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Saturday, August 31, 2019

The Horsey Next Door

Above, getting the horse ready for a saddle. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Since the Mustang (the car) decided to go on the "Fritz" this morning, I won't be going back to Prewitt for the fair's rodeo.

Above, the trainers and the horse. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

But, I watched a rodeo of sorts at home. My next door neighbors (who moved in last December) brought in some horse trainers to break the gelding he has. Mike, my neighbor (whom I met today), says the horse was a wild one, about four years old. He's never been ridden.

Above, the horse giving some resistance. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Since this day had turned out not what I expected, I hung around and watched the men work the horse. They managed to get a saddle on him and all the other gear. Then, one of them mounted the horse and WHAMO!

Nothing happened.

The horse just stood there. No bucking or any other resisting moves.

Above, the first time the horse had a rider. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Mike, who has a ranch nearer to Gallup, said he's never seen such a thing and he had broken many horses over the years.

This was the first time seeing the horse up close and he has sky blue eyes. He has no name as yet. I told Mike that if he wants to work the horse in the Barking Spider Acre, he can feel free to do so.

So, I guess this day hasn't turned out to be such a dud after all.

It's A Good Thing I Bought The Jeep

Above, the Jeep at the Flying J today. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Things didn't quite go off as planned for today.

I was heading over to Denny's at the Flying J for our usual coffee/breakfast gathering this morning when the Mustang decided to conk out and not start again. I suspect the fuel pump gave out. Luckily, Victor (one of our group) was on his way to the Flying J and stopped where I was at. He went back home and got his truck and towed me to the house. After which, I rode with him to Denny's.

It seems like problems always seem to happen on a weekend or during a holiday (in this case Labor Day weekend) when many businesses are closed. It's a good thing this happened today instead of yesterday when I went to the fair in Prewitt.

I figure I will deal with the Mustang on Tuesday or Wednesday when my Social Security direct deposit is in my checking account. (I just checked, it's already in. But I'll wait until Tuesday or Wednesday anyway.)

So, I am using the Jeep to get around up here. I used it to go back down to the Flying J to drop off some bills at the post office. It is far more economical than using The Beast. It's a good thing (at least in this instance) I bought the Jeep to use.

I was planning to use the Jeep today anyway to go to the shooting area to try out the Winchester 94. Before going to the Flying J this morning, I started it up to give it a good warm-up. I decided to put the target-shooting off until tomorrow, so I can go earlier in the morning when it is cooler. It's going to be near 90° today.

Luckily, I signed up with AAA with their more premium roadside assistance, which has tows up to 100 miles. Their more basic membership has tows for only 3 miles. That wouldn't work for me since the repair shop I use in Gallup is around 19 miles from home.

Perusing Willys Jeep M38A1 Parts & Accessories

Above, the Willys Jeep at home. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

For the past half hour or so, I was perusing around different Army surplus vendor websites and Willys Jeep specialists for what parts and accessories are available for my 1952 Willys Jeep M38A1.

There's plenty of places out there. There was one that caught my attention last month as I was driving to Swan Valley, Idaho. As we were driving through Idaho Falls, I spotted a huge surplus store, Army Surplus Warehouse alongside of Interstate 15.

Although I didn't have the Jeep then, I was still tempted to stop in to look around for the fun of it. It saddens me that I didn't. But, at least they have a website for purchases.

