Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988

  Around Town

Rainbow Gathering 1977A picture of the first New Mexico Rainbow gathering in 1977.

Rainbow gathering

—Margaret M. Nava, Signpost

If you were around in the 60s, you might recall seeing brightly painted vans and school buses driving back and forth between communal settlements set up in the foothills around Placitas. Known as the Lower Farm, Tawapa, Dome Valley, and Sun Farm, these settlements were home to hundreds of longhaired, idealistic hippies who rejected the mores of the established society, opposed nuclear weapons and the Vietnam War, and advocated peace, love, and personal freedom. They grew their own food, lived in tents and shacks, wore tie-dye clothing, listened to acid rock and folk music, and indulged in mind-altering drugs.

For the most part, life in the communes was uncomplicated. No one owned anything—everything was shared. Whatever couldn’t be grown or made by hand probably wasn’t needed. Children were delivered by midwives and loved by all. Mother Nature was respected, not exploited. There was dancing, handholding, meditation, music, and harmony. Life was good. Or so it seemed.

In 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated. In 1969, Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. Four students were killed at Kent State University in 1970. The North Tower of the World Trade Center was completed in 1970, the South Tower in 1971. All of a sudden, America’s attention turned to serious matters. Acid rock and folk gave way to heavy metal, disco, and punk rock. Had it not been for the Rainbow Family, the hippie culture might have been doomed.

Formed in 1972, the Rainbow Family (also known as the Rainbow Family of Living Light) is a loosely-run affiliation of individuals with the common goal of achieving peace and harmony on Earth. Each year, “Tribes” (or members) gather for one week at different national forests across the United States. In 2006, they were in Colorado; in 2007, Arkansas; and in 2008, Wyoming. With their roots clearly traceable to the 1960s, the gatherings are “an expression of a Utopian impulse combined with bohemianism and the hippie counterculture.”

Although these events appear to be chaotic, there does seem to be some organization involved. An unofficial web-based Mini-Manual discourages firearms, alcohol, radios, tape players, sound amplifiers, and power tools. Large kitchens are set up to serve free meals. The Center for Alternative Living Medicine (CALM) attends the sick and wounded, and a MASH unit provides emergency evacuation. There’s a Kids‘ Village for childcare, sweat lodges for detoxification, and a trade circle for non-commercial exchanges. Using money to buy or sell anything at a Gathering is taboo.

This year, the annual North American Rainbow Gathering takes place July 1-7 at Parque Venado in the Santa Fe National Forest twenty-four miles from Cuba, New Mexico. Various sources estimate attendance will be anywhere from five- to ten-thousand people. Forest officials, Cuba merchants, and local residents are concerned.

Cuba Mayor Richard Velarde told an Albuquerque TV station reporter, “Cuba doesn’t have a lot of resources for a crowd that size. I just need to make sure the health and safety of people are taken care of.” Lawrence Lujan, spokesperson for the Santa Fe National Forest, stated he had been working with the group for needed permits, even though permits are generally not required for non-commercial events on public lands. Merchants seem to have mixed feelings. Some worry their shops won’t be able to handle large crowds, others welcome them.

While it is true that Rainbow Gatherings bring thousands of dollars into the economies of towns near the gathering spot, it is important to note that there are no official leaders, no centralized organization, minimal sanitation, and no Rainbow Police. And although members espouse peace, love, and harmony, incidents can, and do, happen.

In 2008, Rita Vollmer, Public Affairs Specialist for the Forest Service in Rock Springs, Wyoming, issued the following report: “Forest Service officers were patrolling the main meadow area of the National Rainbow Family Gathering yesterday evening. The officers made contact with a subject that would not cooperate and fled. The subject was apprehended; once detained, other Rainbow participants began to interfere with the situation. Officers began to leave the Gathering site with the subject and were circled by more Rainbow participants that began to interfere. Another participant was detained for physical interference. Ten officers were escorting the detained subjects when about four hundred Rainbows surrounded the squad trying to leave. More officers were requested to assist in the main meadow area. The mob began to advance, throwing sticks and rocks at the officers. Crowd control tactics were used to keep moving through the group of Rainbows. Five arrests were made in relation to this incident. One officer suffered minor injuries and was cleared by the local hospital. A government vehicle also incurred damage during the incident.”

Gathering participants reported that the officers pointed weapons at children and fired rubber bullets at Gathering participants. A spokesperson for the ACLU said they were concerned about the behavior of the officers handling the situation and that an investigation would ensue. The following October, they issued a report but did not pursue legal action against the Forest Service.

