"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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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Back From The Post Office

Above, back from the post office. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

A little while ago, I headed down to the post office in the Flying J. There was no mail in my P.O. box but I did have a notice that a package arrived.

As soon as I saw the label, I knew right away what it was. It was a Christmas gift I ordered from Boot Barn (in case you didn't know, Boot Barn has other things besides boots).

My main concern at the moment I was handed the box was getting it home. I rode the mini-bike to the Flying J and have no rack on it.

I did manage to get a large bag with handles from Cinnabon to hang on the mini-bike's handle bar. That worked out fine. I'm still riding the mini-bike locally since the Mustang is still in the shop (should be ready by the end of the week) and the Jeep's brakes are out. I winterized The Beast and have it put away for the winter. I could use it in emergencies, but this wasn't an emergency.

Since the Mustang has been in the shop, the mini-bike has been getting plenty of use. Getting the bearings fixed on the mini-bike just before the Mustang's problems was rather timely.

U.S. Vacations In Cuba Still Come With Hangovers From Trump's Sanctions

Above, Mitch Geriminsky and yours truly after arriving at Havana Port in 2019.

What's the current state of American tourism to Cuba?

Well, despite promises made by Joe Biden during the 2020 campaign, nothing has changed. The restrictions on tourism travel to Cuba remain in place.

On November 11, Reuters posted:

HAVANA, Nov 11 (Reuters) - Cuba opens its borders next week signaling new opportunity for pandemic-weary travelers and the island's tourism industry, but for U.S. citizens getting there requires jumping through hoops like never before, according to the heads of eight U.S. tour agencies.

U.S. President Donald Trump ended cruise ship dockings, reduced flights to Havana and eliminated them altogether to the outlying provinces. His administration declared most hotels, bus and other Cuban tour services off limits because they were owned by the military, and made financial transactions more difficult in general, measures that remain in place under President Joe Biden.

"U.S. obstacles are the most significant in our more than 22 years of doing business in Cuba," said Michael Zuccato, head of Cuba Travel Services.

Tensions between Washington and Havana are on the rise ahead of protests planned by dissidents on the island for Nov. 15, the same day Cuba reopens its borders to international visitors. 

Above, the image of Che Guevara looms over the Plaza
 de la Revolución in Havana. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

I was lucky to take a cruise ship visit to Havana, Cuba just before the restrictions were imposed. 

To read more, go here

Cruise Ships Return To Key West

Above, the Majesty of the Seas after arriving in Key West in 2019. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

After 20 months, cruise ships have finally returned to Key West, Florida.

The Miami Herald reported:

Two cruise ships arrived in Key West over the weekend, ending a 20-month absence during the COVID-19 pandemic that brought the industry to a halt. 

The Crystal Serenity docked Saturday morning at the privately owned Pier B at the Opal Key West Resort and Marina. The smaller Azamara Quest arrived at the nearby Mallory Pier, which is owned by the city. 

The return marked a milestone in Key West, where the relationship between cruise ships and locals is complicated.

Voters last year approved three referendums to restrict ships by size and capacity. That vote, however, was canceled by legislation signed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in June.

Above, yours truly enjoying a margarita in Key West in 2019.

I'm sure that the majority of the locals like having their cash registers filled with passengers' cash again despite the malcontents.

To read more, go here.

T + L: Amtrak Safety Net For A Senior Traveler

Above, inside a Los Angeles-bound Amtrak car. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Over the years, I've been on many trains. 

From the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad to Japanese commuter and bullet trains (Shinkansens) to Amtrak trains. 

My first and only times on Amtrak trains came last year from Gallup, New Mexico to Riverside, California (and back). I found the experience enjoyable, even though the car I tried to exit from didn't open its doors and I had to go to Union Station in Los Angeles and catch a train back to Riverside. But I received great assistance from the conductor. I actually enjoyed the "detour". I got to see the inside of Union Station for the first time.

