"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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Saturday, May 28, 2022

Native American Dances Moved To Gallup Cultural Center Infuriating Many

Above, a Zuni Pueblo dancer at the Courthouse Plaza in 2019. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

When I read that Native American dances will be held three nights a week at the Gallup Cultural Center (which houses the Amtrak station), I thought it was something else and not the traditional nightly Native American dances at the Courthouse Plaza that ran from Memorial Day to Labor Day annually.

It is not.

According to the Gallup Sun:

Nightly Native dances have been a part of Gallup’s summer tradition for years, but like many longstanding events returning from a pandemic hiatus, changes are in the works.

As part of the Gallup Cultural Center’s city-sponsored refresh, the formerly Nightly Indian Dances will return for three nights a week at a new arena under construction there.

That’s not good news for restaurant owner James Rich, who’s unhappy that the dances will leave Courthouse Plaza. For years he’s kept Camille’s Sidewalk Café open in the evenings to serve patrons who come to the plaza to watch the dances.

It’s not just that the dances are moving, he said, but that business owners around the plaza were not consulted before the change was announced to the City Council April 12.

“The lack of inclusion has led us to feel a little disappointed with the decisions that are being made with the nightly dance program,” he said. “Without the opportunity to be in that conversation to relocate it, just unilaterally make a decision to relocate it, we learned that tonight. It was a huge mistake.“

He found sympathetic ears in Gallup City Councilors Fran Palochak and Linda Garcia.

“I was very sad to see the dances were moving from courthouse plaza because it’s such a beautiful venue. It’s round and has seating,” Palochak said. “The plaza was built for this purpose… I just don’t want to see that side die to promote another side of town. The goal and focus is to make downtown vibrant. If there’s too much separation that’s not going to happen.”

Garcia agreed.

“I was also sad [...] to hear we’re not using courthouse square for dances,” she said. “It always drew the people. It was crowded and the tourists just loved it.”

The plaza will still have entertainment.

In addition to concerns about their own business operations, Rich noted that the dances moved to the plaza partly out of concerns over safety and disruptive train noise at the Cultural Center, which is in the renovated Santa Fe Depot. The arena under construction now may not even be suitable for dances, he told the City Council.

“It’s on concrete. It’s supposed to be on dirt. Some of the dancers may object to that,” he said. “There is no keyhole to enter that dance arena. Some of the ladies with the long dresses will have a challenge stepping over that wall.”

"What we have here was a failure to communicate" or, "a lack of communication."

Above, the Gallup Cultural Center in 2019. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

It is my suggestion to bring the dances back to the Courthouse Plaza three nights a week and hold them at the Cultural Center two nights a week since taxpayer funds were used to build the new arena there as a compromise.

To read the full article, go here.

Lyin' Joe Does It Again At The Naval Academy


His Fraudulency Joe Biden has a decades-long history of telling whoppers, so you really can't chalk up the latest to senility.

From the New York Post:

President Biden told graduating midshipmen at the Naval Academy Friday that he applied to the school in 1965 — but a quick check of his biography shows problems with the story.

Biden said he applied to Annapolis with a letter from then-Delaware Sen. J. Caleb Boggs, but the year he cited — 1965 — is the same year he graduated from the University of Delaware. The academy doesn’t offer graduate degrees.

“I was told the Class of ’72 is here. I was appointed to the academy in 1965 by a senator who I was running against in 1972 — never planned it that way. I wasn’t old enough to be sworn in. I was only 29 years old when I was running,” Biden said.

Biden is such a compulsive liar that one cannot believe anything he says.

To read more, go here

America's 10 Most-Visited National Parks

Above, Grand Canyon National Park saw 4.5 million visitors in 2021. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Yellowstone National Park is celebrating its 150th year as a national park this year. It was the first national park established in the United States.

Since then, we have added 62 more national parks in the the national park system administered by the National Park Service.

Not all of them are heavily visited. The Points Guy listed the most-visited national parks in the U.S. last year.

