"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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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Changes Are Coming

Above, this is one header idea I toyed with, but I rejected it.

Since this blog is fast nearing 2 million views, it is time to be planning for a possible change in design of the overall look of the blog, including a new header (or masthead or nameplate in traditional publishing). This will be the third or fourth header change since I started this blog in 2008.

Above, same header idea, but modified and also rejected.

I have an idea on what I want to do for the header, so I checked with Asya (who painted my portrait last year). Besides being a painter, she also does calligraphy and logos and is quite good at both. We'll see what she comes up with.

I anticipate that the blog will be hitting 2 million views before summer, so it is time to get the ball rolling.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Tourism Video Features Monster By "Shin Godzilla" SPFX Team

Above, the Kanmon Straits monster.

The team behind the special effects of Shin Godzilla has a new tourism promotional video featuring a terrifying monster that rises out of the Kanmon Straits.

According to an article in RocketNews 24:
In between Japan’s main island of Honshu and the southern island of Kyushu lies a stretch of water with a current so powerful it has the ability to save its seaside residents from the might of a towering monster. That’s the theory behind a new awe-inducing promotional video created to draw attention to the area, that is. 
The impressive clip, produced by the Kitakyushu Sightseeing Association, features some amazing visuals from the creative team at Shirogumi, who recently provided visual effects for the blockbuster film Shin Godzilla (also known as Godzilla Resurgence).

To see the video and article, go here

TravelPulse: Top 5 To Dos In Japan

Above, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

People are always promoting their "the top this" and "the top that" to potential tourists to Japan. Naturally, these are just suggestions or recommendations, so do with them what you will. Some actually do have good suggestions.

The latest is from TravelPulse, who has come up with their "top 5 to dos in Japan".

They begin with:
From hot springs to castles, and picturesque landscapes, Japan is a timeless country that fuses ancient traditions with the excitements of modern life. 
We’ve put together the top 5 “must dos” for travel to Japan.

To see what they are, go here

Ventura Beach RV Resort Closed Due To Flooding

Above, The Beast at Ventura Beach RV Resort last June. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Oh, Drat! 

Until I received today an email from Ventura Beach RV Resort, I didn't know that they've been closed down since a flood hit the park during the big rainstorm of February 17.

I checked their website and this is what they posted:
We will be accepting Reservations for the 4th of July weekend. Due to the flooding of the Ventura River on February 17, 2017, we will be closed for approximately two months for clean-up, repair, and remodeling.  
Look for an announcement soon with additional details. 
We will be sending a notice out to those with currently booked reservation who will be impacted by this closure.  
Thank you for your patience and support as we work to re-open as quickly as possible.

I was thinking about making some weekend reservations and their email was rather, uh, timely.

They may have a "soft opening" before July 4 according to their email.

To go to their website, go here.

New Scans of Old Photos

For the blog about Megumi Odaka's appearance at this year's Chiller Theater Expo, I had to make a new scan of some photos of her when she arrived in Los Angeles for G-FEST 2000 at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.

I used one of them, but I figured that I may as well post the others here.

Above and below, Rina & Megumi Odaka and Robert Scott Field at LAX. Photos by Armand Vaquer.


Above, Megumi Odaka is interviewed by the Japanese media at LAX. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, Heisei Godzilla Kenpachiro Satsuma and Armand at G-FEST 2000.



Megumi Odaka To Appear At Chiller Theater Expo

Above, from the Chiller Theater website.

Not since she appeared at G-FEST 2000 in Hollywood, Heisei Godzilla actress Megumi Odaka has not appeared at any stateside convention (as far as I know).

That is all about to end when she appears next month at Chiller Theater Expo at the Hilton Parsippany in Parsippany, New Jersey April 21 to 23.

Above, Megumi Odaka arrives in Los Angeles in 2000 for G-FEST. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

I took a look at Chiller Theater's website and they do have a pretty impressive line-up of guests.

For more information, go here.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Yosemite's January Visitations Down From Year Before

Above, Yosemite visitors riding a park shuttle bus. Photo y Armand Vaquer.

The following news is not surprising since the hoopla over the National Park Service's Centennial is now over.

