"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, March 31, 2021

The Ammo Shortage Continues

Above, the good ol' days (2 years ago) when there were plenty of guns and ammo to buy. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Yesterday, I went into the Big 5 Sporting Goods store in Gallup, New Mexico with a friend. 

While he was looking for some specific things elsewhere in the store, I wandered over to the gun department.

To call what was available in the gun department "slim pickens" would qualify as an understatement. Aside of some boxes of shotgun shells along with pellets and BBs, there was nothing on the shelves. There were no guns there either.

So the ammo and gun shortage continues.

This is not just confined to New Mexico, it is happening around the country.

According to ABC 4 in Utah:

ST. GEORGE, Utah (ABC4) – Are you struggling to find ammunition for your gun? Several gun shop owners are saying you’re not the only one.

Gun owners are struggling to get their practice in and that’s because they can’t find any stores stocked with ammunition and if they do, it’s not cheap. 

Max Sanchez of Toquerville is picking up his 9 mm casings, to reload his own bullets.

“Pack and reloading ’em, because it’s a problem even reloading them because you can’t even get powder anymore,” says Sanchez.

He says he doesn’t bother trying to buy these bullets in stores.

When the shortage will end is anyone's guess. Hopefully, it will be sooner rather than later.

To read more, go here

RV Trips, Camping Seen As Not Risky

Above, camping at the Cortez, Colorado KOA Kampground last summer. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Last year, the governor of New Mexico closed down all state park campgrounds when the pandemic struck. 

Along with that, national forest campgrounds in the state were also closed.

It is ironic that she did all that when people, who were under "house arrest", feel that RV trips and camping is the safest option for a summer vacation.

According TravelPulse:

RVezy, a peer-to-peer RV rental marketplace, has found that Americans still consider outdoor vacations to be the safest during the COVID-19 pandemic, and traveling by RV leads the way in preferred vacations this summer.

A majority of Americans consider the activity not risky, according to an RVezy survey conducted by Abacus Data.

Despite the increase in vaccine rollouts, the survey also highlighted that 94 percent of Americans mentioned "doing something safe" as a top priority for their vacation plans.  

"Our survey results show that Americans consider RVing and camping almost twice as safe as other types of accommodations such as staying in a hotel. We are also seeing that 66 percent of Americans consider camping in an RV of little to no risk compared with 38 percent who feel the same way about flying on a plane to a destination," said David Coletto, CEO of polling firm Abacus Data.

There's no argument here on that!

To read more, go here.

Warmer Days Ahead

Above, a nice, clear day. The next few days will be warmer. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Today's weather is better than yesterday's. The temperature is the same (about 53°), but the gusty winds we had yesterday has been reduced to a breeze today.

I got word about an hour ago that the gate to Six Mile Canyon/Cibola National Forest has been reopened for vehicles. So we go and have fun in the "playground".

The forecast for the next several days by the National Weather Service is for temperatures in the low 70s, which will be nice.

Above, while I relaxed on the deck, D.K. was hunting in the yard. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

This Afternoon
Sunny, with a high near 56. Northeast wind around 5 mph.
Clear, with a low around 24. Northeast wind around 5 mph becoming southeast in the evening.
Sunny, with a high near 67. Southeast wind 5 to 15 mph.
Thursday Night
Partly cloudy, with a low around 33. South wind 5 to 10 mph.
A 20 percent chance of showers before noon. Mostly sunny, with a high near 66. South wind 5 to 10 mph becoming northwest in the afternoon.
Friday Night
Mostly clear, with a low around 37.
Sunny, with a high near 71.
Saturday Night
Mostly clear, with a low around 40.
Sunny, with a high near 74.
Sunday Night
Partly cloudy, with a low around 43.
Mostly sunny, with a high near 71.

New Mexico Vaccinations As of March 30

Here are the latest figures on vaccinations in New Mexico as of March 30 from the NMDOH:


Shop To Support U.S. National Parks

Above, yours truly at a Yosemite gift shop. No, I didn't buy the hat.

While vacationing, people buy merchandise as souvenirs to remember their trips by. That also includes national park souvenirs.

Travel + Leisure has compiled a list of 11 items whose proceeds help support our national parks. And, there are links to buy them!

They start their article with:

In 2020, many people started getting to know our national parks here in the U.S. more closely than ever before, whether in-person or virtually. As some of the most incredible places to experience safely during the pandemic — and most incredible places to experience period — we're obvious fans and so are our readers.

