"There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit." - President Ronald Reagan.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Boy Scout Japanese Phrases

This year's international Boy Scout Jamboree is being held in Japan.

As a communication aid for the attendees, they Boy Scouts came up with this:

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

London Bridge Watercraft

One of the things on my "bucket list" was to try out jet skiing. Finally, I can now cross that off my list (although that's not stopping me from doing it again) as Denise and I went to Lake Havasu last week and rented a jet ski from London Bridge Watercraft.

London Bridge Watercraft is located on the banks of Lake Havasu at the Crazy Horse Campgrounds in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. While checking for a campground to stay at, we found that Crazy Horse Campgrounds was the only campground with on-site jet ski (and boat) rentals.

While planning the trip to Lake Havasu, I contacted London Bridge Watercraft and reserved a jet ski to use all day while we were there.

The price for the rental was reasonable ($200), but keep in mind that customers also have to pay for the gallons of gasoline they use. At least gasoline was about $2.00/gallon cheaper in Arizona than in California at the time.

Above, London Bridge Watercraft's rental office. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The jet ski we rented was a Kawasaki Wave Runner. It was easy to use and it handled nicely. Along with the jet ski, the price also included life jackets.

The staff was very friendly and they will walk customers through all the workings of the jet ski with all of the "how tos" that go along with it before allowing the watercraft to leave the premises.

The day before, we rented pontoon boat from them for a couple of hours. That, too, was a lot of fun.

There are several other jet ski rental businesses in the Lake Havasu area (they are mostly clustered on the canal near the London Bridge) to choose from. Since our experience with London Bridge Watercraft was a pleasant one, we wouldn't hesitate to use them again.

So, if you are thinking about going to Lake Havasu for jet skiing, I recommend London Bridge Watercraft.

My grade: A.

Decorating The RV

A motorhome to some, is just a vehicle to take one out for recreational activities, hence the words recreational vehicle (or RV).

To others, it is the above along with another word: home. After all, it is a "home away from home" to many.

Some RVs are very elaborate, almost akin to Saddam Hussein's palaces, such as Class A motorhomes. (Well, maybe not quite that, but not too far away.) Many are decorated with furnishings that would be fit for a king. Most, while nice inside, are a little on the plain side.

Mine, while nice inside, begged for some additional color. So, today I had some photographs from our recent Yellowstone National Park trip printed up and hung inside.

Adding some photographs also make the RV more home-like.

Here they are:

Above, a photo of the Upper Yellowstone Falls faces the entry door. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, three more face the dinette. Photo by Armand Vaquer.


Monday, July 27, 2015

The Countdown Has Begun For Tsukiji Fish Market's Move

Above, a vendor at the Tsukiji Fish Market. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The countdown has begun for the moving of the Tsukiji Fish Market to its new location.

According to the Asahi Shimbun:
About 200 vendors and wholesalers turned out at Tokyo’s Tsukiji market on the morning of July 27 for the unveiling of a board showing the countdown to the market's relocation in the Toyosu waterfront in Koto Ward. 
The digital board, erected by the association of vendors, intermediate wholesalers and wholesalers of vegetables and fruits at the Chuo Ward market, showed 469 days to the opening of the Toyosu market.
If you want to see the current, and historic, Tsukiji Fish Market before the big move, now is the time to do so. I visited the fish market in 2010 and it was a highlight of that trip to Japan.

To read more, go here

Japan Using British Model To Draw Tourists

Above, the Shin-Saikai Bridge at the Hario Straits in Kyushu. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The Japanese tourism industry is continuing to find new strategies for drawing tourists to places "off the beaten track."

The latest is that they appear to be following the model by VisitBritain.