According to the Sierra Sun Times:
March 28, 2017 –  After last years record setting number of visitors to Yosemite National Park January 2017 began the year slower as the number of visitors was down by 15% compared to January 2016.
Above, park visitors enjoy a view of Yosemite Valley from Tunnel View even in the rain. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

To read more, go here

Senator Chuck Schumer Goes Nuts In NY Restaurant

Above, Senator Charles Schumer.

Sen. Charles Schumer, the senate minority leader, went ballistic at the wife of former HEW Secretary Joseph Califano in a New York restaurant.

According to Fox News:
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., caused a scene at a Manhattan restaurant when he began yelling at a wealthy and well-connected Donald Trump supporter that the POTUS is “a liar.” 
Schumer, the top Senate Democrat, lost his cool on Sunday night at Upper East Side restaurant Sette Mezzo, according to witnesses. 
He was dining with friends when he encountered Joseph A. Califano Jr. — the former U.S. secretary of health, education and welfare under President Jimmy Carter and domestic policy adviser to President Lyndon B. Johnson — and his wife, Hilary, who were having a quiet dinner.

To read more, go here

Springdale Feeling The Growth of Zion's Popularity

Above, Utah State Route 9 in Zion National Park. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Hordes of visitors to Utah's Zion National Park are taking a toll on the State Route 9 through the towns of Springdale and Rockville.

The Department of Transportation is taking steps to refurbishing the highway.

KUTV reported:
(KUTV) For years the roads leading to Zion National Park have been slowly weathering away due to the millions of visitors come to the park every year. 
Rockville and Springdale, Utah, are two cities impacted, especially during tourist season. The Utah Department of Transportation is currently working on a two-phase project that will give State Route 9, and the five-mile stretch of road going through the cities and park a face lift. 
Project manager with UDOT, Chris Hall, said it will cost between $12 to 14 million to complete the whole two-phase project. Phase one starts in Rockville.

To read more, go here.

Monday, March 27, 2017

"Mistress of Disaster" Retained In Yosemite Trademark Fight

Above, the hotel formerly known as the Ahwahnee Hotel. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

A long-time Washington, D.C. attorney with ties to Hillary Clinton and the daughter and son-in-law to President Trump, has been retained by one of the parties in the trademark litigation of several attractions of Yosemite National Park brought on by the former concessionaire, Delaware North.

According to McClatchy DC Bureau:
WASHINGTON A Yosemite National Park trademark fight has an influential new combatant with the recruitment of a top D.C. lawyer whose clients include the daughter and son-in-law of President Donald Trump. 
Attorney Jamie S. Gorelick, a longtime D.C. power player since her years as deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration, now represents Yosemite’s current concessionaire in the trademark battle. Her hiring underscores the high-dollar stakes in a legal conflict that at one time seemed headed for a settlement but has since grown more complicated. 
In a succinct filing last Tuesday with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, the Justice Department declared that Gorelick, a partner with the firm WilmerHale, has been retained by Yosemite Hospitality LLC. The latter is a subsidiary of the Philadelphia-based Aramark, which took over the lucrative primary Yosemite concessions contract last year.

Gorelick has a checkered past in our recent history as this article in The American Thinker attests. She is dubbed "the mistress of disaster" in that article.


To read more, go here.

Yosemite Conservacy Donating $12 Million To Yosemite National Park

Above, a Yosemite Valley meadow. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The Yosemite Conservancy has announced  $12 million donation to Yosemite National Park to fund park projects this year.

According to the Fresno Bee:
Yosemite Conservancy announced a $12 million donation to Yosemite National Park to fund dozens of projects, including a new trail to the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias along the historic Washburn Road stage coach route. 
Other projects include restoring bee, butterfly and hummingbird habitat, and studying species in Ackerson Meadow, the newest area of the park. 
“Incredible work is being done in Yosemite to protect habitat and wildlife and to make it an even better experience for visitors through our successful partnership with Yosemite National Park,” said Frank Dean, Yosemite Conservancy president. “Gifts from Yosemite Conservancy donors make this important work possible.” 
The money will be used for 34 projects this year.

To read more, go here.

Yellowstone National Park Open To Bicyclists

Above, Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

If you are an avid bicyclist and plan on bicycling in the immediate future, there's some good news.

Yellowstone National Park is now open to bicyclists.

