"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, September 17, 2020

10 RV Safety Tips

Above, The Beast at the USA RV Park in Gallup, New Mexico. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Nobody wants to face problems while on the road, so it is best to prepare beforehand.

Do It Yourself RV has an article with ten important things to keep in mind for safe travels. Each is relatively easy to do and will help to prevent headaches while traveling.

They begin with:

Nobody wants to have issues while traveling with their RV. Flat tires, breakdowns, and other on-the-road problems can all result in grumpy moods and even ruined trips.

Obviously, you won’t always be able to avoid these things. However, by following a few simple safety rules, you can reduce the likelihood that problems will arise. The question is, what kinds of rules should you be following to keep yourself and your family safe during your travel days?

In this article, we will discuss some of our top tips for safe travels so you can help ensure your next RV adventure goes off without a hitch.

To read what they are, go here

Vacation Souvenir

During my recent vacation trip to Colorado, I didn't buy too much in the way of souvenirs. Some things that caught my eye were too pricey or I saw nothing that particularly interested me.

However, one item caught my eye while in a shop in Silverton. It was a "Geezer Crossing" sign. The shop had two different sizes and I picked the smaller of the two. We have referred to ourselves in Jamestown as "geezers" (even though most of us are in our mid-60s) and we even got the waitresses at the local Denny's to refer to their 55+ omelet as the "Geezer Omelet".

So, last night I hung the sign in the garage. I did it in such a way that I can always move it if I so desire.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

The Man Who Saved The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

Above, the Durango train at Rockwood Station last week. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

While in the Durango, Colorado station of the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, I was chatting with one of the employees of the station.

I mentioned that my first ride on the train was in 1983. He replied, "Ah! The Bradshaw era!" That piqued my curiosity. I first heard of Charles Bradshaw in a documentary on railroads, "Love Those Trains".

Remembering that, I did some looking around and found that Charles Bradshaw Jr., the man who saved the former line of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad, passed away December 21, 2013 in Florida.

According to The Durango Herald:
When Charles E. Bradshaw Jr. bought the Durango to Silverton branch of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad in 1981, it marked an important turning point for the economies of both Durango and Silverton. Bradshaw died Dec. 21 in Orlando, Fla. He was 83. 
For the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad, the branch was an outlier. In 1964, the company had made an attempt to abandon the route, which was thwarted, in part, by concerted lobbying from community members. The route had been disconnected from the rest of the company’s system since 1969, leading to more uncertainty about its future. 
“Since the 1950s, the Denver & Rio Grande had been trying to get rid of it, and the deals kept falling through,” said Jim Mayer, who was vice president and superintendent of operations and maintenance during the first two pivotal years of Bradshaw’s ownership. “Shipping people was a whole lot different than a carload of coal, with much higher liability. From a culture around a century old, Bradshaw brought the railroad into its own. It was arguably the hugest turning point in the railroad’s history.” 
Rod Barker, who owns the Strater Hotel, remembers the concern in town in those days. 
“My dad and a number of others had formed the Durango Railroad Co. to try to buy it,” he said. “They were so pleased they didn’t have to do that. Charlie brought a level of commitment to ‘our’ railroad that was as deep as any member of this community.” 
As the railroad turned, so, too, did Durango and Silverton. 
“It saved the town of Durango,” historian Duane Smith said. “What Bradshaw did was vital. And just think what Silverton would be without it. It would be a ghost town between here and Ouray, instead of being preserved as a town and community.” 
Bradshaw, who was born July 10, 1930, had made his money in Florida as a citrus grower at his family’s orchards, Hi-Acres, cattle rancher and as owner of a fertilizer plant.
Many people had stories about him as a straight shooter with some idiosyncrasies, including the fact that for several years he would accept only cash or checks. Dolan said it took some convincing to get him to accept credit cards when they began taking telephone reservations and became computerized.
A hat tip to Charles Bradshaw for saving the train for future generations of train buffs to enjoy.

