing to break the plane of the goal-line and score a touchdown while being tackled by a Kirtland Central Bronco player

Kirtland Central quarterback Andrew Duncan (2) hands off the ball in the
backfield to full-back Joseph Tanner (5) during Friday night's varsity boys
football game against the Gallup Bengals.

Kirtland Central fullback Joseph Tanner (5) is brought down by Gallup
Bengals Aaron Sheridan (35) and Josh Lovato (82).

Gallup Bengal tight end Aaron Sheridan (35) and Kirtland Central Bronco
defensive back Bobby Smith (45) trip each other up in the end-zone Friday night
as the Bengals tried to score.


A Colonel and a Mayor

Col. Sanders look-a-like John Baxley shakes hands with Anita Lopez on Tuesday along Coal Avenue in downtown Gallup. Baxley, who has been an impersonater for the famous Colonel since 1992, made a stop in Gallup during a week-long cross-country road-trip in a quest to raise money for hunger relief. For each vehicle that honked as it passed by KFC will drop $1 into its ceremonial hunger relief bucket.

After getting the images of the Colonel I then was assigned to make images of the Mayor for a story about his first six months in office. I decided that I did not want to do a typical head & shoulders stiff portrait of Mr. Mendoza, partly because that is not who he is. So instead I opted for something less formal that, to me at least, gives a better impression of his personality.

Gallup Mayor Harry Mendoza is settling into his role after six months in office, which he says is a lot different job with different issues than when he served as a McKinley County commissioner.


Surviving the Battle: Cancer and Diabetes

Cancer Survivor -Grants school bus driver Carla Gallegos surrounds herself with children, whether the five in her home or the students she takes to and from school. Gallegos is a survivor of cancer, being cancer-free for almost 10 years.

Diabetic Treatment - Insulin Pump -

HeatherLynn Butler shows an item of paperwork to her father, Dr. Nick Augenstein, while working in his office with her mother, Sue, Wednesday morning in Grants. Butler is diabetic and wears a portable insulin pump which supplies her with a more controlled and constant dosage of insulin than she would get from injections.

HeatherLynn Butler displays the portable insulin pump she wears, which is attached to her abdomen, thighs or buttocks via a super-fine needle to administer a steady dose of insulin to help control her diabetes.


International Balloon Festival

After living in New Mexico for more than 10 years my wife and I finally decided to brave the crowds, the over-priced hotels and the early, early morning hour to attend this acclaimed event. At one time Kodak was a major sponsor of the event, which has been called the most photographed event in America. Hey, I'm a photographer, I can do that... but after seeing the Red Rock Balloon Rally in Gallup and having seen the crowds and hearing about the logistical problems of the Fiesta I decided "some other time."

I went on my own time, not as an assignment for anybody, so I carried a limited amount of camera gear and only took some images for myself, not for anybody else. It was a welcome change from always having to think about interpreting my assignments based on making things clear to an outside viewer.
In the end I had a good experience. The crowds were huge - the line to get onto the shuttle bus long, the line to get on the shuttle bus to leave three times worse. Still, almost everybody we ran into (pressed/squeezed into?) was having fun and joking around just trying to make the best of it.

A word of warning -- do not just pop in thinking that you will be able to find a hotel room, and prepare to pay triple the normal room rates. I had a room reserved and the hotel had some water leakage problems that ended up forcing them to place me at another property. The room was not as nice, and the price was going to be even higher except that manager at my original booking location made arrangements for them to honor my original reservation rate.


Triple Trouble - three separate accidents in three miles

Albuquerque based truck driver Richard Mathews uses his cellular phone Thursday afternoon after the truck he was driving jack-knifed near the 19 mile marker on I-40 in Gallup. Spots of fresh blood are visible on Mathews' shirt from a cut he sustained in the wreck, which he reported happened when an erratic driver cut him off and then came to a sudden stop, forcing him to either swerve to the shoulder or collide with the other vehicle.

A trio of women watch Thursday as a tow truck driver hooks their smashed SUV to the back of his truck near mile marker 17 on I-40 in Gallup. A sudden cloud burst dumped rain and hail onto the interstate, causing three separate crashes between mile posts 17 and 20, though none with any life-threatening injuries.

Gallup and New Mexico State Police officers have their hands full Thursday after a cloudburst contributed to three separate accidents in a three mile stretch of I-40 between mile posts 17 and 19.
Gallup fire fighters check on Albuquerque based truck driver Richard Mathews after he jack-knifed the truck he was driving Thursday along I-40 near the Munoz Overpass in Gallup.

(The third wreck, between these two, was relatively minor and I did not stop to make any images at it).


Festival of St. Francis

A statue of the Virgin Mary is displayed in front of St. Francis Church, where worshipers will host the upcoming St. Francis Festival to be held on Sunday. The festival begins with Mass at 10 am, followed by the Procession of St. Francis and blessing of animals, along with an enchilada dinner and other activities at St. Francis School on Wilson Avenue.

Father Eduardo Espinosa places candles into stands Thursday morning while preparing the sanctuary for Mass at St. Francis Church in Gallup.

Father Eduardo Espinosa discusses the placement of a painting with Rogelio Garciduenas inside the sanctuary of St. Francis Church while decorating for the upcoming St. Francis Festival.