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Friday, December 31, 2021


Now that we're less than ten hours away from 2022 (at least here in New Mexico), I was thinking that 2021 was a weird year.

It wasn't as bad as 2020. At least some semblance of "normalcy" came back. Not totally, but some. 

2022 is an election year. That is, for all members of the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate (well, a third of them). The election will determine if enough Republicans can get elected to put a check on the craziness of the Democrats who control both legislative bodies and bring back some sanity to Washington.

Hopefully, enough people have had enough of the lunacy that the Democrats have put us through since January and give them the big boot. There's a meme out there about Republicans and Democrats. It goes something like this: "Republicans may be stupid, but the Democrats are insane." I'll go along with that.

I didn't travel as much in 2021 as I would have liked. I had some extensive dental work done during the summer that put a crimp on that. But I plan to do more in 2022. I recently had a check-up with my cardiologist, which included an electrocardiogram (ECG). Well, after my cardiologist reviewed the ECG print-out, he came into the examining room. I asked, "How does it look?" He replied, "Well, it looks as good as your boots!" I was wearing my new (as of last January) pair of boots. 

It is hard to believe in a little over a month from now, it will be four years since I moved out of California to New Mexico. What has transpired in California politically since then tells me that I got out just in the nick of time. I am still enjoying New Mexico. Even with its own wacko Democrat  government, it is still nowhere near as bad as California.

Will 2022 be a better year? Hopefully so. Only time will tell.

 Happy New Year!

Betty White Dies At 99

This is a stunner.

For weeks (or even months) people were gearing up to celebrate Betty White's 100th birthday on January 17. Unfortunately, she didn't quite make it.

According to People:

Betty White, TV's perennial Golden Girl, has died. She was 99.

"Even though Betty was about to be 100, I thought she would live forever," her agent and close friend Jeff Witjas tells PEOPLE in a statement on Friday. "I will miss her terribly and so will the animal world that she loved so much. I don't think Betty ever feared passing because she always wanted to be with her most beloved husband Allen Ludden. She believed she would be with him again." 

White was gearing up to celebrate her 100th birthday on Jan. 17. Ahead of her centennial year, in January, White opened up to PEOPLE about how she was feeling about turning 100 years old. 

 To read more, go here.

Package From Russia

Above, Asya and Fanni calendar. 

The last gathering of the Jamestown gang for 2021 took place this morning in Denny's at the Flying J. 

Before heading over to Denny's, I went to the post office and found that a package had arrived. It was from Asya in St. Petersburg, Russia. It was a calendar (pictured above) she had made of photos of her and her model friend Fanni while she was stuck in Scandinavia last year for a few months when the pandemic essentially made travel back to Russia a bit difficult. She may have some made and available for sale. We have been in discussions making them available through my blog. We'll see.

The photo below was after I got to Denny's and I sent it to Asya to let her know the package arrived. I had also sent her a package for Christmas and it is en route to St. Petersburg from Moscow. The last status of it was posted last week. It should be arriving in St. Petersburg at any time. 

Above, the photo I sent to Asya to let her know the package arrived.

The package also included some Russian candies, which I passed around to the guys.

After our gathering at Denny's, it started to snow as we were leaving the Flying J. We are expecting the main snowstorm tonight. So I'll be spending New Year's at home tonight. 

Happy New Year!

Younger RV Buyers Pushing Makers Into Making Smaller RVs

Above, a Winnebago Revel Class B RV at the California RV Show. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The pandemic has changed a lot of ways Americans will travel.

The RV industry has been booming for years and the pandemic has made the boom even bigger. This has also made RV manufacturers take note on what they want and are scrambling to meet the demand of the kinds of RVs they're buying.

Yahoo! News reported:

  •  Millennial and Generation Z interest in RVs has skyrocketed throughout 2021.
  • At the same time, camper van production and sales have swelled.
  • Jayco says the rise in younger buyers is one of the reasons it has seen a "spike" in smaller RVs.

RVing isn't just for retirees anymore: Millennials and Gen Zers are making life on the road cool again. And this rise in younger RVers is changing the industry.