I found this information on the Jeep at Midwest Jeep Willys:
M38A1 1952-1966 - F-Head Engine - 2 PC. Windshield - No Tailgate - Originally 24 Volt Ignition System - Serial No. Located at Right Side of Wheel House 
F-134 "Hurricane" 4 Cylinder Engine | Spark plug gap: 0.030 in. (0.762 mm) | Spark plug torque: 25-33 lbs. ft. (34-44 Nm) | Firing order: 1-3-4-2 | Distributor rotation: Counterclockwise | Point gap: 0.020 in. | Dwell angle: 42 degrees | Ignition timing: 5 degrees BTDC | Bore and stroke :3 1/8 in. x 4 3/8 in. (79.37 mm x 111.12 mm) | SAE Horsepower: 15.63 | Weight: 470 lbs. with fluids | Max. Horsepower: 72 @ 4000 R.P.M. | Torque: 114 lbs. ft. (15.7 kg-m) @ 2000 R.P.M. | Compression pressure: 120-130 psi (8.4-9.2 kg-cm2) | Compression ratio: 6.9:1 (7.4:1 high altitude option). 
In 1950, the first post-war jeep, the M38 (or MC), was launched, based on the 1949 CJ-3A. In 1952 it was quickly followed by the M38A1 (or MD), featuring an all new "round-fendered" body in order to clear the also new, taller, Willys Hurricane engine. This jeep would later be developed into the CJ-5 launched in 1955. Similarly, its ambulance version, the M170 (or MDA), featuring a 20-inch wheelbase stretch, was later turned into the civilian CJ-6.
I am considering getting a Jerry gasoline can for when I take a drive through places like Six Mile Canyon in Cibola National Forest, near Jamestown and Fort Wingate, New Mexico for extra fuel. The Jeep does have 2 carriers. I would need to get hold-down straps for it. 

Friday, August 30, 2019

The Bi-County Fair

Above, the fair's main entrance. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Today, I decided to head over to nearby (26 miles) Prewitt, New Mexico for the annual Bi-County Fair.

It was a nice, sunny day with a few clouds and temperatures in the mid-80s.

Above, the entrance's sign. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

When I arrived, I passed the entrance and had to turn around. It consisted of a small dirt road. To say that this was the smallest fair I've ever been to could almost be an understatement. Perhaps the Hawthorne (California) Community Fair (do they still have that?) was a little bit smaller, but at least it had rides. The Bi-County Fair had none (they would draw more people if they did). It is mainly for the 4-H Clubs of Cibola and McKinley Counties.

Above, one of the 4-H entries. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

What I saw were outdoor pens of pigs, goats and cows. The was a separate building with rabbits and poultry (chickens, ducks, turkeys, etc.). The snack bar shared the small indoor rodeo arena. There were a few vendors present and a separate building with art, quilts, photography and cooked goods for judging. There's an outdoor rodeo arena with a big grandstand.

Above, the outdoor rodeo grounds and grandstand. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

They don't charge for admission or parking, the sponsor (Marathon Petroleum) covers these.

Above, this has got to be one of the biggest bunnies I've ever seen. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The fair staff were friendly and were easy to strike up a conversation with.

Above, the indoor arena. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

It is interesting that this fair is so small, considering that it is for two counties (Cibola and McKinley Counties). I would hope they add a "fun zone" of rides in the future. It would draw more people.

Above, one of the vendors. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

I wasn't expecting Goliath-sized fairs like the Los Angeles and Orange County Fairs, but at least it was something to so and get out of house. I may return for their rodeo.

I'm not done with fairs yet. The Navajo Nation Fair will take place next week in Window Rock, Arizona.

More photos:

Above, geese and turkeys. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, one of several relaxing hogs. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, the cow section. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, Col. Sanders's main ingredient. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, more chickens. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, things are just ducky with this one. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, a couple of turkeys. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, the rabbits and poultry building. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, getting coiffed. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, a hog being led to the shower. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, being returned to his pen. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, it's a hog's life. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, another photo of the huge bunny. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Narita Airport Gets Midnight Trains To Tokyo

Above, a Keisei Skyliner train at Narita Airport. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

For those who have a late arrival at Narita Airport will soon be able to take a midnight train into Tokyo. Bus lines will also have later departures.

According to Nikkei Asian Review:
TOKYO -- Train and bus operators announced on Thursday plans to run more nighttime trips between Narita Airport and nearby Tokyo and Chiba to accommodate travelers taking advantage of the hub's service extension this fall. 
Narita, which now lets aircraft take off and land until 11 p.m., will push this back to midnight in late October. Both travelers and staff will need ways to get to and from the airport at that hour. 
Keisei Electric Railway's Skyliner express train to downtown Tokyo will add an 11:20 p.m. departure from Narita. A new timetable going into effect Oct. 26 will boost the number of daily trips by 40% to 41 in each direction, with about 20 minutes between each. 
The company will expand service on its regular line as well. Trains that had terminated at Keisei Narita Station will continue on to Narita Airport, meaning that the last train to the airport will be almost half an hour later than under the current schedule.
To read more, go here

Tokyo Ranked "World's Safest City"

Above, the Wako department store in Ginza. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

For those who want to visit Japan, and Tokyo in particular, there's some good news.