To read more, go here

Vacation Miscellany

Here's some photos that I transferred over from my phone to my computer:

Above, fall colors are starting in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. Photo by Armand Vaquer

Above, Highway 491 near Shiprock, New Mexico. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, True Grit poster at the True Grit Cafe in Ridgway. Photo by waiter.

Above, restaurant at the Ouray KOA Kampground. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, the Ouray KOA Kampground. Photo by Armand Vaquer.
Above, avalanche tunnel on the "Million Dollar Highway". Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, motorcycle campsites at Ouray KOA Kampground. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, Ouray KOA Kampground. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Home Again!

Above, the cover to G-FAN #128.

Well, I'm back at home in Jamestown, New Mexico.

We (Mitch Geriminsky and I) left Cortez, Colorado at 8:00 this morning. Google Maps states that the drive from Cortez to Jamestown is a bit under three hours long, but we managed to reach Gallup at 11:30. Gallup is roughly 20 miles from Jamestown, so it is about right.

We didn't rush getting to Gallup, but we were both a bit starved. So I directed Mitch to the El Rancho Hotel there for breakfast. I thought about Earl's Family Restaurant, but was unsure there would be parking for Mitch's truck and 32 foot travel trailer, so we went to the El Rancho where I knew there would be enough parking space. We both enjoyed our breakfast.

After breakfast, we headed to Jamestown and once we reached my place, we unloaded my things from the truck and trailer. Mitch decided to press on to Lake Havasu, Arizona (a six-mile drive) although he was welcome to rest up at my place for the night.

After taking a shower, I proceeded to unpack my luggage and start doing laundry. I then rested for a while until about 1:30 to go to the Flying J to get my mail.

As expected, my mailbox was stuffed with a week's worth of mail. One welcome item was G-FAN #128. Since this summer marks the third year since Haruo Nakajima's passing, I wrote a remembrance article on our 2013 attendance at the Mad Monster Party in Charlotte, North Carolina and it appears in this issue.

The issue has a unique cover. It appears to be a "homage" to the Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post covers of the 1940s. It looked nice!

One article caught my attention in G-FAN #128. It is on the "cancel culture's" possible effect on 1962's King Kong vs. Godzilla. It focuses on the "blackface" make-up of different movies, including the natives of Faruo Island. I read some comments on Facebook about this article that were negative. Actually, the topic is a valid one that needs discussion. Are old movies, including King Kong vs. Godzilla, to be banned from screenings (or television) just because they "offend" some people? People need to grow up and put on their big boy and big girl underwear. History is history, whether "good" or "bad", so get over it. Blazing Saddles sure as heck would not be produced in today's politically correct climate.

As Clint Eastwood said in Escape From Alcatraz, "There's always the possibility that some asshole will be offended. Isn't there?"

One little problem cropped up when going to the Flying J. There were water spots on the Mustang's windshield and I turned on the wipers to clean it. A fastener for the driver's side wiper arm broke when I turned them on (the wiper was stuck to the windshield) and the wiper blade went flying. It was a new wiper arm that I bought two years ago. Fortunately, I still have the old wiper arm. I'll put that one back on tomorrow as the current arm is being too stubborn to come off and I am too tired to bother with it today.

Another interesting piece of mail was from Glenn Thornhill (thanks, Glenn!) which contained some old pictures of my first motorhome (I have no idea how he got a hold of them).

Above, a Gulf gas station in Shiprock, New Mexico. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

One interesting thing we saw along the way from Cortez: While driving through Shiprock, New Mexico, we saw a Gulf gasoline station. I haven't seen this brand for about 40+ years, since they left the Los Angeles market.

Well, I am just going to kick back and relax for the rest of the day.

More People Buying Vinyl Than CDs During Pandemic

Above, a LP I recently purchased. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

This isn't all that surprising to me. Many friends (including myself) and those in the recording industry (such as Neil Young) contend that vinyl records sound better than CDs.

So, with many people having time on their hands due to the pandemic, are buying more vinyl records than CDs for the first time since the 1980s.