Many new owners are now significantly younger than the stereotypical Baby Boomer driving a bulky RV. And now, RV makers are scrambling to cater to this younger demographic.

In general, RV ownership has been steadily rising. But the number of buyers in the 18 to 34-year-old age range has grown "significantly," and now makes up 22% of current RV owners, according to data from the RV Industry Association. And of the current millennial and Gen Z owners, 84% have said they want to purchase a new unit in the next five years, making this younger batch of road travelers — who often enjoy more tech and leisure add-ons — a prime target for RV makers.

To read more, go here

CDC Advises Against Cruise Travel Amid COVID-19 Surge

Above, cruise ship passengers on deck for an emergency drill. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Well, this is certainly not any kind of a surprise.

The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just raised their travel warning for cruise ships up to Level 4 due to the outbreak of the Omicron coronavirus variant. This is not a surprise since cruise ships are floating petri dishes anyway.

TravelPulse reported:

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) elevated its travel warning for cruise ships from Level 3 to Level 4, the highest level, on Thursday.

The latest update advises people to avoid traveling by cruise ship regardless of their COVID-19 vaccination status and comes on the heels of a recent uptick in positive coronavirus cases as the Omicron variant continues to spread worldwide.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats.

The CDC's latest guidance warns that the virus spreads quickly and easily between people sharing close quarters such as some environments onboard a cruise ship.

Isn't life grand?

To read more, go here

Tried The Chile Rellenos

Above, the finished relleno plate. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

As I mentioned in a post from yesterday, I went into Gallup to find some tamales since Erlinda's Tamale Shop has been closed due to a lack of employees (anyone need a job?).

I found some at the local markets and will try some tonight. Along with finding tamales, I found some chile rellenos at Lowe's Market. They looked intriguing, so I bought a package of four. 

Above, the package of chile rellenos. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

To cook them, all one has to do is pre-heat a skillet lightly oiled and cook them for a minute or two. This I did and they came out good.

I had them with some refried beans and Spanish rice. I covered them with some Hatch Valley salsa. Not bad! I will have the remaining two tomorrow night. They are so big that only one can fit on a plate at a time. 

Thursday, December 30, 2021

New Mexico Advised To Avoid Holiday Travel Ahead of Storm

Above, morning snow on the mesas last January. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

It looks like the storm that's coming to New Mexico tonight/tomorrow will be a "severe" one. I'm glad I did my grocery shopping today instead of driving in it tomorrow.

At least that's what AOL News is reporting.

They wrote:

New Mexico residents should probably ring in the new year close to home, as the state braces for a snowstorm expected to impact travel conditions.

The National Weather Service on Thursday put a winter storm warning in effect from 6 a.m. local time Friday to noon local time on New Year’s Day, affecting the mountains.

Pointing to forecasted “heavy snow and blowing snow,” the notice warned: “These hazardous conditions will impact the holiday travel period.”

The weather service warned of 8 to 12 inches of snow in certain areas — and above 9,000 feet, anywhere from 12 to 20 inches — as well as wind gusts reaching up to 40 mph and resulting in “areas of reduced visibilities in blowing and drifting snow.”

It will be interesting to see how many inches of snow we get from this storm. I'm at 7,000 feet.

To read more, go here

In Search Of: Tamales

Above, the bag of tamales I found at the market. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

A little while ago, I returned home from my tamale-hunting trek in Gallup.

I contacted Erlinda's Tamale Shop this morning after my Messenger message of yesterday to them went unanswered. 

So, I decided to call them this morning. The owner said they've been closed for 3 months and may open in late January or early February. I then jumped into the car and headed to Gallup. 

After getting home, I found a reply on Messenger from them:

We are currently closed due to lack of employees.

I headed into Gallup to see if I can find tamales that are comparable to Erlinda's. Well, I didn't. But I did find some that look like they'd be okay, but there's an added bonus. I found some pre-made chile rellenos.  

Above, the chile rellenos I found at the market. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Since I love chile rellenos, I decided to buy a package and try them out tonight.

It’s Just Not Fun To Travel Now

Above, yours truly at Southfork Ranch near Dallas, Texas last January. Photo by Mitch Geriminsky.

