"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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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Disc Coffee Filters Arrived!

Two days ago, I blogged about searching around the San Fernando Valley for a vendor who sells disc coffee filters. (Go here.) The filters are for my new Stanley stainess steel camping percolator.

Since I had no luck finding a vendor who sells the filters, I went to Amazon.com and ordered 100 of them through Goodman's (I assume that's a department store). Amazon said that they would arrive January 3.

Well, I am happy to report that they arrived in today's mail! It took only three days from the time I ordered them on December 28 to today. That's great service! (Not that I was in any kind of a hurry to receive them.)

Here they are:

Now, all I have to do is wait for the rains to stop and the lake that formed in the parking lot of my apartment to recede to put them and the new 1.5 quart slow cooker into the beast.

Happy New Year!

Yosemite Name Change Protest Website

Above, the former Ahwahnee Hotel. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

People are upset and frustrated over the continuing battle between the National Park Service (i.e., the federal government) and former Yosemite National Park concessionaire Delaware North.

One Californian has taken his anger and frustration to another level. He has started a website protesting the name changes that the trademark lawsuit between the National Park Service.

According to the Union Democrat:
A web developer who lives in Santa Barbara County is so fed up with the name change for a landmark lodge in Yosemite Valley he’s set up a website to protest. 
Earlier this year, the National Park Service changed the name of several landmarks, including The Ahwahnee, because of an ongoing dispute with a former concessioner. The rustic stone-walled establishment is now named the Majestic Yosemite Hotel. 
Will Etling, a 34-year-old resident of Solvang, said he remembers visits with his parents to Yosemite National Park when he was younger. 
“We would usually stay outside the park because it was less expensive,” Etling said Thursday. “But there was one particular Christmas we stayed at the Ahwahnee. It was maybe 1994. I was probably 12 years old. 
“Being there when I was young it was like living in a dream or a movie, some magical place,” Etling said. “You’re surrounded by nature and nature’s smells, and with all the rock the building is made of, it’s like being in a cave. The rock of the actual hotel feels so natural. Staying there a couple nights I was able to walk around and explore on my own without my parents.” 
The legal battle between the National Park Service and outgoing concessioner Delaware North, over ownership of trademarks and place names including Curry Village and the Wawona Hotel, began simmering last year. Etling says he registered the domain name majesticyosemitehotel.net in January.

Above, the Grand Dining room at the former Ahwahnee Hotel. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, yours truly in the Grand Dining Room.

I visited Yosemite twice this year and saw the name changes the lawsuit compelled the National Park Service to make. According to the article, the federal government considers the changes to be "temporary".

To date, there are no signs of any possible out-of-court settlement between the National Park Service and Delaware North.

To read more, go here.

Good Riddance To 2016!

Above, a drummer at the 2014 oshogatsu in Little Tokyo. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

2016 is not what I would call a good year. Not even a mediocre one either. Thank goodness it ends tonight.

While there were some exceptions to such a lousy year, overall, I would not wish to have a repeat.

It stared off with the passing of my Aunt Rose and then the turmoil with whom my "honorary sister" refers to as "The Unworthy One". There are some residual things that have to be resolved from one of the legal skirmishes (not of my doing or choosing). But that will be taken care of once some paperwork is received. (Interestingly, had the year gone smoothly with "The Unworthy One", we would be celebrating New Year's in New York's Times Square. Oh, well.)

But, things are looking brighter these days. The three-week trip to Metropolis, Illinois was a very enjoyable and a great recharging of mind and spirit. I don't know if I would want to do another three-week trip, but I did get to see and do a lot of things.

I have not made any travel plans as yet for 2017, except for the spring clamp-out with Platrix Chapter Number 2 of E Clampus Vitus in April. I am debating on going to the upcoming RV show in Quartzsite, Arizona. If I do, I will probably be dry camping in the Bureau of Land Management lands near the show site along with hundreds of others.

I am getting an urge to travel up the California coast and explore around northern California from the coastal redwoods to the northeastern areas of the Mother Lode. That will come when the weather gets warmer.

Also, before anything else, I will be getting the updated edition of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan finished and to the publisher in 2017. I just have to discipline myself to do it.

Above, New Year's Eve at The Mirage in Las Vegas.

