"There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit." - President Ronald Reagan.

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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Some RVers Don't Like KOA

Above, The Beast at the Cedar City, Utah KOA. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Every so often, a member of the iRV2 Forum will start a rant about Kampgrounds of America (KOA), the nation's largest campground/RV park chain.

Usually, they complain that KOAs are "large, crowded and expensive" in comparison to other privately-owned campgrounds.

I never found all KOAs  as being "large", some are and some are not. On average, they are about the same size as any other private campground or RV park.

Also, I never found KOAs any more "crowded" any other private RV park or campground. It depends upon the time of the season and location. KOA does have an excellent online reservation system.

As far as expensive, with two exceptions, the West Entrance/Yellowstone KOA in West Yellowstone, Montana (near Yellowstone National Park) and the Lava Hot Springs City Center KOA in Lava Hot Springs, Idaho, KOAs average about the same as other privately-owned campgrounds. The two cited KOAs are considered "destination" campgrounds and, as such, charge a little more.

Above, The Beast at the Diamond Lake RV Park in Oregon. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

For the fun of it, I ran an average in nightly costs between KOAs and non-KOAs. I used the last nine stays during my most recent trip and some from last year's trip and came up with the averages. For KOA Kampgrounds, they averaged $40/night. This may have been lower had not the $72 charge at Lava Hot Springs City Center KOA been in the mix. For non-KOAs, the nightly costs averaged $33.67/night. Only a $7.00 difference.

With KOAs, one pretty much knows what to expect in regard to service, sites, amenities, etc. It is more of a crapshoot with non-KOA campgrounds. Some campgrounds are nicer than others, and that goes for KOA and non-KOA campgrounds.

I will use whatever campground that is available. If it is a KOA, fine. If it is not a KOA, that's fine too.

Labor Day Weekend Crowds Expected At Zion

Above, the streaked wall at Zion National Park. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

It is almost hard to believe that we're upon Labor Day weekend. It seems like the summer vacation season just started.

Zion National Park is expected crowds this weekend.

According to Deseret News:
ZION NATIONAL PARK — As the summer season unofficially comes to a close this Labor Day weekend, officials say visitors should expect crowded conditions throughout Zion National Park. 
Traffic lanes have been narrowed due to construction at the park’s south entrance in preparation for a larger project on state Route 9 in Springdale, which may make wait times into the park longer than normal.
To read more, go here

Some Days You're The Windshield, Some Days You're The Bug

Above, The Beast at the car wash today. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

It is interesting how the different seasons will produce differing amounts of flying insects.

Last November, I took a three-week trip to Metropolis, Illinois and the amount of smashed bugs on te front of The Beast wasn't too bad. But coming back from a nine-day trip to Idaho and Oregon, I found that there were many more smashed bugs on the front end, windshield and overhead cap.

I took The Beast to the car wash this morning (a perfect day for it as it was over 107 degrees out) and washed it. It took two sets of coins to completely clean the RV, and still I didn't get them all. But the majority of them are gone. There's maybe 1-2% left.

Even though, The Beast looks much cleaner than when I brought it in.

Delaware North Yosemite Lawsuit Drags On

Above, a modified road sign in Yosemite Valley. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

It has been a while since the trademark lawsuit involving the federal government and former concessionaire Delaware North had been reported on.

Yesterday, the Fresno Bee has posted and article giving a status on the lawsuit (of sorts).

They begin with:
It has been 18 months since a white nylon sign reading “Half Dome Village” was stretched over the 103-year-old Camp Curry sign in Yosemite National Park, and it will probably be a while longer before it comes down. 
The National Park Service and Yosemite’s former concessionaire, Delaware North, remain embroiled in a legal battle over the names of some of the park’s most cherished landmarks: The Ahwahnee, Curry Village, Badger Pass, Wawona Hotel. 
Delaware North holds trademarks to these names with the U.S. Patent Office and has asked Aramark, the company that beat out Delaware North for the concessions contract in 2016, to pay for its trademarks and some building improvements as part of the changeover. Aramark and the government have maintained the names were never Delaware North’s to begin with, and the two sides are more than $40 million apart on the amount owed. 
Given the distance between the parties and how slowly the courts move in such cases, both sides agreed this week that it could be years before a resolution is reached.

Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/news/local/article170192292.html#storylink=cpy

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Selecting A Base: Osaka or Kyoto?

Above, a typical Dotonbori eatery sign in Osaka. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

You're planning to explore the Kansai region of Japan. Which city, Kyoto or Osaka, to use as a base?

I've visited Osaka and Kyoto twice. The first time was with the 2004 G-TOUR and the second time was on my own two years ago.

As the first time was with a guided tour, my visits to each city were limited. In 2015, we did manage to visit many of the cultural places of Kyoto and, in Osaka, the Dotonbori. G-TOUR stayed in Kyoto and we stayed in Osaka in 2015.

Above, inside the JR Kyoto Station. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

I could not advise anyone which city to use as a base for exploring Kansai, but City-Cost.com has an article that looks at both cities.

They begin with:
An oft asked question in the ether of online Japan travel discussion goes something along the lines of, "Which city should I use as a base, Osaka or Kyoto?".  One supposes the glib retort might be something to the effect, "Well, which city do you want to explore the most?".  Fair enough but often the people answering these types of questions do so wrapped in the pashmina of Japan experience and have lost sight of what it once was to not have a clue about the country.  The question of Kyoto or Osaka as a base for Kansai exploration and travel is a legitimate one, despite the reactionary temptation to just plump for Kyoto.  So let's try to answer it by looking at the practicalities of each city. 
The article will be a big help to those who are considering which city to use as a base.

To read more, go here

Californians Had Special Way To View the Eclipse… Now Hospitals Are Filling Up

Above, the total eclipse as seen in Idaho. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

There have been many things I've heard about over the years that leave one with head shaking.

The latest comes from the Conservative Tribune. It seems that some Californians have no common sense (or any other kind) left.

They wrote:
This is what happens when your state thinks Jerry Brown deserves four terms as governor. 
As you no doubt heard last week, much of America was in the path of a rare solar eclipse, including the People’s Republic of California. As you also doubtlessly heard, you weren’t supposed to stare into the sun without a special pair of glasses.

Makes sense, right? But, someone didn't get the memo, apparently.

They go on to report:
According to one nurse practitioner in California who spoke to KRCR-TV, patients actually presented at urgent care complaining of eye pain because — and I can’t believe I’m going to write the words I’m about to type — they put sunscreen on their eyes because they didn’t have glasses.

To read more, go here

RV Park Reviews Posted Brigham City/Perry South KOA Review

Above, The Beast at Brigham City/Perry South KOA. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

RV Park Reviews has posted my review of the Brigham City/Perry South KOA.

In a nutshell:
This was a spur-of-the-moment stay as I had no reservations. But they had an open spot. This is an older KOA (since 1964 according to the KOA Directory) and it could use some updating. The spaces are narrow and the neighbor's slideout prevented me from fully deploying my awning. Still, the staff was nice and helpful. Once updated, this would be a real gem of a campground as it is at a nice location. Horses are next door, by the way. We camped at Brigham City / Perry South KOA in a Motorhome.

To read this and other reviews of this campsite, go here

Ten Reasons To Take A RV Trip

Above, The Beast at Lassen Volcanic National Park. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

About 8-9 years ago, I saw hardly any RVs on the road. We were in the midst of a deep recession back then and the RV industry was hit hard.

Today though, it is just the opposite with RV sales hitting new record highs.

Forbes.com has an article on ten reasons to travel by RV and five cheap places to camp.

They begin with:
RV travel is having a moment. Just ask Redbook magazine's editor-in-chief Meredith Rollins, who recently took her family on a vacation to Death Valley and Zion National Parks in a 31-foot Winnebago. 
"I have a very outdoorsy husband and two sons who love to go camping — which, to be honest, I totally avoid. So getting an RV felt like the perfect compromise: indoor plumbing and the chance to really experience some national parks," says the New York City-based editor. 
According to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association, Rollins is not alone in her newfound interest in RV'ing. RV ownership has reached record levels. More than nine million households now own an RV – the highest level ever recorded. And millennials are fueling much of the new growth: Only instead of motorhomes, they're buying trailers, accounting for 87% of the units sold.
Here's one of the reasons for traveling in a RV:
2. It's budget friendly. RV travel allows you to control your vacation budget in ways no other form of travel does. You can choose a range of campgrounds from state parks to RV resorts. You can cook your own food and you can determine how far from home you want to travel.
To read more, go here

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Loopy Again

Above, The Beast at the Spring Clampout last April at the Keene Ranch. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

It looks like Hemet fell through. Platrix Chapter No. 2, E Clampus Vitus is heading back to Tehachapi Loop in October for the Fall Clampout.

