"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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Sunday, December 17, 2017

California Motor Vehicle Registrations

Above, The Beast at camp in Lava Hot Springs, Idaho last summer. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Governor Jerry Brown and the Democrat-controlled legislature passed a bill this year raising the gasoline tax and vehicle registration fees in California.

They claim that the money generated will go towards road maintenance. This flys in the face that we've had tax money taken for this purpose but the money was diverted to their liberal social programs.

I just received my registration renewal notices in the mail for The Beast (the 2015 Winnebago 22R) and the 1989 Mustang. The Mustang's registration jumped up to $129 and the registration for The Beast went up to $517.

Thankfully, both are due during the latter part of February and I should be completely moved out of California at the beginning of February.

If people wonder why so many people are leaving California, this is a good reason.


Tarzana Black Bear Diner Opening December 26

Above, the main entrance to the Black Bear Diner. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

At long last, the restaurant building that was once occupied by Carrows, Coco's and others is about to open on December 26 in Tarzana.

Above, the Black Bear Diner. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

It is going to be the Black Bear Diner. I have never eaten at one before, but I have been told by friends that they have good food.

Above, some of the black bear statues outside of the restaurant. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

It is located at 18355 Ventura Blvd, Tarzana, CA 91356.

They already have their trademark black bear statues around the building.

Above, the note in the door stating the restaurant opens December 26. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

For more information, go here.

Oh, Fancy That!

Above, the English bulldog bank I bought. Photo by Armand Vaquer..

In a shopping center in Tarzana is a store called Oh, Fancy That!

It is a British foods, gifts and more shop owned by Jean Karasek. I have passed by it for years but have never stopped in. Until today.

I browsed around and found a nice little English bulldog bank. It reminds me of the one James Bond inherited from M in Skyfall. I bought it.

The store is located at 18339 Ventura Blvd., #11, Tarzana, CA 91456. Telephone: (818) 996-4405.

They do have a Facebook page, by the way.

How To Plan and Spend Retirement

Above, The Beast at Yosemite National Park. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

It has been two years since I retired. Like many have said, it takes about three months to get used to the new lifestyle. Don't worry, the time goes by quickly.

The Press-Enterprise has an article with seven tips on how to plan and spend your retirement.

It begins with:
Retirement is an enormous transition for most people. You’ve been working long hours for years and you have a general idea of what you will do with your retirement. 
For instance, you will have free time to sleep in, sit around watching television or play on your computer. All of these things were activities you couldn’t do while you were working. 
People are healthy and living longer. You probably (hopefully) have a financial plan to help you through retirement. Do you also have a plan to stay engaged and productive? You should explore different retirement activities and choose the ones most appealing to you.

One tip they provide is an obvious one: travel. Getting a national park lifetime senior pass (now $80, but still a bargain) will save seniors a lot of money.

They wrote:
You might like to travel in groups on cruises, train tours, motor home caravans or with tour guides to foreign lands.  Groups like these might get together once or twice a year but after you’ve taken the trips over many years with the same people, you develop a tight social network of good friends.

To read the other six tips, go here

Saturday, December 16, 2017

2017 In Review

Above, at the Little Tokyo New Year's Day Oshogatsu celebration.

2017 turned out to be a better year than 2016 overall. Yes, there were some bad things, but those were vastly outweighed by the good things.

The year started off with the resolution of my firearms that I had to surrender to the LAPD in 2016. I now have all my guns back and the case is now closed.

During that time, I spent many enjoyable hours with my cousin Ralph when we wandered around L.A. hitting used record stores, including Amoeba Music in Hollywood.

Above, enjoying the Friday night chili at the Platrix clampout. Photo by Glenn Thornhill.

Also during this time, as we headed into the spring months, I came down with bronchitis. It was a good thing that I had medical coverage, so I made good use of it and was put on medications that knocked the bronchitis off. I did attend two clampouts during this time: the Platrix Spring Doins in Tehachapi and the Billy Holcomb Spring Doins in Barstow.

In June, I served on jury duty at the Van Nuys courthouse. I didn't get on any jury panels, so I was dismissed.

In July, two family members passed away within days of each other. My cousin Lucia's husband Jeff died in July unexpectedly. And a few days later, my cousin Ralph was found deceased in his room in Bellflower. He apparently died of a heart attack in his sleep. Our last communications (via text) a day or two before concerned Jeff's funeral services. It was unbelievable.

