"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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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Three Years of RVing In The Beast

Above, The Beast in Tarzana, California in February 2015. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Four days ago marked the third anniversary of my purchase of The Beast.

It was February 24, 2015 when I flew down to La Mesa RV in San Diego to buy my 2015 Winnebago Minnie Winnie 22R. I negotiated a price before heading down to San Diego. After finding out when the RV would be ready for pick-up, I got a plane ticket to San Diego and flew down.

La Mesa RV sent one of their employees to pick me up at San Diego International Airport (formerly known as Lindbergh Field).

Above, at the West Entrance/Yellowstone KOA. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

After completing all the paperwork and giving them a bank check, I headed home. Since it has been a long time since I last drove a Class C motorhome, it was a little intimidating at first, but I got used to it.

On the way home, I stopped by my Aunt Rose's home in Mission Viejo for a quick visit and to give her and my cousins a little tour of the RV. I am glad I did as this was the last time I was able to visit with her as she passed away 11 months later.

The Minnie Winnie has given me three years of trouble-free service. I have visited 11 states and stayed at 40 RV parks and campgrounds. The longest trip lasted three weeks when I went to Metropolis, Illinois in 2016. The next memorable trip was going to Idaho to view the solar eclipse last summer.

Above, in the total eclipse's shadow during totality in Idaho. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The Beast (my daughter Amber named it) came in handy recently when I moved to Jamestown, New Mexico. My cat Sierra and I lived in it for 12 days while waiting for my furniture and belongings to be delivered by the movers. I plan on getting it a metal garage. It will be built somewhere on the second acre that adjoins my house. That will come during the spring months when the weather warms up and the frequent (they've been frequent since I moved here) snowstorms cease.

Luckily for me, La Mesa RV has a dealership in Albuquerque for any service needs.

The following video is what convinced me that the Minnie Winnie 22R was the right RV for me.

Joshua Tree National Park Sees Surge In Popularity

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

It is really no surprise that Joshua Tree National Park is seeing a big surge in popularity. It is the closest national park to the city of Los Angeles.

According to the U.S. News & World Report:
JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. (AP) — Joshua Tree National Park is seeing an explosion in popularity. 
The vast park where the Mojave and Colorado deserts meet in Southern California had more than 2.8 million visitors in 2017. 
The Press-Enterprise of Riverside says that's an increase of nearly 340,000 from 2016 and double the approximately 1.4 million who came as recently as 2013.
Above, The Beast at Cottonwood Campground in 2015. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

To read more, go here

Tourism To Mt. Aso's Crater Area Resumes

Above, the Mt. Aso Museum lobby. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The volcano featured in the 1956 Toho feature, Rodan had caused the suspension of tourism to the crater area after an eruption three years ago.

It is now re-opened.

The Japan Times reported:
KUMAMOTO – Local authorities reopened a crater area of Mount Aso on Wednesday to tourists for the first time in over three years following diminished volcanic activity and the installation of safety measures. 
The crater on the 1,592-meter active volcano had been one of the most popular tourist spots in Kumamoto Prefecture before it was closed to visitors in August 2014 after a small-scale eruption. 
About 60 people from the local governments and sightseeing industry attended a ceremony in a park 1 kilometer from the crater to celebrate the reopening. They hope it will lead to the revitalization of the local economy, which is reeling from a series of huge earthquakes that hit the region in April 2016.

I visited Mt. Aso 11 years ago, but I didn't get to see too much as a blizzard hit the national park at the time.

Above, yours truly at the Mt. Aso ropeway station in 2007.

To read more, go here

Finishing Off February

The past two days have been the warmest (in the 50s) than it has been in weeks.

Such is not the case of today as a new storm has rolled in and is presently snowing outside. It is a good thing that I got stuff done yesterday as it appears that I won't be doing any driving today. When I woke up at 5:00, the ground was bare.

Nothing like finishing off February with some white stuff.

Some photos:

Above a view of the neighbor's yard from the porch. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, the white Mustang is even whiter. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, a view the front yard from the porch. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, the side yard. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Zion National Park Campgrounds Go Reservation-Only

Above, the Watchman towers over Zion Canyon. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

It is the sign of the times, and overwhelming demand.

Zion National Park has announced that their two main campgrounds, Watchman and South, are now reservation-only campgrounds.

According to the St. George News:
ST. GEORGE — Anyone who has tried to get a camping spot inside Zion National Park on a “wing and a prayer” over the past several years can attest that the proposition is unlikely at best, impossible at worst. 
Reservations seem to be the most probable way to find success anymore when it comes to camping in Utah’s national parks, especially during the peak visitation season. Along these lines, Zion National Park officials recently announced that their main two campgrounds – South and Watchman – will open Thursday as reservation-only campgrounds.

The last time I camped in Zion National Park was in August 1969. It was there that we heard on the radio of the Sharon Tate murders by the Manson Family.

To read more, go here.

Spring Must Be Around The Corner

Spring must be just around the corner.

This morning, when I went to the Flying J to pick up my mail, the 2018 KOA Directory was in the mailbox (along with a couple of Dark Shadows DVDs).

