Thursday, April 27, 2017
|Above, back at the Keene Ranch near Tehachapi tomorrow. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
For the first time in ages, I will be in a doctor's office for myself. For the past few years, I have been in medical offices for others.
For the past two weeks, I have been plagued by congestion and a cough. At first, I thought it was my usual allergies, but it was more than that. It affected my sleep. I would average about three hours of sleep in the beginning. As far as I know, I didn't catch a cold. I tried Mucinex nighttime formula, but that didn't help. I tried a humidifier, that only made the congestion worse. Then, I went with NyQuil and that worked in getting me a full night's sleep. I actually slept 12 hours one night.
I decided that I've had enough so I am going to the doctor this afternoon to see if there's something that can knock it off. Since I have medical coverage, I may as well use it. I am hoping that it is something like bronchitis, which I know will resolve itself.
Tomorrow, Glenn Thornhill and I will be headed to the Platrix clampout at the Keene Ranch near the Tehachapi Loop for the weekend. Maybe some fresh mountain air will be some help.
Yesterday, Glenn and I mailed in our fees for the Billy Holcomb Chapter clampout that will take place the following weekend out near the Calico Ghost Town and Barstow. So, we'll be camping out two weekends in a row. Nice way to start this year's camping season.
I hadn't been to Calico since the early 1990s when I attended a Boy Scout camporee. That was fun. I had a tent trailer at the time.
This will be the first Billy Holcomb clampout for me since 2007.
I like my new doctor, Dr. Nguyen. He gave me a full exam and found that I have bronchitis.
At first, he gave me a scare as he was listening to my chest, He said he was hearing "something suspicious", which makes all kinds of things go through your mind.
The longest part was getting permission from the insurance people for a chest x-ray. Once permission was given, we proceeded to the x-ray room. As my mind was still on what he said, I didn't think to empty my shirt pocket.
After the x-ray was done, we went to his office to see the result. He said, "I see what the problem is, you have a cell phone in your chest!" So we re-shot the x-ray.
Nice to have a doctor with a sense of humor. A "Nguyen-Nguyen" in my book. (In case you don't get it, Nguyen is pronounced "win".)
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
|Above, the Pearl Harbor Naval Base and nearby Honolulu would be prime targets. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
Another national security failure of the Obama Administration appears to be getting worse by the day.
That is the failure to put a halt to North Korea's nuclear weapons and missile program. Now they are threatening Hawaii.
According to McClatchy DC Bureau:
WASHINGTON The Pentagon needs to consider deploying new anti-ballistic missile systems and a defensive radar to Hawaii to protect against a growing threat from North Korea, the top U.S. military officer in the Pacific told Congress on Wednesday.
“Kim Jong-Un is clearly in a position to threaten Hawaii today, in my opinion,” Adm. Harry Harris, the chief of U.S. Pacific Command, told the House Armed Services Committee. “I have suggested that we consider putting interceptors in Hawaii that . . . defend (it) directly, and that we look at a defensive Hawaii radar.”
The U.S. currently has anti-missile interceptors at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and in Fort Greely, Alaska.
Harris was repeatedly questioned by lawmakers from Hawaii on the threat posed to their state.
The current defense architecture “is sufficient to protect Hawaii today, but it can be overwhelmed,” he cautioned. “Somewhere, we would have to make a decision about which missiles to take out, and that’s a hard decision.”
Harris warned that North Korea’s testing is picking up speed and becoming more aggressive; the country conducted more than 20 ballistic missile tests last year.Meanwhile, we are doing our own missile testing. A Minuteman III missile was launched last night around midnight from Vandenburg Air Force Base.
Today, the Senate was called to a special White House briefing on the North Korean threat. For details, go here.
To read more, go here.
Looney Left Report
Former Los Angeles County Young Republicans Chairman Arleigh Kerr now is a Lexington, Kentucky resident.
Recently, he attended a townhall meeting of his area's congressman, Andy Barr, where he witnessed first hand the rudeness of the Left.