The city has been ranked "the world's safest city" for the third consecutive year.

According to Japan Today:

SINGAPORE - Tokyo has been ranked the world's safest city for the third year running, followed by Singapore and Osaka, according to the latest report by the Economist Intelligence Unit released on Thursday. 
The Safe Cities Index 2019 report, released at a one-day conference on safe cities and organized by The Economist in Singapore, mentioned that Tokyo enjoys a "broad array of strengths" with "low crime levels (both violent and petty), infrastructure designed to withstand natural shocks and low risk of computer malware." 
By category, Tokyo saw the strongest performance in digital security, coming in first. But it came in second, behind Osaka, in health security, fourth for infrastructure security and also fourth for personal security, with the report pointing out that the city is still plagued by corruption and organized crime. 
Tokyo's Governor Yuriko Koike was quoted as saying in the report that due to the threat of global climate change, and Japan being prone to earthquakes, Tokyo has pursued a range of reforms to protect its residents from natural disasters.

To read more, go here

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Havana Club Rum

Above, the Havana Club rum I bought in Cuba. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Back in April, I went on, what eventually turned out to be one of the last, cruises to Cuba. While in Havana, I picked up a dozen cigars and a litre of Havana Club rum from a government-run shop.

I was reading about the current state of travel to Cuba and stumbled upon the story of Havana Club rum. I was unfamiliar with the story, so I read as much as I could find online this evening.

In a nutshell, here's the basic story as presented by Wikipedia:
Havana Club is a brand of rum created in Cuba in 1934. Originally produced in Cárdenas, Cuba by family-owned Jose Arechabala S.A., the brand was nationalized after the Cuban Revolution of 1959. In 1993, French owned Pernod Ricard and the government of Cuba created a state-run 50:50 joint venture called Corporación Cuba Ron. They began exporting this version of Havana Club globally, except for the United States due to the embargo put in place by the U.S. government. 
Bacardi, another Cuban family exiled due to the Cuban revolution, also began producing Havana Club Rum in 1994 after purchasing the original Arechabala family Havana Club recipe, a competing product made in exile in Puerto Rico and sold only in the United States. 
Bacardi & Pernod Ricard have engaged in ongoing litigation about ownership of the name “Havana Club”.
Before the Cuban revolution in 1959, the Bacardi and Arechabala rum families were fierce competitors. Their saga is quite interesting and one people should take the time to read.

The story still has many twists and turns due to the ongoing litigation. Which is the "real" Havana Club rum?

The way I see it, since Bacardi is producing rum with the original Arechabala recipe, it is the true Havana Club rum (although produced in Puerto Rico). However, the Havana Club rum I bought while in Cuba is a popular rum marketed worldwide. It is pretty good (but I am not a trained rum expert, so what do I know?) and I usually mix it with Coca Cola anyway.

I still have over half of the rum left.

Remastered and Expanded "Thunderball" Soundtrack Album

Above, the 2003 remastered and expanded CD of Thunderball. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Back in late 1965 or early 1966, I bought the original soundtrack LP album for the fourth James Bond (Sean Connery) movie, Thunderball. I still have it.

The album had only about half of the movie's music as John Barry was still composing the soundtrack and the producers were in a rush to get the album on the shelves in time for Christmas 1965.

Above, the original 1965 soundtrack LP and the remastered and expanded edition. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Until now (rather, at least since 2003), that has been the only version available. Thankfully, the "missing" music has been added to the newer edition, which I just bought and am listening to now.