Is travel now worth it? Is it fun anymore?

The answers to those questions is no. At least that is what travel writer Lois After Mark is saying in an article in Forbes.com.

Here's a snippet:

The impact of travel on COVID seems pretty obvious, which is why the industry itself must take action. Scientists can predict surges based on holiday travel, and the number of people (including an unprecedented number of children) infected since Thanksgiving and Christmas, the two busiest travel times of the year, continues to soar. This is not a coincidence and it would be interesting to see how these numbers changed if unvaccinated people were banned from flying.

Airlines are still cancelling thousands of flights due to infected crew members, and because of COVID’s impact on travel (it works both ways), airlines are discontinuing routes, tourist boards are laying off staff, the cruise industry is suffering.

Even if you manage to get to your destination, it’s hard to be spontaneous anymore because you need to reserve entry times to museums and other attractions. Many restaurants and spas have closed and most indoor venues have limited capacity.

Travel just doesn’t seem worth the effort.

I’m sad and angry because it didn’t have to be this way. Travel – getting to experience places, cultures and people different from you – is so important and must be protected.

I have to disagree. I haven't let the pandemic stop me from traveling during the past year(s) of the pandemic. And I haven't contracted the virus. I got the vaccination in February and the booster in October. 

Sure, there are some inconveniences (such as wearing a mask) and some restrictions, but anyone with half a brain can easily adapt and carry on.

To read the full article, go here

Flight Delays and Cancellations To Last Through New Year

Above, an AMTRAK train arrives at Gallup Station. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

My decision to just stay home this holiday season kept me from the horrors of the mass flight cancellations and not driving the RV anywhere saved me some money since I had car repair expenses this month.

If people think that air travel is going to return to normal anytime soon, they're sadly mistaken. 

The chaos will continue through the New Year according to TravelPulse:

It was almost a week ago when a couple of airlines started reporting a handful of flight delays and cancellations – which quickly snowballed into a nightmare for people traveling to family and friends and warmer climates for the Christmas holiday.

And if you thought it was over, think again.

Because that was the last week; now they all must come home, and it’s not going to get any better.

“I don’t think it’s going to go away just because we’re turning the page to 2022,” Sheila Kahyaoglu, an aerospace and defense airlines equity research analyst at Jefferies, said on CNBC. “This could stick around for a few weeks.”

According to the New York Times, as of Noon today, Wednesday, December 29, another 840 flights just in the U.S. have been canceled due in small part to weather and in large part to Omicron, which has forced already-depleted airline staffers to call in sick.

Worldwide, more than 10,000 flights have been canceled since Christmas Eve according to data from FlightAware.com, a flight tracking service.

The only real viable alternative to getting from Point A to Point B appears to be by train. I haven't heard of any problems this season with AMTRAK. I wonder if any of the stranded yo-yos even considered train travel.

To read more, go here

New Year's Eve: More Winter Weather

Above, after yesterday's storm. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

New Year's Eve will be a cold and snowy one if the forecast by KRQE is correct.

They posted:

NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Snow and wind will return to western, central, and northern New Mexico by New Year’s Eve. Some travel problems will be possible to start New Year’s Day.

Our next storm system will be moving into the state Thursday afternoon with rain pushing into the southwestern part of the state and snow developing across western New Mexico. Snow and valley rain will increase in coverage and intensity by Friday morning, however snow levels could drop to some valley floors, including Albuquerque, by Friday morning before climbing back above freezing by late morning.

Yesterday's storm brought the most snow so far this season. Most of it is still on the ground and tomorrow's storm will only add to it.

To read more, go here.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Definitely Winter

A little bit ago, I just got back indoors after shoveling some snow that fell overnight.

So far, this has been the biggest storm this season. We're expecting more tonight. It looks like we got about 2" last night and this morning. It's around 28° outside. 

Some photos:


Top 6 National Parks For RVers

Above, Yellowstone National Park made first place on the list. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Well, here's another "top" article to read through.

The latest is the top six U.S. national parks according to RVers. This year has been a banner year for the national parks with some setting new visitation records. 

