"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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Monday, November 30, 2015

20 Best Airport Restaurants In Japan

RocketNews 24 has posted an article with a list of the 20 best airport restaurants in Japan as chosen by users at TripAdvisor.

Outside of eating at a McDonalds in Narita International Airport last month, I ate at one Japanese restaurant at the airport in 2014 as I got to the airport early due to a flight SNAFU. I don't recall the name of it, but the food was very good.

They begin with:
Ask anyone who’s taken a trip to or in Japan, and they’ll tell you that one of the best things about travelling in the country is the food. As a matter of fact, for many people Japan’s culinary landscape is as memorable as its natural or urban one. 
But while you’ll have to say good-bye to Mt. Fuji and the Tokyo Skytree when you head to the airport for your flight home, you’ve still got time to squeeze in one final, and delicious, meal. Following is a list of the 20 best airport restaurants in Japan, as chosen by the users of travel website TripAdvisor.
To see the list of best airport restaurants, go here

Hadley Fruit Orchards

Above, the Hadley Fruit Orchards store in Cabazon. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Back in the 1960s when we visited my grandmother in 29 Palms, we usually stopped at Hadley Fruit Orchards store in Cabazon on the way home.

There, we picked up some nuts and fruit products (such as jams and preserves) and had date shakes in their snack bar.

Yesterday, while returning home from Joshua Tree National Park and the General Patton Memorial Museum, I made a few stops, one of which was at Hadley's. I stopped in after having breakfast at Ruby's Diner next door. They have plenty of RV parking.

Above, inside of Hadley's. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The store still looked the same and was very much as I remembered it. It has been many moons since I last stopped there (it was probably after a desert clamp-out with the Billy Holcomb Chapter of E Clampus Vitus).

This time, I skipped getting a date shake (actually, I forgot to get one) but I did pick up a couple of bottles of their steak sauces. One was mesquite-flavored and the other was merlot wine-flavored. I like to try out different steak sauces.

Above, just look for the Hadley sign while on Interstate 10 in Cabazon. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

It was nice to see that some things haven't changed, and the Hadley Fruit Orchard store in Cabazon is one of them.

For more on Hadley's, go here.

Ruby's Diner In Cabazon

Above, the Cabazon Ruby's Diner. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

On the way home from the General Patton Memorial Museum and Joshua Tree National Park yesterday, I made another stop (besides the Cabazon dinosaurs) in Cabazon: Ruby's Diner.

On the way to the General Patton Museum, I noticed several billboards advertising Ruby's Diner in Cabazon. Ruby's Diner is a 1940s style restaurant chain named for the mother of the founder, Doug Cavanaugh. I decided to give them a try.

Above, a portrait of founder Doug Cavanaugh's mother Ruby on display behind the cashier's counter. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The Cabazon Ruby's Diner is next door to Hadley's Fruit Orchards store, at which my family has stopped for date shakes since the 1960s. I stopped by Hadley's after Ruby's, but that will be the subject of another blog post.

Ruby's started in 1980 with the first restaurant to be opened in 1982 in Newport Beach, California. Now, there are several Ruby's Diner restaurants besides the one in Cabazon.

Above, vintage signs adorned the walls of Ruby's Diner. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

I went to the Cabazon restaurant for breakfast. Fortunately, they had large parking spaces in their parking lot that are suitable for RVs and I got there early before the crowds. When I went inside, I immediately liked the "malt shop" look of the restaurant. In the section I was seated, there was an overhead oval track with a 1957 Chevrolet going around and vintage signs were displayed on the walls. I'm probably dating myself when I admit to remembering some of the signs on display.

Above, the 1957 Chevy revolving on an overhead oval track. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

I ordered the corned beef and eggs and it was well-prepared. The waiter was dressed 1940s style and he seemed to enjoy his job. I was pleased that the food was good. I'd hate to go to a restaurant what was all decor, but with lousy food.

Above, the counter of Ruby's. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

According to their website, there's a Ruby's Diner at the nearby Woodland Hills Promenade Mall on Topanga Canyon Blvd. I'll have go there to try out their hamburgers.

Above, the cooks at work. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

If I should be in the Cabazon area again, I will make it a point to stop in at Ruby's Diner.