Amazon's description:
If Goldfinger proved that the James Bond franchise was box office dynamite, 1965's Thunderball cemented the British super-spy's international appeal--and further forged a set of pop culture cliches that both inspired and endured even Mike Meyer's modern, multi-chaptered Austin Powers spoofing. While Goldfinger also marked composer John Barry stamping his enduring influence on the series' music, this fourth installment finds his big band and jazz-inspired arrangements pulsing with confidence, stripped down rhythmic tension and exotic elegance. Tom Jones follows up Shirley Bassey's previous larger-than-life title track performance with a worthy rival of his own, its dramatic, Barry-composed melody interpolated throughout the composer's masterful score. Songwriter Leslie Bricusse (who co-wrote "Goldfinger" with Barry) also returns, teaming with the composer on the emblematic "Café Martinique" and delightfully kitschy "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" (originally intended as the film's Bassey-sung theme song, but abandoned and replaced by the film's producers). This new, digitally remastered and expanded edition notably doubles the running time of the original album with selections that bristle with Barry's haunting string and wind arrangements, including two suites comprising 20-plus minutes of the film's concluding underwater intrigue. It's one of Bond's--and Barry's--best. --Jerry McCulley

USS Arizona Memorial Re-Opening To Walk-On Access Coming Sunday

Above, the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

There's some good news coming from Hawaii.

According to yesterday's edition of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, walk-on access to the USS Arizona Memorial will begin again this coming Sunday after being closed for 15 months.

They reported:
The National Park Service said today that the much-awaited reopening of the USS Arizona Memorial to walk-on access will take place this Labor Day weekend on Sunday after a 15-month closure. 
“The National Park Service is excited to welcome our visitors back to the USS Arizona Memorial very soon,” Pearl Harbor National Memorial Acting Superintendent Steve Mietz said in a release. “It is a great honor to share the stories of the men of the USS Arizona, and all of those who served, suffered and sacrificed on Oahu on Dec. 7, 1941. That is the cornerstone of our mission here, and restoration of public access to this iconic place is critical as we continue to tell their stories and honor their memory.” 
The park service said that since May of 2018 when the memorial closed to foot traffic, multiple phases of a repair project for an adjacent dock have been completed including analysis, contracting, design, environmental compliance, mobilization, unexploded ordnance screening, resource preservation and project execution.
Above, inside the USS Arizona Memorial. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

To read more, go here

Crowds Expected At Zion National Park This Weekend

Above, the Great White Throne at Zion National Park. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

It's a good thing that I am staying close to home this Labor Day weekend. If I do anything, I'll be going to the Bi-County Fair in nearby Prewitt, New Mexico.

Zion National Park would be the last place I would go to these days on Labor Day weekend. We went there in 2003 on Labor Day weekend and stayed at a motel in Springdale, Utah. Even then, the crowds were beginning to grow, but nowhere near the levels of today.

National Park Traveler posted a press release on Zion, which reads in part:
Zion National Park in Utah has grown notorious for crowds, so you shouldn't be surprised that park staff are expecting a very busy Labor Day Weekend. 
Visitors to Zion should expect some queues and congestion within the park. Those with flexible plans are encouraged to visit before Friday or after Monday to avoid crowds. 
Both campgrounds in Zion Canyon are on a reservation system and are already fully reserved for the weekend. Campground and lodging options are available in the gateway communities surrounding the park. Zion Canyon Visitor Center and other parking areas in the park fill by 9 a.m. Additional parking is provided in the gateway community of Springdale. 
Zion Canyon shuttle runs from 6 a.m. through 9:15 p.m. The shuttle leaves the Visitor Center every 4 minutes with a capacity of 68 visitors. Wait times are expected to be between 30 minutes to 1.5 hours. 
Several Zion Canyon trails and the Weeping Rock area (Shuttle Stop 7) remain closed due to rockslides. Upper and Middle Emerald Pools, Hidden Canyon, Weeping Rock, and East Rim/Observation Point via Weeping Rock shuttle stop are all closed. The trail connector between Kayenta Trail and Lower Emerald Pools is partially opened, only accessible via The Grotto area (Shuttle Stop 6).

To read more, go here

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Do It Yourself RV Guide To Frugal Camping

Above, The Beast at Sleepy Bear RV Park in Swan Valley, Idaho. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Everyone loves a bargain and saving money, this is especially so with RV travel. In many ways, RV travel is one of the most economical ways to travel.

Do It Yourself RV has 20 money-saving tips to stretch out one's traveling dollar.