Above, The Beast at the Lava Hot Springs/City Center KOA. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

August had me take a week-long trip to Idaho to view the total eclipse of the sun during the Great American Eclipse. I stayed in Lava Hot Springs, Idaho during the eclipse and while heading there, I stayed one night each in Las Vegas, Nevada and Brigham City, Utah. My cat Sierra kept me company during the trip.

Above, the total eclipse. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

I joined a throng of people along Interstate 15 near Roberts, Idaho to view (or rather, experience) the eclipse. My photos of the eclipse came out better than I could ever hope for. After the eclipse, it was a four-hour drive in heavy traffic to get back to Lava Hot Springs.

Above, in the eclipse's shadow. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Still, despite the traffic, it was a worthwhile experience.

Above, the sign to the Bates Motel in Vale, Oregon. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

On the day after the eclipse, I headed west to go into Oregon. I found a nice little campground in Juntura, Oregon and stayed there one night. While driving through Vale, Oregon, I saw a real Bates Motel! I had to take a picture of its sign. I then headed the next day to Diamond Lake, Oregon, which is five miles from Crater Lake National Park's entrance. It was very smoky in the area due to fires. It was the first time visiting Crater Lake since I was 17. Despite the smoke, it was an enjoyable visit.

Above, Crater Lake's Wizard Island. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Following Crater Lake National Park, I then headed down into Northern California to spend a couple of nights at the Manzanita Lake Campground in Lassen Volcanic National Park. I had not been to Lassen since I was 14. It was the first national park I ever visited at that time. The weather was great and the campground was as nice as I remembered it. Plus, there was no smoke.

Above, The Beast with Lassen Peak in the background. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

After the trip, I helped my aunt Gloria celebrate her birthday with some Dodger goods. It was fun watching the 2017 World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Houston Astros, even though the Dodgers lost the series in the seventh game.

Above, enjoying the World Series.

I attended two Fall clampouts: Platrix at Tehachapi and Peter Lebeck at Camp Okihi. They were both enjoyable.

Above, at Camp Okihi for the Peter Lebeck Chapter's Clampout. Photo by Glenn Thornhill.

Last year, when I drove to Metropolis, Illinois along Interstate 40, I drove through Gallup, New Mexico and just fell for the area. In November, Jes (my roommate) and I went there to see some homes for sale. The third home was the clincher and I bought it! I will be moving there next year.

Above, the home I bought in New Mexico.

After Gallup, we went to Grand Canyon National Park for a few days on the way home. Jes had never been there before and she enjoyed it. We stayed at Trailer Village near Grand Canyon Village. I've always wanted to try it out. It was a nice campground with full hook-ups. The Grand Canyon Blue Line shuttle has a stop at Trailer Village and we explored the park by using the shuttle system.

Above, Jes and I at Hermit's Rest at Grand Canyon National Park.

After getting back, we spent Thanksgiving at my cousin's in Wildomar. A week later, I came down with a nasty cold. As I recovered from it, Jes came down with it. I ended up going to the doctor again to knock it off. I was prescribed the same medications as when I had bronchitis.

Now, I am just concentrating on the holidays and the upcoming move to New Mexico.

Rob Reiner: Still A Meathead



Looney Left Report

Actor Rob Reiner has proven once again that he didn't have to stretch himself when he played "The Meathead" Michael Stivic on All In The Family.

He posted (thanks to David Gold):
Rob Reiner 
Make no mistake,by attacking Mueller,DT's state run TV(Fox) is pushing US to a constitutional crisis. Be prepared to take the streets.

"Be prepared to take the streets"? In other words, throw a temper tantrum. 

Yosemite's Last Native American Village Returning

Above, Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls, near
Camp 4 campground. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

About 50 years ago, the last remaining Native American village in Yosemite Valley was torn down. 

It is about to return.