I just received this notice:
Our Treks are on Loop 
Friday, October 6th - Sunday, October 8th 
Tehachapi Loop (Again)

We're just loopy over the Tehachapi Loop, so much so that we're looping our treks. Save the date, because we'll be heading back to Keene on October 6th for our Fall Clampout. The site opens at 12-Noon on Friday the 6th. Usual rules apply about guns, widders, and other explosives. 
The rubs, prepayment page, and other details are in the works, so stay tuned! If you're sponsoring a PBC--and we hope you do--please get in touch with the Recorder soon.

Where is this year going? It seems like it wasn't long ago that we had the Spring Clampout at the Loop (with bronchitis, to boot). The next clampout is a little over a month away.

Anime and Manga Souvenir Shops

Above, the entrance to Nakano Broadway, where
Mandarake has a store of kaiju toys. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

For those going to Japan to fill gaps in their collections, but need to know where to go get those items, Goin' Japanesque has a list of places and stores where fans can find them.

They begin with:
Today we have collected a few souvenir spots that will make your hearts race with excitement, regardless of whether or not you are an “otaku”! Each location carries numerous limited edition items that can only be purchased there, which makes it 100% worth the trip!  
*Otaku: A Japanese term used for people who are extreme fans of the manga/anime fandom, as well as idol groups, etc.

To read more, go here

2.68 Million Visit Japan In July

Above, the Hachikō statue at Shibuya Station. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The number of foreign visitors to Japan set a new July record.

The Japan Times reported:
KYODO – The number of foreign visitors to Japan hit a monthly record of 2.68 million in July, due to the summer vacation season and an increase in low-cost carrier flights, the Japan Tourism Agency said Wednesday. 
A total of 2,681,500 travelers visited the country from overseas, up 16.8 percent from a year earlier. In July last year, 2,296,451 visited Japan.
To read more, go here.

Monday, August 28, 2017

10 Best Things To Do In Tokyo And Their Cost

Above, Tokyo Tower. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

If you are going to Tokyo and want to know what the 10 best things to do in the city and, also, need to know the cost of doing them, City-Cost.com has the answers for you.

They begin with:
Where to start with a list of the 10 best attractions and things to do in Tokyo? The options are almost overwhelming and few of them will be all powerful enough to cater to everyone’s tastes. “Few of them” - perhaps there are some Tokyo attractions that might be obvious - Sensoji in Asakusa, Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Skytree all might seem to be a given on any such top 10 lists, and before the travel elitist sneers, these kind of marquee attractions can serve as useful anchors in an ocean of sightseeing possibilities. Anyway, what we really want to do with our list of the best attractions and things to see / do in Tokyo is look at how much they cost to enter. We want to try and convey a sense of the budgets required to take in these marquee attractions and also to dispel (or exacerbate) any myths about Tokyo being an expensive city to visit. At the end of the piece we’ll attempt to tally up the entrance and travel costs to provide a broader view on how much they cost in the collective.

In the interests of honesty, we compiled our 10 best list by simply picking and choosing those Tokyo attractions that were regulars on the myriad of such lists (all Japanese) that we checked on the web. That said, we have thrown one or two quirks in, just for the fun of it. There is no particular order to this best 10.
To read more, go here

Reward Offered For Joshua Tree National Park Missing Couple

Above, Joshua Tree National Park. The missing couple is somewhere out there. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

A couple, thought to have been hiking in Joshua Tree National Park, has been missing for a month. 

Now, a reward of $10,000 is being offered.