They begin with:
There’s no denying that taking an RV trip can be far more economical than other methods of travel. If you add up the cost of airfare, rental cars, eating out for every meal, parking, attractions, souvenirs and more…the cost of campground fees and fuel for the RV pales in comparison. 
But that doesn’t mean we can’t still strive to save some dough when RVing. Check out these 20 money saving tips for frugal RVing—because everyone loves a deal.

To read more, go here

18 Places To Experience On Route 66

Above, the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, Arizona is number 12 on the list. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Route 66, known as "The Mother Road", was the main highway from Chicago to Los Angeles (ending at the Santa Monica Pier) before it was decommissioned in 1985.

However, many segments of Route 66 still exist and some of it has been restored.

Do It Yourself RV has a list of 18 "kickass places" to see along the route, some of which I have already visited.

They begin their list with:
Route 66 is the road trip of a lifetime. Over the years, US 66 has been renamed in various stretches but this cross-country route, from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California, can still be followed with just as many attractions to see along the way as picture-perfect western landscapes. 
Classic restaurants, gift shops, lodging options, and neon signs dot the way for 2,448 miles total. We narrowed down the options to 18 places in particular you should experience the next time you drive this route. So grab your keys and your camera, and hit the road soon!

To read more, go here

Getting To Tokyo From Narita Airport

Above, inside a Narita Express train car. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Here's something useful for newbies as well as for experienced visitors to Japan.

Tokyo Cheapo has posted an article on how to get to Tokyo from Narita Airport and what each mode of transportation costs.

Generally, I use the Narita Express (N'EX) or, depending upon where I'm staying in Tokyo, the Keisei Line or Keisei Skyliner.

They begin their article with:
For newcomers to Tokyo, it can come as quite a surprise that Tokyo’s main international gateway—Narita Airport (NRT)—is not really very close to Tokyo at all. In fact, this Tokyo airport is so rural and remote that the view on the first part of the train journey from Narita to Tokyo is predominantly of rice paddies—oh, and a faux-Dutch windmill. In more practical terms, you’re looking at a distance of about 80 km from Narita Airport to Shibuya Crossing. 
As Tokyo is such a vast city, there’s no “one size fits all” answer as to which method or route is cheapest/best for getting from Narita to your accommodation. However, for certain major locations in Tokyo, it might help to have a look at our mini guides—they cover the fastest, cheapest and easiest transport options. You’ll find more general route information below, including bus and train prices.

To read more, go here

Tokyo Night Walking Tours

Above, Shibuya Crossing. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

If one should find themselves in Tokyo and want to take an evening or night stroll, Tokyo Cheapo has five recommendations to choose from.

Summers in Japan are sweltering, but at night, the temperatures cool down to more comfortable levels.

They begin with:
The sweltering days of summer are upon us, and they will continue well into September. For many, keeping cool means staying indoors until the inferno of summer months in Tokyo has passed. But before you get a bout of cabin fever, why not make most of the cooler evening hours and venture out at night? Here are our five favorite self-guided Tokyo night walking tours, featuring a bit of everything, from glittering skylines to beaches and quiet leafy promenades.

To read more, go here

Kiplinger: "Reasons You'll Regret An RV In Retirement"

Above, The Beast at Grand Teton National Park. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

As with anything else in life, the "RV lifestyle" may not be everyone's "cup of tea." But there are pluses and minuses with traveling in a RV once one hits retirement age.

Since I was experienced in RV travel before I bought "The Beast", I knew ahead of time what to expect.

But, there are some out there who are contemplating taking the plunge.

Kiplinger has an article on "Reasons You'll Regret An RV In Retirement". These are things everyone who is considering getting a RV after retiring should read.

Note: none of the reasons they give have been a problem for me. I don't full-time travel, so insurance is much cheaper (under $600 for a year's coverage).

They start with:
As you drive toward retirement, dreams of blue highways are giving you that itch to hit the open road. With the kids grown and no job to tie you down, why not sell the house, buy a recreational vehicle and see the country? You wouldn’t be alone. Approximately 10 million U.S. households own RVs, according to the RV Industry Association, and roughly 1 million Americans are living full-time in them. 
But is an RV in retirement right for you? We spoke with retirees who spend much of their time in recreational vehicles for their guidance on the cons of RV living in retirement. Here’s what they had to say about the downsides of life on the road in an RV.
To read more, go here

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Today's Birthday Girl!