This will be a much more mellow New Year's. Last year, we were in Las Vegas, which had some forebodings of things to come. I may go to Little Tokyo's Oshogatsu festival tomorrow near downtown Los Angeles. It's been three years since I last went to it.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Abe's Visit To Pearl Harbor

Above, the USS Arizona Memorial last May. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Some say that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe did not go far enough in his remarks at Pearl Harbor. While Abe offered condolences, he did not apologize.

Still, it was good that he did visit Pearl Harbor.

Reuters wrote:
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a symbolic visit to Pearl Harbor with President Barack Obama on Tuesday, commemorating the victims of Japan's World War Two attack and promising that his country would never wage war again. 
The visit, just weeks before Republican President-elect Donald Trump takes office, was meant to highlight the strength of the U.S.-Japan alliance amid concerns that Trump could forge a more complicated relationship with Tokyo. 
"I offer my sincere and everlasting condolences to the souls of those who lost their lives here, as well as to the spirits of all the brave men and women whose lives were taken by a war that commenced in this very place," Abe said. 
"We must never repeat the horrors of war again. This is the solemn vow we, the people of Japan, have taken." 
Japanese forces attacked Pearl Harbor with torpedo planes, bombers and fighter planes on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, pounding the U.S. fleet moored there in the hope of destroying U.S. power in the Pacific.

The Reuters report on Abe's visit includes a video of his remarks along with a slide show of photos of his visit.

The photo above was taken last May during my visit to the USS Arizona Memorial. It was at the railing where President Obama and Prime Minister Abe dropped flower petals into the water.

A visit to Hawaii would not be complete without a visit to Pearl Harbor. I highly recommend it.

To read more, go here

Friday, December 30, 2016

RV Refrigerator Tips

Operating a RV refrigerator is different from the one in residences. Air must be circulated throughout a RV refrigerator for it to keep foods cold. That's why it is recommended that circulating fans be used inside the refrigerator.

It takes several hours for a RV refrigerator and freezer to be sufficiently cold enough for food to be loaded in. Before heading out on a trip, I turn on the propane refrigerator the night before. After 6-8 hours, it is ready to use.

There are other tips on how to make a RV refrigerator more efficient. RV Life has three important tips.

They begin with:
Learning to organize your RV refrigerator is like an art that develops with practice. The more miles you put on your rig, the easier it is to carry all of your favorite foods wherever you roam. There are many cool tips for your fridge and these three quick tips will help you get started.

To read more, go here.

Growing Old Challenges

It has been a little over a year since I retired. Do I regret doing so? Absolutely not!

Using my parents as examples, I saw that they did not have much in the way of "golden" retirement years due to health issues, so I figured that I'd best retire while still in excellent health.

This topic came up in a RV forum I belong do.

A couple of quotes hit home (or they should):
We sacrifice our health when we are young for money, then spend that money on our health when we get older.
Getting old is like frying bacon naked, you know it's gonna hurt but you are never sure where!

Dollar Ends 2016 At ¥117

The U.S. dollar is ending the 2016 trading year on a high note in Tokyo trading.

The Japan Times reported:
The dollar cut its early losses and rose above ¥117 in Tokyo trading on Friday, the final market day of the year. 
At 5 p.m., the dollar stood at ¥117.08-09, up from ¥116.36-37 the same time Thursday. The euro was at $1.0506-0508, up from $1.0451-0452, and at ¥123.05-05, up from ¥121.62-63.

This is good news as American travelers to Japan will be able to buy more yen per dollar.

To read more, go here

Hawaii Spending Up

Above, Diamond Head and Honolulu. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

When I visited Hawaii last May, I didn't spend a whole heck of a lot while there.

Sure, we spent on activities such as the Blue Hawaiian Helicopters tour of the Big Island, the Pearl Harbor tour and other things (mainly food). But others who went there during the past several months have spent more there than during the same period last year.

According to Pacific Business News:
Total visitor spending in Hawaii for the month of November was $1.2 billion, an increase of 5.6 percent compared to November last year, according to preliminary statistics released by the Hawaii Tourism Authority. 
The HTA said it was the sixth consecutive month with a year-over-year increase in visitor spending on the Islands.
 To read more, go here.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Looney Left Report: Democrats In California Just Legalized Child Prostitution

Yes, you read that headline correctly!

Just when you thought that the Democrats who control the state legislature, along with Governor Jerry "Moonbeam" Brown, couldn't do any more crazy things, that notion gets severely dispelled.