According to an article in Japan Today:
TOKYO —Promote regional gems: that is one of the strategies being adopted by the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) to attract more inbound visitors. The approach is in striking synergy with plans, unveiled by VisitBritain in February, encouraging tourists to get off the beaten track and explore the length and breadth of the UK. Ryoichi Matsuyama, president of JNTO, wants tourists to journey beyond the “Golden Route” of Tokyo and Kyoto. 
“We have so many hidden treasures across Japan as you know, but they are not so well promoted or understood”, Matsuyama told the audience at a BCCJ luncheon at the ANA InterContinental Tokyo hotel. “We have to cultivate hidden regional tourism resources”.
This push will include increasing promotion of the country as a skiing and snowboarding destination, due to its quality powder snow. 
Part of the reasoning behind this strategy, said Matsuyama, is to provide relief for hotels in Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto, which currently have an occupancy rate of more than 80%.
To read more, go here

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Fukuoka's Seaside Momochi

Above, Fukuoka Tower. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

There is an area in Fukuoka, Japan on the island of Kyushu that attracted both Godzilla and Gamera during the 1990s.

It just so happens that Gaijinpot.com has an article on this section of Fukuoka. It is "Fukuoka's Seaside Momochi."

Within Seaside Momochi are Fukuoka Tower, featured in 1994's Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla and the Yafouku! Dome in 1995's Gamera: Guardian of the Universe.

The Gaijinpot.com article begins with:
People that come to Fukuoka tend to focus on Tenjin and Hakata. This is understandable because these two areas are very much the heart of the city; you can shop till you drop, see all of Fukuoka’s most famous temples and try all of its best food in these areas. 
It surprised me then, when a friend of mine came to visit last week and said, “Lets skip Hakata and head to Momochi instead!” Seaside Momochi (シーサイドももち) to give it its proper name is an area created in 1989 from reclaimed land along Hakata Bay in the north of the city. It’s an incredibly attractive part of Fukuoka with wide streets lined with trees, no phone or electricity lines above ground and plenty of interesting architecture to gaze at whilst you walk.
I visited Seaside Momochi during my trip to Kyushu in 2007. I took a special bus from Fukuoka's Hakata Station to get there.

Above, the Yafouku! Dome. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Kaiju fans can see the aforementioned two monster movie locales very easily as the Yafouku! Dome and Fukuoka Tower are within easy walking distance.

The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan spotlights Fukuoka on page 45.

To read more on Seaside Momochi, go here.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Mitch McConnell Lied, Says Ted Cruz

An interesting email arrived yesterday with the following (I don't know where it came from originally):
Ted Cruz to GOP leader: You lied. 
Firebrand Republican senator and presidential candidate Ted Cruz did something surprising in the Senate on Friday: He accused the head of his party, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, of lying to his colleagues.

“We know now that when the majority leader looks us in the eyes and makes an explicit commitment, that he is willing to say things that he knows are false,” Cruz (Tex.) said. “That has consequences for how this body operates.”

Cruz’s remarks laid bare, in the most august of settings, simmering tensions between the conservative activist wing of the Republican Party and the mainstream GOP establishment. In his 20-minute speech, Cruz accused McConnell (Ky.) of running the Senate in much the same manner as his Democratic predecessor as majority leader, Harry M. Reid (Nev.).  
“There is a profound disappointment among the American people because we keep winning elections, and then we keep getting leaders who don’t do anything they promised,” Cruz said. “We’ve had a Republican majority in both houses of Congress now for about six months. . . . This Senate operates exactly the same, the same priorities.”

On the Senate floor, Cruz accused "career politicians" in Congress of "looting the taxpayer to benefit wealthy, powerful corporations."

Prompting the outburst was McConnell’s move to prepare amendment votes on a must-pass transportation bill. After senators voted to consider the bill, McConnell set up votes on two controversial issues — a repeal of the Affordable Care Act and a reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank of the United States.  
The move incensed Cruz, who had announced his intention to offer other amendments and who, like many conservatives, strongly opposes the bank’s reauthorization despite the support it enjoys among a supermajority of senators. That puts him at odds with McConnell, who has attempted to keep major legislation moving steadily through the Senate and has struck deals and engaged in procedural maneuvers to avoid getting bogged down, with uneven success.