Above, the Amtrak train arriving at Gallup Station. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

One retired traveler found that Amtrak trains offers sanctuary from being cooped up at home during the pandemic and Travel + Leisure has an article on her travels.

A snippet from the article:

When the pandemic hit Covington, Kentucky, Rita Carol Brooks believed she was going to die. She was 74 years old. She had already struggled with her health over the years. And she was losing her will to live.

Brooks, who used to work with children with disabilities, had been living in near total isolation for almost eight months when she made the decision to leave town. It seemed the only way to survive.

"I knew I was taking a risk, but at that point, it didn't matter," Brooks said. "I didn't want to be the person I was becoming."

Even before the pandemic, she could feel that she was slipping deeper into herself. She had recently lost all her teeth, and her high school anxieties about her cleft palate were returning. She didn't want to be seen in public, didn't want to eat around others, didn't want to talk to others. Her family had all passed away. She was becoming a recluse.

On the verge of touching a darkness she hoped she would never reach, Brooks bought an eight-day train ticket across the country. Years before, just after graduating college, she had taken a train to see the Grand Canyon. That memory felt like a lifeline — a feeling of possibility she wanted to claw back.

She wasn't the only one who used the rails as a safety net. Other older adults who struggled with isolation and loneliness during the pandemic have turned to long distance rail travel as a way to reconnect with the world. Whereas planes and airports might seem to still present a risk of COVID-19 transmission, trains feel like a viable alternative.


Above, the lobby of Union Station in Los Angeles. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

To read more, go here.

T + L: Best Senior Travel Groups

The primary age group of seniors are comprised of the baby boomer generation. There are still some of World War II generation left, but they are fast dwindling in numbers.

For those active seniors who want travel the country and/or the world, there are a number of senior travel groups available to accommodate them.

Travel + Leisure has posted an article on 14 senior-oriented travel groups.

They begin with:

The benefits of travel, whether it's a refreshing weekend getaway or a month-long trip to a new destination, are undeniable. And for retirees or seniors who have time and a travel budget, the opportunities are nearly endless. The world and even their own city, state, or country are waiting to be explored.

It should be recognized that seniors are as diverse as any other generation, perhaps even more so as their years of experience, careers, ages, hometowns, and beliefs have taken them in many directions. Their interests, abilities, values, and habits may be different, but it can safely be said that for many, travel is in their plans. 

Seniors travel to visit family, learn about the countries of their ancestors, or explore new destinations. Many seek immersive experiences, educational opportunities, or adventure. And travel companies are responding to their needs and wishes with tours, from independent to guided options, budget to luxury, and group to individual. 

The 14 organizations listed here are either aimed specifically at mature clients or offer experiences that are flexible enough to accommodate a range of travelers.

To read more, go here

Monday, November 29, 2021

Got Stuff Done

Above, The Beast in the GOCO Beast Barn and plugged in. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Today, I got everything done that I needed to do.

First, I headed to the post office down at the Flying J to pick up my mail.

After that, I prepped The Beast for its winter storage by emptying the hot water heater and any remaining water in the water tank. Then, I put some anti-freeze into the drains to make sure any water in the lines and traps doesn't freeze during freezing temperatures.

Above, the mini-bike's noise didn't bother the neighbor's bull
 when I rode in Barking Spider Acre. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

After that was done, I put The Beast into the GOCO Beast Barn and plugged into the power supply.

Later, I fired up the Jeep to keep the battery charged. I am waiting for the Mustang to be repaired for its starting issues. Once that's done, I'll have the Jeep brought in to get the brakes fixed.

When I finished with starting the Jeep, I rode around on the mini-bike. 

Levi Strauss Provides ‘Racial Trauma’ Help

The Looney Left Report

Snowflakes of the Left are apparently having a hard time dealing with the fact that Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted of all charges in the shooting deaths of two rioters and the wounding of another in Wisconsin last year.