This prompted Kerr to write a letter to the editor of the Lexington Herald Leader:
I’ve only lived in Kentucky for a little over two years, but in that time I’ve found Kentuckians to be friendly, welcoming, polite. But Monday I saw a different kind of Kentuckian; rude, intolerant and consumed by hate.
I went to Congressman Andy Barr’s town hall at Lafayette High School. I was appalled. Many of those in attendance not only wouldn’t listen to Barr’s answers to their questions, they tried to shout him down. I don’t care if they disagree with him, that’s fine, but let him speak.
The Herald-Leader article identifies most of those there as Democrats, but these weren’t ordinary Democrats. When I entered the building, someone at the door was handing out red and green cards and asked if I was a member of Indivisible Bluegrass. I’d never heard of this group and I said no, so I was not given any cards. As it turned out, it was these card-waving people who spent the next 90 minutes interrupting with their loud, rude, narrow-minded shouts.
I was outraged by their actions. I don’t know who these people are, but I really hope I never see them again. They are a disgrace to Kentucky.
LEXINGTONTo see the letter at the newspaper's website, go here.
|Above, at the Malibu Creek State Park fresh water station. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
Most of what I set out to do today in preparation for this weekend's clampout in the Tehachapi area with Platrix Chapter No. 2 has been done.
Rather than head 25+ miles to Valencia to Camping World to use their holding tank dump station, I want 13 miles instead to Malibu Creek State Park to use theirs and to fill up the water tank. Even though to use the dump station at Camping World is free for members and it costs $12.00 at Malibu Creek, I opted to go to the closer facility. The added bonus was being able to fill up the potable water tank.
|Above, after filling the fresh water tank. The entrance gate is in the background. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
After this, I headed to the local market to buy food and drink supplies for the weekend and then to get The Beast's gas tank filled up. At $2.79/gallon, it reminded me how much cheaper it was to fill the gas tank while on the trip to Metropolis, Illinois. Most of the states where I gassed up at had prices under $2.00/gallon. But that's California for you, and it's only going to get worse once that gas tax hike the Democrats passed recently goes into effect.
I decided to take care of most everything today since I have an afternoon doctor's appointment for a troublesome respiratory issue I've been having for the past two weeks. I don't know if it's some sort of flu bug or bronchitis, but I am seeing about it tomorrow.
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
First, there were emails from purported "Nigerian Princes", and now it is the "IRS" sending emails concerning delinquent "back taxes".
I received one the other day. It said, "2106 Back Taxes". I didn't bother to open the email.
Obviously, this was bogus as the email address wasn't an official government one. Plus, the year was almost 100 years off.
So, beware of bogus IRS "back taxes" email notices. As for this Bozo, who sent me this one for "back taxes" for the year 2106, I guess they'll have to wait a while.
|Above, Erin Moran and Scot Baio.|
If there ever was a case of "foot-in-mouth-disease", the recent uproar over an interview that actor Scott Baio gave on the death of former co-star Erin Moran is it.
Initially, Baio posted a heartfelt condolence message on the passing of Moran on Twitter, but two days later, he gave an interview in which he said:
My thing is, I feel bad because her whole life, she was troubled, could never find what made her happy and content. For me, you do drugs or drink, you’re gonna die. I’m sorry if that’s cold, but God gave you a brain, gave you the will to live and thrive and you gotta take care of yourself.
This interview was given was before it was announced that Moran died of stage 4 cancer.
However, the damage was done and an uproar exploded over Baio's remarks.
If there is a "proper" time to pontificate on the cause of someone's demise, certainly it should be after the cause of death was actually determined and announced at the very least. Baio admitted that some media sources speculated that Moran died due to drugs and he relied on those stories. Still, waiting for things to become crystal clear before making such insensitive statements would have been the more prudent thing to do.
Still, he was much too blunt, he spoke too soon and was wrong in speaking before the facts came out. He put his foot into his mouth and he is being mercilessly pilloried over it.
