"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, August 18, 2022

RV Microwave Cleaning Tricks

One of the things that I really don't like doing, but I do it anyway, is to clean the RV's microwave oven.

But there's a couple of ways of making that task easier and it doesn't require any scrubbing. These involve two tricks that Do It Yourself RV posted. 

Since I have lemon juice in the refrigerator, I'll give one of the tricks a try at home.

They begin with:

Cleaning the RV microwave is one of those chores that tends to get put on hold. This is especially true when we’re traveling or camping in our RVs. It’s just so easy to remove something from the microwave and quickly close the door. We may tell ourselves that we’ll clean the microwave right after we consume whatever it is that we heated up. But the reality is that the microwave’s interior often gets completely forgotten about as we get busy with life. 

Of course, this only lasts until the next time we open the microwave to heat something up or cook a meal. By then, the interior of the microwave can be a crusty mess of stains and stuck-on food. Gross. Luckily for you, in this article, we’ll let you in on a microwave cleaning trick that will make cleaning the microwave a breeze, wherever you happen to be.  

To read the full article, go here

G-TOUR 4 Cancelled

Above, the Great Buddha of Kamakura visited by the first G-TOUR. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

With Japan's restrictions/rules on foreign tourists, it is no surprise that G-TOUR 4 to Japan set for this autumn has been cancelled. 

According to the official G-TOUR website:

We are very sad to announce that this fall’s G-TOUR 4 has been cancelled. Japan’s anti-COVID restrictions on foreign tourists simply won’t allow all the fun, experiences, and opportunities we intended to provide. Thanks to all who signed up, and very sorry for your disappointment.

I have to wonder if Japan enjoys shooting itself in the foot. Despite past and current actions by the Japanese government in combating COVID-19, citizens are still getting infected, although by less lethal variants. The exchange rate of the yen against the dollar and other currencies would be a boon to their economy and foreigners would benefit in getting more yen for their buck. But, they are still being rigid in their approach.

Maybe G-TOUR 4 can be re-scheduled for next year. Only time will tell.

Four MILLION Page Views Reached Today

Today marks a milestone for Armand's Rancho del Cielo (named as a salute to President Ronald Reagan's ranch in the mountains near Santa Barbara).

It has reached 4 million page views!  That's not too shabby for a hobby blog that was started in April 2008, fourteen years ago.

Accordingly, I changed the header reflecting the new total.

Nakano Broadway: Pop Culture Wonderland

Above, the Nakano Broadway entrance from JR Nakano Station. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

When foreign tourists can finally travel to Japan unhindered and without overbearing rules as was the case before the pandemic, one must-see location in Tokyo to visit is Nakano Broadway.

Nakano Broadway is considered a "mecca" for otaku shoppers while in Tokyo. I made it a point to stop in whenever I am in Japan. I've purchased a number of items there including Godzilla figures and, if you can believe it, "Nipper", the RCA Victor dog.

Above, RCA Victor's "Nipper" I purchased at Nakano Broadway. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Nippon.com posted an article on Nakano Broadway that is well worth a thorough read.

They start it off with:

At the end of the Nakano Sun Mall shopping arcade outside of JR Nakano Station can be found a holy ground for otaku: Nakano Broadway. Packed with stores selling anime figurines and other ephemera, it even attracts fans who make pilgrimages from abroad. An exploration of the past, present, and future of this iconic Tokyo shopping space.

From Success to Shutters

The year 2022 marked the fifty-sixth anniversary of the opening of Nakano Broadway. A long shopping promenade called Sun Mall extends from the north exit of JR Nakano Station; Nakano Broadway, a 10-story building with three basement levels, sits near the north end of this arcade. The fifth through tenth floors are residential, and residents have access to a rooftop pool, a playground, and a garden plot.

The bottommost two floors are mechanical facilities, but the first basement floor through the fourth floor are jam-packed with a huge variety of shops—as many as 350 tiny outlets. The number isn’t precisely known, for the turnover of shops is constant.

To read more and see some tantalizing photos, go here

Foreign Tourists Shun Japan Over COVID Rules

Above, the Godzilla slide at Kurihama Flower World. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Before the pandemic, tourism to Japan was "red-hot" in international popularity.