According to the Washington Examiner (and this is no joke):
Beginning on Jan. 1, prostitution by minors will be legal in California. Yes, you read that right. 
SB 1322 bars law enforcement from arresting sex workers who are under the age of 18 for soliciting or engaging in prostitution, or loitering with the intent to do so. So teenage girls (and boys) in California will soon be free to have sex in exchange for money without fear of arrest or prosecution. 
This terribly destructive legislation was written and passed by the progressive Democrats who control California’s state government with a two-thirds “supermajority.” To their credit, they are sincere in their belief that decriminalizing underage prostitution is good public policy that will help victims of sex trafficking. Unfortunately, the reality is that the legalization of underage prostitution suffers from the fatal defect endemic to progressive-left policymaking: it ignores experience, common sense and most of all human nature — especially its darker side. 
The unintended but predictable consequence of how the real villains — pimps and other traffickers in human misery — will respond to this new law isn’t difficult to foresee. Pimping and pandering will still be against the law whether it involves running adult women or young girls. But legalizing child prostitution will only incentivize the increased exploitation of underage girls. Immunity from arrest means law enforcement can’t interfere with minors engaging in prostitution — which translates into bigger and better cash flow for the pimps. Simply put, more time on the street and less time in jail means more money for pimps, and more victims for them to exploit.
To see that this is REALLY not a joke, go here.

And, it that not enough to make a good, red-blooded American's hair turn grey, here's something from political commentator G. H. Thornhill:
Want more fun news? Starting next year about 50,000 felons, many still in prison, will be allowed to vote in state elections. And how about this one: next year if you go hunting with a friend and let him (or her) use your shotgun you will be breaking the law. I don't think it's possible for the California legislature to have their head any more up their arse than they do now.
Maybe we need a "sanctuary state" to get away from lunatic liberal Democrats!

What?! No Disc Coffee Filters?

One of the things I bought at R.E.I. the other day was a Stanley Adventure 6-cup stainless percolator camping coffee pot.

Although I do have a drip coffee maker in The Beast, it is only useful when the RV is hooked up to electrical service at a campground or while running the generator. Otherwise, if I am at a dry campground and don't wish to tick off other campers with generator noise, I have to settle for some instant coffee. The days of instant coffee at camp are over since I bought the percolator.

There was one thing that I discovered after buying the percolator, and that is the difficulty in finding a place that sells 3.5" coffee filter discs. All the places I checked around the San Fernando Valley seems to only sell basket-type coffee filters.

This forced me to go online to find a vendor who sells disc coffee filters for percolators. I ordered 100 of them through Amazon.com yesterday. The filters will arrive January 3. 

Japan Rail Pass Tips By Travelers Today

Above, two of my Rail Passes in my collection. Photo by Armand Vaquer,

One of the most useful and money-saving things that Japan has devised is the JR Rail Pass.

I have made use of various Rail Passes over the years and have saved a lot of money when using it to travel around Japan. This was particularly true when I made a "whirlwind tour" of Kyushu in 2007.

But, there's a few things one should know before purchasing a JR Rail Pass. If travel to other places outside of Tokyo, it will save money. But if a visitor is just going to stay in Tokyo, I wouldn't pay to get one.

Travelers Today has an article on 5 things people should know before buying a JR Rail Pass.

They begin with:
Japan is a very diverse and fascinating country, with so many natural landmarks, wonderful towns, cities and old buildings. The Japan Rail (JR) pass is the best way to see what this fascinating country has to offer. 
However, before one leaves his country of origin, it is best to plan for the trip. An important information is that one cannot buy the JR pass in Japan. One has to order an exchange voucher online in Australia or New Zealand [or the United States]. One then exchanges this for his official JR pass once he arrives in Japan. The voucher is only valid for 90 days and so it must be exchanged for a JR Pass within this period. Passports are checked upon exchange.
To read more, go here.

5 Things Travelers Shouldn't Miss When In Japan

Above, the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

There are many things to see and do while in Japan. It would take a multitude of visits to even scratch the surface.

But, travel websites and agencies have their lists of their "must-see" places.

Travelers Today just posted one on "5 Things Travelers Shouldn't Miss When In Japan".

They begin with:
Japan is probably one of the places that should be on every traveler's bucket list. The place is just so rich in culture and attractions that it might take a whole lifetime to experience everything. But here's a list of the top 5 things that travelers shouldn't miss when staying in Japan.