Though McConnell has personally spoken against the Export-Import Bank’s reauthorization, Democrats said in June that he had agreed to schedule a vote on the bank in order to get highly divisive trade legislation passed.

Cruz said Friday that McConnell, in a private Republican conference meeting, denied that any deal had been struck to pass the trade bill.

“I asked the majority leader very directly: What was the deal that was just cut?” Cruz recalled. “The majority leader was visibly angry with me that I would ask such a question, and the majority leader looked at me and said, ‘There is no deal, there is no deal, there is no deal.’ Like Saint Peter, he repeated it three times.”

Cruz said Friday that McConnell, in a private Republican conference meeting, denied that any deal had been struck to pass the trade bill.

“I asked the majority leader very directly: What was the deal that was just cut?” Cruz recalled. “The majority leader was visibly angry with me that I would ask such a question, and the majority leader looked at me and said, ‘There is no deal, there is no deal, there is no deal.’ Like Saint Peter, he repeated it three times.”

McConnell spokesman Don Stewart declined to comment. 

Lake Havasu Sunset

On the first evening we spent at Lake Havasu, we were treated to this beautiful sunset. There were still some clouds from the spent hurricane that came through from Mexico.

Above, sunset at Lake Havasu. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Tokyo's Best Outdoor Art (Guess Who's Included)

Above, the Godzilla statue at Toho Studios in Setagaya. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

If you are an outdoor art lover (or even a Godzilla fan) and are planning a visit to Japan's capital city, Tokyo, then you may want to read an article posted by Time Out Tokyo.

They include three Godzilla art pieces: the Godzilla statues at the Hibiya Chanter Square and at the main entrance to Toho Studios in Setagaya and the new Godzilla head that towers over the Toho Cinemas complex in Shinjuku.

They begin their article with:
Tokyo is filled with museums, alternative art galleries and exhibitions. But that doesn’t mean you need to pay to see some of the best art in the city – heck, to see these pieces, you don’t even have to go indoors. Here’s our list of some of the best outdoor art around town.
To read the full article, go here

Tsunagu Japan's "47 Tourist Attractions In Japan's 47 Prefectures"

Above, the waterfront of Yokohama's Minato Mirai 21. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The "Japan Travel Information Platform" Tsunagu Japan has posted an interesting list of attractions in Japan that they feel people should visit.

The list consists of "47 Tourist Attractions In Japan's 47 Prefectures."

They begin with:
Japan consist of islands stretched across north and south. And thanks to such geographical trait and difference in climate, each prefecture has its own unique features. We have selected one must-see tourist attraction for each and every prefecture.

I have visited several of the listed attractions at one time or another, such as Matsushima Bay (number 4) and Minato Mirai 21 in Yokohama (number 14).

To see these and the other 45 attractions, go here.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Crazy Horse Campgrounds In Lake Havasu City

Above, the beach area of Crazy Horse Campgrounds. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

This was our first stay at Crazy Horse Campgrounds in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. I have read other reviews and had a good idea what to expect.

Most of the reviews I've read said the campground is an older campground and could use some major upgrading and renovation. Those reviews were accurate.

Above, the boat and jet ski rental office. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Most of the picnic tables are old and weather beaten and need replacement.

We stayed at the beach ("I" section) and found that the sites were littered with trash and cigarette butts, which is inexcusable since there are plenty of trash cans available for use. The campground must be a draw to slob campers. The sites are in dire need of cleaning.

The beach sites have water and electric service only, no sewer. This is understandable considering how close the sites are to the lake. A holding tank pumping service is available (for $10). The pump truck stunk, so we referred to it as the "fece-mobile". (Yes, I know there's no singular word for feces. But what the heck?)

Above, our campsite. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

We didn't use the restrooms or showers, so we don't know what their condition is.

The pool (which includes a jacuzzi) area looked nice and clean and the store was well stocked.

Above, a view of the campground from the lake. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

I found the staff to be friendly and helpful. Despite the trash and cigarette butts, we enjoyed our site location (just across a road from the beach) and would stay at Crazy Horse Campgrounds again.