Whether you've found a new love for Yellowstone or Yosemite in the past year or have been trekking Zion for as long as you can remember, you're likely aware of the support they're in need of as areas of conservation. Since it's free to visit most national parks and the visitor numbers are on the rise, there's more to do to preserve the natural beauty of our national parks.

We've compiled a list of seriously cool products to shop that contribute to the preservation of U.S. national parks and pay tribute to their legacy, from the Grand Canyon to the Great Smoky Mountains. Scroll on to shop and support our beautiful national parks.

To read more, go here

Atlas Obscura's "Ultimate" National Park Guide

Above, Mammoth Hot Springs at Yellowstone National Park. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Tomorrow is April 1 and that means that summer vacation season is not too far away. Now is a good time to think about where to go.

To help in the decision-making process, Alas Obscura has posted their "ultimate guide" to America's national parks. There are some tidbits that are quite interesting, some of which I was unaware of.

They start it out with:

In June 1864, President Abraham Lincoln signed a bill that declared the Yosemite Valley in California a protected wilderness area. A few years later, in 1872, it became the first official national park in the United States [Actually, Yellowstone has the distinction of being the first U.S. national park. Yosemite became a park first, but as a state park. - A.] —and the first in the world. Since those early days, the parks system has grown and expanded, and now encompassing more than 84 million acres. But its core mission has remained the same: “To preserve unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the national park system for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations.”

With that kind of mission and scope, it’s no wonder that Atlas Obscura has amassed quite a collection of places in the national park system over the years. In this list, we’ve gathered some of our favorite spots in and around the parks. From a shipwreck in Yellowstone to 5,000-year-old trees, each represents a unique natural wonder or chapter of the American story. 

Be sure to visit each park’s website and social media accounts to get the latest information on openings, closures, and how to support them. If you do choose to venture out, please follow all guidelines, maintain social distance, and wear a mask. 

To read more, go here

Visiting National Parks: Things To Know

Above, Lassen Volcanic National Park in Northern California. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

With many people opting for road trips to national parks via RV or the family car over air travel and cruises, the parks look to be crowded this summer vacation season.

Many will be visiting a national park for the first time and there's a few things they should know. Travel Off Path has a helpful article on the top ten things people should know before visiting U.S. national parks.

They begin with:

As summer approaches, many of us are thinking about ways to get outside. The U.S. National Parks system offers one of the best ways to do just that. The National Parks are some of the most beloved and sought-after destinations in the U.S. But you shouldn’t just get up and go to a park. There’s some important information you’ll need to be fully prepared for your outdoor experience.

If you’re wanting to take a trip to a National Park in 2021, you’ll need to do a few things first…

To read more, go here

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

New Patio Deck Storage Box

Above, the new patio deck storage box. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The delivery today by Federal Express of my new patio deck storage box gave me something to do for about 45 minutes.

As usual, I had to assemble it, but it was relatively easy. 

I had accumulated a number of things for the barbecue and the fire pit along with other stuff that needed a place to be stored when not in use. So, last week I ordered the patio deck storage box to put everything in.

It was nice and sunny out with 60° temperature, which would have been better if we didn't have gusty winds that didn't help with the box's assembly. All I needed was a Phillips screwdriver and I was done in short order. 

Now it sits on the deck next to the Cat's Condo.

After I was done, I sat back on the deck and enjoyed a stogie and a bottle of Alien Amber Ale.

Majesty of the Seas Sold By Royal Caribbean

Above, the Majesty of the Seas at Key West, Florida. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

While working on the blog post on cruise line vaccination requirements, I found that the Majesty of the Seas, the Royal Caribbean cruise ship we took to Havana, Cuba two years ago, had been sold.

Cruise Critic reported last December:

(12:15 p.m. EST) -- After months of speculation, Royal Caribbean has confirmed its two smallest vessels, Empress of the Seas and Majesty of the Seas, will leave the Royal Caribbean fleet this month.  

The 1990-built Empress of the Seas and the 1992-built Majesty of the Seas were the oldest vessels in the Royal Caribbean fleet, but ones that nonetheless had a loyal following of cruisers who prized them for their classic design, smaller size and affordable itineraries.

Royal Caribbean says the two vessels have been sold to an undisclosed party in Asia-Pacific for future cruise service and have not been slated for scrapping at this time. Currently, Empress of the Seas is en-route to Valetta, Malta, while Majesty of the Seas is at anchor off the Greek island of Crete. 