Now, even though foreign tourism is allowed (albeit on a very restricted basis), foreigners are shunning Japan as a vacation destination. This comes as no surprise according to an Asahi Shimbun article. 

The start it with:

Japan’s eased border restrictions have resulted in a relative trickle of international tourists entering the country, a disappointing but unsurprising development in the long-struggling travel and hospitality industry.

Industry sources said travelers are put off by Japan’s remaining entry rules concerning PCR tests and chaperoned travel packages. Others noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has not gone away.

“Japan still imposes tough restrictions,” said an official of TAS Co., a Tokyo-based company that specializes in inbound trips. “It is lagging behind other countries in letting in tourists despite its claim to be a tourism powerhouse.”

Fewer than 8,000 international tourists visited Japan last month after the government lifted the ban on sightseers from abroad in June.

To read the full article, go here

International Tourism To Japan Hardly "Moved The Needle"

Above, the Dotonbori area of Osaka in pre-pandemic days. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

International tourist arrivals hardly "moved the needle" in Japan. This is the case despite the foreign exchange rate between the dollar (and other currencies) and the Japanese yen being the most favorable in years.

That's according to an article in the Asahi Shimbun

Here's some snippets:

While Japan eased its travel restrictions on international arrivals in June hoping to attract more overseas visitors, new data shows the move barely even moved the needle.

Tourism officials said the number of overseas visitors has not increased significantly due in part to a resurgence of coronavirus cases in the country.

The Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) reported on Aug. 17 that there were only 144,500 foreign arrivals in July, including those who flew to Japan on business, to study, or through the Japanese government’s job training program for young people from developing countries.

A JNTO official said several factors contributed to the dwindling tourism figures. They include the Omicron subvariant driving up COVID-19 cases across Japan, the stringent anti-coronavirus measures put in place at airports, and the government’s decision to only allow in tourists taking part in group tours.

To read the full article, go here

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Interstate 40 Today

Interstate 40 at the McGaffey/Fort Wingate exit yesterday was flooded by heavy rains from a thunderstorm that came into the area during the afternoon hours.

Today, I had to go to Gallup to do some grocery shopping and found that it looked pretty much normal except for some debris and puddles along the side of the highway.

From what I could see, Route 66 alongside I-40 was a muddy mess. It will take a while for the New Mexico Department of Transportation can get it cleared.

Here's a couple of photos of Interstate 40 with the bridge to McGaffey overhead:

Interstate 40 Reopened After Flood

Above, the map of the affected area by the McKinley County Office of Emergency Management.

Last evening's thunderstorm that produced flash floods in McKinley County, particularly at Milepost 33 of Interstate 40, has cleared out.

The Interstate was reopened last evening. 

I have to go into Gallup today for some grocery shopping and I am curious at what the Fort Wingate/McGaffey interchange looks like today. I am sure the frontage road (Route 66) is still a mess and remains closed. 

That was one heck of a thunderstorm. Rain came down in Jamestown, but it didn't seem too heavy. But the lightning display was entertaining (at least to me). 

This monsoon season will likely go into the record books. 

Smith & Wesson Fires Back At Politicians

Smith & Wesson decided not to sit back and be pummeled by leftist politicians and their media mouthpieces attacking the firearm industry on Twitter.

They also placed the blame on gun violence where it belongs: liberal law enforcement policies (or lack thereof).

Fox Business reported:

Smith & Wesson took to Twitter to hit back at politicians and the media for suggesting that the gun manufacturer – and not the policies they support – were responsible for rising crime rates nationwide. 

The company said politicians and the media have "vilified and undermined" law enforcement, supported prosecutors with policies some label soft on crime, and have generally promoted a culture of lawlessness, yet have the "audacity" to blame Smith & Wesson and other firearm manufacturers "for the crime wave that has predictably resulted from these destructive policies." 

To read more, go here.

Sayonara, Lizzie!

GOP voters (except for about 30% of them) decided that they've had enough of Rep. Liz Cheney. She was beaten in the Republican Primary by Trump-backed Harriet Hageman.

This likely won't silence Cheney, but she's now been reduced to wacko gadfly status by her defeat.