Since then, Baio has been trying to explain his comments and walk them back. But there's a great many unforgiving people out there. This is definitely a hard lesson he's learning.
|Above, The Beast at Mammoth Mountain RV Park. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
Driving an RV on the open highway or in the city can be intimidating to a newbie, but after a few hours behind the wheel, it becomes much easier.
Daily Press has some tips for the first-timer that will make things easier the first few times out.
They begin with:
An RV can be the perfect way to travel, but rookies might hit some speed bumps. To prepare for life on the road, start slow and ask for help, veterans advise.
"Take a 'maiden voyage,' " says Donna Fout, owner of the Williamsburg KOA Campground. "Camp close to home as a practice run to prepare for a camping adventure, and keep a list of anything you've forgotten."To read more, go here.
|Above, World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument Visitor Center Complex at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
Visitor spending last year was a major benefit to communities near our national parks and the ones in Hawaii were no exception.
According to MauiTime:
Visitors to Hawaii’s national parks spent almost $400 million in the state last year. A new National Park Service report shows that in 2016, nearly 5.8 million visitors to national parks in Hawaii spent more than $394 million. That spending resulted in nearly 4,800 jobs and had a cumulative benefit to the state economy of more than $486 million.
“The national parks of Hawaii attract visitors from across the country and around the world,” said Laura Joss, regional director for National Park Service’s Pacific West Region. “Whether they are out for an afternoon, a school field trip, or a month-long family vacation, visitors come to have a great experience, and end up spending a little money along the way. This new report shows that national park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy–returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service–and a big factor in our state’s economy as well, a result we can all support.”
There are eight national parks in Hawaii including Haleakala National Park on Maui. Additional popular parks in the state include Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island and World War II Valor in the Pacific, which includes Pearl Harbor on Oahu.I visited Pearl Harbor's World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument and took a helicopter tour of Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park last year.
To read more, go here.
Monday, April 24, 2017
|Above, Graceland. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
A couple, who call themselves "The Happy Wanderers", visited the new Elvis Presley's Memphis Museum that recently opened.
It was not yet opened when I visited Graceland last November (I actually don't remember seeing it).
Judging by the shuttle ride to Graceland, it appears the new museum complex is a bit down Elvis Presley Blvd. from Graceland. The tour shuttles appear to originate and end at this new complex, instead of directly across the street from Graceland (as was the case in November).
The Happy Wanderers were not too impressed with the new museum (well, maybe some of it) since, to them, the museum was disorganized and incomplete, yet charged the full admission price of $60. I would probably be a little annoyed being charged full price for an incomplete museum too.
We toured the new attraction, Elvis Presley's Memphis which sits across from Elvis' Graceland home. While we were there, I was told to put the GoPro away for have it taken away. I was able to capture most of the new museum, which is FAR from complete, by the way. This new place is not done, doesn't have their act together, is very unorganized but still charges about $60 per person to tour this unfinished attraction. We still love Elvis and Graceland but the new experience was a real bad experience. We had been here twice before and it USED to be an awesome place to visit! They really screwed this place up when they made it so big and changed it so much. It used to feel intimate but now feels corporate and nobody here knows what's going on.They stayed across Graceland at the Graceland RV Park, where I also stayed last November. Some great views of the campground come at the end of the video from a drone.
Here's their video:
If I remember correctly, much of the exhibits that are/were in what was the racquetball court building at Graceland have been or will be moved to this new museum complex and the racquetball court will be restored to what it looked like when Elvis used it.
Anyway, the above video is a first look at the new museum.
Actually, the admission price of $57.50 gets the visitor the following:
- Graceland Mansion Audio-Guided Tour with New Orientation Film
- NEW - Full Access to all-new Elvis Presley’s Memphis Entertainment Complex, which includes:
- Self-guided tour of Presley Motors Automobile Museum
- Self-guided tour of Elvis: The Entertainer Career Museum
- Self-guided tours of Elvis Discovery Exhibits
This isn't as bad as The Happy Wanderers indicated. For $5.00 more, visitors can also tour Elvis' two airplanes.