One of their items is a visit to the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo. I visited Tsukiji in 2010. It is slated to close down within the next couple of years and move to a new facility. I would recommend a visit while it is still at its historic location.

To read more, go here

Debbie Reynolds

It was probably the 1962 Cinerama epic, How The West Was Won (pictured above) that I first took notice of actress Debbie Reynolds. 

Then, two years later, she gave an outstanding performance in The Unsinkable Molly Brown. It was probably that movie that I first learned of the story of the sinking of the Titanic.

It was stunning, but understandable, that Debbie Reynolds passed away one day after her daughter Carrie Fisher's death.

According to the Los Angeles Times:
Debbie Reynolds’ life was the stuff of movie legend, from her start as an ingenue playing opposite Gene Kelly in the classic 1952 musical “Singin’ in the Rain,” to her part in one of Hollywood’s most notorious scandals. 
And her death Wednesday at the age of 84 had the kind of tragic story line Hollywood made famous, coming only one day after her daughter Carrie Fisher, died at the age of 60. 
Reynolds’ son Todd told media outlets that his mother was under stress over the death of her daughter and suffered a stroke at her home at about noon. Reynolds told him she missed her daughter and wanted to be with her.
According to news reports, she and her son were discussing Fisher's funeral arrangements when the stroke hit.

She was one of the last links to the "old Hollywood" where stars were really stars and they could do anything, such as drama, comedy, singing, dancing and even riding horses.

She could do it all and did.

To read more, go here.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Changes of National Park Vacations?

Above, the (former) Ahwahnee Hotel's dining room was
packed with breakfast diners in April. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

As we are wrapping up the National Park Centennial year, it is evident that more people than ever visited our national parks this year.

However, while attendance was way up, it also presents a few problems, one of which is the $12 billion backlog shortfall in funding for badly needed repairs.

RV Life takes a look at what may be in store.

They begin with:
One hundred years ago when President Woodrow Wilson established America’s National Park Service (NPS), few could have predicted that national park RV vacations would become as American as apple pie. Thanks to the park service’s well-publicized 2016 centennial celebration, more people than ever experienced adventure in America’s park system. 
As the party wraps up at the end of 2016, park advocates around the country are wondering if the centennial campaign is responsible for turning the parks into a victim of their own success.
Above, the NPS Centennial souvenir cup. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

To read more, go here

Making Use of Camping Discounts

Above, the office and store at the KOA Kampground in Beaver, Utah. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

During my recent trip to Metropolis, Illinois, I stayed at several campground. Some of them were KOA Kampgrounds.

The nice thing about KOAs, many of them are great. But most of them are relatively consistent in quality.

I have been a member since I bought The Beast in 2015 and have stayed at many of them over the past two years. As a member, I get a 10% discount in camping fees. What's more, I also get accumulated points per stay that can be used for even further savings.

For example, when I stayed at the Needles (CA) KOA, I used some of my bonus points and had $10 knocked off of my night's stay. I currently have 8,940 points available to use.

Above, the sign of Blackstone North RV Park shows
it's a Good Sam Park. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, the Good Sam logo on display at the Graceland RV Park office. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

In other campgrounds/RV parks, most of them were Good Sam campgrounds in which my Good Sam Club membership got me a 10% discount in camping fees. I even received a 10% discount at one campground using my AAA (through the Automobile Club of Southern California).

There are other membership discount programs available to RVers such as the FMCA (Family Motor Coach Association).

With prices rising while seniors are on fixed incomes, these discounts are a great help. Non-seniors can get the KOA Value Kard and join the Good Sam Club.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Made A Raid At R.E.I.

Above, The Beast at Fort Massac State Park in Metropolis, Illinois. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

While cleaning around the apartment, I found my 2015 dividend voucher from R.E.I.

The voucher had an expiration date of January 3, 2017. I figured I'd better go and make use of it (plus, spending now will add more to my 2016 total for the next voucher that should arrive sometime in March). So, I headed up to the R.E.I. store in Northridge.

I picked up a few kitchen items that I needed for The Beast such as bowls (I had to rely on paper bowls during my three-week trip that I completed last month), a percolator to make coffee on the stove top when there's no hook-ups (and using the generator would wake up other campers) and a new thermometer for the refrigerator.

Speaking of kitchen ware, I found several camping plates with dividers while rummaging around in a kitchen drawer in the apartment. I forgot I had them. These are larger than the plates that I had been using, so I am switching them all out and making room for the percolator.