Mark Levin posted:
Congratulations, Rep.-elect Hageman!  The better woman won. And no, Liz, you’re not Abraham Lincoln. More like Benedict Arnold. Your speech tonight and the Hollywood film crew you brought with you further underscores that your ambitions and ego are utterly out-of-control.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Interstate 40 Flooded In Both Directions

The monsoon season is continuing here in Northwestern New Mexico.

It isn't too bad in Jamestown, just some showers and a spectacular lightning display, some of which were about a half mile long running parallel to the ground. I am nice and dry at my hillside home.

Interstate 40, six miles west of Jamestown, is flooded in both directions. Some truckers are braving the flooded highway by driving through it. Fools!

There's no alternate route as Route 66, that runs parallel to I-40, was flooded days ago and still hasn't been cleared for use. This storm probably flooded it again.

The photo below is a screen capture from a motorist's video of the flooded area of Interstate 40 at the Fort Wingate exit with semi trucks stopped on Interstate 40.

Maybe it's time to build some arks?

Stripes Japan: Visiting Osaka Castle

Above, Osaka Castle in 2015. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

For Godzilla fans, when Osaka Castle gets mentioned, they immediately think of Godzilla Raids Again (1955) (Gojira no Gyakushū, lit. 'Godzilla's Counterattack'). For it was at Osaka Castle in the movie that Godzilla vanquishes Anguirus.

Today, Osaka Castle is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Osaka, Japan. I have visited it twice.

Above, yours truly with samurai swords at Osaka Castle in 2015.

Stripes Japan - Stars and Stripes posted an article on visiting Osaka Castle, calling it the "symbol of Japan's third largest city."

They begin with:

It only took me ten minutes of walking from JR Osakajokoen until I finally saw the tip of the castle from Osaka Park. Yet it was enough to amaze me. Even from afar I could see that the castle boasted impressive gold ornaments and intrinsic detail, making it aesthetically pleasing to the eyes.

The symbol of Osaka was built in 1583 on the former site of Ishiyama Honganji Temple, as ordered by Hideyoshi Toyotomi during the Azuchi-Momoyama Period. He was a famous warlord who successfully brought all provinces in Japan under his rule, unifying the nation in 1590.  

Every building in the complex remains in their original construction, except the main tower. It was reconstructed in 1931, following the original exterior design from the Toyotomi era. This building consists of 8 floors in total and acts as the centerpiece of the complex.

The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan features a spotlight on Osaka Castle.

To read more, go here

45 Years Ago At Graceland

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

Big news events happen in every generation. 

People will generally remember where they were and what they were doing upon hearing a big news story. This happened when the news hit about Pearl Harbor, JFK's assassination, 9/11 and the death of Elvis Presley.

Above, returning home from a dental appointment at 12:29 am on August 16. One of the last known photos of Elvis Presley.

Tuesday, August 16, 1977 was a relatively quiet summer day. It was warm, but humid out as there was a monsoon flow coming up from Mexico into the Los Angeles area.

I was at home in Hawthorne watching a James Cagney comedy movie, One, Two, Three (1961) that was directed by Billy Wilder. It would be a couple of hours later that I would have to go to work in Redondo Beach. My mother was outside working in the yard.

Above, Memphis newspapers from 45 years ago at Sun Studio. Photo by Armand Vaquer

A news bulletin interrupted the movie. It was announced that singer Elvis Presley had been found unresponsive at his Graceland mansion on Elvis Presley Blvd. in Memphis, Tennessee and was rushed by ambulance to Baptist Memorial Hospital, where efforts to revive him failed and he was pronounced dead.

After hearing the bulletin, I rushed outside to tell my mother, who was a big Elvis fan.

Later, when I went to work, it began to rain. It was strangely appropriate. It was a strange day all around.

In many respects, it is hard to believe that 45 years have passed.

For an interesting article on the state of Presley's health during his final months of life, go here.

Monday, August 15, 2022

Cruises: Foods To Avoid

Above, in the dining room of the Majesty of the Seas while en route to Key West and Havana.

I have been on two cruises and during either one I had no problems with the food, which were plentiful.

The only problems health-wise were a 24-hour bout with a flu one the first cruise and a mild cold on the second.

