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Saturday, April 10, 2021

New Cattle Guards

Above, one of two sets of new cattle guards near Six Mile Canyon Road. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

After the gathering of the "James(town) Gang" at Denny's for coffee, I went out with the Jeep to feed carrots to Buddy and Christmas.

Following that, I decided to take a little drive in Six Mile Canyon. While on Six Mile Canyon Road, I noticed two separate sets of cattle guards sitting next to the road. It looks like the old cattle guards are going to be replaced then the culverts are rebuilt and new highway fencing are done.

On occasion, cattle have gone into our community.

"Godzilla vs. Kong" Review



My viewing of Godzilla vs. Kong was definitely worth the wait.

Since New Mexico's governor shut down all of the state's theaters and I don't have satellite or cable, I had to go to an adjoining state, who still has open theaters, to see it. In this case, I went to Durango, Colorado, a three-hour drive. Besides, movies are meant to be seen on the big screen, especially ones with giant monsters.

There was plenty of action with the battles between Kong and Godzilla. Some criticized the movie's human part of the story, but it worked good enough and didn't get in the way. A couple of things I am puzzled about: Why have Kyle Chandler's character, Mark Russell, in it? He had so little screen time. I guess it was worth the paycheck to Chandler. Also, where was Alan Jonah [played by Charles Dance]? He was the main villain in Godzilla: King of the Monsters, but was nowhere to be found in Godzilla vs. Kong. One would think he would have been in it since the Ghidorah head he obtained played a big part in the story.

Kong came off as a very likable character. He was definitely an alpha male, but still quite likable. And, he knows sign language!

I enjoyed this movie more than Godzilla: King of the Monsters.

My grade: A.

Oh, by the way. I DON'T like Warner Bros. Pictures' new logo. Yoshimitsu Banno is credited as an executive producer of Godzilla vs. Kong, but he's been dead for nearly four years.

Durango Refrigerator Magnets

One of the things I bought while in Durango, Colorado was a new refrigerator magnet. The one I bought shows the train at High Line, the most spectacular part of the train ride.

I've noticed that over the years souvenir refrigerator magnets are getting more and more elaborate.

Below, center, is the new Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad magnet. It is flanked by two I bought back in the 1980s. My first ride on the Silverton train was in 1983.



Arizona: How To Find A Campsite

Above, Ashurst Lake Dispursed Campground near Flagstaff last summer. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Being cooped up at home for months has made people wanting to get out and do something and camping looks to be the safest way to "get away from it all."

However, with so many people wanting to get out, RV sales and rentals have skyrocketed and this is resulting in campsites being hard to find. But, there are things one can do and AZCentral has an article on what people can do to find a campsite in Arizona.

They begin with:

Camping in Arizona has a lot to offer, with a multitude of world-class destinations, jaw-dropping scenery and abundant outdoor recreation.

You can wake up in the desert at Lost Dutchman State Park, in one of the seven natural wonders of the world at Grand Canyon, by a sparkling lake in western Arizona or under pine trees in a high-country national forest.

Those hoping to nab a campsite this summer need to know the cold hard facts, however; Coronavirus shutdowns and stay-at-home advice over the past year have triggered a flood of visitors wanting to get out and do something. Reservations at popular campgrounds can be very difficult to come by. They're often snapped up months — even a year — in advance.  

Here's what you need to know about finding and reserving a campsite in Arizona this summer. 

To read more, go here.

Grand Teton National Park: What To Expect this Summer

Above, Grand Teton's Signal Mountain Lodge. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

In a couple of months, the summer vacation season will begin and Grand Teton National Park is looking toward a bit more of a "normal" season.

Buckrail posted an article about different things at the park and what to expect. Thankfully, they go into detail on each.

They begin it with:

JACKSON, Wyo. — It may be difficult to know what to expect in the coming months while a global pandemic is still creating uncertainties in many things that were once considered normal.

Last year, Grand Teton National Park (GTNP) and Yellowstone National Park (YNP) closed for a period of close to two months when COVID came around.

However, in light of the distribution of vaccines throughout 2021, some things will start going back to normal. Last year, Grand Teton Lodge Company (GTLC) cut back many of its operations as the pandemic began to reach the valley of Jackson Hole. This year, GTLC is planning on opening its lodges to park visitors.