Above, Sierra turned four years old today. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Monster Hybrid Tumbleweeds In California

Above, attacking tumbleweeds from the Outer Limits.

In October 1964, the Outer Limits television show broadcast the episode, "Cry of Silence". In this episode, tumbleweeds possessed by an alien intelligence are attacking people in a rural area.

Every time I see a tumbleweed, I think of that episode. It's one of my favorites.

Now, here's a story from Newsweek concerning monster hybrid tumbleweeds that are taking over California.

They wrote:
Monster Hybrid Tumbleweed Species Is Taking Over California, Scientists Say 
August 27, 2019 A new invasive species of tumbleweed that can grow up to six feet in height is taking over parts of California—and scientists are warning it could spread even further as climate change makes its growing conditions more favorable. 
Salsola ryanii was first identified in California in 2002. It is a hybrid made up of two other invasive species—Salsola tragus, which is native to Russia and China, and Salsola australis, from Australia and South Africa. The latter, scientists say, is "one of the world's worst weeds" and is currently found in 48 U.S. states. The new species, is however, far bigger and faster growing than its parents, reaching about six feet in height.  

Maybe these tumbleweeds will gobble up more than a few radical leftists.

"We control the vertical. We control the horizontal."

To read more, go here

Errand In Gallup

Above, the plaque on display on the front desk at the El Rancho Hotel. Photo by Aramnd Vaquer.

This morning, before our usual gathering at Denny's in the Flying J, I headed into Gallup to Gallup Lumber & Ace Hardware to pick up some stuff, including water fittings for the swamp cooler.

The connector of the water line for the swamp cooler (that goes to the faucet) was badly corroded and part of it broken. The part I got at Ace, it was hoped, should fix it. Unfortunately, it didn't. Now I am forced to have a heating and cooling repairer come out to do the fix. It has been hot out here (at 90°).

After Ace Hardware, as I was heading out of town, I stopped at the El Rancho Hotel to see if the plaque has been mounted. It is supposed to go under a painting portrait of Armand Ortega, the late owner of the El Rancho.

It has not been mounted yet, but it is proudly on display at the front desk (photo above).

After leaving Gallup, I went to Denny's, but found them closed. They have a water leak and that forced the restaurant to close.

At least I managed to get the water connection to the swamp cooler "Mickey Moused" well enough for the cooler to work.

What Monsoon?

Above, a view of the house from down the road. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Several fellow residents in Jamestown have been wondering what happened to our monsoon rainstorms. It has been pretty dry around here for the past few weeks (maybe an occasional small sprinking). Yesterday, it hit 90° here. At least I'm not in Lake Havasu, Arizona where there's an excessive heat warning.

From what I heard, we had heavy rains around the end of July which saturated the ground for a while. I missed this since I was up in Idaho and Wyoming at the time.

Supposedly, we're to get some possible thunderstorms starting tomorrow afternoon for a few days. We definitely could use the water.

From the National Weather Service:

Sunny, with a high near 90. South wind 5 to 10 mph becoming northwest in the afternoon.
Mostly clear, with a low around 53. Northwest wind 5 to 15 mph becoming southeast after midnight.
Isolated showers and thunderstorms after noon. Sunny, with a high near 88. South wind 5 to 15 mph becoming northwest in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 20%.
Wednesday Night
Isolated showers and thunderstorms before midnight. Partly cloudy, with a low around 57. Northwest wind 5 to 10 mph becoming south after midnight. Chance of precipitation is 20%.
A 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms after noon. Mostly sunny, with a high near 86. Southwest wind 5 to 10 mph becoming northwest in the afternoon.

Monday, August 26, 2019

CEOWORLD Magazine: Top 5 Reasons To Visit Japan

Above, the Asahi Beer Hall and "Golden Flame" sculpture in Tokyo. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Different people have different reasons for visiting Japan. But most of them are covered in the top five reasons for visiting Japan given in an article by CEOWORLD.