For more on pricing, go here.
The website stated:
The website stated:
While the acclaimed Graceland Mansion tour will continue to present the personal and family side of Elvis’ life, -- including Elvis’ racquetball court now fully restored so that it once again looks exactly as it did when Elvis was last in the Racquetball Building -- “Elvis Presley’s Memphis” will tell the rest of the story, exploring the beginning of the incredible music and pop culture explosion that all started here in Memphis, with the greatest entertainer of all time.
|Above, The Beast at the home base. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
My patio seems to be the drop-off point or dumping ground (take your pick) for United Parcel Service (UPS).
I was expecting a package from a Mustang parts vendor today via UPS, but I saw no package or no notice at my front door. I remembered that I was emailed a UPS tracking number last week so I looked it up.
Presto! UPS said that the package was delivered around 3:30 PM today. Scrolling down a little, it indicated that it was left in my patio.
So, I looked in my patio and there were two packages, one big and one small. The small one was from the Mustang vendor and the large one was the replacement rear wheelcover simulator for The Beast from Winnebago.
This time, I immediately opened the Winnebago package and it was the correct item.
It's a good thing that the Mustang UPS notice said the package was left in the patio, otherwise, who knows how long the Winnebago package would've sat there since I received no tracking number or notice.
Now to get both vehicles taken care of.
|Above, Bridalveil Fall at Yosemite National Park. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
The National Park Service is inviting the public to submit comments on a proposed project to improve accessibility at Yosemite National Park's Bridalveil Fall.
According to the Merced Sun-Star:
The National Park Service is inviting the public to submit comments on a project to improve accessibility and services at the base of Bridalveil Fall, one of Yosemite Valley’s most iconic features.
The Bridalveil Fall Rehabilitation Project will improve visitor services at the base of the waterfall, including restroom facilities, according to the park service. It also is intended to reduce crowding on the trails leading to the viewing platform, improve safety and protect natural and cultural resources in the area.
The project will also work on improving navigation and reduce vehicle and pedestrian conflicts.The public can submit comments up to May 26.
To read more, go here.
The Looney Left Report
The crybaby Democrat Party is threatening to shut down the U.S. government this coming Friday when the government's operating funds run out.
USA Today has an article on what to expect (i.e., what will be open and closed, what will be paid and not paid).
They begin with:
WASHINGTON — Funding to keep the federal government up and running will run out at midnight Friday unless Congress passes a new spending bill and President Trump signs it into law.
If they fail, the result would be a partial government shutdown in which most services would stop except those deemed "essential" — such as national security work performed by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI. Active duty military personnel would not be furloughed, but roughly 40% of non-defense employees would be.
Every shutdown is different because federal agencies have quite a bit of leeway in deciding how to carry it out.Perhaps Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can employ the "nuclear option" and pass a budget without the Democrats? We'll see.
To read more, go here.
|Above, the entrance to Yosemite's North Pines Campground. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
Thanks to The Daily Courier of Prescott, Arizona, details on what people over the age of 62 can use the Senior Pass for has been posted.
It’s a pass that lasts a lifetime — well, beginning at age 62 and beyond, that is. The Senior Pass, offered through five federal entities, costs $10 and is good for as long as the person can use it.
The pass gains free entrance to 417 national parks and monuments, U.S. Forest Service sites, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamation, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sites — any that charge an entrance fee. It also provides a 50 percent discount for fees at some campgrounds.
Betty and Terry Wood, passing through Prescott this past week, stopped in at the Prescott National Forest office on Cortez Street looking for some good hiking trails. Visiting from Tennessee, the 70-year-olds utilize their Senior Pass wherever they go.
“We got it a long time ago. It’s been the best thing,” Betty Wood said. “That was a happy day getting our pass.”To read more, go here.