 To read more, go here.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Home Again


Above, the Tsaya Trading Post looks like it had been there a while. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

This evening, I made it home to Jamestown, New Mexico.

It was a smooth ride until I reached Farmington, New Mexico. The traffic there was heavy. Plus, the lack of signage had me "mighty bewildered" (as Daniel Boone used to say) and I had to stop and use Google Maps to get me to the right road and out of town. I think I will avoid this route (Hwy. 550) in the future.

The day started in Durango after packing up everything when I went to the Lone Spur Cafe in town. As luck would have it (again), I finished breakfast just in time to see and video (below) the Durango train depart Durango Station.

After that, since I had a couple of hours to kill before the screening of Godzilla vs. Kong, I stopped at a gun store to see what they had. Unfortunately, they didn't have what I wanted (Winchester .30-.30 ammo).


But, that worked out good because before going to the theater, I filled The Beast's gas tank and went to a neighboring coin-operated car wash (that accepts credit cards) and gave The Beast a good, badly-needed wash.

Following that, I headed over to the theater to see the movie. The theater had stadium seating. Each seat reclined and had a swivel tray. The seat was too comfortable as I had to keep from dozing off.

Above, this had to be the fanciest theater seat I ever seen. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

After the movie, I headed out of Durango for home. I made one stop. It was the Tsaya Trading Post that's a few miles north of Crownpoint, New Mexico. The route in New Mexico took me through the Navajo Nation. 

After unpacking, I watched a Blu-ray on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad I bought at the Durango Station gift shop.

All in all, it was a good trip and very enjoyable.

"Godzilla vs. Kong" Today

Above, a view looking down toward the highway and RV park entrance. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Today's the day that I will finally see Godzilla vs. Kong and then head back home to New Mexico following it.

It has been an enjoyable little trip and I found Alpen Rose RV Park one that I like a lot. The staff is very friendly and helpful, including the maintenance workers. 

The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum had a lot of great exhibits on display, it is one place all visitors should see.

The drive home takes a little over three hours (coming here took me four hours since I took my time and made a couple of stops). The route took me through ranch and farmland once I crossed into Colorado with great views. On the way back home, I am taking a slightly different route to Farmington, New Mexico, so I will see some different things.

Great trip! 

Yosemite National Park To Limit Summer Visitors

Above, visitors in one of the Ahwahnee Hotel's sitting rooms. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Big Brother is planning to restrict day use visitation to Yosemite National Park this summer despite having vaccinations available. 

What's that spell? CONTROL! (To borrow a line from Country Joe and the Fish.)

News 95.7 reported:

YOSEMITE VILLAGE, Calif. — Yosemite National Park will require advanced reservations for day visitors during the peak summer season to limit the number of visitors and allow social distancing amid the pandemic.

Under the new rules, advance reservations will be required for day use visitors who enter Yosemite from May 21 to Sept. 30, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

The park’s superintendent, Cicely Muldoon, said large crowds already have been coming to the park in recent weeks, and there are still cases of COVID-19 spreading in California, and other states and countries where visitors are coming from.

To read more, go here

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Review Posted At Campground Reviews

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

Even though I'm still at the Alpen Rose RV Park in Durango, Colorado, I was impressed enough to post my review of the campground at Campground Reviews.

In a nutshell:

Since all theaters are shut down in my home state of New Mexico, I decided to drive 3 hours to Durango to go to a theater there. I also elected to make this trip more of a camping excursion. I found that the campground to have all hook-ups available during this time of year. I found the campground to be clean and nicely maintained. They have a pool, trout pond and patio cafe, but they were closed for the winter season. They do have a store, but it doesn't take cash, they'll just charge purchases to your credit card. There's plenty of trees, but none had yet gotten their spring foliage. The campground is conveniently located 2 miles from Durango. The staff was friendly and helpful. This is going to be my "go-to" RV park when in Durango. We camped at Alpen Rose RV Park in a Motorhome.