Above, the Majesty of the Seas at Havana Port. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

A few days ago, Royal Caribbean Blog disclosed who bought the Majesty of the Seas

Remember when Royal Caribbean announced it sold Majesty of the Seas in December 2020? We may know the owner now.

Royal Caribbean did not disclose the buyer at the time of the sale in December, but through maritime records it now appears we know the owner.

The listing for Majesty is now operator/manager of 'Eaglepower Shipping Ltd' aka SeaJets.

Seajets is a Greek/Cypriot ferry company that bought a lot of ships from British cruise line Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV).  SeaJets plans on sailing them in inter Greek trips or turning them around and selling to a third party.

Cruise Lines Announce Vaccination Requirements

Above, the Majesty of the Seas at Havana Port in 2019. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Even before the pandemic, cruise ships tend to be "floating petri dishes" with 1,500+ passengers crammed into a limited area.

I have taken two cruise trips and each time I have caught a "bug" of one kind or another.

The cruise lines are looking to resuming operations this summer and several have announced that passengers have to follow their vaccination requirements. Besides having to be fully vaccinated, some are requiring passengers to provide a negative COVID-19 test result before boarding.

Condé Nast Traveler reported:

The cruise industry is ready to resume sailing as early as this summer, and individual cruise lines are showing signs of confidence by announcing vaccination requirements for guests. In the last week alone, Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean, and UnCruise Adventures announced vaccine mandates; they joined Crystal Cruises, Virgin Voyages, American Queen Steamboat Company, and Victory Cruise Lines in instituting them. The requirements apply to sailings that could begin as early as May, following a pause in operations that has lasted more than a year due to the coronavirus.

“We are moving to what we consider the safest possible place we can be,” said Dan Blanchard, owner and CEO of UnCruise Adventures, in a press conference on March 22. “With the availability of vaccines across the U.S., it would be negligent to my crew if I didn’t make this decision.”

To read more, go here

RV "Essential" Gear

There are many newbies that have just entered into the RV lifestyle thanks to the pandemic.

Before heading out on that first camping trip with the new rig, there's a few things that The Manual considers "essentials" that newbies should buy first.

Most of the items on the list I can agree with, others not so much. I am surprised that they didn't include a fresh water hose and sewer hose. Without either, how are people going to get fresh water into their fresh water tank (or water to the RV from the spigot) and dump their holding tanks?

Naturally, "essential" lists are subjective, but one should look over the list and decide for themselves what they really need. The stuff in the above photo is what I consider essential.

The begins with:

Buying your first RV can be overwhelming. Then there’s towing your camper, learning to park and back up, and setting up once you get where you’re going. That first outing can feel just as stressful, but with the right gear, it doesn’t have to be. We’re not talking about frilly gadgets like fairy lights and portable pizza ovens (though those are important too). This list is an honest roundup of the essentials you really need to keep your RV safe, comfortable, and clean. These are the essentials every new RV owner should buy before their first big trip.

 To read more, go here.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Uncensored Platform Uniting People

Tired of social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube who feel free to censor conservative free speech?

Register today for your user name at President Trump's new social media platform.

Freedom of Speech and expression means the right to express one's own convictions and opinions freely by words of mouth, writing, printing, pictures or any other mode. ... It also includes the right to propagate or publish the views of other people; otherwise this freedom would not include the freedom of press.

The United States Constitution guarantees these rights for every American!

In the weeks ahead this new platform will allow you to exercise your Constitutionally Protected Rights to express yourself in whatever way you decide in accordance with the law.

If you're tired of being censored and silenced just because your views are different from Big Tech, then this is the platform for you.

Together we'll Make America (and Free Speech) Great Again!

It's going to be HUGE!

I have signed up as @ArmandV.

To sign up, go here

New Mexico McKinley County Now In Turquoise Level

Above, Fire Rock Navajo Casino has reopened after being closed for a year. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Good news about New Mexico's McKinley County was reported last week in regards to the coronavirus.

According to KOB 4 News:

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- San Juan County and McKinley County are in the Turquoise level of reopening. 

The counties were once hotspots for coronavirus cases in New Mexico.

This means, among other things, that restaurants can open at 75% capacity.

To read more, go here

Study: Getting Outside Is Good for Your Mental and Physical Health

Above, The Beast at a campground near Crater Lake National Park. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

After having lived most of my life in Los Angeles, getting away from the city and into the "great outdoors" was always something to look forward to.

It has been documented that spending time in nature in nature is good for one's health.

Travel + Leisure has an article on just this topic.