For more on Ruby's Diner, go here.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Cottonwood Spring Campground Review Posted

Above, The Beast at Cottonwood Spring Campground at Joshua Tree National Park. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

RV Park Reviews has posted my review of the Cottonwood Spring Campground at Joshua Tree National Park.

To view it, go here.

General Patton Memorial Museum

Above, the statue of Gen. George S. Patton and his dog
Willie in front of the museum. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

My first trip after retiring was out to the Mojave Desert to Chiriaco Summit and, following that, to Joshua Tree National Park.

This was a solo jaunt as everyone else was either working or had other things to do that prevented them from coming along. That's fine, I don't mind traveling to places by myself.

The first stop at Chiriaco Summit was to the Gen. Patton Memorial Museum. The museum was set up in the late 1980s near where General Patton set up his desert tank training centers prior to being sent to North Africa during World War II.

Above, The Beast at the campground behind the Patton Museum shortly after arrival. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

I had been to the museum before. The occasion was for a monument dedication in November 1998 in the "tank yard" by the Billy Holcomb Chapter of E Clampus Vitus. We joked at the time that it looked like someone's tomb.

This time, I wanted to go there to locate and photograph my dad's brick that I purchased in January 2000, a month after his death.

Above, the front of the Gen. Patton Memorial Museum. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

I got to the museum before it opened in order to locate the brick. Many people purchased bricks to honor family members (or friends) who served in the U.S. armed forces. There were hundreds (or thousands) of bricks mounted on walls surrounding the giant statue of General Patton and his dog Willie.

I must have spent about an hour trying to find it but was unsuccessful. I hoped that once the museum opened at 9:30, someone there could help me locate it.

I left the museum for breakfast at the Chiriaco Summit Coffee Shop. I had bacon, eggs and toast. They cooked it to perfection! While there, I sent pictures of the General Patton statue to my daughter and Denise.

Above, the sign pointing the way to the campground. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

I arrived in Chiriaco Summit Friday night after dark (around 5:37) and, following dinner at the Chiriaco Summit Coffee Shop (a French dip sandwich and fries), I headed to the free (!) dry camping area (dry camping means there's no hook-ups) immediately behind the museum. With the exception of the campground manager, I was the only camper there. It was interesting to camp in the desert with old tanks and other military vehicles a couple of hundred yards away. It got pretty cold at night, but I slept great (10 hours) and fired up The Beast's heater the next morning. In no time, I was nice and toasty warm.

Above, The Beast at sunrise. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Once the museum opened, I checked with the front desk about finding my dad's brick. The nice gentleman at the desk pulled out the card file records of all of the bricks and found my dad's card. It gave the wall section (wall 2) and row (row 10). He led me out to the wall and within minutes, we found my dad's brick. I took a few photographs with the Canon camera and with my cell phone to send to Amber.

Above, my dad's brick, finally found! Photo by Armand Vaquer.

After this, I toured the museum (admission is only $5.00) and the "tank yard" out front.

Some of the museum's displays:

Above, General Patton. Photos by Armand Vaquer.

Above, one of several tanks and military vehicles on display. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

When I was done touring, I went back inside and purchased a brick to honor my grandfather, Merle Charleston. He served in the U.S. Navy as a Seabee in the Aleutian Islands during World War II. I was asked to wait for Michael Pierson, the general manager of the museum, to bring out a certificate on the brick that I just purchased. He brought it out minutes later and asked me if I have a certificate for my dad's brick. I told him I couldn't remember if I do as it was 15 years since I purchased it. He then got my dad's brick information and headed back to his office. He came out minutes later with a certificate for my dad.

Above, here I am with museum General Manager Michael Pierson. 

I told him that I run a blog that covers travel and attractions and will do a write-up on the Patton Museum (what you're reading now). We then posed for a photograph.

I then purchased a few things from the gift shop and then headed off for nearby Joshua Tree National Park. I will focus on that in another blog article.