The Los Angeles Times reported:
A $10,000 reward has been offered for information leading to the safe return of a couple reported missing in July in Joshua Tree National Park. 
The reward was announced Saturday as crews continued to their methodical search for Rachel Nguyen and Joseph Orbeso, said Jennifer Albrinck, spokeswoman for Joshua Tree National Park. 
Using a specific grid pattern, she said, volunteers have been searching in and around the Maze Loop trail where the couple are believed to have vanished.
According to the article, a ping from Orbeso's cell phone was picked up yesterday.

To read more, go here

Idaho Eclipse Traffic Preliminary Numbers

Above, The Beast at the viewing area off I-15 near Roberts, Idaho. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The traffic jam after Monday's eclipse on Interstate 15 was horrendous. It took me four and a half hours to get from the northern part of Idaho Falls to Lava Hot Springs.

The traffic started snarling up just north of Idaho Falls and it continued at a snail's pace (sometimes not even that fast) until I reached the northern outskirts of Pocatello. That jam had a length of about 50 miles.

According to the Idaho Transportation Department:
UPDATE: Tuesday, August 22 
Here are the preliminary numbers of total cars traveling to and through Idaho for the 2017 Solar Eclipse:  Our traffic counters near the state borders counted 449,530 cars entering the state between August 18 and August 21. This number was an increase of 71,140 during that same time frame last year when 361,270 cars were counted entering Idaho at those same locations.  ITD estimates more than 160,000 visitors came from out of state for the event (see methodology below). 
The bulk of the visitors came from Utah and Oregon. Areas where the traffic was busiest include I-15 between Utah and Idaho Falls, US-93 near Craters of the Moon, US-20 near Arco, ID-95 from Payette to Riggins, and ID-55 north of Eagle.

I noticed that most of the license plates in the traffic snarl were from Utah. There had to have been more than 160,000 more visitors from out of state.

To read more, go here.

Lava Hot Springs City Center KOA

Above, a street view of the front of the KOA Kampground. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The best commercial RV park/campground that I stayed in during my Great American Eclipse trip had to be the Lava Hot Springs City Center KOA.

Above, the Portneuf River with the KOA Kampground at left. The
 Olympic pool and water park are at right. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

It is located in the town of Lava Hot Springs, Idaho and is within a block from supermarkets, shops, restaurants, hot springs, Olympic swimming pool/water park and float tube rentals. It is also situated next to the Portneuf River.

Above, the Portneuf River was right behind my campsite. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

I was fortunate enough to be assigned to a campsite on the bank of the river. It was a little more expensive than I expected, but I enjoyed it. It was also roomy enough so that there's some space between campsites. Trains come through the town during the day, but stop at nights.

Above, the main road of the campground. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

People with children will love this place as there's plenty of things for them to do. This campground would be a good destination even without the draw of an eclipse. The kids can play at the waterpark or river while their parents can relax and soak in a hot spring pool.

Above, these have got to be the fanciest Kamping Kabins I've ever seen. Photo by Armand Vaquer.
There's many restaurants (and bars) nearby so that visitors can skip cooking in camp and just enjoy a meal cooked by someone else.

My grade: A.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

American Indian Beliefs About The Eclipse

Above, a giant frog is eating the sun. What tribe believes this is what's happening? Photo by Armand Vaquer.

My "honorary sister" sent me a link to a website on how different American Indian tribes react to a solar eclipse. She sent it to me while I was up in Oregon without Internet access.

I finally began reading it and found it fascinating.

The National Museum of the American Indian begins with:
The National Museum of American Indian has received numerous inquiries concerning the upcoming eclipse. Part of the museum’s mission is to provide a forum for Native people’s voices, so we went to the Internet to ask, “Does your tribe have any beliefs or protocols concerning the eclipse?” 

To read what they are, go here

$80 Lifetime Senior National Park Pass Starts Tomorrow

Above, the Lassen Peak Trailhead parking lot. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Well, you can't say you haven't been warned. At least if one is a regular reader of this blog.

The $10 lifetime Senior National Park Pass is ending today. Tomorrow, it will cost people age 62 and over $80 for the same pass.

Fortunately for me, I turned 62 last year and immediately bought the Senior Pass then. It has paid for itself many times. During my most recent trip, I visited 2 national parks. I didn't have to pay an entrance fee at either. I only had to pay $24 to camp at Lassen Volcanic National Park's Manzanita Lake Campground. I could have obtained a 50% discount of the camping fee with the pass, but I didn't bother since $24 to camp is cheap enough (actually, I didn't think of it). I'm not squawking.