The following was posted by TravelAwaits

They wrote:

RVshare — the largest peer-to-peer RV rental marketplace in the world — recently released its 2022 Travel Trend Report, which established that national parks are still at the top of travelers’ lists for the coming year. The report also found that those travelers are likely to stay in an RV. In fact, 56 percent said they are “most likely” to find an RV appealing for trips to national parks and scenic areas. Eighty-five percent of travelers say they would be “at least somewhat likely” to choose an RV over other accommodation options,” including 26 percent who say they’d be 100 percent likely to do so.

The report also revealed the top six national parks in the country according to RV renters, which we’ll get into below. Keep in mind that campgrounds at national parks tend to book up well in advance. Reservations are recommended if not required. No RV? No problem — our friends at RVshare can get you set up with the perfect one for your needs. Heck, they’ll even deliver it for you! Study campground maps beforehand, because the size of the RV may affect where you can camp. Half of the RV rentals on the site are pet-friendly; just be sure that the national park campground allows pets before bringing your furry friend along.

To see what the top six national parks for RVers are, go here

More Snow Overnight

Just as the National Weather Service forecast, we received more snow last night.

It looks like (maybe) 1 1/2 to 2 inches fell overnight. It is still snowing and more is expected today (about 30% chance of snow showers mainly before 11:00 this morning). It is about 30° outside right now.

A little while ago, I stepped out on the front porch and took a couple of pictures:

There is a 60% chance of snow tomorrow night. In the meantime, it looks like I have some snow shoveling to do.

10 Best Road Trips To Take In The USA

Above, approaching an avalanche snowshed on Colorado's
Million Dollar Highway sourh of Ouray. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Since the "Great American Road Trip" has regained in popularity (and, in some cases, necessity due to the pandemic) by either car or RV, more articles on road trips have become numerous.

The latest is an article on 10 best road trips to take across the USA by the United Kingdom's Far Out Magazine. I have been on several of the ones listed. 

Before getting into the ten best road trips, they begin with a lengthy introduction.

Here's a snippet:

The idea of the American road trip as an antidote to the alienation of the modern world continued well into the 1940s and ’50s when Jack Kerouac wrote his Beat manifesto, The Road. For Kerouac’s characters, America’s highways symbolise the exhilarating pursuit of escape: escape from the weekday grind, escape from societal norms, and an escape from the persistent reminder that one’s life is but a fleeting moment.

Today, our understanding of the great American Road trip is still imbued with the writings of Hunter S Thompson, the gonzo journalist who, like Kerouac, had an innate affinity for America’s ocean-wide highways and the freedom they represented. In his red convertible, Thompson’s alter-ego Raoul Duke burns a trail across the modern wild west, chasing the last glimmerings of an American dream rapidly sinking below the horizon.

Now, we’re not saying you should arm yourself with your darkest Fear and Loathing memories and hit the open road in a wave of hysteria akin to Hunter S. Thompson’s imagination, but you certainly should try and explore at least one of these top ten selected road trips.

To read more, go here

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

National Park Service Announces Entrance Fee-Free Days for 2022

Above, an entrance gate of Yosemite National Park. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The National Park Service has announced the entrance fee-free days for 2022.

These are the days people can enter a national park for free.

According to the Sierra Sun Times:

December 28, 2021 - WASHINGTON – The National Park Service will have five entrance fee-free days in 2022. The free admission days are designed to encourage discovery and visitation of the country’s variety of national parks. With at least one in every state, national parks are accessible places to visit to refresh body, mind and spirit.

The free entrance dates for 2022 are: 

  • Monday, January 17 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 
  • Saturday, April 16 – First Day of National Park Week 
  • Thursday, August 4 – Anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act 
  • Saturday, September 24 – National Public Lands Day 
  • Friday, November 11 – Veterans Day 

To read more, go here

Tokyo or Kyoto? Which To Visit?

Above, the Shibuya shopping district of Tokyo. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Tokyo or Kyoto?

That is a question that first-time visitors probably ask themselves. Both are cities worth visiting and exploring. They are also different from each other in many ways.