Travel + Leisure has an article on what foods to avoid while on a cruise.

They begin it with:

Cruising has come a long way when it comes to its culinary offerings. There are ships with Michelin-starred chefs, others highlighting local cuisine, and even vessels with a dozen or more restaurants to choose from.

While all of this sounds divine, there are few things passengers may want to skip. Here are the foods experts say you should avoid on your next cruise.

To read more, go here

At Home

I just received several photos from Jessica. They were taken at home the day after we got back from Navajo Lake State Park.

The first one has me on the mower heading over to Barking Spider Acre and the second has me in the Jeep after backing it out of the garage.

Classic Rock Music Monday

The stuff that now passes as "music", particularly rock 'n roll, leaves me cold. So, to start off the week, here's a video of a classic rock artist. 

Today, we'll start the week with the Rolling Stones with their classic "Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadow".  This was composed by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.


Eisenhower and the Gallup Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial

Above, Eisenhower campaign memorabilia at the Eisenhower
 Library in Abilene, Kansas. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Since 2022 marks the centennial of the Gallup Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial, the program featured highlights of the last 100 years.

One of them was a section from the 1950s. This was the first time that I heard that Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower paid a visit to the Ceremonial during the 1952 presidential campaign.

Here's a portion of the page that featured Eisenhower's visit:


Why Now Is A Good Time To Buy An RV

Above, at Alpen Rose RV Park in Durango, Colorado. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Two weeks ago (already two weeks?!), my former roommate and I took a camping vacation to Durango, Colorado and Navajo Lake State Park in New Mexico. We had an enjoyable time. The high gas prices were mitigated by the fact that both places were under 200 miles from home and I had some extra cash from New Mexico's rebate program.

Paul Hemphill at The News-Review says that now is a good time to buy an RV.

His article begins with:

I can hear my readers now saying “How can you say it’s a good time to buy a RV when gas prices are high, interest rates increasing and inflation on the rise?” All great points.

However, the current economic conditions also present unique opportunities to buy an RV.

Not long ago, RV dealerships were struggling to get inventory, with supply chains hampered by COVID-19. RV dealers were ordering units from manufacturers with long wait times for delivery. Now, the orders for those same RV dealerships are flowing in and, once again, filling the lots up with RV inventory.

One of the first rules of economics tells us that when the supply of a product is low, the demand is generally high. Conversely, when there is a lot of supply, the demand is often lower and therefore prices are lower.

To read more, go here

Best U.S National Parks to Visit Solo

Above, Yosemite National Park is well-suited for solo travelers. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

For those who travel solo out of necessity or preference, there are national parks that are more suitable (if that's the right word) for them.

There are advantages and disadvantages for traveling solo, but if there are those who enjoy being on their own, Best Life has listed 12 best national parks for solo travelers.

They begin with:

Whether you love exploring new places on your own or simply don't want to pass up the adventure of a lifetime because you don't have a traveling partner, there are plenty of reasons why you may be looking to book a solo trip or vacation. And we're 100 percent here for it. 

There are plenty of places throughout the U.S. you can choose as your destination… but might we suggest a national park? These beautiful natural wonders of the U.S. are pretty spectacular spots to get some "me" time in.

So ditch the crowds and find some peace and quiet at one of these 12 best national parks to visit solo. And once you're ready for some human interaction again, we've got recommendations for populated parks, too. Keep reading, and next, don't miss The 10 Best National Parks That Need to Be on Your Bucket List.

To read more, go here

Sunday, August 14, 2022

100th Gallup Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial

Above, the livestock pens at the rodeo arena. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Since today is the final day for this year's Gallup Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial, I headed over to Red Rock Park to see the exhibits and the kiddie sheep-riding event.

It was a bit hot out, so I just stayed a couple of hours. It was a good thing I did, for when I got home, we had a thunderstorm roll into Jamestown. It was a bit difficult to take pictures at the rodeo arena as many spectators has umbrellas that prevented unobstructed views.

This year's Ceremonial marks the centennial of it.

I wandered around the convention center to check out the entries for the art contest along with the room with Navajo rugs and jewelry. 