They start it with:

In case you needed even more of a reason to get into the Great Outdoors, a study published in Scientific Reports says that spending two hours in nature every week could provide a boost to your health. This isn’t the first time we’ve heard this; in July 2018, Science Daily shared another report boasting the same idea. If you read no further, at least take away the moral of this story: Spending time in nature is always a good idea.

To read more, go here

Travel + Leisure: Three Days In Las Vegas

Above, the High Roller at the Linq which is the highest Ferris wheel in the world. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

To be perfectly honest, I prefer the Las Vegas of 50 years ago compared to the mini-Los Angeles it has become today. 

There are some places that are no longer around in Las Vegas that I enjoyed back then such as the Hacienda Hotel's casino, Westward Ho Hotel and the shows at the Stardust Hotel. I was last in Las Vegas in January for a friend's wedding.

Still, fun can still be found in the city and spending a three-day weekend there is about the right amount of time.

Travel + Leisure has an article on the "perfect" three-day weekend in Las Vegas.

They start it with: 

It takes virtually no effort to burn out after a single day in Las Vegas, where extravagance isn’t an extra—it’s expected! Pace your perfect three-day trip with a balance of indulgence and recovery, and you won’t feel like the Toxic Avenger on your plane ride home to reality. The perfect vacation in Vegas combines incredible attractions like fine dining, some soft adventure, and a few ways to take in those incredible desert views.

To read more, go here

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Dinner Gathering In Gallup

Above, the home of Martin Link in Gallup. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

A little while ago, I returned home from our now-resumed monthly dinner gathering at the Gallup, New Mexico home of historian Martin Link.

It was nice to get out socially again after months of "house arrest". 

The dinner was a seafood soup concoction (the name of it is boulia base). 

Things are still at a standstill in regard to any decisions on Fort Wingate as the governor is preventing department heads to meet discuss it.

Above, Martin Link's collection of Native American kachina dancers. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Speaking of the governor, people are up in arms over the desire of the state to take over the Gallup Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial that is annually held at Red Rock Park. If the state takes it over, it will be a disaster. 

Tomorrow, I'll have the Jeep towed into Gallup to my mechanic's. For some reason (either due to fuel filters or the fuel pump), fuel isn't reaching the carburetor. It conked out today (at the community bulletin board) and I couldn't get it started again. Friend Nandoh came to the rescue and did some diagnostics on it.

At least I'll be putting my "Biden Bucks" to good use at the mechanic's.

Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort

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

For those who want to visit Zion National Park in Utah but are unable to secure a campsite in the park, here is a viable alternative.

It is Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort that is located east of the park's east entrance (from Mt. Carmel).

RV Life posted an article about Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort and it looks like a nice place to stay.

They wrote:

Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort is like a world of its own, spread out across 4,000+ acres bordering the eastern edge of Zion National Park. They offer a wide range of accommodations of all types, as well as countless activities on-site and in the surrounding area.

Where is Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort located?

The resort sits just minutes outside of the east entrance to Zion National Park. If you are driving in from the west, you will take the scenic Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway all the way through the park and through the Zion Mount Carmel tunnel (a mile-long tunnel built right into the sandstone cliffs) to reach the turnoff for the resort.

RVers will need to keep in mind there are size restrictions for the tunnel (40 feet max length – or 50 feet for those pulling trailers) and large vehicles are required to pay a $15 oversized vehicle fee. During the summer, the tunnel is closed to oversized vehicles, so those with big rigs may need to travel around the park from Hurricane to Kanab, UT, and then north towards the eastern entrance.

Those coming in from the east will find the resort just minutes from the park’s eastern entrance, about 5 miles off Utah State Route 9. Their unique location puts them within a day’s drive of not only Zion National Park, but also Bryce Canyon, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, and Las Vegas.

Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort offer's a Checkerboard Mesa overlook tour as well as Jeep tours. Also, for those with large RVs and who don't tow a dinghy vehicle, they offer shuttle services into the park.

They responded to my query about shuttle service:

We do offer shuttle services! Our shuttle drops off along the Scenic drive of the park instead of the visitors center.

To tour Zion National Park, visitors can take the park shuttle to all points of interest.

To read more, go here.

Dry and Warmer Week Ahead

Above, the week ahead will see none of this. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

This coming week will be dry and warmer, which is good news after all the snowy weather we've had during the past week. It appears that spring has finally sprung.