According to USA Today:
Americans seem to be listening to more vinyl records amid the pandemic.  
In fact, vinyl outsold CDs for the first time since the 1980s, according to a recently released mid-year report from the Recording Industry Association of America. The report underscoring the state of the U.S. music industry captured how people's music listening has changed during the coronavirus crisis. 
With people having more time on their hands due to COVID-19 lockdowns, music streaming, which includes revenue from paid services such as Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon, grew 12% to $4.8 billion in the first half of 2020.
To read more, go here.

Excuses, Excuses of Ben Ray Lujan

After weeks of saying he won't attend the October KOB-TV debate with Mark Ronchetti, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan now has a new excuse for ducking it.

According to the Associated Press:
RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján said Sunday that work on a COVID-19 relief bill and other pressing Congressional business might keep him away from an early October U.S. Senate debate against Republican challenger Mark Ronchetti. 
Luján’s campaign told The Associated Press that his duties in Congress to pass a coronavirus relief package and rescue the U.S. Postal Service may prevent him from joining a scheduled October 5th debate on KOB-TV. 
He has not confirmed that he’ll join the KOB-TV debate. The station said it would still hold the debate with an empty podium for Luján. 
Ronchetti has accused Luján of “hiding” from voters by not accepting debate offers from the other outlets. His campaign said it wasn’t buying Luján’s reasoning about possibly skipping the KOB-TV debate. 
“It’s disappointing that Ben Ray Luján continues to make excuses for ducking debates,” Ronchetti campaign spokesman Jeff Glassburner said. “He’s had no problem coming to New Mexico to film false TV attack ads, but he refuses to commit to debate.”
If a candidate is unwilling to debate the issues with his opponents, he does not deserve to even be considered for the position.

To read more, go here.

Heading Home Today

Above, mule deer near our campground in Cortez last evening. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Today is the last day of the trip. We'll be heading out of Cortez, Colorado this morning. The drive back to Jamestown, New Mexico is only three hours long along U.S. 491 through the Navajo Nation and the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe areas to Gallup.

Interestingly, U.S. 491 was once designated U.S. 666 until 2003.

According to Wikipedia:
U.S. Route 491 (US 491) is a north–south U.S. Highway serving the Four Corners region of the United States. One of the newest designations in the U.S. Highway System, it was created in 2003 as a renumbering of U.S. Route 666 (US 666). With the 666 designation, this road was nicknamed the "Devil's Highway" because of the significance of the number 666 to many Christian denominations, which believe it to be the Number of the Beast. This Satanic connotation, combined with a high fatality rate along the New Mexico portion, convinced some people the highway was cursed. The problem was compounded by persistent sign theft. These factors led to two efforts to renumber the highway, first by officials in Arizona, later in New Mexico. There have been safety improvement projects in recent years, and fatality rates have subsequently decreased.
Above, the entrance sign to Mesa Verde National Park. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

It has been an enjoyable vacation break. It was fun to ride the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, to visit Durango and Silverton, Colorado for the first time since 1986. Visiting Mesa Verde National Park for the fourth time was also pleasurable. Visiting Ouray and Ridgway (to see True Grit locations) was also enjoyable.

Above, the Lone Spur Cafe in Silverton. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Getting to these areas within a day's drive from home is an added plus. It was interesting to see so many Jeeps and other off-highway vehicles (OHV) was interesting. None of the Jeeps were of the vintage as mine.

Above, the DSNGR at Highline with the Animas River 400 feet below. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The weather was varied. An early (for September) winter storm came in at about the same time as the start of the trip and we were treated to rain in Durango, snow scenes (on U.S 550 "Million Dollar Highway" between Silverton and Ouray) and then more seasonal weather towards the end in Cortez.

Image may contain: tree, house, sky, plant and outdoor
Above, a morning campfire in Cortez. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

This is one trip that I plan on doing again.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Mesa Verde National Park Today

Above, a view of Cliff Palace. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Today was spent (for the most part) touring Mesa Verde National Park in the Four Corners region of southwestern Colorado. This was the fourth time I've visited the park.