So, if you think you’ve been seeing a lot of psychedelic school buses on Highway 550 lately, don’t worry. You’re not having flashbacks.

Without question, those who attend the Parque Venado Gathering will be treated to spectacular scenery and gracious hospitality, New Mexico style.

Fenton Lake campsite

Camp in the beautiful Ponderosa Pine Forest at Fenton Lake.

Camping in Sandoval County

—Margaret Nava, Signpost

In these tough economic times, it seems everyone is pinching pennies. A lot of people are cutting back on nonessentials, many are clipping coupons and some are opting for staycations—staying home and pretending they’re somewhere else. But there’s another way to save money—camping. That’s right, that thing you used to do when you were a kid and thought sleeping on the ground was cool.

Camping is the perfect way to break away from everyday stress, spend quality time with the family and enjoy the scenic wonders of nature. It doesn’t cost much, you don’t have to wait in long lines, and if you live in Sandoval County, you don’t have to drive three days to get to a campground. Here are just a few:

Once a nesting area for migratory waterfowl, Fenton Lake State Park north of Jemez Springs is surrounded by beautiful ponderosa pine forests. At an elevation of 7,900 feet, the thirty-seven-acre lake, stocked with rainbow trout, is an ideal place to cast a line or laze around in a canoe or rowboat. For as little as $8 per night ($180 for an annual pass), campers can choose sites in mountain meadows or along the canyon bottom of the Rio Cebolla. A group shelter, picnic areas, restrooms (no showers), wheelchair accessible platforms and pay phones are also available. Fenton Lake makes an excellent base camp for touring nearby natural hot springs, Jemez Falls, Soda Dam, Seven Springs Fish Hatchery and the Valles Caldera National Preserve. Reservations may be made by calling (877) 655-7787 or logging on to

Five miles northeast of Ponderosa, the Paliza Campground features distinctive Adirondack-style lean-tos built when the site was a Civilian Conservation Camp back in the 1930s. Red rock cliffs, cool ponderosa pines and aspens, and a covered pavilion make this hilltop campground the perfect spot for a quiet, scenic, and memorable vacation. Birdwatchers can study hummingbirds and bats; mountain bikers can pedal the twelve-mile Paliza Canyon Loop Trail; wine-lovers can sample three distinctly different Riesling wines at the Ponderosa Valley Vineyard & Winery. Recently renovated, the campground includes tent platforms and family sites ($8), a group site ($50), picnic tables, fire rings, lantern posts, and vault toilets, but no showers or electric hook-ups. For reservations, contact Reserve America at (877) 444-6677 or

Cochiti Dam, one of the ten largest earth-fill dams in the United States, was built by the Army Corps of Engineers to control flooding and sediment on the Rio Grande. The resultant twelve-hundred-acre no-wake lake has two recreation areas, one on each side, providing boat launching, swimming, camping and picnicking facilities. With the prevalence of wind, sailing and sail boarding are also popular. Many of the sixty campsites include water and electricity ($12). Restrooms and shower facilities are also available. Located within the boundaries of the Pueblo de Cochiti Indian Reservation, nearby attractions include the Cochiti Lake Visitor Center with exhibits on the history and natural resources of the area, the eighteen-hole Pueblo de Cochiti Golf Course, Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument and Dixon’s Apple Orchard. Contact or (877) 444-6777 for reservations.

Close to home yet a world apart, Coronado Campground in Bernalillo sits high on a bluff overlooking the Rio Grande, the Bosque, the foothills and the ever-changing northwest face of the Sandia Mountains. Campers can tour the adjacent Coronado State Monument with its Indian artifacts and partially reconstructed ruins or spend time wandering through unique shops in historic Bernalillo. Jemez Dam, Tamaya Resort, and the Twin Warriors Golf Course are down one road; Sandia Man Cave and the East Mountains are up another. Two camping areas offer RV sites with water and electric ($20) or rustic tent sites ($14). There are picnic areas, shelters, showers, and an RV dumping station. Call (505) 867-3311 for reservations.

Those wishing to test their survival skills should check out the San Pedro Wilderness in the Santa Fe National Forest near Cuba. Covering more than forty-one thousand acres, this pristine area is teeming with lush forests, wildflower-filled meadows, and rolling mountains. Elk, deer, and black bear call it home, as do the myriad birds that fill its dense forests and the Rio Grande Cutthroat that swim its tranquil streams. Hiking is a major attraction as there are nine major hiking trails here, including forty miles of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail. This is also the perfect area for fishing, horseback riding, wildlife viewing, and, of course, primitive camping. The Resumidero and Rio Puerco Campgrounds off FR 93 southeast of Gallina offer free sites and a few fire rings but no hookups or water. The Rio de las Vacas and Clear Creek Campgrounds east of Cuba on NM 126 have more facilities ($8 a night) but, once again, no hookups and limited water. For more information, contact the Coyote Ranger District at (575) 638-5526 or the Cuba Ranger District at (575) 289-3264.