First, it was California State University, Long Beach who held a "debriefing" for all students and faculty on the Rittenhouse verdict, ruling that he acted in self-defense.

From the Daily Wire:

California State University Long Beach (CSULB) provided students and faculty the option to attend a “debriefing” of the verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial. The “debriefing” noted that “Counseling and Psychological Services staff will be present” at the event.

To read more, go here.

I was a member of the CSULB Alumni Association (I graduated from there in 1979), but I dropped them years ago over their postings of a (2016) post-election protest and the dropping of the Prospector mascot due to political correctness.

Now, it is Levi Strauss who is providing "racial trauma" help to its employees. 

According to the Daily Wire:

After Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted, Levi Strauss tapped a “racial trauma specialist” to counsel employees.

During a riot last year in Kenosha, Wisconsin, then-17-year-old Rittenhouse — acting in self-defense — killed two men and injured a third. Earlier this month, Rittenhouse was cleared of all charges.

Nevertheless, the iconic clothing company took pains to address employees’ “pain and trauma.”

“With the news that Kyle Rittenhouse was not convicted in the shooting of three individuals — two of whom lost their lives — during racial justice protests last year, this is a difficult day for many,” wrote Levi Strauss chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer Elizabeth Morrison in a letter to staff obtained by the Daily Mail.

“To help promote safety, sharing and to encourage healing, I’ll be hosting a fireside chat and Q&A with Dr. Jamila Codrington, a licensed psychologist and racial trauma specialist in early December,” she continued. “Dr. J and I will talk about the mental and psychical impacts of back-to-back social and racial justice events and trauma coping mechanisms during our discussion.”

The article also noted that Codrington holds "staunch left-wing views."

Jamila Codrington is a New York-licensed psychologist who has appeared on various panels, claiming that “black people have been duped into thinking we do not matter.”

Codrington appeared on the Karen Hunter radio show in January for a discussion about how “we must decolonize our minds.”

“One of the main weapons of colonialism and white supremacy was to destroy our memory and to separate us from our wealth – our cultural wealth,” she said.

Never mind the fact that those involved in the Rittenhouse case were all white. 

I am glad that I ceased purchasing Levi Strauss products years ago over their support of left-wing causes, including gun control. I now only purchase Wrangler products. Many others have done the same. Screw 'em!

Dry With Cold Nights This Week

Above, the front yard early last week. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

It will be a dry week in New Mexico this week. 

There is no precipitation forecast this week, so that the little bit we got early Wednesday will have to suffice for now. 

Today will reach 60° and the rest of week will be in the upper 50s and lower 50s. It will be good flying weather at the Red Rock Balloon Rally this coming weekend. 

According to the National Weather Service, the week will be shaping up like this:

Sunny, with a high near 60. Calm wind becoming northwest around 5 mph in the afternoon.
Clear, with a low around 28. Southwest wind around 5 mph becoming calm.
Sunny, with a high near 57. Light and variable wind becoming north 5 to 10 mph in the morning.
Tuesday Night
Clear, with a low around 28. Northeast wind around 5 mph becoming calm.
Sunny, with a high near 58. Calm wind becoming north around 5 mph in the afternoon.
Wednesday Night
Mostly clear, with a low around 29.
Sunny, with a high near 56.
Thursday Night
Mostly clear, with a low around 31.
Sunny, with a high near 55.
Friday Night
Mostly clear, with a low around 29.
Sunny, with a high near 54.
Saturday Night
Mostly clear, with a low around 28.
Sunny, with a high near 53.

The Red Rock Balloon Rally Starts Friday

Above, the launch area in 2019. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The annual Red Rock Balloon Rally at Red Rock Park near Gallup starts Friday at 7:30 AM.

Weather permitting, about 150 hot-air balloons will ascend from the park. 

I went twice. The 2018 one was a wash-out due to a snowstorm that came into the area, but the next one (2019) went off perfectly, despite temperatures that were down into the 20s.

The balloon rally goes through Sunday.