Usually, the new edition of the KOA Directory usually shows up in March. They are a little early as tomorrow is the last day of February.

Here's the 2018 KOA Directory:

Hawaiian Airlines Cancelling Flights

Above, a Hawaiian Airlines jet at Honolulu Airport. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Two years ago, we flew to Hawaii aboard Hawaiian Airlines. 

We actually flew with the airline four times. First, from L.A. to Honolulu. Second, from Honolulu to Kona. Third, Kona to Maui. Fourth, Maui to L.A. Every flight went off without a hitch.

However, this cannot be said over a major problem people are currently having with Hawaiian Airlines: cancelled and deferred flights.

According to Travel + Leisure:
On Friday, Hawaiian Airlines either canceled or deferred a number of flights between California and Hawaii — and disrupted travel plans for hundreds of travelers. 
According to the airline, the schedule “adjustments” are due to delays in shipments of their new Airbus A321neos. 
“We regret being unable to provide the full scope of services we had hoped to offer out of the Bay Area,” Hawaiian’s vice president for revenue management and network planning, Brent Overbeek, said in a statement. 
The flights affected include a seasonal summer service between San Francisco and Honolulu, and a new flight between Oakland and Kona. Flights between Oakland and Lihu’e are being deferred from April to mid-June.

These flight cancellations and deferred flights are causing problems for travelers who have already paid for their vacations (activities, hotels, ground travel). I can just picture hundreds of affected travelers banding together in a class-action lawsuit against Hawaiian Airlines and/or Airbus Industries.

To read more, go here.

Shogo Tomiyama's Birthday!

Above, Shogo Tomiyama (second from right) at the Imperial Viking Sal restaurant. 

Shogo Tomiyama, the former producer of the Godzilla series and President of Toho Pictures, celebrates the 27th anniversary of his 39th birthday today.

Besides being Godzilla's producer and President of Toho pictures, he also wrote a book on his experiences, Managing Godzilla, and used his influence with The Imperial Viking Sal restaurant in the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo to get a slice of cheesecake for yours truly (just kidding!).

Above, Managing Godzilla by Shogo Tomiyama. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Tomiyama!

UFO Books

Yesterday, while putting my books into the bookcase in the the guest room/library, I ran across some of my UFO books that I bought years ago (late-1960s and early-1970s) through the Science-Fiction Book Club (are they still around?).

I was reminded of this when I received an email from the 2018 UFO Festival organizers. The festival will be taking place in Roswell, New Mexico on July 6-8. I will be attending.

Here's a photo of the books:

For more information on the 2018 UFO Festival, go here.

Nixon Library Gifts Commemorate Historic China Trip

In 1972, I was in my senior year in high school. As an elective, I took an Asian studies class. This was fortuitous as President Richard Nixon was making his historic trip to China in February of that year.

Our class followed Nixon's trip to China and new offerings from the Richard Nixon Library Museum Store commemorates that historic China trip.

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The week that changed the world.
Richard Nixon at the Great Wall of China.
In 1972, Richard Nixon became the first U.S. President to travel to the People's Republic of China. In the decades following his historic visit, the U.S. has continued to bolster and broaden its relationship with China.
"China Calls" book by Anne Collins Walker
China Calls by Anne Collins Walker
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United States and China Flag Pin
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"Nixon and Mao" book by Margaret MacMillan
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First Lady Pat Nixon welcoming the pandas at the National Zoo.
Following President Nixon's visit, the government of China gifted
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Monday, February 26, 2018

David "The Attention" Hogg Exposed

Above, David Hogg.

My, my.

Ever since the tragic shooting in Parkland, Florida last week, a so-called "student" named David Hogg has been basking in the limelight by appearing on different networks' news.

It turns out that there is more to David "The Attention" Hogg than meets the eye.

According to NeonNettle:
As more and more questions about the authenticity of some of the Flordia shooting witnesses emerge, it has been revealed that David Hogg may not only be a 'crisis actor' but also a puppet for the John Podesta funded Center For Amerian Progress. 
A quick look back at his tweets reveals Hogg's posts seemed to be dedicated to the Podesta organization. 
On the surface, the organization mission statement is to prevent sexual assaults, but as we all know, anything connected to the Clintons warrants further investigation. 
And, an Antifa group claims he was not a student where the shooting took place:
“David Hogg didn’t attend #Parkland high school. I went to school with him at Redondo Shores High School in California and he graduated in 2015. Here he is in our yearbook from 2015. He always wanted to work for CNN and be an actor.” 

The liberal media is trying to debunk the aforementioned. Even if they are, there's no denying that this kid is an attention hog.

To read more, go here.

Books and A Winnebago Intent

Above, a 2018 Winnebago Intent at the Flying J. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

This morning, I finished up loading my bookcase with books, thereby eliminating a total of 10 boxes that contained them.

I discovered that a support part for the bookcase is missing and it sags in the middle. Luckily, I found some wood blocks to put underneath to support it. But, the bottom line is that I will need to get a new bookcase in the not-too-distant future.