K2 Radio reported:
MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS — As the wildlife emerges from hibernation, so do the bicyclists in Yellowstone National Park. 
Beginning today, cyclists can ride the 49 miles of park roads from the West Entrance at West Yellowstone, Mont., to Mammoth Hot Springs.

To read more, go here.



Go From One End of Japan To The Other For Under $25

Above, Atami Station, one of the transfer stops in the article. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

During my travels to Japan over the years, I have been as far north as Sendai and far south as Kumamoto, Kyushu by train. But these treks have not been during the same trip.

However, if one wants to go from one end of Japan to another (even to another island), visitors can do so for under $25.00 each.

You may wonder, how is this possible? RocketNews 24 has the answer in an article.

They wrote:
For the price of a couple beers in a Tokyo bar, you can go all the way from the eastern capital to the southwestern island of Kyushu. 
When someone says “Time is money,” it’s usually to encourage someone to hurry up, so as not to waste economic resources. However, sometimes that exchange works in reverse, and you can find some incredible bargains if you’re willing to spend some extra time. 
For example Japan Railways, the largest train operator in Japan, offers something called the Seishun 18 Ticket package, which is a bundle of five tickets that each grant you unlimited use of unreserved seats on JR local and rapid (though not limited express) trains. 
While seishun is the Japanese word for “youth,” there’s no age restriction for the Seishun 18 ticket. What’s more, even though the Seishun 18 Ticket is sold as a set of five for 11,850 yen (US$107), they don’t have to all be used by the same person. As such, a single Seishun 18 Ticket works out to just 2,370 yen (US$21), and it turns out that’s enough to get you all the way from Tokyo, near the eastern edge of Japan, to Fukuoka Prefecture, located on the southwestern island of Kyushu.

To read more, go here

Oh, Great

Above, The Beast in front of the apartment building with a bad water heater. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Yesterday morning, my apartment building's hot water heater went out, so I couldn't take a shower.

Then, while I was out in the early afternoon, it started working again. I took a good hot shower in the afternoon while it was still working.

Then it went out last night again. It was out all night. Then, it started working this morning.

Now, it's out again. I am almost tempted to shoot the stupid thing.

The managers are aware of the problem.

If I had a full fresh water tank in The Beast, I'd take a shower there. The Beast's water heater takes only about 30 minutes to fully heat the water.

Pahrump, A RV Mecca

Above, Las Vegas is just an hour away from Pahrump. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Pahrump, Nevada. I've never been there and all I've known about it is that former Coast To Coast radio show host Art Bell used to live there, which led to a "hat tip" from Tim Burton in Mars Attacks! Until now, that's about it.

It is roughly 63 miles from Pahrump to Las Vegas.

According to the Good Sam Club, Pahrump is a "Mecca" for RVers.

They wrote:
There’s a reason Pahrump, NV was dubbed “RV-er’s Paradise.” There are three perfectly-rated 10/10/10 RV Resorts – Lakeside Casino and RV Park, Wine Ridge RV Resort & Cottages and Nevada Treasure RV Resort, not to mention, the town has a considerable amount of other highly rated RV parks to choose from.
There are places to hike, do water sports, wineries, attend a hot air balloon festival, a fall festival and firearm training. And, of course, gambling.

To read more, go here.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

U.S. Dollar Now At ¥111.35



The Japanese yen has been stronger against the U.S. dollar in Tokyo trading lately. This strength pushed Tokyo to regain the distinction of being one of the world's most expensive cities, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit. Tokyo is now ranked number four.

But the dollar did regain some strength Friday.

According to Jiji Press:
Tokyo, March 24 (Jiji Press)--The dollar gained ground modestly to move around 111.35 yen in late Tokyo trading Friday, on the back of expectations that the U.S. House of Representatives will vote for an Obamacare replacement plan.

To read more, go here

Japan Cheapo's Chugoku Region

Above, Miyajima's famous torii gate. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

People traveling south from Tokyo will reach the Chugoku Region of Japan before leaving the main island of Honshu for Kyushu.

In Chugoku, one of the prefectures is Hiroshima, where visitors can see the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Museum and, nearby, Miyajima.

Japan Cheapo has an article on visiting the Chugoku Region.