Still, even at $80, it is still a bargain. All one has to do is to visit 3 national parks who charge a $30 entrance fee and it paid for itself. Crater Lake National Park charges $15 per car and Lassen Volcanic National Park charges $20. Grand Canyon National Park and Yosemite National Park each charge $30.

However, if anyone who doesn't want to pop $80 for a lifetime Senior Pass at once, they can do it in an "installment plan". They can buy an annual Senior Pass for $20 for 4 years and on the fourth year, they automatically qualify for a lifetime Senior Pass without paying extra. The trick is, keeping records of their pass purchases.

Fire Level 1 Evacuation Order At Crater Lake National Park

Above, the cafe and gift shop at Rim Village. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Fires have been raging near Crater Lake National Park for weeks before my visit last week. They still continue to burn.

One of the firefighter encampments was located not far from where I stayed at Diamond Lake RV Park.

The fires are to the south of the park (I was camped north of it). Evidence of an earlier fire was evident at the north entrance to the park. The fires are leaving blankets of smoke inside Crater Lake.

Above, Wizard Island is barely visible due to smoke. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The Statesman Journal reported that one fire is getting close to the park:
The Blanket Creek Fire spread within a half mile of Crater Lake National Park Sunday, resulting in a Level 1 evacuation for the park’s Mazama Village. 
The evacuation warning means “get ready” but doesn’t require visitors to leave. 
Mazama Village, which includes a campground, cabins, restaurant and store, is located in the southern area of the park near State Highway 62. 
The evacuation warning doesn’t apply to Rim Village, park headquarters or Rim Road that are farther north and higher in elevation.
To read more, go here

Diamond Lake RV Park Reviewed In RV Park Reviews

Above, The Beast at the Diamond Lake RV Park. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

RV Park Reviews has posted my review of Diamond Lake RV Park.

In a nutshell:
I stayed here as it is in close proximity to Crater Lake National Park (5 miles). It is a well-kept park with helpful and friendly staff. Every customer will be escorted to their site. We camped at Diamond Lake RV Park in a Motorhome.

Other reviews mentioned mosquitoes, but I didn't see, or feel, any.

To read the full review, go here.

Manzanita Lake Campground Review At RV Park Reviews

Above, The Beast at Manzanita Lake Campground. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

RV Park Reviews has posted my review of the Manzanita Lake Campground at Lassen Volcanic National Park.

In a nutshell:
After 49 years after last camped here, I stayed a night at the Manzanita Lake Campground and it is as beautiful as I remembered it. As this is a national park campground, it is dry-camping only but there's water available and a dump station. Nearby, is a store, gas station and boat rentals. It is just inside the north entrance to the park. Each site has a bear-proof food locker. We camped at Manzanita Lake (NPS Campground) in a Motorhome.

To read the full review, go here

E Clampus Vitus Adopt-A-Highway

Lassen Volcanic National Park is in the northern areas of the Mother Lode, where California's Gold Rush took place.

While on the way to the park, just before reaching the town of Shingletown from the west, I spotted some signs for the "Adopt-A-Highway" program. These posted that the Lassen Loomis Chapter No. 1914 of the Ancient and Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus was the sponsor for road clean-ups along this stretch of highway (U.S. Highway 44). This is definitely "Clamper Country"!

The Clampers began during the Gold Rush and still flourish today. I joined in 1984.

Here's one of the signs:

Above and below, the Clamper Adopt-A-Highway sign. Photos by Armand Vaquer.

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Above, Lassen Peak is the correct name, but many call it Mount Lassen. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Following my visit to Crater Lake National Park, I headed back into California for the first time in over a week to pay a visit to Lassen Volcanic National Park.

Lassen was the first national park my parents took me to 49 years ago. On that trip, we camped in my grandfather's canvas umbrella tent at the Manzanita Lake Campground, which is located just inside of the north entrance into the park. While my mom an I had comfortable, and warm, sleeping bags on that trip, my dad had a rather thin sleeping bag and just about froze.