They begin with:

In the last few years, while travel came to a standstill everywhere else in the wake of the pandemic, America’s national parks got an unexpected boost. Wary of crowded airports and other forms of transportation, families and individuals alike hopped in their cars and journeyed to these beautiful outdoor spaces for their annual vacations instead.

The fresh air, scenic views and wide-open spaces seemed just the place to de-stress and unplug from the world for a while. However, the increase in popularity has in many cases led to a need for more advance planning than in the past, with hotels and campsites filling up and advance reservations becoming a requirement, sometimes even for hikes.

Here are the 10 most-visited national parks last year according to the National Park Service, and why you too should explore the beauty that can be found in our own backyard.

To see what they are, go here

New Batch of Kittens

DK (or Dee Kay) had a new litter of kittens.

Prior to yesterday, they were across the street in, I presume, in a derelict car. 

Yesterday, I saw DK carrying one grey kitten over to my place to under the deck. Later, I saw her leading a black kitten over.

This morning, two black kittens and a yellow one were at the food dish. So, so far, I am aware of four kittens (there could be more) who have taken up residence under the deck.

I took some quick photos:







Hawaii Responsible Traveling Multimedia Campaign

Above, a crescent moon over the Big Island. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority has rolled out a multimedia campaign to encourage responsible travel to the islands.

According to Hawaii Public Radio:

The Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority is rolling out an extensive multimedia campaign to educate travelers coming to the islands.

The initiative is part of the HTA’s effort to improve tourism management throughout the state.

The campaign includes educational videos and safety messages that will be shown online, on airlines, at local airports and in hotels.

HTA Chief Brand Officer Kalani Kaʻanāʻanā says the overall theme of the messages is Mālama Hawaiʻi, encouraging good stewardship and responsible behavior.

The above article includes a video titled, "Hawai'i Is Our Home".

To read more and see the video, go here

More Rain (Maybe) Later In The Week

Above, after a drive to the Flying J yesterday. Photo by Armand Vaquer.


It will be dry and windy in the Four Corners region this coming week.

We will be under Red Flag Warnings due to winds, dry conditions and fire danger. But, there's a glimmer of hope towards the end of the week.

In Jamestown, New Mexico, the National Weather Service gives a 20% chance of precipitation (showers and thunderstorms). That percentage could rise or even disappear altogether. We're about to enter the annual monsoon season. 

Here's the week's forecast:

 Today

Mostly sunny, with a high near 84. Windy, with a southwest wind 5 to 15 mph increasing to 20 to 30 mph in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 40 mph.
Tonight
Mostly clear, with a low around 49. Windy, with a southwest wind 25 to 30 mph decreasing to 15 to 20 mph after midnight. Winds could gust as high as 40 mph.
Sunday
Areas of blowing dust after noon. Sunny, with a high near 76. Windy, with a southwest wind 15 to 20 mph increasing to 25 to 30 mph in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 40 mph.
Sunday Night
Mostly clear, with a low around 43. Windy, with a west wind 25 to 30 mph decreasing to 15 to 20 mph after midnight. Winds could gust as high as 40 mph.
Memorial Day
Sunny, with a high near 71. Breezy, with a west wind 15 to 20 mph increasing to 20 to 25 mph in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 35 mph.
Monday Night
Mostly clear, with a low around 40. Breezy.
Tuesday
Sunny, with a high near 77.
Tuesday Night
Clear, with a low around 46.
Wednesday
Sunny, with a high near 81.
Wednesday Night
Mostly clear, with a low around 49.
Thursday
A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly sunny, with a high near 85.
Thursday Night
Partly cloudy, with a low around 53.
Friday
A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 83.

Summer's "Sticker Shock" of Travel Prices

Above, Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. Photo by Armand Vaquer.


Earlier this year, I bought airline tickets for my ex-roommate for her visit here in July and for myself for a trip to Los Angeles for my high school's 50-year reunion in September.