Just north of Sandoval County, Bandelier National Monument is a place to spend time. Best known for its mesas, sheer-walled canyons and ancestral Pueblo dwellings, Bandelier also includes twenty-three thousand acres of designated wilderness and over seventy miles of hiking trails. Rangers lead guided walks through the ruins and conduct evening campfire programs on weekends. The popular Nightwalk, a silent walk in the darkness of Frijoles Canyon, is offered Wednesday nights during the summer. There are three different ways to camp in Bandelier. The three-loop Juniper Family Campground ($23) rarely fills and features paved parking, grills, picnic tables, flush toilets and drinking water but no hookups. The two-site Ponderosa Group Campground ($35 per site) can accommodate fifty campers per site, but requires advance reservations. Backcountry camping is free with a permit obtainable at the visitor center. For more information, call the visitor center at (505) 672-3861, ext. 517 or log on to

For a complete list of campgrounds in and around Sandoval County, contact the Sandoval County Visitor Center at (505) 867-8687 or Then dig out your old tent, buy some marshmallows and chocolate, and go camping. It’s fun; it’s rejuvenating; and it’s affordable.

Safe travel routes within Rainbow Family Gathering site

Safe travel routes have been developed within the Rainbow Family Gathering site—the Parque Venado area within the Santa Fe National Forest Cuba Ranger District. “We are addressing the issue of increased traffic safety for local communities, the general public, Rainbow Gathering participants, and for administrative use (e.g., emergency vehicles, permittees, and Forest Service, and other agencies),” announced Incident Commanders (ICs) Derek Padilla and Gene Smithson.

Effective Friday, June 19 at 8:00 a.m., a one-way travel route will be used from the junction of Forest Road (FR) 69 and FR 70 west to the San Gregorio trailhead. This will eliminate vehicle congestion in an area where turnouts are quite limited. “Another benefit is hav[ing] a safe and efficient road travel system in place before the influx of Rainbow participants. Attendance at the yearly Gatherings averages about ten thousand. At this time, we estimate about six hundred participants have already arrived,” said IC Padilla.

ICs Padilla and Smithson urge all vehicle drivers to take necessary precautions to ensure that all road travel is conducted safely. Vehicles of several types and sizes will be traveling along the roadways, creating situations where safety can easily be compromised. “Drive defensively, use headlights, lower speed limits, use seat belts, and watch for oncoming traffic. Stay alert and be aware of surroundings at all times, particularly any pedestrians,” the ICs add.

It is also important to travel carefully on narrow roads that are mostly one lane, graveled with blind corners, and with many areas that lack turnouts. Muddy road conditions can also be expected as the rainy season approaches and intensifies.

The Forest Service’s Event Information telephone number has been activated at (505) 438-5685. Information regarding the coordinated effort to manage the Rainbow Family Gathering on national forest system lands will be provided to communities, agencies, and the general public from 8:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m.

Bernalillo hosts fireworks showcase: Sundown July 3rd

Residents are invited to the annual Town of Bernalillo Independence Day Fireworks Showcase on Friday, July 3 at the Bernalillo High School football field. The event will begin at sundown. Personal fireworks and alcoholic beverages are not permitted on the field. For more information, please call Fire Chief John Estrada at (505) 991-1937.

Rio Grande cottonwood trees will also be on sale at the high school starting at 4:00 p.m. Call Carla Salazar at (505) 771-7114 for more information.

PGA National Championship

Round One; David Desantis of Sandy, Utah (right) and Van Brandt of Colton, Ohio finish hole number 10 at the Twin Warriors Golf Club for the PGA National Championship. The PGA event started Sunday, June 28 and ran through July 1. Over 300 golfers competed for a berth in the PGA Championship in August.