A possible price increase — up to $80 — may take place by the end of 2017 based on the National Park Service Centennial Act that Congress approved in December 2016. This Act raises fees and sets up an endowment to help pay for projects and visitor services, the National Park Service website states.
|Above, Joshua Tree National Park was a national monument for decades before being re-designated. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
President Obama ruffled some feathers in different states by naming different parcels of land as National Monuments without the request or approval of the states involved. President Trump is reviewing these to see if violations of the Antiquities Act were made.
According to the Bangor Daily News:
Maine’s national monument will be attacked on two fronts if, as anticipated, President Donald Trump orders a review of monument designations later this week, and Gov. Paul LePage testifies before Congress on May 1 against executive orders that create monuments without state approval.
LePage will fly to Washington, D.C. to testify before a House Committee on Natural Resources subcommittee next week in opposition to national monument designations created by presidential order, the governor confirmed Monday during a press conference in Augusta.
“The Legislature in Maine said [it] didn’t want a national park or monument and he [President Barack Obama] went ahead and did it anyway,” LePage said Monday. “I’m going to say he violated the Antiquities Act and it should be reversed.”To read more, go here.
|Above, the Eastern Sierras along Tioga Pass in Yosemite National Park. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
The start of the formation of the national park service began over 100 years ago when a president of the United States camped out with a well-known conservationist.
Picture the US president camping under the stars, huddled in blankets, sitting around a fire as a naturalist waxes poetic, explaining that Americans need the wilderness to retain their wonder and humility. But imagine this scene in black and white, or in sepia tone, because it happened long ago.
In 1903, Theodore Roosevelt camped in the Sierra Nevada mountains with John Muir—father of the US National Park Service. “He met me with a couple of pack mules, as well as with riding mules for himself and myself, and a first-class packer and cook, and I spent a delightful three days and two nights with him,” Roosevelt recalled.Sounds like Roosevelt had a bully of a good time with Muir.
To read more, go here.
Sunday, April 23, 2017
In six more days, it will be the 25th anniversary of the L.A. riots. I remember that day like it was yesterday.
Five years ago, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary, I posted my recollections of that day.
Here they are:
The day the riots broke out, I was working in the Miracle Mile area of Wilshire Blvd. for Allianz Insurance Company (a sleazy company if there ever was one). The day the riots erupted, I was at a business lunch on third street with my supervisor, Pete Fetzer.
After lunch, we headed back to the office and found it locked up. We also noticed a lot of traffic on Wilshire Blvd., more so than usual. One of the office managers came to the door and said rioting has broken out and they sent everyone home. She let us in to get our belongings. Once we did, we bee-lined it to our cars and headed home.
With Pete following me in his car (he lived in Torrance and I lived in Gardena) we headed south on La Cienega Blvd. The traffic was extremely heavy. We got to Rodeo Road and were stopped at a signal. To our left, a dry cleaners and a 7-11 convenience store were in flames. To our right a Fedco was being looted by rioters and its tire service center on fire. Looters were carrying merchandise and running between our cars.
Figuring that it wasn't a good sign, I grabbed my baseball bat from under my car seat and had it at the ready.
Eventually, I got home. After viewing the television coverage of the riots, my wife and I decided to head out to the Colorado River the next morning in our motorhome (our companies were to be closed for the remainder of the week). We were planning to go to a membership campground promo (free camping for listening to the sales pitch) that Friday, but decided to head out earlier.
The next morning, as we headed out of L.A. we saw many plumes of smoke all around. I made sure that I had my .38 cal. revolver handy as we drove.
It seemed like the Watts Riots of August 1965 all over again (I was 11 at the time and remember it).
At least we had a relaxing weekend in Bullhead City as parts of L.A. burned.
Saturday, April 22, 2017
|Above, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. NASA Photo.|
NASA and National Geographic has released some fascinating photographs of several national parks taken from space.
DP Review has posted them at their website.
If you're unable to take advantage of free National Park entry this weekend, you can still enjoy the grandeur of some of the US's best-loved National Parks thanks to National Geographic and NASA. To celebrate National Parks week they've published some of their favorite photos of parks – from space.
|Above, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park a little closer to the ground. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
To see them, go here.