The prices were reasonable for the round trips (around $300). It pays to buy as early as you can.

It looks like I bought them in the nick of time as airline prices, along with everything else, have soared.

The Santa Fe New Mexican posted an article that warns people to prepare for summer "sticker shock."

They begin with:

DALLAS — Airlines and tourist destinations are expecting monster crowds this summer as travel restrictions ease and pandemic fatigue overcomes lingering fear of contracting COVID-19 during travel.

Many forecasters believe the number of travelers will match or even exceed levels in the good-old, pre-pandemic days. However, airlines have thousands fewer employees than they did in 2019, and that has at times contributed to widespread flight cancellations.

People who are only now booking travel for the summer are experiencing the sticker shock.

Domestic airline fares for summer are averaging more than $400 a round trip, 24 percent higher than this time in 2019, before the pandemic, and a whopping 45 percent higher than a year ago, according to travel-data firm Hopper. “The time to have gotten cheap summer flights was probably three or four months ago,” says Scott Keyes, who runs the Scott’s Cheap Flights site.

To read more, go here

RV Travel: Preparing For An Extended Trip

Above, at the Superman statue in Metropolis, Illinois.

The longest RV road trip I've ever taken was six years ago when I took a three-week trip to Metropolis, Illinois for actress Noel Neill's celebration of life services.

During that trip, I also visited: Memphis, Tennessee; Springfield, Illinois; Topeka, Kansas; Abilene, Kansas; Monument Valley and Grand Canyon National Park.

RV Travel posted an article on preparing for extended RV trips. How extended? Over six months.

It begins it with:

Getting ready to hit the road for an extended period, say anything more than a few weeks, takes different planning and preparation than a simple weekend camping trip.

After living much of my life on the road, this usually annual preparation to leave the comforts of home behind has become second nature. But if you’re new to RV full-timing (or most-timing) there are a lot of moving parts to keep track of.

Some tasks you can do well in advance. Others need to be dealt with at the last minute.

As I am currently planning to start wandering for the next six months or so, I thought I would share my process.

I keep a running to-do list and packing list that I start a month or more before leaving.

This master list, which you should add to anytime you think of something, will keep you organized and make sure you don’t forget anything important.

To read more, go here

Friday, May 27, 2022

The View Flies Off the Handle Over 2nd Amendment


As surely as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, whenever a tragedy like the Uvalde, Texas shooting happens, Democrats are fast to go on the attack against Republicans and the Second Amendment.

It has happened again, this time it was the wackos on The View

The Patriot Journal reported:

Whenever something horrible happens in America, Democrats show their true colors. Before anyone can even grieve, they start pushing the politics.

It was no different after the terrible events in Uvalde, TX. Perhaps the worst takes have come from the empty-headed hosts of The View. They took “making a tragedy political” to the next level.

From Fox News:

In the aftermath of the Uvalde, Texas school shooting, MSNBC and ABC’s “The View” used the tragedy to tear into Republicans and propose drastic gun reform measures, some of which included outright removing guns from civilian hands…

In the same segment, [Whoopi] Goldberg became agitated, threatening physical violence if Republicans continued to express empathy for the victims of the Texas shooting.

“I swear to god if I see another Republican senator talk about their heart being broken, I’ma go punch somebody,” Goldberg said.

“I can’t take it, and their thoughts and prayers. If your thoughts and prayers were really with everybody you’d have done something by now,” Goldberg added.

You read that right. Left-wing host of The View, former actress Whoopi Goldberg, said she was angered over the fact that Republicans “empathized” with victims.

Really, Whoopi? You’re upset that Republicans want to express kindness and compassion after a tragic event?

Key Takeaways:

  • The View expressed anger at Republicans who empathized with Uvalde victims 

  • Whoopi Goldberg threatened violence against people who expressed sorrow over the event. 

  • Democrats have exploited the shooting to push a radical political agenda.