The 42nd Annual PGA Professional National Championship: a big hit for Twin Warriors Golf Club and the local economy

Cloudy skies and a cool breeze made for perfect weather for the professional golfers that participated in the 42nd Annual PGA Professional National Championship that began on Sunday, June 28 at Twin Warriors Golf Club on the Pueblo of Santa Ana.  More than 300 professional golfers from all over the U.S. participated in the event. Broadcast live on The Golf Channel to an international audience, the championship automatically qualified the top 20 players to participate in the 91st PGA Championship, August 13 through 16, at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota. The Championship will also determine the 10 members of the 2009 United States PGA Cup Team, which faces Great Britain & Ireland, September 18 through 20, in the 24th PGA Cup at The Carrick in Loch Lomond, Scotland

“This is pretty exciting for New Mexico and Twin Warriors Golf Club,” said  Jerry Westenhaver, general manager of the Hyatt Regency. “These are the future stars of the PGA. This is a life-time dream for these guys.”

   There were three New Mexico professionals playing in the Championship. Scott Gates of Four Hills Country Club, Bill Harvey of Arroyo del Oso Golf Course and Bob May of Las Campanas in Santa Fe.  

The players brought their A-game as well as their wallets. As a result, the PGA Professional Championship made a major economic impact on the Albuquerque-metropolitan area with more than $1 million boosting the economy in Albuquerque, Bernalillo and the pueblo during the five-day event. Economic benefits included job creation to help with the event as well as hotel, restaurant, and transportation revenue.   

Over 10,000 man hours went into the preparation of the metro area and golf course for the tournament. In addition to the hundreds of new jobs created, more than 800 volunteers help pull the whole thing together.

This is not the first time Twin Warriors hosted this prestigious event. The course was already in The PGA of America record books as the longest course setup in the history of PGA Championship events, playing to 7,624 yards for the 2003 National Championship.  

Summertime swimming in Bernalillo

The Bernalillo swimming pool is open to the public Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Adult lap swim is on Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 10:00 a.m. to noon. Fees are $1 for children ages twelve and under; $1.50 for teenagers ages thirteen to eighteen; $2 for adults; and $1 for seniors fifty-five and older. Laps for adult swim can be reserved for $3 for thirty minutes. Call Jason Soto at (505) 238-0689 for more information.

Rio Rancho celebrates Independence Day with several events

On Saturday, July 4 the city of Rio Rancho will recognize our country’s Independence Day with several events.

A parade will start the day’s activities when it kicks off at 10 a.m. and heads east from Country Club Drive down Southern Boulevard and ends on Pinetree Road near the Esther Bone Memorial Library and the Veterans Monument Park. Entries consisting of classic cars, military organizations and much more will make up this year’s parade.

As part of the parade, the Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department encourages children and their parents to participate by riding decorated bicycles. Prizes in three different age groups - ages two to five, six to eight, and nine to twelve - will be awarded to the bike that is decorated the best, is most patriotic and is most original. Bikes will join the last entry in the parade as it travels down Southern Boulevard.

Registration for the bike contest will be in the Albertson's parking lot on Southern Boulevard starting at 9 a.m. You must be registered and have a parade number issued to participate in the contest.

Immediately following the parade, a ceremony marking the 233 anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence will take place at the Veterans Monument Park. The ceremony will begin at approximately 11 a.m. and will consist of several guest speakers including Mayor of Rio Rancho Tom Swisstack. Bike-decorating prizes will be awarded at the end of the ceremony.

Later in the day there will be a Fireworks Extravaganza as Rio Rancho will once again have one of the best fireworks shows in the state on our country’s Independence Day. Loma Colorado Park, 555 Loma Colorado Drive NE, will be the best location to watch this highly entertaining display that will fill the city's skyline.  Parking will be available at Rio Rancho High School - adjacent to the park - for a fee of $5 per car or van load with proceeds benefiting the Rio Rancho High School Booster Club. Handicapped parking will be located at the parking lot next to the park.

The park will open to the public at 4 p.m. and the live musical entertainment will begin immediately with The Brahma Band performing a variety of music styles. The Hit Squad will perform classic rock and country music from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and The StingRays will conclude the night's entertainment when they are on stage playing classic and modern rock music from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. The fireworks show will begin at approximately 9:30 p.m.

Not only will visitors have live music to enjoy before the fireworks, but there will also be activities for children and food available for purchase.  O'Hare's Grill and Pub will have hot dogs, barbecue sandwiches, cotton candy, shaved ice and much more available.

Lastly, an amateur pie baking and salsa contest will take place as part of the Fireworks Extravaganza. Judging and the awarding of ribbons for best pie and salsa will start at 5 p.m. Those wishing to participate in these contests must register before July 1 by calling (505) 891-5015. The registration fee is $2 per entry.

The fireworks show and its start time are subject to weather. This is an alcohol-free event.  There is no event fee to attend the Fireworks Extravaganza.