Winter RV Camping Myths

Above, I lived in my motorhome for 12 days during the winter of 2018. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Yesterday, I started the process of winterizing The Beast when I added anti-freeze to the holding tanks and down the drains so that the trap would not freeze up. I emptied the holding tanks before leaving Lake Havasu, Arizona.

It appears that my camping year has ended with my Thanksgiving trip to Lake Havasu. But others may prefer to keep on camping, even in winter.

Do It Yourself RV has an article on 5 misconceptions about winter camping.

They start it with:

Many assume winter RV camping isn’t an option for them or their RV. Following the routine of others, they just winterize the RV and put it in storage mode until spring. However, it doesn’t have to be that way, as most any rig can still be used for winter RV camping.

RV camping over the winter is not only possible, but can be enjoyable even in the freezing cold weather. Here are 5 common misconceptions about RV winter camping.

I've done winter camping, but I have to admit that it is not exactly my cup of tea. 

To read more, go here

Japan Suspending Entry of Overseas Travelers

Above, the International Arrival Lobby of Narita Airport during normal times. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Just when we see the light at the end of the coronavirus-related restrictions tunnel, the light gets shot out when a new variant strain of the virus appears.

Japan has suspended entries of overseas visitors due to the Omicron Variant originating from South Africa.

First, it was the Delta Variant, and now it's the Omicron Variant.

According to Nikkei Asia:

TOKYO -- The Japanese government will suspend all new entries into the country by foreign nationals, citing the emergence of the omicron variant of COVID-19. It had lifted its entry ban earlier this month for foreign business travelers and students, but has reversed course in hopes of preventing another wave of infections.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters on Monday that the government is dealing with the threat of the omicron variant "with a strong sense of crisis."

As an emergency precautionary measure, Japan will ban all foreigners from entering the country, starting from Tuesday. Japanese nationals returning to Japan from South Africa and other countries where infection has been detected will be placed in strict quarantine at designated facilities, depending on the risk. The temporary measure is meant as a precaution until more information on the omicron strain becomes available.

To read more, go here.

Gallup's Coal Avenue: Then & Now

The El Rancho Hotel's Facebook page posted the following images originally posted by Avi Wolf:

According to Wolf:

Route 66 Truck (now just Coal Ave) in Gallup NM facing East, then (from a late 50's/ early 60's postcard) and now (from Google Maps).

The Chief Theater at left (now gone) was once owned by R.E. Griffith, brother of the famed Hollywood director D.W. Griffith.

Downtown Gallup looked like a thriving town back then with colorful business signs along the boulevard. Today, it looks drab with the signs gone.  

Above, the main lobby of the El Rancho Hotel. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Along with the aforementioned Chief Theater, R. E. Griffith built the El Rancho Hotel in Gallup in 1936 that opened in 1937 as a base for Hollywood movie productions. The El Rancho is open today and visitors to Gallup should stop in and take a look at their collection of movie star photographs on the second floor of the hotel's lobby.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Thanksgiving and Lake Havasu

 A little bit ago, I uploaded the Thanksgiving Day pictures I took with my Canon Rebel camera.

Here's some of them:

Above, Mitch and Mandy.

Above, choppy wind-blown waters of Lake Havasu.

Above, a home a block away from Mitch's. I want one of these dinos for Barking Spider Acre.

Above, carving the turkey.

Above, Mitch and his grandkids.

Above, is Holly napping while Mitch carves the turkey?

Above, the casino shuttle on the now-calm waters.

Above, a pleasure craft on Lake Havasu. 

Above, Lake Havasu City from Crazy Horse Campgrounds. 

Above, The Beast at Lake Havasu Campgrounds.

Above, the shoreline row looking west. 

Above, the shoreline row looking east.

Record RV Manufacturing and What It Means For The Future

Above, The Beast at Crazy Horse Campground Thanksgiving week. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The RV industry is currently in a boom.