According to the National Weather Service the week's forecast for Jamestown, New Mexico:

Sunny, with a high near 60. South wind 5 to 10 mph becoming west in the afternoon.
Clear, with a low around 29. West wind 5 to 10 mph becoming south after midnight.
Sunny, with a high near 67. Southwest wind 5 to 10 mph increasing to 15 to 20 mph in the afternoon.
Monday Night
Mostly clear, with a low around 29. West wind 15 to 20 mph decreasing to 10 to 15 mph after midnight.
Sunny, with a high near 55. West wind 10 to 15 mph.
Tuesday Night
Clear, with a low around 20.
Sunny, with a high near 56.
Wednesday Night
Clear, with a low around 24.
Sunny, with a high near 67.
Thursday Night
Mostly clear, with a low around 32.
Mostly sunny, with a high near 69.
Friday Night
Mostly clear, with a low around 33.
Sunny, with a high near 70.


National Park Camping Reservations

Above, the site I reserved at North Pines Campground in Yosemite National Park. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The only time I've made reservations to camp at a national park campground was five years ago when I reserved a site at the North Pines Campground in Yosemite National Park.

I found out when the "window" for making reservations opened and set my alarm for that day just before the window opened. It worked out just great and I was able to choose the site I wanted (there was a handy map of all the campsites with site numbers).

I also camped at Joshua Tree National Park (Cottonwood Campground) and Lassen Volcanic National Park (Manzanita Lake Campground). I didn't make any reservations for either and took a chance in their first-come, first-served campgrounds.

RV Life has posted an article with 10 tips for making national park campground reservations. 

The begin it with:

Some of the best places to go camping are our nation’s national parks. These beautiful places offer a whole host of things to see and do. Best of all, most have campgrounds right on site. This means you won’t have to do a lot of driving back and forth between your lodging and the park. 

All that said, there are some things you should know before attempting to book national park camping reservations. Keeping the following ten tips in mind will help ensure you get a campsite that works well for you and your family.

 To read more, go here.

Will An "Immunity Passport" Allow Us To Travel?

Above, a COVID-19 vaccination card may make international travel easier. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Around about a month ago, I received my second shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. 

I had my vaccination card signed off without any instructions told to me. After reading an RV Travel article about "immunity passports", I find that if I want to travel, especially internationally, I'd better guard it and keep it handy while traveling. 

According to the article by Gail Marsh:

As the nurse handed me my COVID-19 vaccination card, she looked me in the eye and said, “This is a legal form of identification. Protect it as such.” Huh? I’d just received my second dose of Moderna’s COVID vaccine. As I walked back to my car, I examined the “proof of vaccine” card and couldn’t help but wonder about it. As a legal form of identification, the “immunity passport” must have intrinsic value. But how? So you must protect your card – from whom, and why?

An infectious disease specialist, Dr. Amesh Adalja, recently told ABC News: “What these little cards have the potential to do is to make something like international travel easier by avoiding requirements for quarantine or testing.” In other words, vaccinated folks may be able to resume at least some normal pre-COVID activities – if we can prove that we’ve been vaccinated. 

Here’s what I’ve learned about the “COVID Card” or “Immunity Passport”:

  • The “proof of vaccine” card has detailed information about the kind of vaccine you were given and when. If boosters are recommended in the future (possibly for variant virus strains), the card will help your health professional know if/when you need a booster shot. 

  • Be sure to tell your primary care physician that you’ve received a vaccine. S/he may want a copy of your “proof of immunization” for your health history file. 

  • You may need to provide proof of vaccination if you choose to travel (especially across international borders). In addition, you might need the “immunity passport” to get into large venues or gather in large groups (e.g., church, conferences, organized tours). 

  • The official CDC card is made from cardstock-type paper. However, it can easily fray, crease, and/or tear if kept in a wallet or purse. Some people recommend taking a cell phone photo of your vaccination card for easy access. Or you can use your printer to make a copy of the vaccination card to carry with you. Staples office supply stores will laminate your vaccination card for free until May 1!

The article suggests keeping the vaccination card where one keeps their Social Security card and U.S. Passport.

There's more information that the article provides.

To read it, go here

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Sashimi Dinner Tonight

Above, Zen Steak & Sushi, the only sushi restaurant in Gallup. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

For the first time in months, I had sashimi for dinner (good for us cardiac patients) at Zen Steak & Sushi in Gallup.

Since our county is at green level status on coronavirus, we are able to have some indoor restaurant dining (25% of occupancy). 

That all went fine except for the drive home. 