Above, the monument placed and dedicated in 1998 by the Billy Holcomb Chapter of E Clampus Vitus. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

I was very pleased with the Gen. Patton Memorial Museum and the staff. They are very helpful. If you happen to be in the Indio/Palm Springs area on Interstate 10 and a World War II history buff (or a history buff in general), I recommend a stop at the museum. It is midway between those cities and the California-Arizona border (roughly 30 miles east of Indio)

Here's some information on the museum:

General Patton Memorial Museum
62510 Chiriaco Road
Chiriaco Summit, CA 92201
Phone (760) 831-0791.

Website: www.GeneralPattonMuseum.com

Cabazon's Dinosaurs: Roadside Kitsch

Above, "Mr. Rex". Photo by Armand Vaquer.

While on my way home from Joshua Tree National Park today, I stopped off at Cabazon's dinosaurs to photograph them.

Back in the 1960s, my grandmother retired to 29 Palms and we would pass the dinosaurs on Interstate 10 while en route to visit her. Each time we passed them, we noted the progression of their construction. The first dinosaur built was the big Brontosaurus and then the Tyrannosaurus rex was built later.

Above, "Dinny". Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The dinosaurs were featured in Pee Wee's Big Adventure around the "Large Marge" segment of the movie ("Tell 'em Large Marge sent ya!").

According to Wikipedia:
The creation of the Cabazon dinosaurs began in the 1960s by Knott's Berry Farm sculptor and portrait artist Claude K. Bell (1897–1988) to attract customers to his Wheel Inn Restaurant, which opened in 1958 and has been closed for a long time. Dinny, the first of the Cabazon dinosaurs, was started in 1964 and created over a span of eleven years. Bell created Dinny out of spare material salvaged from the construction of nearby Interstate 10 at a cost of $300,000. The biomorphic building that was to become Dinny was first erected as steel framework over which an expanded metal grid was formed in the shape of a dinosaur. All of it was then covered with coats of shotcrete (spray concrete). Bell was quoted in 1970 as saying the 45-foot (14 m) high, 150-foot (46 m) long Dinny was "the first dinosaur in history, so far as I know, to be used as a building." His original vision for Dinny was for the dinosaur's eyes to glow and mouth to spit fire at night, predicting, "It'll scare the dickens out of a lot of people driving up over the pass." These two features, however, were not added. With the help of ironworker Gerald Hufstetler, Bell worked on the project independently; no construction companies or contractors were involved in the fabrication. The task of painting Dinny was completed by a friend of Bell's in exchange for one dollar and a case of Dr Pepper. 
A second dinosaur, Mr. Rex, was constructed near Dinny in 1981. Originally, a giant slide was installed in Rex's tail; it was later filled in with concrete making the slide unusable. 
The Wheel Inn Restaurant is still closed and the area surrounding the dinosaurs looked run down during today's visit. But despite this, it appears that the dinosaur attraction is still open for business.

Joshua Tree National Park

Above, the Cottonwood Spring entrance to Joshua Tree National Park. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The second part of my weekend trip to the Mojave Desert (following my visit to the Gen. Patton Memorial Museum) was to go to the Cottonwood Spring Campground in Joshua Tree National Park.

Joshua Tree National Park is only a eight miles from Interstate 10 and is not too far from the Patton Museum.

The park is unique as two distinct deserts, the Mojave and Colorado Deserts, meet at the park.

I reached Joshua Tree National Park within 15 minutes after leaving the Patton Museum. The park doesn't have a "traditional" national park gate with a ranger kiosk at the Cottonwood Spring entrance. Instead, one has to drive to the Cottonwood Spring Visitor Center to pay the $20.00 entrance fee and get the park newspaper and brochure. I was told that paying for the campground is at the

Above, The Beast at the Cottonwood Spring campground. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

After leaving the Visitor Center, I headed to the Cottonwood Spring Campground (it is about a half mile away). At the Visitor Center, signs indicated that all other of the park's campgrounds were full and as of 10:15, there were 14 campsites available at Cottonwood Spring.

While on the way to the campground, I stopped off at the turn-off for the dump station. There was a clean (potable) water faucet there and I filled up my fresh water tank. After I filled the water tank, I headed to the campground.