They start with:
Japan is the small island country which has been portrayed in many different ways in many forms of media, be it the baffling but endearing country in Lost In Translation, the dull – almost everyman like surrealism shown in the works of Haruki Murakami – or the wondrous, colourful, bright and dreamlike portrayal in Hayao Miyazaki’s movies. 
A visit to Japan promises to be a thrilling and enchanting experience to anyone, be it someone almost entirely unfamiliar with the nation, or someone looking for an opportunity to travel. Following are the top 5 reasons to visit Japan!

To read more, go here

Zion National Park: Worth Going To On Holiday Weekends?

Above, Zion's Checkerboard Mesa. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The first time I visited Zion National Park was in August 1969 (we heard the news bulletin about the Sharon Tate murders while there) and there weren't any crowds.

Today, there are nothing but crowds (especially on holiday weekends) at Zion National Park.

AZCentral asks the question, "Is it worth visiting on a holiday weekend?"

They begin with:
Zion National Park is crowded. Even more so on holiday weekends. Here are some facts from the Fourth of July 2019: 
  • More than 94,000 people visited over the four-day holiday weekend, the park said on Facebook.
  • Wait times were up to 90 minutes to board a park shuttle.
  • Hikers waited up to four hours at the trailhead for Angels Landing.
  • Zion's parking lot was full by 8:30 a.m. July 5 and 6.
  • Parking in Springdale, Utah, just outside Zion's western entrance, was nearly full by 1 p.m. both days.

My preference for visiting national parks is during the off-season and not during holiday weekends. Who wants to join thousand of other people "wanting to get away from it all"?

To read more, go here.

No Wonder!

Above, the lobby of Jenny Lake Lodge. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

When Mitch Geriminsky and I were exploring Grand Teton National Park, we were looking around for a place to stop at for breakfast.

One of the first places we stopped at was the Jenny Lake Lodge. Since the park's guide sheet indicated there's a restaurant there, we went inside. There, we had a bit of "sticker shock" to find that breakfasts there were $34.00 per person.

We said, "Thanks, but no thanks!" and we left. We ended up having breakfast at the Signal Mountain Lodge. Their prices were much more reasonable.

Above, another view of the lobby with the gift shop in the background. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

On Jenny Lake Lodge, Wikipedia says this:
Jenny Lake Lodge is a luxury resort concession in Grand Teton National Park. Located close to the base of the Teton Range at Jenny Lake, the resort as operated since the 1920s, when Tony Grace established the Danny Ranch, a dude ranch, on the site, with two rental cabins.. The ranch was purchased by the Snake River Land Company, which made improvements starting around 1933, under the auspices of its operating company, the Teton Investment Company. The ranch's lodge burned in 1935, but a new lodge was built, accompanied by enough cabins to accommodate 65 guests.

"Luxury resort concession". That explains the price. 

As far as national park lodges go, I have to admit that Jenny Lake Lodge is a nice one. It's just out of my price range.

New Mexico Balloon Rallies Coming Up

Above, while at the Albuquerque Cracker Barrel, I spotted
 this balloon drifting nearby. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

There are two balloon rallies in New Mexico to look forward to.

First, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta that will be taking place in the city on October 5 to October 13. This one's the "big granddaddy" of balloon fiestas. Of course, on any given day, one can spot a few balloons in the air in Albuquerque. One day, I went into Albuquerque to take care of some personal business and there were about four of them up. They can be easily spotted miles away while driving into Albuquerque on Interstate 40.

Above, one balloonist's balloon basket at Red Rock Park Campground last year. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Next, is the Red Rock Balloon Rally at Red Rock Park near Gallup. This year's balloon rally will be the 39th and will be held December 6 - 8. I went to it last year, but the weather wasn't cooperative. I got myself a campsite at the campground right next to the launching area for the first day. But that night, a snowstorm came through which forced the cancellation of any acensions. The balloonists spent their time huddled in group campfires. Maybe this year they'll have better luck.

Above, an early-morning snowstorm came in and forced the cancellaton of the
 Red Rock Balloon Rally balloon ascension last year. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

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