The highway department has closed one lane of two in each direction and this is causing massive traffic snarls at our exit on Interstate 40 (exit 39). Today, it was backed up all the way to Gallup. The only alternate route available now is on Route 66 from Gallup to the Iyanbito exit (that's one exit to the west from ours). Even Route 66 was backed up. It took me an hour to get home. 

The main problem with the traffic are the thousands of big rigs who use I-40. It would me nice if we had a frontage road from Iyanbito to the Flying J.

This is the third year in a row that construction on I-40 at our exit has been causing problems. 

At least the meal was good.

Pulled Out My Willys

Above, near the stacks of temporary highway barriers near the fire station. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

For the first time in over two weeks, I got my Willys Jeep out of the garage and drove it.

The weather is breezy, but at 45°. Not too bad.

I took it down to the Flying J twice so I could check my mailbox and then around the community. While out, I heard gunshots coming from the shooting area. This is the first time I've heard anyone shooting since all the snows we had discouraged that.

Above, the Jamestown community fire station in the background. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

It must be spring season as the prairie dogs are out and about across the street from the community fire station. There's a prairie dog colony there.

I will be heading into Gallup for dinner at Zen Steak & Sushi. I've been craving sushi for months. 

While in Gallup, I have to pick up a couple of items for tomorrow's dinner at Martin Link's. 

Life is good!

This Morning's Snow

Since I had to take the trash out a little while ago and was all bundled up for it, I took some pictures of this morning's snow.

It is already melting (it is about 33° outside) and will probably be mostly gone by noon. I didn't have to shovel the walkways as the snow already melted away from them.


Above, the view from the kitchen dining area. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, looking toward the GOCO Beast Barn. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, on the front porch. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, don't need tree flocking here. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, the front of the house. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Hawaii Gets Tourism Surge

Above, a view of the Honolulu/Waikiki coastline. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The pent-up demand for travel has taken hold and the state of Hawaii is seeing a surge in tourism numbers since restrictions have loosened up.

Actually, the numbers are more than what they expected.

Travel Weekly reported:

HONOLULU (AP) -- Tourists are traveling to Hawaii in larger numbers than officials anticipated, and many are wandering around Waikiki without masks, despite a statewide mandate to wear them in public.

Hawaii's "Safe Travels" program reported that about 28,000 people flew into and throughout the islands on Saturday, the highest number of travelers in a single day since the pandemic began, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Monday

Before the pandemic, Hawaii had about 30,000 arrivals daily. When quarantine rules were put in place early in the pandemic, arrivals plummeted and the state's tourism-dependent economy tanked.

In October, state officials launched a pre-travel testing program that allowed visitors to sidestep quarantine rules. But travel remained sluggish until the second week in March, when spring break tourists started arriving in the islands.

 To read more, go here.

Typical Democrat Scheme: Tax, Tax, Tax

Greta Van Susteren posted this on Twitter:

If you bought an electric car in part due to environmental concerns ...

Is this what you voted for? Oh yeah, that's right, it was election fraud. Nobody will ever convince me otherwise.

Some More Snow

Above, the back porch handrail and garage this morning. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

More snow fell in Jamestown, New Mexico last evening and overnight.

It looks like about an inch came down. It will likely be gone by noon today. This has been the pattern over the past few days. It would melt away and then more would fall. If this were a month or two ago, it would have lasted on the ground longer. At least the soil is getting a little saturated, which is what we need.

Things will be warming up here in the next few days, at least that's according to the National Weather Service. It wouldn't be so bad outside except for the chilling winds we've been getting.

The forecast:

Areas of freezing fog before 9am. Sunny, with a high near 49. North wind 5 to 10 mph increasing to 10 to 15 mph in the afternoon.
Clear, with a low around 23. North wind 10 to 15 mph becoming light and variable after midnight.
Sunny, with a high near 60. South wind around 5 mph becoming west in the afternoon.
Sunday Night
Clear, with a low around 27. West wind 5 to 10 mph becoming south in the evening.
Sunny, with a high near 62. Southwest wind 5 to 10 mph increasing to 15 to 20 mph in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 30 mph.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Review: "Godzilla vs. Kong" Reawakens The Franchise

We're five days away from the release of Godzilla vs. Kong (Legendary Pictures/Warner Bros.) to the U.S., provided that your state's governor allows movie theaters to open for business. Unfortunately, New Mexico is one that still has its theaters shuttered thanks to Gov. "Malevolent Michelle" Lujan Grisham. I will have to go to the nearest theater showing to me, in Show Low, Arizona.