Photo highlights:

Above, a view of some rock formations near the campground. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, the Cottonwood Spring Campground Amphitheater. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, rock formations near Cottonwood Spring. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, the Cottonwood Spring oasis. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, rock formations of the Colorado Desert. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, a Colorado Desert rock formation. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

At the campground, I drove around a couple of campsite loops to see what was available. I selected one in Loop A (site 4), which was perfect for The Beast as it was a back-in site. Once I backed in, I took the short walk to the campground's payment and information area to pay for the site. There, visitors take a pay envelope from a dispenser and complete the site's information and their vehicle information. Camping fees at Cottonwood Spring are $20.00 per night. I was only staying one night, so I sealed a $20.00 bill in the envelope and stuck it into the payment slot and I was done. On the envelope is a tear-off tag that visitors also complete with their site and vehicle information. This is clipped onto the campsite's post to let the ranger (and others) know that the campsite is occupied and paid for. Simple!

During the rest of the day, I roamed around the area near the campground and made some coffee. The park allows generator use during certain hours of the day, and since I arrived during one of those periods, I fired up the generator and made some coffee.

There is no cell phone service in the park, except in very few areas.

After dinner (chili and beans) , I attended the Ranger Program at the campground's amphitheater. It was a very informative presentation on the constellations of the night sky. It lasted about an hour. The sky was very cooperative as it was clear out and there were plenty of stars to see. It was clear enough to see a band of the Milky Way galaxy. It was very cold out. It was so cold that it was uncomfortable sitting on the concrete benches, so I stood the whole time.

After this, I headed back to The Beast and jumped into bed. As the campground is 3,000 above sea level, it was colder than at the General Patton Memorial Museum campground the night before.  I had to have The Beast's heater on all night.

This was the fourth national park I visited this year, a record for me. The others were Yellowstone, Grand Teton and Zion National Parks. Thankfully, Joshua Tree National Park is only a few hours away from Los Angeles and easy to access.

It was very enjoyable and if you like camping and seeing nature, I recommend a visit! It would probably be best to visit Joshua Tree National Park in the spring as the desert flora will be in bloom and visitors would avoid the hot summer heat during that time.

Friday, November 27, 2015

JAL Launches English Mobile Site For Domestic Flights

For English-speaking foreign visitors to Japan, a new mobile site has been introduced by Japan Airlines to make things a little easier.

Japan Today reported:
TOKYO —Japan Airlines (JAL) has launched a mobile site in English for domestic flights, providing English-speaking customers with more convenience including the domestic flight booking and purchase, and view reservation functions found on JAL’s website for domestic flights in English (www.jal.co.jp/en/).
To read more, go here

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Noel Neill's Birthday Media Coverage

Above, Noel with Jack Larson at her 85th birthday celebration. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

It is nice to see that actress Noel Neill received some well-deserved salutes on some television stations on the occasion of her 95th birthday. This is especially so since there are very few remaining stars of the golden age of television that are still with us.

Two stations in Tucson, Arizona broadcast tributes to Noel yesterday.

Here's one of them:

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Amazon.com's Black Friday Deals

For the past few weeks, all I've been hearing is "Black Friday".

Now Amazon.com gotten into the act when they posted an ad on Facebook.

But I'm not complaining, as their ad involves the Kindle Store ebook edition of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.

The interesting thing about it is that I haven't used this particular notebook computer for several days and just logged on with it, so I can't say it was cookie-generated.

Travel + Leisure's World's Best Airlines For Customer Service

Above, a Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 at LAX. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Travel + Leisure has posted the results of their survey of air travelers on which 25 airlines provides the best customer service.

They begin their posing with:
The business of flight is notoriously tough: airplane employees have to transport, entertain, and serve passengers—who are essentially captive in a giant tin cylinder hurtling through the sky—for sometimes more than a dozen hours straight. There are no pit-stops, no roadside attractive, and, for most travelers, no choice. When it comes to overseas transportation, options are typically limited.  
Some carriers, however, have eschewed the notion that airplanes should be little more than oversized buses in the air. Instead, they're focusing on creating memorable (even desirable) customer experiences. Take Singapore Airlines, for example, which swept all the No. 1 categories in this year's Worlds Best survey. Readers have applauded the airline for its food, value, and service: customer service and in-flight service. 
As previously posted, we flew to Japan last month aboard Singapore Airlines. While they provided generally good service (except for one aloof flight attendant) and food, I thought they were better 11 years ago when the first G-TOUR flew with them to Japan.