Above, Kyoto's Kinkakuji "Golden Pavilion". Photo by Armand Vaquer.

TheTravel has posted an article on which of these Japanese cities to visit. (I'd say both, since I've already been there.)

The article starts with:

Visitors to Japan enjoy doing many things and partaking in endless unique activities. These include raiding the hyaku yen, soaking in an open-air hot spring, zooming on a bullet train through the mountains, and eating sushi right off a conveyor belt. Moreover, wandering through Kitakyushu's flower tunnels, devouring wild boar ramen, witnessing a bamboo forest, and going to Studio Ghibli Museum are other attractions worth trying in Japan.

Although one can find a mix of modernity and tradition in every Japanese city, Tokyo and Kyoto represent the core of the country's unique culture. Travelers are faced with the difficult question of whether they should be visiting Tokyo or Kyoto. And if they decide to visit both cities, they wonder where to spend more time and which is more interesting. Here's a guide to help people know which city is best to visit, Tokyo or Kyoto?

To read more, go here

Winter Weather Advisory

Above, snow from last year. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Tonight, we're going to get up to 3 inches of snow. Along the Continental Divide, 5 inches are possible and we're near the Continental Divide.

From the National Weather Service:

Winter Weather Advisory

National Weather Service Albuquerque NM
205 AM MST Tue Dec 28 2021

Northwest Plateau-Northwest Highlands-West Central Plateau-West
Central Mountains-Southwest Mountains-
205 AM MST Tue Dec 28 2021


* WHAT...Snow expected. Total snow accumulations of 1 to 3 inches.
  Locally higher amounts up to 5 inches are possible along the
  Continental Divide.

* WHERE...Northwest Highlands, Northwest Plateau, Southwest
  Mountains, West Central Mountains and West Central Plateau.

* WHEN...From 6 PM this evening to 11 AM MST Wednesday.

* IMPACTS...Plan on snow packed or icy road conditions. This
  includes portions of I-40 and U.S. Highway 550. Travel could be
  difficult at times with low visibility and patchy blowing snow.


Slow down and use caution while traveling. For the latest road
conditions, dial 511 or 1.800.432.4269, or visit http://nmroads.com.

Air Travel: Holiday Nightmare Continues

Above, a social distanced flight. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Last summer, disruptions of flights in the western half of the U.S. due to thunderstorms were quite, um, something. I got stuck overnight in Salt Lake City as I missed my connecting flight to Albuquerque because of them.

But as disruptive that episode was (for me), it pales in comparison to what it happening now with air travel.  

And it continues.

From Moody on the Market:

(NEW YORK) — The omicron variant continues to wreak havoc on holiday travel from coast to coast.

Over the weekend, airlines reported more than 3,000 flight cancellations with at least one stop in the U.S, according to FlightAware, and the travel troubles don’t seem to be letting up anytime soon. As of 11:30 a.m. Monday morning, nearly 1,000 flights had already been canceled, and the number was steadily creeping up by the hour.

United, Delta, JetBlue, American and Alaska cited the recent COVID-19 surge as one of the reasons for the cancellations because it has left them with crew shortages. In an effort to avoid more disruptions, JetBlue and Alaska have even resorted to offering extra pay to healthy employees who can pick up additional shifts.

Winter weather in the western part of the country didn’t help — slamming airports in Seattle, Los Angeles and Denver. Those three airports accounted for more than 600 flight cancellations on Sunday alone.

Glad I stayed home this year.

To read more, go here

UPDATE (12-28-21):

From KVIA: 2,800 more flights cancelled today. 

Details, go here.

What It's Like To Stay In A Traditional Ryokan

Above, a ryokan room in Atami. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

When foreigners are allowed to vacation in Japan again (whenever that'll be), one thing they should try is staying at a traditional Japanese inn (or ryokan).

I've stayed at several ryokans over the years and enjoyed each one. 

TheTravel has an article on what it's like to stay at a ryokan.

They begin it with:

People enjoy visiting Japan for various reasons, including the country's major attractions and the unique activities that visitors can partake in there. However, one of the most vital things to look out for when visiting Japan is the type of accommodation to book, since that will help people plan their time in the country. For instance, Japan offers various accommodation options, including affordable B&B, modern hotels, and cozy guesthouses.