It is, we found, the only campground with a jet ski and boat rental service on premises (I believe it is a separate business entity from the campground).

The camping fee was a reasonable $40/night.

My grade: C+.

If renovated and upgraded, the campground has a lot of great potential as its location is perfect.

Japan On The Way To Setting A New Tourism Record

Above, Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Japan's tourism industry has had many reasons to smile about over the past few years. 2015 appears to be no exception.

If tourism figures continue as they are or expand, a new record number of foreign tourists will be visiting during this tourism year.

The Wall Street Journal reported:
The number of foreign travelers to Japan hit an all-time high of 13.4 million last year, but that record may be short-lived. 
The Japan National Tourism Organization said Wednesday that 9.14 million people visited Japan from overseas during the first six months of 2015, up 46% from the same period the previous year. The numbers are also likely to rise in the second half of 2015. Record numbers are expected in July, typically the peak month of tourism. At least 40 cruise ships from east Asia are also scheduled to visit Japan later this year, the tourism organization said.
To read more, go here

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


My first appearance at G-FEST in six years. Well, sort of.

Above, a shot taken during filming. Haruo Nakajima and yours truly.
Nice job, Nicholas!

Lake Havasu Fun Times

Above, Denise giving Aiden a ride on the jet ski. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Finally, I got to try out jet skiing for the first time and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Denise (along with her son Aiden) and I camped at Crazy Horse Campground (a review will soon follow) along the shore of Lake Havasu in Arizona.

Above, The Beast at the campsite. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The first day was muggy and hot due to the remnants of a hurricane originating in Mexico. But, on the second day, the air was much drier but still hot. But at least dry desert heat is more tolerable along with jet skiing on the lake to cool us off.

Above, the London Bridge from the canal. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

We arrived in Lake Havasu City around 2:00 p.m. We had a little difficulty in finding Crazy Horse Campground as there were no signs. Denise checked for directions on her smartphone and we were directed to the campground. We knew it was somewhere near the London Bridge, just didn't know how to reach the campground. The campground is located on an island and we had to go across the London Bridge to reach it.

Above, yours truly piloting the pontoon boat with the wind billowing my shirt. Photo by Denise.

After setting up camp, we took a walk to the jet ski rental office and we decided to take advantage of the late afternoon and rented a pontoon boat for a couple of hours (yes, they rent boats, kayaks and other personal watercraft).

Above, Denise and Aiden zipping along the lake. For an eighteen-month-old toddler, Aiden handled the
experience very well. Better than I expected he would. Yes, he had his own life jacket on. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

We cruised around the lake and the canal to the London Bridge. It was interesting to see the famed bridge that was dismantled piece-by-piece and brought over from London, England to be re-assembled at Lake Havasu City.

Here's what Wikipedia says about it:
London Bridge is a bridge in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, United States. It is a relocated 1831 bridge that formerly spanned the River Thames in London, England, until it was dismantled in 1967. The Arizona bridge is a reinforced concrete structure clad in the original masonry of the 1830s bridge, which was bought by Robert P. McCulloch from the City of London. McCulloch had exterior granite blocks from the original bridge numbered and transported to America to construct the present bridge in Lake Havasu City, a planned community he established in 1964 on the shore of Lake Havasu. The bridge was completed in 1971 (along with a canal), and links an island in the Colorado River with the main part of Lake Havasu City.
Above, the jet ski rental office. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The second day was spent riding the jet ski rental all day. Denise and I had an unofficial "contest" of who can go faster. She would go out and tell me of her top speed and then I would go out to see if I could top that, and so on. Eventually, she clocked in at 30 m.p.h. and I clocked in at 31 m.p.h. It was a little difficult to go faster as other people in boats and jet skis were leaving wakes in different directions. But, it all was good fun nonetheless.

Above, Denise and Aiden at the helm of the pontoon boat. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

We are thinking about going again next month since we had such a great time this week. Jet skiing is a lot of fun and addicting.

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