 RV Travel has posted an article on record shipments of RVs to dealers. But there's one problem.

To see that it is and what it means for RVing in the future, they start with:

The news out of the RV industry continues to be a bit, well, confusing.

The RV Industry Association announced last week that 2021 would be the year RV manufacturers set an all-time record for factory shipments to dealers and RVers around the country.

RV makers managed to crank out another 57,971 units in October, an increase of 22.5 percent compared to October 2022 [I think they meant 2020. - A]. This October also set an all-time one-month record for shipments by more than 18 percent.

October’s performance already makes 2021 the best year ever for factory shipments, and there are still two months to go.

So, all is right again in the world of RVing, right? Hardly. While the RV Industry Association touts the numbers – and they are quite impressive – they don’t mention in their press releases that all of those RVs going out the factory doors are already spoken for and aren’t available to anyone who hasn’t already plunked down their deposit money.

To read more, go here

Taking A Break At Knife City

Above, Knife City, situated next to Interstate 40 in Sun Valley, Arizona. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Yesterday afternoon, I returned home from Lake Havasu. It was a 420-mile drive on Interstate 40. Fortunately, it was smooth driving and I saw no accidents along the way.

However, after going through Winslow and Holbrook, Arizona, I was feeling a bir drowsy. I decided to stop and take a break. 

Although I have passed it many times, I have never stopped in at Knife City in Sun Valley, Arizona. Whenever I see it, it reminds me of the 1989 joke video on Spatula City. I stopped there and wandered around the store. There were about 15-20 people inside, also browsing.

Above, inside Knife City. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The place is huge with all varieties of knives, swords, hatchets, spears, kitchenware and even petrified wood. All manufacturers were well represented. Even though they have a huge inventory, I thought they were a little pricey, roughly $40 and up. They also can do knife sharpening for people. If someone were looking for a specific knife by a specific manufacturer, this would be the place to go to.

After browsing around for about a half hour, I got back into the RV and headed home. I was worn out and went to bed early, which made me wake up early. This is why I am blogging at 4:20 in the morning.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

RV Travel: How The Omicron Variant May Affect RVers

Above, The Beast at Crazy Horse Campground in Lake Havasu. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

It's panic stations time. At least that's likely the case with the media and politicians who "would not want a good crisis go to waste" to impose restrictions on everybody. This is based on their past behavior.

The new corona variant, Omicron, originating in South Africa, is "worrying" scientists.  

It may have a positive impact on the RV industry, though.

According to Chuck Woodbury in RV Travel:

Just when we think we’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel of the pandemic, we may instead be seeing the headlight of an approaching freight train. 

Did you read the news yesterday (Friday) that a new coronavirus variant, dubbed Omicron, has been discovered in South Africa, and is already spreading? It’s been detected in Hong Kong and Belgium, and it won’t stop there. The variant has about double the amount of mutations as the Delta variant, and may even be resistant to current vaccines. Most health experts are worried.

I believe we will soon see new travel restrictions to and from counties around the world. It’s already started. Anyone in the international travel business must be terribly disheartened, their hopes dashed of a return to normalcy.

So what does this mean for you and me?

It means the explosive popularity of RVing is not about to end soon, with another projected 600,000 new RVs to hit the market in 2022. RVing has been, and still is, the safest way to travel. Last month, RV manufacturers set an all-time record with 57,971 shipments. I’ll take a very wild guess and say that in the same month only a thousand new campsites were added (if that).

It’s about to get even more crowded out there in Camperland…

To read more, go here

Friday, November 26, 2021

Lake Havasu Golf Club

Above, Mitch and his new golf cart. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

This morning was spent Christmas shopping with Mitch Geriminsky and his wife Holly. This was the first time I've ever been to department stores on Black Friday.

At first, it wasn't too crowded, then it became very crowded.

Above and below, driving through the fairways. Photos by Armand Vaquer.