 

To read more, go here

My thoughts and prayers are with those on The View so that they can get over their mental illnesses.

New Mexico Governor's Mansion Used State Funds For Party


There she goes again.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's campaign had to reimburse the state for a political event held last year in the Governor's Mansion in Santa Fe.

According to the Santa Fe New Mexican:

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office tapped into a taxpayer-funded expense account to pay for a political event at the governor’s mansion in October, prompting her reelection campaign to quietly reimburse the state two months later.

Documents obtained under a public records request show New Mexicans for Michelle, the governor’s campaign committee, issued the state a $1,837 check in December to pay for expenses stemming from a Democratic Governors Association party hosted by Lujan Grisham in Santa Fe.

At the time, Lujan Grisham was serving as chairwoman of the association, a Washington, D.C.-based political organization dedicated to electing Democratic governors and other candidates.

Lujan Grisham’s contingency fund spending has been a source of controversy in the past, and it’s given the governor’s critics, particularly Republicans hoping to win back control of the Governor’s Office in November, ammunition to use against her as she runs for a second term.

To read more, go here

RV Life: Will there Be Major Fuel Shortages This Summer?

Above, the good ol' days of gas prices six years ago. Photo by Armand Vaquer. 

It's a good thing that I didn't make any RV park/campground reservations or purchase tickets to any attractions in the eastern part of Wyoming or in the Black Hills of South Dakota for a summer vacation trip. 

Those tentative plans fell by the wayside when gas prices began to skyrocket into the stratosphere.

RV Life asks this question: "Will there Be Major Fuel Shortages This Summer?" in a new article.

They begin with:

By now, RV owners are well aware of the massive spikes in fuel costs over the past 6 months. Whether your rig runs on diesel or gas, prices at the pump have been shocking to say the least.

According to AAA gas prices on May 22, the national average price for gasoline is $4.59/gallon, while the average cost of diesel is $5.56/gallon. A year ago, the average price of gas was $3.04/gallon, and diesel was $3.18/gallon. RVers need to fasten their seatbelts and hold onto their hats because low supplies and high demand is going to push prices up even more over summer. 

Doesn't that sound just swell? 

To read further, go here.

Hawaii Sees Accelerated Tourism Recovery

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

Some numbers are in with regard to Hawaii's tourism recovery.

It appears that the recovery is accelerating as weeks go on after reopening to tourists according to TravelPulse.

TravelPulse begins with:

Hawaii's post-pandemic recovery was accelerated this spring as the islands hosted 818,268 visitors in April. The figure represents a 96.3 percent recovery from April 2019 nearly one year prior to the onset of the COVID-19 crisis and the highest recovery rate since the start of the pandemic in Hawaii.

According to other preliminary visitor statistics released by the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) on Thursday, visitors spent $1.6 billion in the islands last month, which is an increase of 21 percent compared to the $1.32 billion reported for April 2019.

A majority of Hawaii's April visitors arrived by air from the U.S. West (514,878) or the U.S. East (188,868).

To read more, go here

Thursday, May 26, 2022

El Rancho Hotel's Player Piano

Above, the player piano in the El Rancho's lobby. Photo by Armand Vaquer.


Yesterday, I had to take friend Larry Lucier to his weekly physical therapy in Gallup.

Following his therapy session, we headed over to the El Rancho Hotel for dinner. I had the usual chili rellenos.

After dinner, we heard piano playing along with other instruments in the lobby. Upon closer look (and listening), the music was coming from a player piano. Along with piano, it had other sounds of different percussion instruments, including drumming.

I have seen the player piano in the lobby, but never have heard it being played. We stopped and listened for a while.

I made a short video of it and just uploaded it to YouTube:


Japan: Accepting Tour Groups June 10

Above, a view from Tokyo City View in Roppongi. Photo by Armand Vaquer.


Nikkei Asia just reported that Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced a resumption of tourism:

TOKYO -- Japan will reopen its borders to international tourists on June 10, starting with tour groups, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced on Thursday.