After I was done with that, I headed down to the Flying J to pick up my mail. Among the pieces of mail was my new New Mexico driver's license.

When I arrived at the Flying J, I spotted a new Winnebago Intent, the new entry-level Class A motorhome with the sticker price of $100,000. This is the second one I've spotted since I first walked through one at last year's California RV Show in Pomona. Based on the stickers on it and no plates, I think this one is headed to a dealership somewhere. Frankly, I am not impressed with the front end design.

Oh, well.

2 National Parks Established On This Date

Above, the Grand Canyon. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Two events in national park history took place on this date involving national parks that I have visited more than once. One can say both are "grand" events.

From the UPI:
In 1919, 37 years after the first bill to establish the Grand Canyon as a national park was introduced, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Grand Canyon National Park Act, bringing the landmark under the protection of the National Park Service, preserving it for future generations. 
In 1929, Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park was established following the signing of an executive order by President Calvin Coolidge.
Above, the Grand Tetons. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Sheriff Scott Israel Must Go!

There have been some crazy statements that public officials have made over the years, but this one certainly takes the cake.

Breitbart.com reported:
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel told a reporter that his deputy failing to enter the school while the shooting was in progress was not his responsibility. 
“I gave him a gun. I gave him a badge. I gave him the training,” Sheriff Israel told an NBC6 South Florida reporter in a video interview tweeted by Erika Glover. “If he didn’t have the heart to go in, that’s not my responsibility.”
If you are the ONLY police officer with a gun and an obligation to rescue and protect those kids, I don't care if no other officers will be coming before CNN arrives - get in there and kill the bastard with the gun!  No excuses, no hiding, no equivocating.  That is what the officers all sign up for and they know it.  You rush in, not wait, not strategize, you rush the building and take out as many shooters as possible and protect the innocents, regardless of the cost to your own life.  Pure, simple, unequivocal.

The failure by the Broward County Sheriff's Department is one of epic proportions! As the man in charge, Israel bears full responsibility. He should immediately resign or be fired!

He's "not responsible", he says? Obviously, he doesn't get the concept of respondeat superior.

To read more, go here.

Execs Ponder Ways To Make Kyoto Nightlife Tourist-Friendly

Above, the shopping area below Kiyomizu-dera in Kyoto. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The city of Kyoto is looking at different ways to keep foreign visitors entertained at night.

It seems that Kyoto rolls up the sidewalks in the evening, prompting foreign visitors to go to neighboring Osaka for the nightlife there.

The Japan Times reported:
KYOTO – As residents and tourists in Kyoto complain more about higher prices, hotel shortages and crowds at train stations, shrines and temples, Kansai’s corporate leaders are searching for ways to keep visitors coming. 
One way, they suggested recently, is to ensure people can experience what they call “Kyoto culture at night.” The G-rated, family-friendly version, that is. 
Earlier this month, a panel of executives at a Kansai economic meeting in Kyoto discussed the need for more things to keep tourists entertained at night. 
A 2016 municipal survey of Japanese and foreign tourists showed that complaints about tourists spots closing too early was one thing many disliked, though it was far down the list compared to massive crowds, rude bus drivers and other ill-mannered tourists. 
Though the discussion by the business leaders produced no specific plan of action, the ideas floated ranged from increasing the number of traditional arts performances to designing new forms of evening spectacles designed to ensure that more of Kyoto’s tourists have someplace to see and spend their money at other than bars, nightclubs, pubs and the neon-lit entertainment establishments that line both sides of the Kamo River.

To read more, go here

Sunday, February 25, 2018

NRA Statement On Corporate Partnerships: "Political and Civic Cowardice"

Age and the Changing Concept of Camping

Above, The Beast at the Elk City (Oklahoma) KOA. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Back when I was a kid, camping meant pitching a tent and unrolling a sleeping bag inside that, hopefully, doesn't have a pebble underneath that will feel like a boulder if I should try to sleep on it.

Today, after celebrating the 25th anniversary of my 39th birthday (thank you Ronald Reagan) earlier this month, I prefer to camp in a lot more comfort.

Over the couse of years, I went from tent camping to a tent trailer. Then, from the tent trailer to a micro-mini Class C motorhome to the present Class C.

This must correlate to one's age as I see that I am not alone in this.

"Mr. Outdoors" at Kitsap Sun has an article on "The Definition of Camping Changes As We Age".

He begins it with:
Almost subconsciously, my concept of "camping" has changed over the years. 
I used to think it was all about tents and campfires and S'mores. I once considered bribing a youngster to buy marshmallows, Hershey bars and graham crackers for me because I was too sophisticated as an adult camper to buy them for myself. 
Today, I tend to regard camping as finding a big enough spot to park the Navion IQ. The campsite must provide WiFi and a clear view of the southern sky for satellite TV. 
Every now and then -- more often then, these days -- we pack up the big REI car-camping tent, Coleman stove and lantern, and visit Sol Duc Hot Springs or Dosewallips State Park for an old-time camping experience. More often than not, our adventure ends with soggy sleeping bags and questions like "What in the (expletive deleted) were we thinking?"

To read more, go here.

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