But I digress.

ABC News (the Australia one, not the U.S. one) has posted a review of Godzilla vs. Kong. For those who are concerned, there's no spoilers to ruin your future screening. 

They start it with:

It's a rumble for the ages — or at least the last 60 years, ever since Japan's most famous radioactive reptile first squared off against Hollywood's 'Eighth Wonder of the World', the Empire State Building-scaling simian with a bad temper but a big heart.

Complete with an actor in a wonderfully ropey ape suit, Ishiro Honda's King Kong vs Godzilla (1962) jumpstarted Toho Studios' classic Shōwa era of kaiju (or: "monster") showdowns — films that drew as much on professional wrestling as they did the studio's original, dark vision of an apex predator born of man's atomic folly.

Curiously, these two titans would never face off again — until now.

Godzilla vs Kong, directed by American horror filmmaker Adam Wingard (The Guest; You're Next), is the third in Legendary Pictures' iteration of the franchise, which has stomped an uneasy path from sombre blockbuster spectacle (Gareth Edwards' 2014 Godzilla) to unsuccessfully tangling with the Japanese films' more outlandish monster-verse (2019's Godzilla: King of the Monsters).

Wingard's film follows both those movies and Legendary's Kong: Skull Island (2017), an agreeably pulpy smash-up that gestured toward the less tasteful, and more rewarding, terrain of B-movie mayhem.

And after what seems like an eternity away from big, noisy Hollywood cinema, the new film — with its widescreen cityscape destruction, stock characters, and splashes of neon — already feels like a throwback to another time at the cinema.

Above, a U.S. poster of the 59 year old King Kong vs. Godzilla.

To read the rest of the review, go here

Telluride, Colorado

Above, a view of Telluride, Colorado during my 1984 visit. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

We didn't make it to Telluride, Colorado during last year's trip to Durango, Silverton, Ridgway and Ouray, but I did manage to visit the town in 1984 with a couple of friends.

Condé Nast Traveler has an article on what Telluride, Colorado has to offer to visitors.

They start it with:

With its pristine snow and quirky mountain town vibe, it’s no secret that Telluride is a cold-weather paradise for downhill skiing and other winter adventures. But it’s when the temperatures start to climb that this historic mining community in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains really shines.

From beloved bluegrass and film festivals to vibrant wildflower hikes, Telluride comes alive in the spring and summer. The town is home to a robust art scene, yet its location, some 330 miles southwest of the hustle and bustle of Denver makes it the perfect place to recharge.

Here, you’ll find a mix of creatives, avid outdoorspeople, naturalists, successful retirees, celebrities (Oprah Winfrey is among those who reportedly own second homes here), and just about everyone in between. Despite its popularity, Telluride has (thankfully) also managed to hang onto its free-spirited character throughout the years and remains a favorite, down-to-Earth Colorado destination.

Here’s how to plan a weekend trip to Telluride—and what to do once you arrive.

To read more, go here

The Advantage of RVs

Above, The Beast at Lake Havasu's Crazy Horse Campgrounds. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

More and more people today are jumping into the "RV lifestyle" and seeing it as a safer way to travel during the pandemic.

There are many advantages to RV travel versus cruises and flying and The Press has an article listing them.

They begin with:

Individuals who are approaching retirement or those who already have said goodbye to the working world may find they are ready to make some life changes. Travel is something many older adults enjoy when they have much more free time to see the sights.

Recreational vehicles are great ways for people to get out and about. An RV is more than just a way to get around; for many people it becomes a lifestyle. According to the RV Industry Association, about 10 million American households own RVs.

There have been more RVs on the road in recent years, and there are now more facilities to accommodate them. RVIA says there are now roughly 18,000 campgrounds around the country, and certain facilities are pushing to improve and upgrade campgrounds in national parks and on federal lands.

Individuals considering if the RV lifestyle is for them can refer to this list of RVing benefits.

To read more, go here

Tokyo Imperial Hotel To Be Rebuilt

Above, the dinner party I hosted at the Imperial Hotel in 2015.

Reporter Steve Martin (Raymond Burr) stayed there in Godzilla, King of the Monsters! (1956) (talk about a "shameless plug") and it hosted celebrities like Albert Einstein and Marilyn Monroe, and I hosted a dinner party there in 2015 for friends from Toho Co., Ltd.

Now it has been announced that Tokyo's Imperial Hotel is going to be rebuilt.