To read all the reviews of Alpen Rose RV Park, go here

Video: Durango Train Passing RV Park

Above, the Durango train as it was departing Durango Station this morning. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

While talking with some neighboring campers today, I heard the horn (or whistle) from the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad train. It was returning to Durango Station from its run to Cascade Canyon.

I walked towards the front of the RV park just as the train was approaching. I turned on the video feature of my phone and shot it while it passed by. 

I uploaded the video to YouTube.

Here's the video:


Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum

Above, the 9:30 Durango train departing for Cascade Canyon. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

This morning, I headed into the old town section of Durango, Colorado to visit the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum and roundhouse.

As luck would have it, about ten minutes after my arrival, the 9:30 train to Cascade Canyon was about to depart from the Durango Station.

Above, the 9:30 train before departure from Durango Station. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

I was talking to one of the train workers and mention that I rode the train last year. I mentioned that the departure was from Rockwood. He said that was a cost-cutting measure and that they were able to get more trains out daily. He was glad the departures were returned to Durango Station but still going to Cascade Canyon. Says its easier to handle the trains from Durango Station.

In minutes, the 9:30 train headed out and before it did, I found myself a spot to shoot some pictures of it.

Above, Durango Station. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

After that, I went over to the museum and looked over the exhibits. All of the engines on display are still operational except for one, No. 42. The museum is located in part of the roundhouse away from the the working area. During the summer, the working area is accessible to tourists, guided, of course.

After wandering around the museum, I went over to the gift shop in the station and bought a Blu-rays of the Durango train and a refrigerator magnet. I still have one that I bought back in the 1980s. It is no longer available.

I then wandered around the old town section of Durango and had breakfast at the Lone Spur Cafe. I had the chorizo scramble.

More photos from today:

Above, the entrance to the museum. Photo by Armand Vaquer.


Above, after entering the museum, this is what visitors first see. Photo by Armand Vaquer.


Above, a cougar ready to pounce. Photo by Armand Vaquer.


Above, engine No. 42, no longer operational. Photo by Armand Vaquer.


Above, engine 478 is still operational, as is No. 486 below. Photos by Armand Vaquer.



Above, an elaborate model railroad. Photo by Armand Vaquer.


Above, for my motorcyclist friends, an old Indian motorcycle. Photo by Armand Vaquer.


Above, interesting sign. Photo by Armand Vaquer.


Above and below, outside of the roundhouse. Photos by Armand Vaquer.




Above, a vintage Texaco pick-up truck. Photo by Armand Vaquer.


Above, another view of engine No. 478. Photo by Armand Vaquer.


Above, outside after leaving the museum and heading back to Durango Station. Photo by Armand Vaquer.


Above, Charles Bradshaw Jr., who saved the Durango train. Photo by Armand Vaquer.


Above, the main entrance to the Strater Hotel. Photo by Armand Vaquer.


Action Comics No. 1 Sets New Record

Above, the cover of Action Comics No. 1 (not the specific issue that set a new record).


Action Comics No 1, the comic book that featured Superman's first appearance sold for a new record amount. 

CBR.com reported:

A private seller acquired a high-grade copy of Action Comics #1 for $3.25 million, beating the previous record of $3.2 million.

Collectibles auction firm ComicConnect.com handled the transaction, reported USA Today. The rare copy sold for about $1 million above the seller's purchase price.

To read more, go here

New AOL App Came As A Non-Pleasant Surprise

Above, the campers near my campsite this morning. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

A little while ago, I returned from taking a nice hot shower at the campground's facilities. 

I found the shower room nice and clean with good hot water in the shower with very decent water pressure.

After that, I returned to The Beast and poured myself a fresh cup of coffee and opened my AOL app on my phone. Gawd almighty! The app totally changed and is confusing as hell! Especially when sending photos from the phone's gallery.

Above, the RV park looking east. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

We had no warning that AOL was changing their app for Android users. I noticed a lot of users are raising hell over the change. I added my voice to the complaints.

After that, I stepped outside and looked around. The campground is now almost half full. The sky is clear and it looks to be a nice day in Durango.

Still, the AOL matter is annoying.

Today's Itinerary

Above, The Beast yesterday at Alpen Rose RV Park. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

As usual with me, I slept good in the RV. For some reason, I seem to sleep better in the motorhome than I do at home. 