According to the Fresno Bee:
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK - Bill Tucker brushes pine needles from a flat, granite boulder to reveal bowl-shaped holes once used by his mother and grandmother to grind acorn and native plants for cooking. 
“This is home!” the 78-year-old Miwuk and Paiute says at the site of the last Native American village in Yosemite Valley, destroyed by the National Park Service by 1969.
Nearly half a century later, the village is being rebuilt. 
The project is personal for native elders like Tucker who once lived there and have remained near Yosemite. 
Yosemite’s native community dwindled after a battalion of state militia found the area in the mid-1800s while hunting for Native Americans believed to be living in a mountain stronghold. Villages were burned and Native Americans were shot, hung or captured. Others fled to the foothills or eastern Sierra. The Park Service today officially recognizes seven tribes as having traditional ties to Yosemite.
Some resilient Native Americans found a way to stay. Early on, many worked service jobs, weaved baskets and performed traditional dances for tourists. Their last village – 15 small cabins near the Camp 4 campground, just down the road from Yosemite Lodge – was gradually leveled as its inhabitants lost seasonal or full-time employment in the park. Those who retained employment were moved into housing elsewhere. 
A traditional Native American village is being rebuilt at the site of the last native village in Yosemite Valley. The original village was destroyed by the National Park Service nearly 50 years ago. The house Bill Tucker lived in was the only survivor of the burning of a cluster of houses lived in by Native Americans.

To read more, go here

Hawaii Transient Accommodations Tax To Rise 1% In 2018

Above, the Sheraton Wakiki in Honolulu. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Like a lot of things, the new year brings new taxes and fees. Hawaii is no exception.

According to the Los Angeles Times:
Hawaii visitors can expect to shell out a little bit more money for their hotel rooms in 2018. On Jan. 1, the Transient Accommodations Tax will increase 1%. While the tax hike will affect tourists statewide, money raised from the increase will be used exclusively to fund a new light rail project on Oahu.

To read more, go here.

Friday, December 15, 2017

MotorHome Magazine Annual Readers' Choice Awards

Above, Winnebago "takes the Gold" for their Class C RVs. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The January 2018 issue of MotorHome magazine arrived in today's mailbox and it includes the results of the Annual Readers' Choice Awards.

I'll post the more interesting ones (at least to me anyway).

The winners (Gold) are as follows:

Class A Motorhome: Tiffin Motorhomes.

Class B Motorhome: Roadtrek.

Class C Motorhome: Winnebago Industries, Inc.

Dinghy Vehicle: Jeep Wrangler.

Fuel Station: Pilot Flying J.

Holding Chemicals: Thetford.

Motorhome Awnings: Dometic Corp.

RV Battery: Interstate Batteries.

RV Campground/Resort: Pala Casino RV Resort.

RV Casino/Resort: Pala Casino RV Resort.

RV Retailer: Camping World.

RV Tires: Michelin Tires.

RV Toilet: Dometic Corp.

Sit-Down Restaurant: Cracker Barrel.

Best State In Which To RV: Florida.


If you are a subscriber to MotorHome, your copy should be arriving any time now. If not, check with your favorite newsstand.

18 Years Ago...

Above, my dad in front of Godaido temple in Matsushima, Japan in 1951.


It seems like whenever an immediate family member passes away, time seems to accelerate. I don't know if it is just me who notices this or if anyone else gets the same feeling.

It was 18 years ago today that my dad passed away from lymphoma. At times, it seems like just the other day and at other times, it seems ages ago.

My mom passed away ten years and one month after my dad. I miss them both to this day.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

FCC Abolishes "Net Neutrality" Rules



Former talk radio show host David Gold posted:
FCC rejects Net Neutrality. Liberals' hair on fire. Predicting end of You Tube as an example.  
It's good for ISPs. They can charge bigger sites more for the large bandwidth they consume. Lead to more innovation. Faster speeds.

 To read more, go here and here.

No More Oval Office Striped Wallpaper!

Above, the replica Oval Office at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Last summer, President Trump did something that I had been clamoring for: he got rid of the horrid striped wallpaper Barack Obama installed in the Oval Office.

According to the Mercury News:
As much as Donald Trump was derided for initially taking himself away for a 17-day golf vacation, his long absence from the White House was necessary for an important reason. 
It allowed a team of more than 200 people from multiple agencies to complete much-needed renovations on the West Wing and the home’s interior. 
The main work on “the people’s house” involved not very glamorous updates: replacing an overworked heating and air conditioning system, refreshing floors, woodworking and paint and repairing the South Portico steps for the first time since the Truman administration, CNN reported, following a tour the White House gave to reporters Wednesday. 
Of course, the most intriguing site of renovation work was the Oval Office, the seat of power in the America and the free world.

The Oval Office looks a lot better now that the striped wallpaper is gone.

To see what the Oval Office looks like today, go here

What Really Killed the King?

Above, Elvis Presley's grave. Photo by Armand Vaquer.


An interesting article on the cause of death of Elvis Presley was posted last year and updated a few months ago in The Huffington Post.