However, one of the perfect ways to enjoy a stay in Japan is to book a stay in a Ryokan. The latter is a traditional Japanese-style inn available throughout tourist spots in the country. Staying in a Ryokan is more than just booking accommodation. It could be the highlight of a trip to Japan, where it offers its visitors great hospitality with outstanding guest services.

Above, the entrance to a Sendai ryokan. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

To read more, go here

Today's Snow

Now that it is daylight outside, I stepped out to see how much snow we received.

It appears we got about a half inch to one inch of it. Oddly, the mesas across the valley looked like they didn't get any, unless (since they are south-facing) it melted already. But it is 28° outside. Maybe when the sun gets higher, the snow will be more apparent.

Looks like we'll have a white New Year's after all. More snow is expected this week.

Well, I did take some pictures while I was out:

Above, the front yard. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, looking east. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, the east side of the house. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, the mesas looked bare of snow. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Fauci Says He Would Support Vaccine Mandate For Domestic Flights

Above, Magic Valley Regional Airport in Twin Falls, Idaho. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

As if we aren't mandated to death already.

Dr. Anthony Fauci says he would support a domestic air travel mandate to get more people to be vaccinated.

Forbes reported:

In a recent interview with ABC News, Dr. Anthony Fauci said he would be in favor of a vaccine requirement for all U.S. citizens on domestic flights.

The comments come at a time when the Omicron variant is busy spreading like a wildfire around the globe, prompting waves of new travel restrictions in many destinations, including Puerto Rico, Thailand, and much of Europe.

Fauci said that his support for such a mandate is more about supporting legislation that encourages people to get vaccinated rather than in-air safety. 

Fauci told ABC News. “Anything that could get people more vaccinated would be welcome.”

"But,” he added, “with regard to the spread of virus in the country, I mean, I think if you look at wearing a mask and the filtration on planes, things are reasonably safe.”

 To read more, go here.

Things To Know Before Extended RV Trip

Above, at the Route 66 RV Resort in Albuquerque. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Now that it is winter and many of us are holed up inside the house (it is snowing outside my home as I am writing this), it is a good time to plan next year's RV vacation.

If one is new to the RV lifestyle, the following will be useful enough to include in the departure checklist. After a while, these will be second nature.

TravelAwaits posted 10 things to know before hitting the road on an extended RV trip. 

They begin it with:

The anticipation and excitement are palpable. You’re planning an extended RV trip to a bucket list location, a family reunion, or an odyssey that you’ve dreamt of doing. Wherever you’re going on your extended RV trip, be sure to plan ahead and be prepared. I know there are people who drive by the seat of their pants and let the road take them wherever it leads. That’s a fine way to travel. Being prepared is not about having reservations, though in these crowded RV days it’s not a bad idea. Preparation will minimize unexpected problems, expenses, and delays. No one wants to be on a three-month journey and get sidelined. Here are my tips for what you need to know to make your trip memorable, manageable, and meaningful. 

To see what they are, go here

Monday, December 27, 2021

2021 In Review

Above, the bull-riding event at the Gallup Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial Rodeo. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

2021 is nearly over and it's time to do my usuall year in review.

First off, I am grateful that no family members or close friends have passed away. There was one loss that is almost like losing a friend. For nearly 40 years, I've started my days by turning on the radio to listen to Rush Limbaugh. His passing back in February was like a life-changer as my routine for the day has been altered. He is still missed. There was a big void this holiday season without his Christmas shows.

The First Quarter

Above, on the balcony of Southfork's ranch house. 

The first quarter of the year started as it normally does. Except, I decided I wanted to see the new John Wayne: An American Experience exhibit in Fort Worth, Texas that opened in December 2020. Mitch Geriminsky joined me on the trip to Texas that included the Wayne exhibit, the 6th Floor Museum At Dealey Plaza, Southfork Ranch (the filming location for the prime-time soap, Dallas) and the Fort Worth Stockyards. 