To read more, go here

Additionally, Time Out Tokyo posted:

Despite many setbacks, Japan has started to slowly resume travel and tourism. This month, a limited number of foreign tourists were allowed to enter on a trial basis and more border restrictions are set to ease further from June 1. 

As reported by The Yomiuri Shimbun, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced tonight (Thursday May 26) that Japan will now allow foreign tourists to enter the country via package tours from Friday June 10, ahead of a full resumption of inbound tourism. Additionally, international flights will be expanded to cover Sapporo's New Chitose Airport and Okinawa's Naha Airport. 

To read more, go here.


Uvalde Mayor Explodes On Beto O'Rourke: "You're A Sick Son of A Bitch"


Former Congressman Beto O'Rourke disgraced himself by interrupting a press conference held by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

From the National Review:

This afternoon, Beto O’Rourke disgracefully interrupted a press conference about the shooting in Uvalde so that he could shout at Governor Greg Abbott:

"It's on you."

In a striking moment, Texas gubernatorial candidate @BetoORourke interrupts Gov. Greg Abbott's press conference about the Uvalde shooting. pic.twitter.com/jINIAave6Y

— The Recount (@therecount) May 25, 2022

O’Rourke told Abbott, “This is on you.” 

When O'Rourke said that, Mayor Don McLaughlin of Uvalde was having none of it.

From The Hill:

McLaughlin, who was sitting in the back row in a blue shirt and khakis, interrupted him and repeated said, “sir, you are out of line.”

He then stated, “I can’t believe you’re a sick son of a bitch who would come to a deal like this to make a political issue.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who was also onstage, told O’Rourke to “sit down” and not “play this stunt.”

 To see a Rumble video of the incident, go here.

 

Japan To Allow Package Tours Starting June 6

Above, the Godzilla statue at Toho Studios in Setagaya. Photo by Armand Vaquer.


The following from the Japan Times may or may not be speculation, but if it is correct, it looks like the planned G-TOUR for this fall qualifies. 

The prime minister is to make the announcement (unless he already has) sometime today.

According to the Japan Times:

The government will allow foreign tourists to enter Japan on package tours from June 6, TV Asahi reported late Wednesday, paving the way for the full resumption of inbound tourism, which has been suspended for more than two years since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is expected to make the announcement as early as Thursday.

The expected move comes after Japan began a trial of package tours involving foreign tourists on Tuesday. The visitors need to be vaccinated three times, including a booster shot, to participate in the tours, which each consist of a small number of people.

Japan is currently the only Group of Seven country still refusing to allow the normal entry of foreign tourists.

I do wonder, if this is correct, how many in package tour will they allow in? "Small number", what do they mean by that?

To read more, go here

UPDATE:

Tour groups will be allowed into Japan on June 10, it has been announced.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Japan Mulls Allowing Foreign Tourists In June

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

This has to be one of those cases of "when I see it, I'll believe it."

The Japanese government is expected to announce their foreign tourism plan tomorrow. They are going to double the quota of foreign tourists allowed in to 20,000 and relax other restrictions.

According to the Mainichi Shimbun:

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The Japanese government is making final arrangements to resume accepting foreign tourists in June, further relaxing its border controls imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic, sources close to the matter said Wednesday.

Since March, Japan has been easing its COVID-19 border controls, planning to double the cap on overseas arrivals to 20,000 per day starting on June 1. The country will accept foreign tourists within the quota, the sources said.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is expected to announce the plan Thursday at the earliest, they added.

To read more, go here

School Shooting Suspect Details Emerge


One could almost predict that yesterday's shooting at a Texas school was going to happen given the suspect's history. It was glaringly obvious.

Why there was no intervention with this kid (age 18) is beyond me. 

The Daily Wire reported:

New disturbing details emerged late on Tuesday evening about the 18-year-old male who shot up an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, earlier in the day.