That afternoon, Mitch and I took a drive in his new golf cart around Lake Havasu City and then finishing off the drive at the Lake Havasu Golf Club. The golf club is part of the community that Mitch and Holly moved to (allegedly designed by Disney) with golf-related street names (streets named after Arnold Palmer and Sam Snead, for example). It is interesting that Mitch has a golf cart, since he's never played golf in his life. But it is a handy vehicle to drive around the community in as well as in Lake Havasu City. 

Above, the Lake Havasu Golf Club cafe. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

We drove around the course and wound up at the clubhouse's cafe for coffee. It was a nice place. It reminded me of the El Segundo Golf Course and Lakeside Golf Club in Toluca Lake, where I used to work before retiring.

Above and below, inside the cafe at the golf club.

They had good coffee at the cafe and it was only $2.00 each. Not bad! 

The golf club's cafe had nice views of Lake Havasu. If I lived in Mitch's community, the Lake Havasu Golf Club would be a good hangout and for coffee. It has been years since I last golfed, but I could easily get back into it if I lived there.

When Mitch took me back to the RV park, we drove on the London Bridge, which had its Christmas lights on.

Above, driving across the London Bridge. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The Time Is Now...To Book National Park Reservations

Above, The Beast at the Grand Canyon's Trailer Village. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

As the following article states, RVing is at an all-time high. That means that getting a campsite in a national park will be more difficult.

That's why TravelAwaits says now's the time to make reservations.

They wrote:

Reservations are available for many parts of a park visit — from getting an entrance time into a park to getting a campsite to being part of a guided tour.

To make your trip a success, you need to know what parts of your visit need reservations, how to make them, how early you need to make them, and what your alternatives are if reservations are no longer available for what you want to do.

To make things a bit more complicated, every park is somewhat different in terms of what can be reserved and when — but the information isn’t hard to sort out if you know where to look.

And while most parks are still able to accommodate visitors without reservations, the most popular places in the most popular parks book up early, and mid-December is a critical time for booking in early summer. While you’re at it, don’t forget to plan ahead and book your RV early as well. RVing popularity is still at an all-time high and it may be difficult to find a suitable rental if you wait until the last minute.

To read more, go here

The Lake Winds Are Gone

Finally, the winds that were blowing through Lake Havasu are gone.

I stepped outside to turn up the water faucet so I can take a shower and noticed that the lake was totally calm. So it appears that the high winds have left the area and people can enjoy the lake today.

Above, today's normally calm lake. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

It looks like it will be a nice day today at 72° and 7 to 10 mph breezes, according to the National Weather Service.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Still Windy In Havasu

 The Lake Winds are still blowing in Lake Havasu.

Nobody is allowed on the lake as it is too dangerous due to the rough waters.

Some photos:

Above, the lake is too choppy to use.

Above, The Beast.

Above, outside braving the winds.

Above, Sierra enjoying Lake Havasu.

Above, Mitch and his Slingshot.

Above, ah, beer.

Support For More Gun Control Drops

This really isn't all that much of a surprise, given that the Democrats have been trying to defund/disband police departments, hamstringing police and allowing rioters to destroy businesses and cause injuries over the past couple of years. Naturally, people will buy guns to defend themselves as a result.

RealClear Politics posted:

According to a new Gallup poll, support for stricter gun control has fallen by 15 percentage points in just the last five years. But, despite the drop being driven by independents’ changing views, Democrats aren’t likely to rethink their support for more gun control. The partisan divide on this issue has never been so large — 91% of Democrats and only 24% of Republicans support stricter laws.

While Democrats claim they want “reasonable” or “common sense” laws, you get an idea of how stark the partisan differences are by considering the response to Gallup’s question about whether people support a complete ban on civilian ownership of handguns: 40% of Democrats like the idea compared to only 6% of Republicans.

The recent election results in Virginia and New Jersey show Democrats are in real trouble with rural, working-class voters. Some pundits put part of the blame on the party’s constant push for gun control.

To read more, go here

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