The park is notable for cliff structures built by the Ancestral Puebloans (Anasazi), with Cliff Palace being the largest of the cliff dwellings. The Anasazi Indians populated the Four Corners region from around 1,500 B.C. to about the 13th Century. Some Anasazi pottery shards were found on my property a couple of years ago.

Above, your truly at Cliff Palace overlook. Photo by Mitch Geriminsky.

We started it by having breakfast at the snack bar at Morefield Campground in the park. Following that, we went into the store next door before heading out.

Above, Mitch Geriminsky at Cliff Palace overlook. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Naturally, as with all other national parks, a camera is essential equipment and I managed to make good use of mine during our tour.

Somce photos:

Visiting Mesa Verde National Park Today

Above, Spruce Tree House during a previous visit. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

It looks like we're in luck.

The restaurants at Mesa Verde National Park are open for business but will close for the season on October 1.

Image may contain: tree, house, sky, plant and outdoor
Above, this morning's fire at camp. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Many of the trails appear to be closed, but, fortunately, most of the cliff dwellings can be seen from a distance (good thing I have a telephoto lens).

This page gives the most up-to-date status of the facilities and features at the park.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Now In Cortez, Colorado

Above, the Lone Spur Cafe in Silverton. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

We've reached Cortez, Colorado after about a four-hour drive from Ouray.

We did stop in Silverton for breakfast at the Lone Spur Cafe. The food was good and the decor was right out of the old west.

Above, the Lone Spur Cafe's bar. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Following breakfast, we then headed to Cortez and checked into the KOA Kampground there. After a while, we took a drive into town and stopped at the Antique Corral. It was a big store with lots of stuff to look at (we bought a few things). Outside front of the store, there was a collection of fibreglass horses cows and other animals. The cows reminded me of the one Noel Neill bought a few years before her passing in Arizona.

Image may contain: one or more people, shoes and outdoor, text that says 'WE BUY WBUY ESTATES COWBOY & Yard Decor o'
Above, the front of the Antique Corral in Cortez. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Afterwards, we stopped for dinner at a nearby Mexican restaurant (the food was good) and then headed back to camp for the rest of the day. We will be going to Mesa Verde National Park tomorrow.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

"True Grit" Locations In Ridgway, Colorado

Above, the park that was used for the public hanging scene. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Today, Mitch Geriminsky and I roamed around the historic district of Ridgway, Colorado, the location of True Grit (1969) starring John Wayne, Kim Darby, Glen Campbell, Robert Duvall and Jeff Corey.

Above, the old fire station that was shown in the movie and
was actually used as a fire station. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Some of the locations used are still recognizable and some have changed over the years. Some of the buildings used had facades put over them, while others (such as the courthouse) were false buildings (facades only).

After arriving, we walked around the park that was used for the hanging scene. It looked pretty much the same as it did back in 1969.

Above, Rooster Cogburn's paddy wagon at the museum yard. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

From there, after getting directions from a nice lady in an antique shop, we went to the museum to see Rooster Cogburn's (John Wayne) horse-drawn paddy wagon. It is on display in the museum yard.

Afterwards, after discovering plaques on buildings used in the movie, I wandered around to take pictures of the plaques and the corresponding buildings describing what they were specifically used for.

Above, inside the True Grit Cafe is the painted wall sign featured in the movie when Rooster Cogburn
 delivered some prisoners to the courthouse. The building that the cafe is in was added in 1986 and
 the original building's exterior wall is preserved inside. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, a shy waitress holds up a photo from True Grit showing the painted wall
 sign and John Wayne in front of the same wall today. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

When I was done with that, we did some shopping in an antique store next to the True Grit Cafe. Then, we had lunch in the True Grit Cafe. The staff at the cafe were quite friendly and gave us some information and took our photos. Photos of the cafe to follow.

The following are photos of each building's plaque along with the buildings as they are today:

Inside the True Grit Cafe.

The True Grit Cafe (built in 1986) is loaded with lots of John Wayne True Grit memorabilia as well as other films from his career. There is an upstairs dining area (we didn't go up there). We did partake in some lunch (I had their beef chili, which was quite good).

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