Carrie Fisher Dies At 60

Above, President Nixon greets Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher at the White House. Richard Nixon Foundation photo.

Days after suffering a heart attack and cardiac arrest aboard a London to Los Angeles airliner, actress/writer Carrie Fisher passed away this morning at age 60.

While she had a full career outside of acting, Fisher will be best known as Princess Leia Organa in the Star Wars movie series.

It was reported that she never regained consciousness after the cardiac arrest. 60, these days, is too young an age to pass away so suddenly. She was only two years younger than me.

It is sad that she is no longer with us, but her work still lives on.

Note: The Richard Nixon Foundation posted the above photograph of President Nixon greeting actress Debbie Reynolds (Carrie's mother) and Fisher at the White House. I am guessing that the photo was taken in 1972. Whenever a celebrity passes away, I prefer to use photos that are not the "usual" ones that the media uses and that shows another side to their lives.

Cameron Trading Post

Above, the Cameron Trading Post. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Before driving into Grand Canyon National Park last month, I stopped at the Cameron Trading Post for breakfast in Cameron, Arizona.

The Cameron Trading Post has always been one of my favorite stops while heading to or from Durango, Colorado from the Grand Canyon. It has a fine restaurant, a big gift shop, market, Indian art gallery and a motel.

According to Google:
Overlooking the Little Colorado River Gorge, this quaint motel, established in 1916, is a 30-minute drive from the South Rim entrance of Grand Canyon National Park.  
Quaint, basic rooms, decorated with Native American art, have handcrafted furniture, TVs with cable channels, balconies and free Wi-Fi. Suites add living areas and kitchenettes. 
Breakfast is served for a fee in an American-Mexican restaurant with a stone fireplace. There's a convenience store and a souvenir shop selling ethnic art. Other amenities include gardens with sandstone paths and fountains, designed and planted in the 1930s.
The Cameron Trading Post is a great place for a rest stop.

To access their website, go here.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Rodan's 60th Anniversary

Above, Rodan attacks Fukuoka. Toho Co,, Ltd.

Ever been in one of those moods where you didn't want to do anything in particular, but were bored stiff anyway? That happened to me this afternoon.

I mentioned this on Facebook and Neil Riebe made this suggestion in reply:
It's Rodan's 60th anniversary. Pop it into the DVD player and give it a watch.

I hadn't thought today being the 60th anniversary of Rodan. I checked and Neil was right. Rodan was released on December 26, 1956 in Japan by Toho.

Above, the Saikai Bridge. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

I visited some Rodan locations in Kyushu in 2007. One was the Saikai Bridge near Sasebo City and another was the area in Fukuoka near Fukuoka Station.

Above, Rodan star Kenji Sahara and Armand in 2009 at G-FEST.

So, I took him up on his suggestion and popped it into my Blu-ray player. It has been a while since I last watched it.

Great idea, Neil! Thanks for the suggestion! 

Booking "Imperfect" Rooms In Japan Saves Money

Above, buildings block my hotel room's view of Nagasaki Harbor. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

A new concept in cheaper hotels or ryokans is taking hold in Japan.

If an accommodation has rooms that have "imperfections", visitors booking them will find that they will save a lot of money if they don't mind the imperfection.

The Japan News (Yomiuri Shimbun) wrote:
Low-priced accommodation plans offered by ryokan inns and hotels for rooms with imperfections such as poor views or limited space are becoming popular at tourist spots. 
Behind the popularity of such discounted accommodation plans is said to be a sharp rise in room charges due to an increase in the number of foreign visitors to Japan. Some travel booking websites with special sections for low-priced accommodation plans have seen a substantial rise in the number of reservations. 
Discounts on physical products with imperfections, such as oddly shaped food items, are well-known. This concept has now spread to the travel industry.
To read more, go here

Japan Planning 30,000 Wi-Fi Access Points

Above, cultural heritage sites such as Sensoji will be a Wi-Fi access point. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Japan is planning to provide 30,000 Wi-Fi nationwide access spots in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The Japan Times reported:
The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry announced on Monday a finalized plan to establish 30,000 Wi-Fi access points nationwide in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. 
The ministry had said in 2015 that its major objective is to provide connectivity to victims of potential disasters and to tourists. It planned to install Wi-Fi in public facilities such as schools, government buildings, museums and cultural heritage sites, including historical ruins. 
“A total of 14,000 facilities are done, and there are 16,000 more” still to be equipped with Wi-Fi networks, said Go Katsuhata, a ministry official in charge of local internet access. 
All except those in some locations, such as schools, will be free to use by the general public.
To read more, go here

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Eve

Above, the Christmas Eve gathering. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Another enjoyable Christmas Eve and Christmas Day was spent at my cousin Maria's in Wildomar, California.