Outside, I came upon the booth for Fire Rock Navajo Casino. They had a spin-the-wheel game in which winning a prize was pretty much guaranteed. Before heading there, I bought a bleacher seat cushion at the official Ceremonial booth. It was only $5.00. But as things turned out, I won a Fire Rock Navajo Casino bleacher seat cushion. So I ended up with two of them. The nice thing about the Fire Rock cushion, it included a pocket for me to put my copy of the Centennial program inside.

Above, the bleacher seat cushions. The one on the right I won. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

I had a good time there.

Some photos:

2nd Amendment Foundation Sues California Over Gun Show Ban

California, that state that is under total control by left-wing Democrats, has been trying to chip away at citizens' Second Amendment rights. This includes the right to assemble at gun shows.

A federal lawsuit has been filed against a senate bill banning gun shows in public property. 

AmmoLand reported:

BELLEVUE, WA – -(AmmoLand.com)-The Second Amendment Foundation has filed a federal lawsuit challenging California’s Senate Bill 264, a ban on gun shows held on public property that was passed and signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom.

Joining SAF are the California Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. B&L Productions, Inc., d/b/a Crossroads of the West; Gerald Clark; Eric Johnson; Chad Littrell; Jan Steven Merson; Inc; Asian Pacific American Gun Owners Association; and the Second Amendment Law Center, Inc. The case is known as B&L Productions v. Newsom.

SAF is represented by noted civil rights attorney Donald Kilmer, who successfully represented SAF in overturning the ban on gun shows at the Del Mar Fairgrounds in San Diego County, where the defendants were ordered to pay plaintiffs close to half-million dollars in combined damages and attorney fees

Named as defendants in this case are California Gov. Gavin Newsom in his official capacity as Governor of the State of California, Attorney General Robert Bonta in his official capacity as Attorney General of the State of California, Karen Ross, in her official capacity as Secretary of California Department of Food & Agriculture, and Todd Spitzer, in his personal and official capacity as District Attorney of Orange County. The 55-page federal complaint was filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

To read the full article, go here.

COVID Infection?

Above, aboard the Durango train on August 1.

My ex-roommate Jessica gave me some concerning news last night.

She thinks she contracted COVID at the Albuquerque Sunport and is worried that I may have also gotten exposed to it when I took her there.

She came down sick at about Thursday and her dad has the same symptoms as she did. She's going to be tested today. Her dad was tested positive. This will be his third bout with it.

So far, I feel just fine. It has been since Tuesday since we were at the airport. I doubt I got it since I wasn't around anyone at the airport and five days have gone by.

I am not too worried for myself since I am vaccinated and had two boosters. Jessica was also fully vaccinated with boosters. They won't stop being infected, but will lessen the severity.

UPDATE (8/14/22):

Jessica's test came out positive. She has COVID.

FBI Raid On Melania's Closet "Justified"


Walmart Overnighting May Be Doomed By Lawsuit

Some Walmarts around the country allow overnight RV stays in their parking lots (boondocking). A fatal incident in 2019 with a resulting lawsuit may end that.

RV Travel reported:

Essie McKenzie, of Coon Rapids, MN, is suing Walmart Stores, Inc. in U.S. Federal Court in Minnesota for negligence and wrongful death.

Ms. McKenzie’s two daughters, Ty’rah and Taraji, were asleep in McKenzie’s car while their mother shopped just after 6:00 a.m. on August 6, 2019, in the Walmart parking lot located at 8450 University Avenue NE in Fridley, MN. The car was quickly engulfed in fire that started in a Dodge camper van parked next to McKenzie’s car. Ty’rah McKenzie was rescued by emergency responders but later died from smoke inhalation and burns; her sister, Taraji, was severely injured in the conflagration. The RV caught fire from a hot propane camp stove.

Complaint allegations include Walmart failing to monitor overnight campers

The complaint alleges negligence on the part of Walmart for creating a nuisance and failing to monitor overnight campers in its parking lot. The case has significant implications for RVers who have long been welcomed to remain overnight in the retailer’s parking lots.

Personally, I have never stayed overnight in a Walmart parking lot, but I have stayed overnight at a Flying J parking lot.

To read the full story, go here.

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