It was written by former homicide detective and forensic coroner Garry Rodgers. His conclusions are surprising, but they do make a lot of sense. He puts the beginning of the end in 1967.

The article begins with:
Elvis Presley suddenly dropped in the bathroom of his Graceland mansion on the afternoon of August 16, 1977. He was rushed to Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, pronounced dead, then shipped to the morgue and autopsied the same afternoon. 
Three days later, the coroner issued Elvis’s death certificate stating the cause as “hypertensive cardiovascular disease with atherosclerotic heart disease” — an arrhythmia, or heart attack for short. 
However, toxicology results soon identified several pharmaceutical drugs in Elvis’s system with codeine being ten times the therapeutic level. This started accusations of a cover-up and suggesting conspiracy theories of a sinister criminal act. 
Pushing 40 years after, modern medicine and forensics took a new look at the Presley case facts and indicated that something entirely different from a heart attack or a drug overdose really killed the King of Rock & Roll.

To read more, go here

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

National Park "Fee-Free" Days Reduced For 2018

Above, Half Dome at Yosemite National Park. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Since the recession is over and funds are needed to handle the backlog of maintenance projects totaling $11 billion, the National Park Service is reducing the number of "fee-free" days.

According to the Sierra Sun Times:
December 13, 2017 - WASHINGTON – The National Park Service announced today that the public will be invited to experience all national parks, without entrance fees, on four days in 2018. 
The four entrance fee-free days for 2018 will be: 
  • January 15 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • April 21 – First Day of National Park Week
  • September 22 – National Public Lands Day
  • November 11 – Veterans Day

To read more, go here

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[Hokkaido] Mahoroba

Not only does this resort hotel feature the largest open-air bath in Japan, it also offers four different types of springs with a grand total of 31 different baths. Enjoy the dream-like atmosphere during your stay.
Twin Room
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from JPY 23,570Book


[Hokkaido] Kohantei

The scenery of Lake Toya viewed from the lobby and the large communal spa on the top floor is unforgettable. Staff will strive to ensure that you have a calm and relaxing experience.
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from JPY 15,653Book


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[Hokkaido] Niseko Northern Resort, An'nupuri

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[Hakone] Hotel Green Plaza Hakone

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[Gifu] Miyamaouan

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Moody Blues Finally Make Hall of Fame



Many rock fans from the 1960s are letting off major sighs of relief after it was announced that the Moody Blues are finally being inducted into the Rock 'N Roll Hall of Fame.

It's about friggin' time!

According to the Los Angeles Times:
New Jersey rock group Bon Jovi and its fans can stop living on a prayer: the band is headed into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, along with the Cars, Dire Straits, the Moody Blues, Nina Simone and pioneering gospel singer-guitarist Sister Rosetta Tharpe. 
The Cleveland-based institution unveiled its newest roster of inductees on Wednesday morning, adding another handful of honorees to more than 300 previous inductees. 
The Rock Hall’s voting membership, consisting of more than 900 music critics, record executives, managers and other industry insiders, closely matched the results of the hall’s fan voting, which began after this year’s nominees were announced in October. Fan voting adds just a single vote to the overall totals for the top five vote-getters but nevertheless lets the voting body know in no uncertain terms who the public most wants to see enshrined within its walls.

To read more, go here.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Fodor's Top Vacation Destinations For 2018

Above, Elvis Presley's Graceland mansion in Memphis, Tennessee. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

One of the world's leading travel information sources, Fodor's comes out with their annual lists of destinations to go to and destinations to avoid.

The Mercury News has their list of top vacation destinations for 2018.

They begin with:
Last week, we brought you Fodor’s NO list, which featured 10 destinations to avoid in 2018. Now we’re exploring Fodor’s wanderlust-inspiring GO list of 52 destinations to explore in the coming year. If you’re thinking what we’re thinking (who gets to take 52 vacations in a year??), think of it this way: Armchair travel is fun, too. 
The list includes not only destination information, but hotel suggestions, insider tips and even book recommendations. Heading for Marrakesh, Morocco? Fodor’s travel experts call it a “romantic desert oasis,” suggest you get lost in the mazelike medina, hike in the Atlas Mountains and read Paul Bowles’ “The Sheltering Sky” to get in the mood. 
Prefer blues, barbecue and Elvis Presley? Memphis is No. 6 on the list, with recommendations for where to hear great music (Beale Street), indulge your Presley fandom (Graceland), indulge in barbecue (Corky’s) and read (pretty much anything by John Grisham).

To read more, go here

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