Friday, April 21, 2017
|Above, Shibuya Crossing. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
One of Tokyo's favorite meeting spots is Shibuya Crossing. It is also the gateway to Tokyo's youth culture and where Gamera blasted a Gyaos (and Shibuya Station in the process) in Gamera 3 in 1999.
Japan Blog has an article on things to see and do in Shibuya, starting with Shibuya Crossing.
They begin with:
Shibuya Crossing may be a small area but it’s one of the most jampacked places in Japan every single day. As the world’s busiest pedestrian crossing, it accommodates thousands of people every day crossing from five directions. Additionally, the traffic lights have a two-minute cycle and the crowds thin out only after midnight when the Shibuya stations finally close.To read more, go here.
|Above, Grand Teton National Park. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
Yellowstone National Park's next-door neighbor to the south, Grand Teton National Park, saw its visitors contribute to the economy of its gateway communities in 2016.
According to KIFI News:
MOOSE, Wyo. (KIFI/KIDK) - Visitors to Grand Teton National Park spent an estimated $597 million in local gateway communities last year.
A Department of Interior report said that had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of over $779 million and supported 9,365 jobs in nearby communities.
To read more, go here.
Did you know that there were 12 national parks in the United State in existence before the formation of the National Park Service?
Yes, this is true. Do you know which ones?
In case you don't, the Huffington Post has an article on the 12 oldest national parks.
They begin with:
The USA’s oldest national park, Yellowstone, is 145 years old this year. As a testimony to the kind of protection that national park status brings, Yellowstone remains one of the best wildlife habitats in the country. Not only are there both grizzly and black bears, here you can also find wolves, bison, elk, moose, several species of deer, mountain goats and mountain lions.
Here are the 12 oldest national parks in the USA, all of which existed before the National Parks Service was formed in 1916.
To see what the other 11 national parks are, go here.
|Above, Zion National Park. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
A new report shows that the state of Utah obtained great economic benefit from tourists who visited the state's national parks last year.
According to the St. George News:
DENVER – A new National Park Service report shows that 14,409,742 visitors to national parks in Utah spent more than $1 billion in the state in 2016. That record visitation and spending supported 17,914 jobs and had a cumulative benefit to the state economy of $1,597,500,000. The results represent a whopping 25.5 percent increase in visitor spending and 21.2 percent rise in visitation over 2015.
“From Arches to Zion, the 13 national park units of Utah attract visitors from within the state, across the country and around the world,” NPS Intermountain Region Director Sue Masica said. “Whether they are out for a weekend, a school field trip, or a month-long vacation, visitors come to have a great experience, and end up spending some money along the way.To read more, go here.
Thursday, April 20, 2017
|Above, Half Dome. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
The local economies surrounding Yosemite National Park were no exception.
My Mother Lode reported:
Yosemite, CA – A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows Yosemite brings more than half a billion dollars to nearby communities.
As earlier reported here, Yosemite National Park already smashed its previous visitor record by 21 percent with 5,028,868 visitors coming through its gates in 2016. This reports looks at what that number means for the Gateway communities along the Highway 120, Highway 140, and Highway 41 corridors. It found that visitors to the park spent $520,629,100 in communities near the park, which supported 7883 jobs in the local area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $686,339,500.I visited Yosemite twice last year.
To read more, go here.
|Above, businesses of West Yellowstone, Montana. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
Like Joshua Tree National Park (that was reported on earlier), the surrounding communities of Yellowstone National Park reaped the benefits of increased visitors with their spending.
The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported:
Big crowds mean big money, and the towns on the outskirts of Yellowstone National Park reaped the economic benefits of another year with record visitation in 2016.
A U.S. Department of the Interior report released this week said that Yellowstone visitor spending contributed roughly $680.4 million in the park’s gateway communities in Wyoming and Montana in 2016. That’s roughly $42 million more than 2015, and more than $100 million more than 2014.
To read more, go here.