Above, yours truly at John Wayne: An American Experience. Photo by Mitch Geriminsky.

We had a great time as we rented a car and roamed around the Dallas/Fort Worth area. I'd like to go back during the summer months.

Also in January, I went to the wedding of Mitch and Holly Geriminsky in Las Vegas. We had a good time there and had a great barbecue dinner at the reception. 

The next big trip of the quarter was the Lost Dutchman Chapter of E Clampus Vitus Spring Clampout in March in Quartzsite, Arizona. I was joined there by Glenn Thornhill and Gary Julian from California. I hadn't seen either since I moved to New Mexico. We had somewhere around 200 Clampers attend. We had a great time.

Above, with Glenn Thornhill and Gary Julian at the Lost Dutchman spring clampout.

The Second Quarter

Above, the Durango train about to depart from Durango Station. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Since New Mexico theaters were shut down due to the pandemic, I headed up to Durango, Colorado (a 3-hour drive) to see Godzilla vs. Kong in April. I made the trip a little mini-vacation and stayed at the Apen Rose RV Park in Durango. The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad passes the campground across the highway. I had a relaxing good time in Durango, along with good food. I picked up another bottle of rum from Honeyville while in Durango. Good stuff!

I didn't ride the train this trip, but I did tour the train museum at the roundhouse of the Durango train station. Nice collection!

As it turned out, New Mexico theaters were allowed to re-open the following week.

The Third Quarter

Above, at Bella's Cappuchino and Cafe in Wells, Nevada.

In July, the Wild West Days Rodeo in Grants was held. It was nice to attend a rodeo again. It was the only rodeo held last year. 

Also in July, I took a little trip to Chaco Canyon and camped there. It was an interesting place to view up close ancient pueblo Indian dwellings. The drive in was an adventure itself. It is accessible only a rough dirt road for about 20 miles. The Beast handled it fine. 

Above, cliff dwellings at Chaco Canyon. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

In late July, Mitch Geriminsky and I flew to Twin Falls, Idaho to attend the Wells (Nevada) Fun Run car rally and show. This was the event that I missed three years ago when I had my heart issue. This time I was able to enjoy the entire weekend and see friends. Our group joined Linda Wilson in scattering her husband Bill's ashes at the rally. He passed away the year before from leukemia. We had thunderstorms the whole weekend and that caused problems for us when we tried to return home. Flights were delayed or cancelled in Salt Lake City, where we were to catch our connecting flights. I ended up getting a hotel room near the airport and got a flight to Albuquerque the next morning. It was bizarre that thunderstorms were all over the Southwest that weekend. Needless to say, we had a great time at the Wells Fun Run.

In August, I attended the Bloomer Trailers Best of the Best Rodeo and the Gallup Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial and Rodeo in August. Both events were held at Red Rock Park Rodeo Arena. The Indian Ceremonial was smaller than in years past, but I had fun there anyway. 

The Fourth Quarter

Above, at the Southern New Mexico State Fair in Las Cruces.

In October, I took a drive down to Las Cruces to attend the Southern New Mexico State Fair. It was a nice fair and it included a rodeo. It seemed like half the city was there during the rodeo.I camped at the KOA Kampground a few miles away from the fair. Along with the rodeo, I enjoyed viewing the livestock and exhibits. I may go back again next year.

Above, at the fall clampout with Harold, one our cook crew leaders. 

Also in October, the Lost Dutchman Chapter of E Clampus Vitus returned to Quartzsite for the fall Clampout. Again we all had a great time. Our chapter's "ambassador" Bill Greene, passed away during the summer at age 92 and a ceremony was held honoring him. 

Following the Clampout, I headed to Mitch's in Lake Havasu and saw Dwight Kuntz, a friend during our junior high and high school years. I hadn't seen Dwight since the 1980s at Dodger Stadium. We had a good time catching up.

Above, yours truly, Dwight Kuntz and Mitch Geriminsky at Lake Havasu. Photo by Holly Geriminsky.

In November, I went back to Lake Havasu, Arizona to celebrate Thanksgiving with Mitch and Holly Geriminsky at their new home. I camped at Crazy Horse Campgrounds at the lake. 