For more information about on any of these events please call the Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department at (505) 891-5015 or visit the city online,

The Corbin Hayes Memorial 4th of July 4 on 4 Flag Football Tournament will also be held on July 3 through 5, Rio Rancho High School will host the Corbin Hayes Memorial 4th of July 4 on 4 Flag Football Tournament. For registration and more information please visit,, or call (575) 317-3397.

Bernalillo address canvassing project; in the works

In an effort to provide better emergency response to the citizens of the Town of Bernalillo, town officials have announced an address canvassing campaign to check that all residences and businesses have address numbers that are visible from the roadway, and that the numbers are in the E911 dispatch center database.

Over the next few weeks, the Town of Bernalillo Police and Fire and Rescue Department personnel and volunteers will conduct a community outreach effort to improve 911 response times by correcting and/or improving address number sign information. Some Town of Bernalillo residents would be surprised to know that their home may not be found on the region’s most critical maps and databases. This might not be that important on an ordinary day, but could mean life or death in the case of an emergency.

Staff and volunteers will look for homes, businesses, or other premises with missing, old or incorrect addresses and provide new address numbers or apartment unit letters free of charge. Town citizens can also stop by the Town Hall to pick up their free address numbers and letters.

New Mexico’s E911 project is a service that automatically provides the regional 911 dispatchers with a location and address on the 911 call that has come in. The technology and accuracy of the E911 continues to improve. Enhancements can now locate calls from a cell phone as well as the regular landline home phone. But occasionally, when the Bernalillo emergency response unit arrives in the area, the residence or business has no visible number or an inaccurate address number sign. In some cases, in violation of municipal code and state law, there is no address sign at all.

This public safety effort is in conjunction with establishment of the town’s new geographic information (GIS) mapping system which will update and track address data and support the regional E911 operation. GIS allows for a seamless integration of E911 mission critical data with county and state 911 systems. Mayor Patricia A. Chávez states, “The safety of our citizens is a priority and the town’s investment in this technology will bring us into the twenty-first century to ensure prompt emergency response when required.”

If you have any questions or comments, please contact GIS Services for the Town of Bernalillo at (505) 867-3311.

San Ysidro Church, Corrales

Corrales Historical Society to host open house events

The historic Old San Ysidro Church is opening its doors to visitors on Sundays July 5, 12, 19, and 26; August 2, 9, 16, and 23; and September 13 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. Corrales Historical Society docents will be on hand to give tours and answer questions. On display will be archival information about the church, along with historical artifacts. Docents will show the new video, Heart of the Village: a History of the Old San Ysidro Church, which tells the impact the Old Church has had on the Village of Corrales through the years.

Souvenirs including local flavor cookbooks, church retablos, jewelry, note cards, and more will be available for sale. The church is located at 966 Old Church Road, across from Casa San Ysidro in Corrales.

Cops in the park

—Town of Bernalillo

Mayor Patricia A. Chávez and Bernalillo Recreation and Police Department personnel invite the public to “Cops in the Park” on Friday, July 24 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Rotary Park. The event will feature law enforcement, fire and rescue, and military agencies which work together to make our community safe. Camp Coronado day campers and residents will get an opportunity to see the police vehicles, fire engines, and rescue helicopter up-close and in a positive environment.

Activities, informational material, music, demonstrations, fun jumps, and refreshments are also part of the event. Come get to know what role each agency plays in improving our quality of life.

Coronado State Monument announces upcoming events

Coronado State Monument presents the third in its 2009 Summer Lecture Series “Twilight under the Portal.”Alex Candelaria Sedillos, monument ranger and historian presents his third talk on the history of the area on July 11 at 7:30 p.m. His lecture is entitled, “Oy, back so soon? Life with Don Juan.” There is no admission fee for attendance and refreshments will be sponsored by The Friends of Coronado State Monument.

On July 12 from 12:00 to 3:00 p.m., the Pastel Society of New Mexico will hold an art show and sale under the portal.

On July 19 from 12:00 to 4:00 p.m., The Friends of Coronado State Monument will sponsor a flint knapping demonstration. This program is in memory of the well-known flint knapper and friend and board member of The Friends of Coronado State Monument, Luther Rivera, who passed away August 9, 2008. Knapping New Mexico—a diverse group of individuals from all over the state of New Mexico—will present the demonstration. The members of Knapping New Mexico are drawn to the ancient art of creating arrowheads, knives, atlatls, spears, and many other kinds of tools made of stone using methods of long ago.

Coronado State Monument is located at 485 Kuaua Road, west of the town of Bernalillo, off I-25 on Highway 550.






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