The Japan Times reported:

Imperial Hotel Ltd. said Thursday that it will rebuild the Imperial Hotel Tokyo in the Japanese capital’s Chiyoda Ward by fiscal 2036, in anticipation of a tourist demand recovery after the coronavirus pandemic ends.

Imperial Hotel aims to boost its brand power through the replacement project. While the traditional upscale hotel has a global reputation, it is facing intense competition from foreign-brand luxury hotels and other venues.

The hotel was established in 1890. Its current Main Building, the third in its history, was opened in 1970, and the adjacent Tower Building in 1983.

The hotel will remain open during the rebuilding.

To read more, go here

Thursday, March 25, 2021

RV Shipments Continue To Soar

Above, two transported Class C RVs at the Flying J in Jamestown, New Mexico. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

2021 looks to be a record-setter for RV shipments.

February was the best-ever and there are no signs of any slowdowns. I see many RVs coming from Indiana with transporter license plates at the Flying J everyday.

RV Travel reported:

Shipments of RVs from manufacturers continue to soar, with a new all-time record set in February. The RV Industry Association’s February 2021 survey of manufacturers determined that total RV shipments ended the month with 48,286 units, an increase of 30.1% compared to the 37,113 units shipped during February 2020, making this the best February RV shipment total on comparable record.

“As people begin to think about their spring and summer vacations, RV trips continue to be the preferred way to travel for millions of Americans,” said RV Industry Association President & CEO Craig Kirby. “As evident in this month’s record shipment report, RV manufacturers and suppliers are committed to meeting the demand from new consumers as well as those looking to upgrade their existing RVs. According to the report, the industry remains on track to build more RVs in 2021 than in any previous year.”

To read more, go here

Errands, Etc.

Above, charging up the Jeep's battery. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Today was spent during the morning hours in Gallup doing some grocery shopping and getting a package mailed to Asya in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Above, a recent photo of
Asya she sent a week ago
A big screw-up occurred with a Christmas package I sent her in early December. Somehow, the package disappeared for a time and finally was returned to me yesterday. I went to the post office with the package in Gallup to see what caused the problem. They couldn't tell from the package. It might have originated from the Russia Post. 

Well, after doing my grocery shopping, I went to the Gallup UPS Store and had them re-send the package. It is estimated to arrive around April 2. The Gallup Post Office had no Customs forms, so I had the UPS Store take care of it. (I got a Customs form from a small post office at Lowe's Market, but it was unusable as it was not the current form.) Hopefully, it will arrive before her birthday in June.

After getting home, putting groceries away and picking up my mail, I went to the garage to fire up the Jeep. Unfortunately, the freezing temperatures got to its battery and I had to attach the battery charger to it. It had been over two weeks since I last started it up and drove it. This is the second time the temperatures got to the battery. The compartment is not well insulated. I'll have to put in some insulation in it.

The battery isn't that old, so it should be okay once it is charged up. 

So now I can kick back and relax for the rest of the day. It is currently about 39° outside and windy, too cold to be outside. And we all thought this is springtime.

UPDATE (1915 hrs.): After five hours of charging, the Jeep fired right up!

Foreign Olympics Fans Barred From Games and They Want Their Money Back

Above, the Tokyo Skytree and Asahi Beer Hall. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Before the pandemic hit, I had contemplated taking a trip to Japan last year. But the pandemic nixed all that.

Now, it has been announced that foreign Olympics fans are barred from attending the Olympics in Tokyo this summer and wondering when (or if) they will get their money back for events tickets purchased and, in some cases, travel expenses. Ouch!

The Salt Lake Tribune posted:

The announcement last week that international spectators would be barred from this summer’s Tokyo Olympics brought some closure to thousands of fans who had been wondering for months whether they would be traveling to Japan later this year.

Almost immediately, though, many of these newly jilted ticket holders began nursing a new headache: uncertainty about if they would get back the money they had prepaid for tickets and travel — more than $10,000, in some cases — and, if so, when exactly they would get it.

“At this point they’ve held our funds for two years already, and I’m concerned it’s going to take months more to get them back again,” said Monica Treece, an Olympic fan from Denver who started the process of buying her tickets for the Tokyo Games in the summer of 2019. “Everyone is still in the dark. We’re just waiting.”

Similar worries were expressed in Olympic circles long before Saturday, when Tokyo organizers announced the ban on foreign fans. The decision confirmed an outcome that many had expected as the pandemic plowed on around the world, but organizers offered no road map for fans eager to get their money back.

To read more, go here.


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