There is one other international air carrier who made the World's Best list that I flew with to Japan.

To see the results, go here.

A Message From Larry Ward, Noel Neill's Manager and Biographer

Above, Larry Ward at last year's Superman Celebration. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Larry Ward, Noel Neill's manager and biographer, sent Jim Nolt the following message within the last hour:
I received this e-mail from Larry Ward a few minutes ago: 
Hey, Jim - I wanted to let you know that all of Noel's impressive-looking flowers and Teddy Bear arrived yesterday. I took them - along with a ton of birthday cards - over to her this morning and she was simply thrilled. And she wouldn't let go of that bear, for crying' out loud. Well, you all sure did make her day. 
And I hear that at least two television stations here will be doing pieces on Noel's milestone birthday today. All wanted to do interviews, but you know that unfortunately that can't happen. Regardless, they're going to do those pieces anyway. I'll let you know if they're any good. 
Again, thank you for making Noel's special day a very happy one. 
It is great to hear that we made her day! 

Noel Neill Turns 95

Above, Noel Neill and Armand at the Los Angeles County Hall of Administration in 2001.

Actress Noel Neill, who originated the screen role of Lois Lane in two Columbia Pictures Sam Katzman serials, was born November 25, 1920 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

She later reclaimed the Lois Lane role in television's Adventures of Superman in 1953 when Phyllis Coates opted to do a different television show.

Over the years, before advancing age and health problems forced her quit, Noel made many convention appearances around the country. She began by giving presentations at college and universities, often having audience members come up on stage to re-enact scenes from Adventures of Superman from the show's scripts.

Above, Noel Neill and George Reeves.

I first met her in July 2001 at the Superman Week celebration at the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

She will be receiving a big surprise today, as fans contributed almost $600 for flowers for her birthday and they will be delivered to her assisted living home in Arizona.

Happy Birthday, Noel!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Movies For Thanksgiving

In two more days it will be Thanksgiving Day.

If you do not plan on spending the holiday consuming turkey with family or friends, you may want to consider a couple of movies now out in release to enjoy.

Spectre, starring Daniel Craig at Ian Fleming's James Bond. The new M and Miss Moneypenny return as do Skyfall's director. We also get introduced to a new Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Unfortunately, Spectre pales in comparison to Skyfall. Sure, it was a tough act to follow, but when you figure that since director Sam Mendes did such a great job with Skyfall, Spectre should also be a great movie. It isn't. It isn't a "bad" movie (such as several of Roger Moore's and Pierce Brosnan's Bonds were), but it was a bit of a letdown to me. I actually enjoyed the much-maligned Quantum Of Solace more.

Still, it was entertaining and I would give it a B+ grade.


The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Donald Sutherland is the forth (and, I presume, the last) in the series of "science-fiction dystopian adventure films." I missed the second and third sequels, but I kind of liked the first one. I saw this one today and even though I missed the sequels, I enjoyed it. A lot of action, explosions, creepy scenes and political intrigue were featured in this movie. I probably would have enjoyed it more had I seen the second and third installments. Sutherland is always great when he sinks his teeth into a meaty role, and he did quite well here.

Despite missing two of the movies in the series, I have to give this one an A.

Japan-Guide's Kyoto Autumn Color Report

Above, some autumn coloring at Kinkaku-ji last month. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

When we visited Kyoto last month, the trees in the city were barely just starting to go into fall color mode. We toured Kinkaku-ji and Kiyomizu-dera and saw some, but little, evidence of autumn coloring.

Japan-Guide.com has posted a report on the current state of autumn colors.

Above, the foliage around Kiyomizu-dera had some hints of fall coloring in October. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

They begin their report with:
Today I headed out west to pick up the autumn color (koyo) coverage in Kyoto. The peak colors around much of western Japan appear to be slightly delayed this year, probably due to the abnormally warm, overcast weather that they have been experiencing over the last couple of weeks. As a result, the timing of this year's peak in Kyoto has shifted a week or so later than normal. That puts it more in line with the progression of the colors around Tokyo, whereas in a normal year Kyoto tends to peak ahead of Tokyo.
To read more and to see the photographs they posted, go here


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