It was a cold night in Durango, Colorado, down into the 30s. But it will get to around 68°, but beezy.

I plan on roaming around the old town section of Durango and visit the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum and the train's roundhouse (or at least view it as close as I can). I spent yesterday relaxing at the campground. I was tired from the drive and found myself dozing while sitting outside. Small wonder why I slept good last night.

Then, on Friday, I will see Godzilla vs. Kong. I already have my ticket (ordered before I left home). After the viewing, I'll be heading back to New Mexico.

Since all theaters in New Mexico are still shut down and that I am "forced" to see Godzilla vs. Kong in an adjoining state, I figured I'd make the trip more enjoyable by doing some exploring.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Cold Nights

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

Once the sun dipped below the mountain to the west of the Alpen Rose RV Park in Durango, Colorado, it got pretty chilly here fast.

Also, some winds made it even colder. So now I am in The Beast with my ceramic space heater going. It is making the inside more comfortable.

It is going to dip below freezing tonight, so it looks like I'll have the holding tank heaters on. I am relying on the water in fresh water tank. I will hook up the fresh water hose tomorrow morning. I am not going to repeat what happened at Monument Valley when sub-freezing temperatures froze the water in the fresh water hose.

Small wonder the RV park empties the trout fishing pond for winter (yes, they have a trout fishing pond). It is completely empty now.

According to the National Weather Service, the temperatures in Durango will be:

Tonight
Mostly clear, with a low around 31. West wind 5 to 10 mph becoming north northeast after midnight.
Thursday
Sunny, with a high near 69. Breezy, with a light and variable wind becoming west 15 to 20 mph in the morning. Winds could gust as high as 30 mph.
Thursday Night
Mostly clear, with a low around 32. Breezy, with a northwest wind 15 to 20 mph decreasing to 5 to 10 mph after midnight.

Grand Canyon National Park's East Entrance Reopening Tomorrow

Above, the Grand Canyon's Desert View Watchtower. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

At long last, there's some good news to report concerning the east entrance to Grand Canyon National Park.

There are some things to know about it and AZCentral has posted an article with the "skinny" on the reopening.

AZCentral reported:

Grand Canyon National Park's east entrance — the location of the historic Desert View Watchtower — has been closed for most of the pandemic. It will reopen on Thursday, April 8.

Since April 1, 2020, the east entrance and State Route 64, the scenic highway that leads to, have been closed in accordance with COVID-19 restrictions on the Navajo Nation. The park closed the entrance to discourage travelers from passing through the reservation, which had imposed lockdown and curfew regulations.

The reopening was announced Wednesday by park Superintendent Ed Keable and was based on input from tribal and state officials and community members.

To read more, go here


Getting Around In Japan

Above, the JR Yamanote Line that circles Tokyo. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

With COVID-19 seemingly spiking up again in Japan, it will be a while before we can return to normal and take a vacation trip to there.

Even through that is a roadblock to travel planning, it is worth a read to see how to get around in Japan through various means of transportation once one does actually gets into the country.

Lonely Planet posted an article on different means of getting around the cities as well as the whole country.

They begin with:

Spread across 7000 islands and dotted with megacities, mountain ranges and mighty national parks, Japan can appear a little intimidating to explore upon first glance. But look a little closer and you’ll find this Asian powerhouse is a delight to travel around, whether by train, ferry or using a hired set of wheels. Here’s our guide to getting around in Japan. 

To read more, go here.  

"Ultimate" Guide To Grand Teton National Park

Above, the majestic Grand Tetons. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Well, here's another one of those "ultimate" guides to whatever.

This time it's Outside magazine's website that has the "ultimate" Grand Teton National Park travel guide. It is worth a read, even if one is not presently contemplating a trip there.

It starts out with:

My relationship with Grand Teton National Park started inauspiciously: I moved to Jackson Hole in northwest Wyoming unaware of the park or the mountains that are its heart. Of course I knew the town had mountains—I’d gone there to be a ski bum for a year, after all—but had no idea these mountains were the snaggled, serrated, rising-7,000-feet-straight-from-the-valley-floor Tetons, part of one of the world’s most intact ecosystems and home to glaciers, shimmering alpine lakes, and wild animals I knew only from photos, as well as more opportunities for adventure than I had the skills or fitness to handle. On my first hike in the park, I got my mom and myself spectacularly lost—and also contracted a case of giardia. 