They begin with:
What makes Japan so amazing to travel in is the variety—with every new prefecture, city or village you find something unique. Consisting of 47 prefectures, including 43 traditional prefectures, two urban prefectures (Osaka and Kyoto), one territory (Hokkaido) and the Metropolis of Tokyo, Japan has a lot of ground to cover, and a lot of surprises to unearth. If you’re thinking of venturing outside of the obvious, here are some highlights to help you pick your prefecture! 
We’ve divided them by region, with this part covering the warms isles of Chugoku. With plenty of stunning sea views and breathtaking landscapes like Tottori’s sand dunes and the torii gate of Miyajima, the sea is a vital part of the region. For lovers of seafood, amazing views and untouched towns… this is for you.

To read more, go here

Tracing The Roots of the RV Lifestyle

Above, a teardrop trailer my grandfather built in Oregon in 1940.

Ever wondered how travel in trailers and motorhomes came about? How did the "RV lifestyle" begin?

VVDailypress.com (the Daily Press out of Victorville, CA) has an article on "Tracing The Roots of the RV Lifestyle".

It begins with:
The RV lifestyle goes way back. Possibly, the RV way to travel was as much a necessity back then. Drawn by horses, caravans carried some of my ancestors from Bohemia on long journeys before departing for North America on sailing ships. The journey was much more pleasant, having a few comforts along the way. 
With so many seeking a new life in America, many craftspeople from other countries shared their skills with others. As best as Lori and Russ could see, the first actual practical travel trailer was built in 1880 by Bristol Wagon and Carriage Works. It basically looked like an 18-foot miniature cabin on wheels.

Traveling in this fashion was called "Caravanning." With the advent of automotive power, Caravans started gaining popularity in the United States during the 1920's. A new nickname came about for these travel trailer campers. They were called "Tin can tourists." These had few amenities yet there was no more need to ever set up a heavy canvas tent ever again.
To read more, go here.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

FDA Warns of Cancer Risk With Breast Implants

Source: Food and Drug Administration


Another good reason why one shouldn't alter with what God gave them has cropped up bigtime in the news this past week.

Valley News Live reported:
SILVER SPRING, M.D. (NBC) - Breast implants can cause a rare form of cancer that may have killed at least nine people, the Food and Drug Administration said. 
The cancer is called anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) and the FDA is checking into more than 350 reports linking it with both silicone and saline breast implants.
Upon hearing this news, I almost considered sending this article to "someone that I used to know" who had breast implants put in last year.

But, as my "honorary sister" said:
No contact is the best from here on out.  She probably will hear about it later anyway. Whether it is that or something else, karma has a way of evening out things in the universe.
As I said, almost. I don't want to be "catty" either (I wouldn't have, anyway). As my dad died from another form of lymphoma, I know how bad that kind of cancer is. I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

To read more, go here.

Underground Spring Cracks Yosemite Road

Above, a lake along Yosemite's Tioga Pass Road. Tioga Pass Road
 intersects with Highway 120 near Crane Flat. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The winter has caused problems with man-made things in our national parks.

A previous blog post noted that heavy snows collapsed a porch roof in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.

Now we find that a big crack that opened up on Highway 120 in Yosemite National Park in February was caused by an underground spring, closing the road.

According to the Modesto Bee:
An underground seasonal spring that began flowing again after being dormant for years was the cause of a 200-foot long fissure resembling an earthquake fault that closed U.S. Highway 120 into Yosemite Valley in February. 
This portion of the road, in the park called Big Oak Flat Road, began cracking in late February. National Park Service crews patched the crack “but it did not hold and it continued to widen and spread and we began conversations with the National Highway Administration,” said Yosemite National Park spokeswoman Jamie Richards. 
Crews had to tear out 200 feet of asphalt and dig 40 feet below the surface of the original road, creating nine tiers to avoid further erosion.

To read more, go here.

Porch Roof Collapse At Grand Teton National Park From Snow

Above, Grand Teton National Park. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

This has been one rainy and snowy winter in the U.S. Heavy snow has caused the collapse of a porch roof at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.