Earlier this month, I attended the Balloominaria at Rio West Mall in Gallup. It was part of the Red Rock Balloon Rally held at Red Rock Park. Balloominaria is where balloonists inflate their hot-air balloons in the mall's parking lot and illuminate them at night. Thousands showed up for this event despite the cold temperature.

Above, Ballominaria at Rio West Mall in Gallup. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Christmas dinner was hosted by Greg and Marlo Lucier at their home here in Jamestown. Since I had spent around $1,100 in car repairs and the high price of gasoline, I decided to stay home this Christmas. 

All in all, it wasn't too bad a year for me. Hopefully, 2022 will be a better one. 

Meteor City Acquires Ferris Wheel

Above, Meteor City Trading Post in July 2020. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The restoration of the Meteor City Trading Post is slowly, but surely progressing. This undertaking has to be a big labor of love and a fondness for history along the road. In this case, on Historic Route 66. 

It is located off Interstate 40, not far from the turn-off for Meteor Crater.

Last month, Meteor City's Facebook page posted that they acquired a Ferris wheel that was sitting and rusting at an old abandoned campground in Joseph City, Arizona (home of Jack Rabbit Trading Post).

Here's a photo of the Ferris wheel after restoration:

Above, restored Ferris wheel framework. Meteor City photo.

The post included the following:

‘The Ferris Wheel at Meteor City’ was formerly located at the Red Triangle Camp Ground [the campground's sign says Red Arrow Camps] on Route 66 in Joseph City, Arizona. After painstakingly disassembled, transported and reassembled at Meteor City. It was hand sanded to remove decades of surface rust. Painted with two coats of primer and two coats of red finish paint. 

We are extremely proud to be able to save this historic part of Route 66 history! A special shout out and thanks to Mr. Ed Klein of Route 66 World for making this addition possible. 

Stay tuned for more additions and surprises coming in 2022! 

Thank you, for all of your support. Mike & Joann Brown

Donations for the restoration of Meteor City Trading Post are welcome! They are selling t-shirts (I bought one) to help fund the work. For more information, go here.

Re-Thinking The Red Rock Legacy of Harry Goulding

Above, Goulding's Lodge Campground in November 2016. Photo by Arman Vaquer.

Harry Goulding brought Hollywood to Monument Valley in the Navajo Nation. He also brought radioactive misery from uranium mining.

The San Juan Record has an article on Harry Goulding and his legacy of the red rocks of Monument Valley.

They begin it with:

Harry Goulding was a sheepman who marveled at the red rock monoliths of Monument Valley, UT.

He brought Hollywood to Monument Valley and the Navajo Nation, but he also brought Geiger counters, uranium mines, and decades of damage from radioactivity.

How ironic that the same man who helped to create the modern image of the rugged American West and jobs for Navajo actors also urged employment for Navajo uranium miners with devastating health consequences.

And it all began with sheep.

To read more, go here

Christmas Flight Cancellations: "A Disaster of Epic Proportions"

It is incredible that people are traveling by air during this time of the omicron variant. Many travelers are facing flight cancellations as they try to return home from their Christmas holiday trips. Some are still even planning to travel over New Year's.

They should have their heads examined, to put it mildly.

According to TravelPulse, more flights are being cancelled:

Several hundred more flights have already been canceled so far this morning, Sunday, December 26, as Christmas weekend has turned into a nightmare for airlines and air travelers worldwide thanks to the Omicron variant.

More than 6,000 flights have been canceled since late Thursday, December 23, and more than 20,000 flights have been delayed, according to the flight tracking website FlightAware.com. As of 10 a.m. this morning, another 723 flights have already been canceled worldwide for tomorrow, Monday, December 27.

It’s a disaster of epic proportion for the airline industry, which had been enjoying a resurgence of passengers this year as they bounce back from the effects of the pandemic. The industry had strong Memorial Day, Summer, Labor Day and Thanksgiving travel numbers, and Christmas started the same way.

This is 100x worse than the hassle I had last July in getting home from Twin Falls, Idaho due to thunderstorms.

To read more, go here

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