While floating down the Snake River below Jackson Lake Dam two weeks later, my GI tract still suffering, I knew one year here would not be enough. I’m now on year 24 and have learned that a lifetime isn’t enough to explore this park, even if, at 310,000 acres, it’s only a fraction of the size of its 2.22-million-acre neighbor to the north, Yellowstone. 

To read more, go here

Now In Durango

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

Today I made it into Durango, Colorado at 11:00 this morning. It is a three-hour drive from home, but I stopped in Thoreau, New Mexico for some groceries and a snack in Farmington, so it took me four hours. After Farmington, it seemed like I made it across the Colorado stateline in no time.

Before heading to the campground, I stopped at the bank to deposit my state tax refund check. It is always to have a little extra on hand while traveling.

I also stopped at Honeyville to pick up some rum and a couple of jars of bumbleberry jam. I decided to taste their blueberry wine. I liked it and bought a bottle. They recommend serving it chilled.

After my stop at Honeyville, I headed over to the Alpen Rose RV Park. Check-in was easy as the worker only had to pull my reservation envelope from the check-in kiosk and lead me to my campsite.

This is a nice little RV park. It's not as big as Lightner Creek, but once the spring/summer foliage comes in, this campground will look beautiful. Right now, I'd say 1/4 of the sites are occupied.

Tomorrow's agenda is to just wander around the old town section of Durango and check out the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad's museum and roundhouse. No train rides for me on this trip.

So far, the sky is clear and the temperature is around 60°. Not bad. 

A few photos:

 

Above, the view looking towards the campground's entrance. Photo by Armand Vaquer.


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


Above, driving to the campground from Honeyville. Photo by Armand Vaquer.


Above, in old town Durango. The General Palmer Hotel is at right. Photo by Armand Vaquer.


Above, Honeyville's hard liquor tasting bar. Photo by Armand Vaquer.


Above, Honeyville. Photo by Armand Vaquer.


Above, the San Juan Mountains from the ranch/farm area on the outskirts of Durango. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Off To Durango

Above, I'll be picking up another bottle of this. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Later today, I'll be heading off to Durango, Colorado to see Godzilla vs. Kong.

As I mentioned previously, the two nearest places to screen the movie is in either Show Low, Arizona and Durango. I decided to go to Durango, even though it is a little bit further away. At least the drive is more direct and is only 3 hours long and the scenery is great. Durango is home of the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. We rode it last September.

Above, the Animas River from the Durango train. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

While there, I'll also snag another bottle of rum and jams at Honeyville. The bottle of rum I bought last September there is almost out.

I am going to try out another RV park. Lightner Creek Campground, where we stayed last year, is open, but it only has dry camping available.

Why National Parks Became No. 1 Pandemic Destination

Above, a crowd gathers for an Old Faithful Geyser eruption. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The Travel asks why the national parks became the number one destination during the pandemic.

They see several reasons for this. These also could be factors of why RV sales and rentals are setting records.

They begin with: 

Think back prior to the pandemic (it feels like forever, we know): Does anyone remember the reasons they visited their local national parks? Fresh air, exercise, and scenery are probably the first things that come to mind. Now, think of why a person would make a trip to a national park during the pandemic... the answer is likely to change quite a bit.

Feelings of being trapped, isolated, and our personal lives being out of control were very real throughout most of 2020. So, why would anyone want to go to a place that's even more isolated and remote just to be alone with all of those thoughts and emotions? It seems almost counterintuitive to travel to a place where no one is around just to commune with something that can't talk back and could potentially make us feel even smaller than we already did. There are two faces to every coin, though, and on the other side of this one, there was also a great sense of calm and relief that came from a venture into the woods. Is it possible that this feeling brought us back to our prehistoric ancestors? Or, perhaps, it was the distraction of being truly alone and not just how we perceived to be alone that made us feel comforted? Let's explore it a bit more.

To read more, go here.

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