According to a press release posted by East Idaho News:
MOOSE, Wyoming — A heavy snow load appears to have caused the collapse of the front porch roof on the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve Center in Grand Teton National Park. The collapsed roof was discovered mid-morning Thursday, March 23, 2017. The seasonally-used building is closed each winter from late September through late May and was unoccupied at the time of the porch roof collapse. The main building structure and its contents appear to be undamaged upon initial evaluation. 
The collapsed porch roof was discovered by two park maintenance employees conducting a routine wintertime building check. Maintenance crews have been busy this winter clearing large amounts of snow off park buildings. Area measurements show the current snow water equivalent is around 150 percent of median, and recent rain and warm temperatures may have contributed to the weight of the snow on the roof.

To read more, go here

Seeing Wolves In Yellowstone National Park

Above, somewhere in Lamar Valley of Yellowstone are wolves. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Lucky people who visit Yellowstone National Park are the ones who get to see wolves. Unfortunately, despite two trips to Yellowstone, I haven't seen any.

According to an article in the Idaho Statesman, winter and the early spring are the best times to see wolves.

They wrote:
Three dark-colored wolves loped in single file on a stark, snowy, wind-swept bench along Yellowstone National Park’s Lamar River after feeding on the eerie-looking skeletal remains of a bull elk. 
“There they are,” a photographer whispered on a February day in a highway turnout, about 40 miles deep into the northern part of the park at Lamar Valley. 
The tight parking area was spilling over with vehicles and excited onlookers with spotting scopes and cameras with 2-foot-long telephoto lenses mounted on tripods.
“This is addicting,” said Don Andrews of Vancouver, Wash., as he peered into his scope. Right next to him was his wife, Gail, with her eyes glued to another scope watching the wolves romp silhouetted against the snow. The Andrewses were spending 12 days in the park in February searching for, photographing and watching the storied Yellowstone predator.
For them, seeing Yellowstone wolves doesn’t get old. They keep coming back year after year in winter.
To read more, go here.


Bison Not Welcome By Montana Ranchers

Above, bison sunning in Yellowstone National Park. Photo by Armand Vaquer

It seems that not everyone in the state of Montana are willing to welcome herds of Yellowstone bison with open arms.

According to the Great Falls Tribune:
In 2014 the conservation organization, Defenders of Wildlife, commissioned a survey asking registered voters for their opinions on re-establishing bison herds on public lands in Montana. The survey concluded that two-thirds of Montanans support efforts to relocate disease-free bison from Yellowstone National Park to start new herds in other parts of the state. 
The same cannot be said for the opinions of a large percentage of the landowners living in areas were bison restoration has been proposed. Among the farm and ranch communities of central Montana, the prospect of large herds of free-roaming bison grazing one fence-line over is viewed as a threat; not only because of the potential damage escaped bison might inflict on ranching and farming operations, but also as a challenge to the region’s economic viability and cultural traditions going back more than 130 years.

To read more, go here

Bryce Canyon In The 0ff-Season

Above, Bryce Canyon Lodge is relatively quiet. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Only once have I ever visited Bryce Canyon National Park during the off-season. While there, there were hardly anyone there. I was nice having the place almost to yourselves.

The Calgary Herald has an article on visiting Bryce Canyon during the off-season.

It begins with:
During the summer months, roads and trails in this tiny national park become congested and seeing the key sites can be slow going. Those who visit in the spring or fall enjoy the scenic overlooks and hike the trails in relative solitude. In the off season, you can see as much in one day as a summer visitor might see in two. And if you time the visit just right, you can witness the amphitheatre of natural rock pillars with a light dusting of snow – a contrast that adds a little something extra to the scene.
To see more, go here

Friday, March 24, 2017

Shopping and A Wrap Party

Above, Don Glut with Christine Nguyen featured on the poster for The
Mummy's Kiss: Second Dynasty in the background. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

My cousin Ralph came over today. Instead of rummaging around used record, DVD, CD stores, we headed up to Camping World in Valencia.

I received an advertiser from Camping World about their new master catalog being now available with a $10.00 off coupon. Also, I received my dividend from R.E.I. In order to give us something to do, we headed off for both.

First was Camping World. I bought a few things that would have totaled $34. But with the coupon, it cost me only $24. And, I got the catalog.

Next, we headed across the street to Coco's Restaurant for some lunch.

After lunch, we went back to the Valley to head over to R.E.I. in Northridge. I didn't see anything in particular that I wanted, but Ralph bought a chef's knife and got a 20% discount from a discount card that came along with my dividend.