We had many family members attend including cousins Rosemary and Ralph from Mission Viejo. I drove down in The Beast and stayed overnight in it on the front driveway. We even had Santa stop by.

It was a good thing that I only had one meal on Friday as I ate quite a bit last evening. So, it is back on my (somewhat) diet to keep the weight I lost still lost.

As everyone there were not supporters of Hillary Clinton, there weren't any political disputes stirred up.

Christmas morning saw 33­­° temperatures. I slept great in The Beast. I only used the propane heater to take the chill out before I went to bed and after I woke up.

I was also greeted by this message from Asya in St. Petersburg, Russia:

Armand ! !
First of all, Merry Christmas to you and your family and friends ! !! 🎁🎁🎁❤❤❤ Wish you all the winter magic to get your way!

Some pictures:

Above, The Beast in front of the house. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, a vintage LP from my cousin Ralph. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, with my Aunt Gloria.

Above, first cousins with Santa. Photo by Ashley Kerr.

Above, Santa with Aunt Gloria. Photo by Ashley Kerr.

Above, Cuban cigars from Ashley and Tony Kerr. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, coffee on Christmas Day morning. 

Friday, December 23, 2016

A Christmas Eve Tradition In L.A. Years Ago

Above, three Playboy Bunnies joined us for a group photo on Christmas Eve in 1981.

Thirty-five years ago tomorrow, a group of us from United Pacific/Reliance Insurance Companies took part in what became a Christmas Eve tradition.

The company would have us work half-day on Christmas Eve (provided it fell on a work day, naturally) and release us at noon.

At that time, I was a member of the Playboy Club. The Playboy Club was located at the now long-gone ABC Entertainment Center in Century City in Los Angeles. The Shubert Theater was also located in the ABC Entertainment Center.

About a year or two before, we started our "tradition" of going to the Playboy Club for lunch after the company released us. Century City was about 8-9 miles from the office. Adjusters and underwriters from the company would attend. I got everyone in on my membership. All that needed to be done was to call the club with a head count and reserve a table.

The Playboy Club was a fun and classy place to have lunch. Surprisingly, the prices for lunch weren't outrageous. A lot of business people used to go there for business lunches. At night, the club would have entertainment shows such as music (all genres), magic acts and dancing. There was nothing lewd about the club, so don't get the wrong idea. Playboy Bunnies served as waitresses.

Several times, whenever there was a Republican State Convention in the Los Angeles area, a group of us would migrate to the Playboy Club for dinner and entertainment.

The photo above was from Christmas Eve in 1981.

(In case any of you from the old group are wondering, yes, that's Arleigh Kerr seated at front at left.)

How To Use A National Parks Pass

Above, a mother black bear and her cub in Yellowstone National Park. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

We're around six months away from vacation season, although some people travel to our national parks during the winter, spring and autumn seasons.

The National Park Service offers a number of passes for the national parks that will make things easier on visitors' wallets. I have the lifetime senior citizens pass (ages 62+).

Travel + Leisure has an article on "How To Use A National Parks Pass".

The article states (in part):
Of the country’s 400-plus national parks, less than half charge an entrance fee. That’s a pretty good ratio, until you factor in that bigger, more legendary sites like Yellowstone, Arches, and Grand Canyon (i.e. where most of us want to visit)— those tend to be the ones that do cost money. 
A park entrance fee can range from $3 to $30: not much in the grand scheme. But for bucket-listers, or anyone looking to cram their itinerary with every last volcanic crater, rock formation, and old-growth forest, those fees can add up quickly, hence the beauty of an annual pass. Like an unlimited metro card, it can mean the difference between a quick, painless, one-time fee, and shelling out hundreds over a longer period as you travel to multiple sites. 
Here, you’ll learn the ins and outs of using a national parks pass, and how it could benefit your next trip.
Above, South Entrance to Yosemite National Park. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

To read more, go here

Top 5 Things To See & Do In Wintertime Japan

Above, winter shopping at Asakusa's Nakamise Street. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Just because it is now winter in Japan doesn't mean there's nothing to see and do during the season.