The suspect was quickly killed by a U.S. Border Patrol agent who reportedly heard the shots and rushed into the building, but not before the suspect shot dozens of people, including at least 19 children who ultimately succumbed to their injuries.

A report in The Washington Post about the suspect, whom The Daily Wire is not naming due to company policy about not giving notoriety to mass killers, painted a familiar portrait of a violent individual who appears to have previous encounters with law enforcement officials.

The Washington Post, which reported that the mass murderer was bullied for wearing black eyeliner and having a lisp according to family and friends, reported that those closest to the suspect said that he had “lashed out violently against peers and strangers recently and over the years.”

The suspect, a Latino male, reportedly cut up his own face with a knife because he claimed that it was “fun,” according to one of the suspect’s former friends.


Naturally, as one can also predict:

Democrats immediately seized on the tragedy as many called for new gun control laws, while other Democrats used it as a cudgel to attack Republicans.

As their mandra states, "Why let a crisis go to waste?"

From The Federalist:

Ten years ago, the deadly massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School proved the need for armed security protecting K-12 classrooms.

There's more security at any local DMV office than in our elementary schools. I haven't heard of any mass shootings at DMVs.

It has been reported that the killer exchanged gunfire with police before entering the school and barricaded himself inside a classroom. Thank God that U.S. Border Patrol agent was able to take him down.

To read more, go here.

Top 10 Things To Know About Yellowstone

Above, stay on the boardwalks while visiting thermal hot springs. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

As we are a month away from the onset of the summer vacation season, many will be heading to Wyoming and Montana to visit Yellowstone National Park.

There are things to know about Yellowstone that people should be aware of and Explore Big Sky has ten of them. These are for the protection the park and for visitors.

They begin with:

MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, Wyo. – On March 1, 150 years ago, Yellowstone became America’s first national park for all to enjoy. Within Yellowstone’s 2.2 million acres, visitors have unparalleled opportunities to observe wildlife in an intact ecosystem, explore geothermal areas that contain half the world’s active geysers and view geologic wonders like the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.

Follow the top 10 things to know to enjoy your visit and protect the park today and for the next 150 years!

To read more, go here

Stupidity of Tourists At Yellowstone

Above, since Yellowstone is not a petting zoo and bison are very
dangerous, I used a zoom lens for this shot. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Every so often, a story would pop up about some Bozo tourist at Yellowstone National Park doing something incredibly stupid.

Sometimes, their stupidity is rewarded with fatal results at worst and sometimes it is rewarded with residency in jail for a spell at best.

On this topic, TravelPulse has posted an article which begins with:

Here’s my Public Service Announcement of the Week for tourists. It’s free by the way.

Dear Tourists,

Yellowstone National Park – or any other area open to the public that is also home to wildlife – is not a freakin’ petting zoo at the County Fair. So stop trying to touch or feed or take a photo or, worse, a selfie, next to a bison or a bear!

Love, Richie

See, it’s that time of year again. Yellowstone and our other great national parks are about to be overrun by visitors who have been aching to travel for two-plus years.

That’s a good thing. Travel and tourism is always a good thing.

Yet the stupidity of some of these people is a bad thing. A very bad thing. And it can’t just be blamed on the current state of events in the world. That would be low-hanging fruit, given the enormity of the amount of existing idiocy.

To read more, go here

Japan Tops World Tourism Ranking

Above, Tokyo's Kappabashi "Kitchen Town". Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Ironic as it may seem, Japan ranks number one in world tourism ranking, but the country is closed off (with few exceptions) to foreign tourism.

The Japan Times reported:

DAVOS, SWITZERLAND – Japan on Tuesday came out ranking highest on a list of destinations in a 2021 travel and tourism development report by the World Economic Forum, despite the country being closed to foreign tourists due to restrictions against the coronavirus.

Topping the list for the first time, Japan ranked highly for its cultural resources and in several infrastructure categories, with the United States ranked second and Spain third.