We then left R.E.I. and headed back to my apartment. There, we started talking and somehow the subject of actress Christine Nguyen popped up. Since this was during the beginning of the evening rush hour, I asked him if he would like to see a Christine movie. He said yes and I popped The Mummy's Kiss: Second Dynasty (2006) into the player. It was written and directed by the dinosaur man himself, Donald F. Glut.

He enjoyed the movie very much, especially actress Andrea Smith.

He then headed back home in Mission Viejo after the movie. He texted me later saying that he had a great time.

A Visit To Utah's "Mighty Five"

Above, Bryce Canyon National Park. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

If you are a fan of national parks, travel or photography, the Port City Daily of Wilmington, North Carolina has an article with many photographs of a visit to Utah's Mighty Five.

It begins with:
UTAH — The Mighty Five, as it is referred to by adventure seekers from around the globe, is fast becoming one of the most popular travel destinations in America. 
Five of the country’s most beautiful national parks are all located in a small geographical area within the state of Utah, yet each one is so different from its neighbors. 
Wilmington resident T.J. Drechsel recently returned from this massive trip, where he visited Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Arches, and Canyonlands National Parks. He conquered the Mighty Five in only four days.

To see more, go here

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Yellowstone Loans Old Faithful To Acacia National Park

Above, an eruption of Old Faithful Geyser. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Talk about cooperating with a sister national park!

It has been reported that Yellowstone National Park will be loaning Old Faithful Geyser to Acacia National Park for six months.

According to The Onion:
TETON COUNTY, WY—In an effort to give more people across the country an opportunity to visit the famous landmark, Yellowstone National Park announced Thursday that it would be putting Old Faithful on a six-month loan to Acadia National Park. 

To read more, go here.


P.S. I had a good laugh over this!

Newbies To Japan To Be Surveyed

Above, the hot spring resort town of Atami. Photo by Armaand Vaquer.

A new survey will be targeting first-time visitors to Japan to see what interests them the most.

Nikkei Asian Review reported:
TOKYO -- New market research will identify the places, activities and food that appeal to people who have never been to Japan, information vital to meeting the needs of international visitors. 
Similar surveys generally target people who have visited the country before. The new service, from Bluemoon Marketing, will launch in April and aim to show potential demand among foreigners with no prior visits. 
Men and women aged 18-69 will be asked if they are interested in visiting Japan and the cities and tourist attractions they would most want to see.

To read more, go here

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Minnie Winnie 22R Owners Facebook Group

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

A Facebook group, Minnie Winnie 22R Owners, has been formed.

A fellow 22R owner told me of the group and I joined up a few minutes ago. If you happen to be a Facebook member and a Minnie Winnie 22R (or 322R) owner, join up!

They can be reached here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/974872809311378/?ref=group_cover

Lincoln Assassination Photography

Above, Abraham Lincoln by Gutzon Borglum. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

In June 1982, I was invited to a reception at the White House as part of the California Reagan Delegation to the 1980 Republican National Convention.

Above, Ford's Theater in 1982.
Photo by Armand Vaquer.
While in Washington, D.C. I crammed about a week's worth of touring in three days. Among the places I visited were the U.S. Capitol, Mount Vernon, Arlington National Cemetery, the Air & Space Museum and Ford's Theater.

Ford's Theater was the site of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth, an actor and Southern sympathizer.

Booth snuck into the Presidential Box at Ford's Theater during a presentation of the play, "Our American Cousin" and shot the President in the back of the head.

Last November, I visited the Abraham Presidential Museum in Springfield, Illinois. In the museum, there were numerous life-sized dioramas of different events in Lincoln's life. One of these was the assassination at Ford's.









The first photo below was from Ford's Theater in 1982. The portrait of George Washington is the actual one that hung there the night Lincoln was shot in April 1865.

Above, the Presidential Box at Ford's Theater. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Next, the diorama of President and Mrs. Lincoln at Ford's Theater at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield, Illinois.

Above, the Lincolns watching the play, "Our American Cousin". Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Next, John Wilks Booth sneaks into the Presidential Box during the play. Earlier, he carved a peephole in an inner door to the Presidential Box so he can see Lincoln before he went inside. He also used wooden bar to fasten or hold the outer entrance door shut.