Travelers Today has an article on the top 5 things to see and do in Japan during the winter.

They begin with:
Winter in Japan can be harsh and unforgiving. But it doesn't stop people from enjoying the many festivities, sites, and attractions the Land of the Rising Sun can offer. Here are our top 5 things to see and do in Japan during the winter season.

To read more, go here

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Got The Replacement Wheel Cover, But...

Well, the replacement rear wheel  cover for The Beast arrived last night.

As it was pouring down rain last night, I had to wait until today to put it on the motorhome. So, as it was bright and sunny out, I set out to do just that.

Above, the first problem lug nut cover. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

It seems that no matter what, there always seems to be some snag that rears its ugly head. When I was putting on the wheel cover, one of the lug nut covers popped out of the wheel cover. The wheel cover was aligned right and there were no obstructions, but it was hard to put on.

After the piece came out, I took out the cover and examined it. I found a crack in a very thin piece of metal that the lug nut covers are attached. I tried to put it back on to no avail. I then put the lug cover over the corresponding nut and tried to put it on that way, thinking that if the wheel cover is securely attached, the nut cover would be held in place.

Nope. No such luck.

So, as I was pulling the wheel cover off the wheel, another lug nut cover popped out. Again, there was a crack (or tear) where it is held in place on the same piece of thin metal.

Above, the second problem. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

I ceased trying to take the wheel cover off and decided to call Lichtsinn RV (where I bought it) to see what they might say. They asked me to take some pictures of the wheel cover and send it to them. They will discuss it with Winnebago and (maybe) send out another wheel cover.

For an item that's over $250 in cost, it is very cheaply made, in my opinion.

We'll see what Lichtsinn and Winnebago have to say about it before proceeding further.

If it isn't one thing, it's another. It never fails.

UPDATE (12/23/16):

Discussed this with Lichtsinn RV and they agreed to replace the wheel cover under warranty. I am returning the bad one today.

Free Car Wash Day In L.A.

Above, The Beast and the Mustang getting their free wash. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The current rain we're now having in L.A. reminds me of the old days (when I was a kid) when it seemed to rain endlessly in November and December. It seemed more like Christmas when it rained. For Los Angeles, having rains around Christmas would be the closest we can get to a white Christmas.

I remember going with my parents to downtown Inglewood for Christmas shopping and it rained. These were the days before indoor shopping malls.

The end of the shopping day would have us at Ruby's Toyland (I think that's what the name was) on La Brea Ave. I'd have to wait in the car while my parents raided the place for my gifts. Ruby's was the place to buy toys back in the day. This was before Toys R Us, Target and Walmart.

One additional nice thing about this rain, The Beast and the Mustang are getting a free wash.

The rain is supposed to taper off later this morning. I'll be finishing up my Christmas shopping then.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Desert Dry Camping Dust

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

For those who, like me, occasionally camp in desert terrain, coping with occasional dust storms is something to contend with. 

RV Life has some tips on dealing with desert dust storms.

They begin with:
I’ve gone desert dry camping in many great spots throughout the Southwest. My husband and I enjoy it because desert dry camping is usually: 
  • Affordable. It’s often free.
  • Beautiful. Colorful desert sunsets are unforgettable.
  • Calming. You leave city sounds and lights far behind.
But like life itself, there’s a big trade off to dry camping in Arizona, California and New Mexico, and the great winter snowbird destinations in the southwest: the dust! In fact, as I write this a major windstorm is rocking our fifth wheel. We’re camped near the Salton Sea and a dust cloud is coming toward us. Like it or not, a fine layer of grit will coat everything when this is over. To combat the inevitable filth, here’s how I’ll cope during and after the storm.
To read more, go here

Pets Health

Bad product placement.

Responsible pet owners needn't worry.

Japan Nears 22 Million Foreign Visitors From January To November

Above, Kyoto's Kiyomizu-dera. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Japan was just a hair's breath away from reaching 22 million foreign visitors during the period of January to November.

The Japan Times reported:
The estimated number of foreign visitors to Japan in the first 11 months of 2016 reached 21.99 million, up 22.4 percent from a year earlier, the Japan Tourism Agency said Wednesday. 
In November alone, the figure rose 13.8 percent from the year before to 1.88 million, the highest level for the month.

To read more, go here

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