This time, being in The Beast, I was much more comfortable. It was in the 80s during the day, but the temperature would head down into the 40s at night. (I woke up and found Sierra under the covers between the bathroom wall and me. Apparently, the cold air was even too much for her natural fur coat.)

Above, Mt. Shasta in the morning haze. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The trip down was via U.S. 97 to Interstate 5, which is a picturesque drive that took me past Mount Shasta, another volcano in the Cascade Range (Lassen Peak is another volcano in this chain as is Mt. St. Helens and others). Lassen last erupted back in 1915 to around 1921 and has been dormant since. There are still some volcanic activity in the park.

Up until Mt. St. Helens erupted in 1980, Lassen Peak was the last volcano to erupt in the lower 48 states.

Above, the entrance to Manzanita Lake Campground. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

I pulled into the Manzanita Campground's entry, located near the store, and it was a self-registration process. All one has to do is to grab a pay envelope, go into one of the loops to find an open campsite, and complete the envelope (vehicle plate, site number, days staying) and put cash or a check in it and take it to the entrance to drop it into a pay slot. Easy!

Above, the campsite pay envelopes and pay slot. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

As I mentioned, the campground has a store, as well as a gas station and showers. It also has an amphitheater where nightly informative programs are presented by the park rangers and experts.

Above, the Manzanita Lake Campground store. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Fortunate for me, there were plenty of campsites available to choose from. I found a nice site in Loop B. Loop D is strictly for tent camping.

Back in 1968, we saw no evidence of bears in the campground, just a lot of deer. There are now bear-proof containers at each campsite for campers to store their food. There were none in 1968. I only saw one deer at the campground, and that was while I was leaving the park.

After relaxing for about a couple of hours, I headed off to explore the park.

By the way, speaking of national parks, today is the last day that the Senior Pass is $10. It goes up to $80 starting tomorrow! Better get yours today!

Here are some more photos at Lassen Volcanic National Park:

Above, Sierra hanging around and enjoying the views. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, a description of the 1915 eruption at Devastated Area. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, The Beast with Lassen Peak at the Devastated Area viewpoint. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, a description of the eruption's effects at Devastated Area. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, Lassen Peak peeks over a hill and meadow. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, Lassen Peak from the Lassen Peak trailhead. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, a different side of Lassen Peak. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, The Beast at Manzanita Lake Campground. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, a view of Manzanita Lake. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, the bear-proof food container at my campsite. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, Devastated Area. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, Manzanita Lake Campground. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Crater Lake National Park

Above, with Wizard Island in the distance, a smoky view of Crater Lake. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

It is hard to believe that I was seventeen when I last stepped foot into Crater Lake National Park in Oregon. Although it has been "many moons" later, I came back on this trip.

Above, Crater Lake's rim. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

It was during the summer of 1971 when my parents and I took a vacation trip to Crater Lake. We camped in the park itself in my grandfather's canvas umbrella tent. This time, I was in a RV and stayed 5 miles outside of the park's entrance at Diamond Lake RV Park.

Above, The Phantom Ship (or is that Godzilla?). Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The thing I remember most of that trip was the hike down to the water and, especially, the hike back up the rim of the crater. That was one hike with all the switchbacks we had to take to get back to the top.

I stopped along most of the viewpoints around the crater. I remembered the views, but when I got to the Rim Village Gift Shop, it was not familiar to me. Perhaps it was built after my last visit to the national park.

Above, a little clearer view of Wizard Island. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Unfortunately, due to the fires in the area, the skies were smoky and "fogged" the views of Crater Lake. Later in the afternoon, some winds kicked up and blew some of the smoke away, which cleared the views of the lake a little bit.

I was all ready to present my Senior Pass to the ranger at the entrance gate, but the rangers just waved everyone through without even collecting entrance fees ($15 per carload). I wondered what that was all about.

Above, The Beast at the Phantom Ship viewpoint's parking area. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

After wandering around the lake for a while, I headed back to the RV park. Once I did, I started the barbecue for a great steak dinner.

Above, The Beast at Diamond Lake RV Park. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Unless I get really bored, I plan on making tomorrow a "rest" day: just sitting around the RV park and doing nothing. I have either been driving every day on this trip or involved in seeing the eclipse. This will be my day of rest of reading, munching or napping. 

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