Above, Booth sneaks into the Presidential Box. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Following the shooting, the mortally-wounded Lincoln was carried across the street to the Petersen rooming house, where he died the next morning. It was felt that Lincoln would not survive being taken back to the White House.

Above, the blood-stained pillow is on display at the rooming house where Lincoln died. Photo by Armand Vaquer.


There is a small museum in the Ford's Theater basement. Among the items on display, is the suit Lincoln wore when he was shot.

Above, the suit Lincoln wore when shot. Photo by Armand Vaquer.


Above, the Petersen rooming house. Lincoln was carried up these stairs. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, Lincoln lies in state diorama at the Lincoln Museum. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, Lincoln's Tomb in Springfield, Illinois. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Lincoln In Death Photograph Discovered

The only known photograph of President Lincoln in his coffin was discovered by a teen in 1952.

From AbrahamLincolnonline.org:
More than 50 years ago a 14-year-old boy found a photograph of President Abraham Lincoln in his coffin taken on April 24, 1865, in New York City. The discovery startled historians, because Edwin M. Stanton, Lincoln's Secretary of War, had ordered this photograph to be destroyed. Stranger yet, the one surviving print remained with Stanton, whose son preserved it.

Above, the only known photograph of Lincoln in death.

Platrix Spring Trek

Above, some of the gang at The Beast last year at the Tehachapi Loop trek. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Platrix Chapter No. 2, E Clampus Vitus, will be returning to the Tehachapi Loop area for the Spring Trek next month. We were there for last year's Spring Trek.

Already, the chapter is hawking the Spring Trek t-shirt. I just ordered mine.

Here's what the design on the shirt looks like:



Unless I decide otherwise, this will be the first camping trip for me in 2017.

Makin' Clampin' Great Again!

Tips To Avoid or Negotiate Crowds At Zion National Park

Above, Amber relaxing at Zion Lodge. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Two years ago, my daughter Amber and I drove through Zion National Park on the way home from Yellowstone National Park. When we got to the east entrance (from Mt. Carmel), we found a line of cars waiting to get in.

Once in, we had to wait in another line to be escorted through the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel. This is necessary as today's oversized RVs won't make it through unless they drive smack dab in the center of the road. Fortunately, we were first in line.

Above, waiting for the escort through the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Once we got into Zion canyon itself, we noticed that passenger vehicles are not permitted into the canyon unless they have proof they have a campsite or are staying at the Lodge. We thought we'd have breakfast at the Zion Lodge. We would have had to park The Beast at a shuttle stop and be shuttled in. We did not want to bother with that, so we went to breakfast in nearby Springdale.

My mom, Amber and I spent Labor Day weekend at Zion back around 2002. Since we drove there in the Mustang, parking at the shuttle stop near the Visitor Center was not an issue. We stayed at a motel in Springdale on that trip. We took the shuttle through the park to different points, including the Visitor Center and the Weeping Rock trail. It worked out very well.

Above, Amber in The Beast at Zion National Park. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The shuttle system was made necessary due to the influx of visitors. Years ago, not that many people visited Zion and cars were permitted in the canyon with no restrictions. But those days are long past and the park had to take steps, such as the mandatory shuttle, to manage the crowds.

The Salt Lake Tribune has an article on tips to negotiate or avoid the crowds at Zion.

They begin with:
Zion National Park • In Springdale, the sun is high, the parking spaces are full, and the porta-potties are lined up like soldiers. So grab your shuttle maps and brass knuckles. Busy season has begun at Zion National Park. 
Just kidding, you can leave the weapons at home. I haven't been put out by my fellow tourists, despite the persistent concerns about crowding in the nation's fifth-most-visited national park. 
My family braved Zion Canyon during the opening weekend of its mandatory shuttle, which runs many times a day from March through October and on weekends in November. Spring-breakers were pouring in by early March — and although I didn't struggle with crowds at the entry gate or parking, I can easily imagine summer getting a bit crowded. 
Park administrators are considering measures such as limiting visitor entries to the park or at certain areas or campgrounds, but those wouldn't be implemented right away. 
In the meantime, here are some tips to negotiate or avoid the crowds in Zion.
To read more, go here

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