Japan ranked fourth overall in the biennial report for air transport infrastructure and cultural resources, sixth for ground and port infrastructure, and 12th for natural resources. But it ranked low for its response to climate change, coming in 107th place.

To read more, go here

Japan Firms Want To See Faster Progress On Tourism Reopening

Above, the international arrival lobby at Narita Airport. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The Japan government's overly-cautious stance on foreign tourists is irritating to Japanese firms, particularly ones in the travel industry.

The Japan Times reported:

Businesspeople in Japan, particularly those in the tourism sector, are unsettled by what appears to them to be overly cautious government policy toward resuming tourism from abroad as the country's economy struggles to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Japan is set to further ease COVID-19 border controls by raising its cap on overseas arrivals to 20,000 people per day from June, following Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's remarks earlier this month that the country will relax restrictions in line with other Group of Seven countries.

But only a limited number of tourists will be allowed in for the time being, and the government has not yet indicated when Japan will start accepting all tourists from overseas.

As a result, Japan is now the only G7 country rejecting foreign tourists due to the pandemic. According to the Japan Association of Travel Agents, "a very limited number of countries such as Japan and China" do not accept foreign tourists.

Japan will, however, simplify testing and quarantine rules on arrival starting next month, dividing countries and regions into three groups according to infection risk levels. It will continue to require COVID-19 tests prior to departure for all countries. 

"As vaccination is underway, I don't see what (the Japanese government) is protecting the public from," said a senior official of an airline company.

Masakazu Tokura, chairman of the Japan Business Federation, told a news conference on May 9, "Many Japanese traveled abroad for sightseeing and leisure during the Golden Week holidays. On the other hand, Japan is still not allowing foreigners to enter Japan for tourism.

To read more, go here

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Yosemite's Tioga Pass To Open Friday

Above, the drive along Tioga Road. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

For those wanting to enter Yosemite National Park from the Owens Valley on the east, Tioga Pass and Tioga Road will be reopening this coming Friday.

The Union Democrat reported:

The annual spring-summer reopening of Tioga Road — Highway 120 in Yosemite National Park — is planned to occur at 9 a.m. Friday, park authorities announced last week.

Tioga Road and Tioga Pass, the state’s highest paved route over the Central Sierra crest, are closed every winter due to snow. Tioga Pass has been closed since Oct. 21.

Tioga Road provides access for motorists to multiple features in the north half of the park, which lies within Tuolumne County, including the Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias, Tuolumne Meadows, and Mount Dana. 

Along with the announcement about Tioga Pass, the article also mentions that reservations to enter Yosemite are required, so visitors should read up first before going.

To read more, go here.

What Is Boondocking Camping?

Above, boondocking on the Keene Ranch near Tehachapi. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Over the years, I have done boondocking camping and have written about it here. Regular readers will know what it is.

A few hours ago, TheTravel posted an article titled, "What Is Boondocking & Why Do People Love It?"

So, if you are one of those who are wondering this, you should go over and read the article.

They begin it with:

Many people fancy escaping the typical life routine, hitting the road to find beauty somewhere and experience something new. There is nothing as fun as leaving the town and going on a wilderness adventure! But since the usual noisy campsites surrounded by crowds of people can be tiring, travelers can always go on an amazing wilderness adventure without experiencing crowds of other noisy campers. This is what people call boondocking, and although travelers new to RVing may not be aware of the concept, it is a fascinating camping experience. So, what exactly is boondocking, and why do people love it?

To read more, go here

Meanwhile, At The Corral

Above, the Jeep at the corral today. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

For the first time since I had the Jeep's brakes done, I took a drive in it over to the corral and entrance gate to Six Mile Canyon.

Due to extreme fire danger, the Cibola National Forest is closed. Six Mile Canyon is part of the national forest as is the shooting area. 

Above, yours truly at the corral.

The gate was locked shut and there's a big notice posted indicating Six Mile Canyon was closed. There was also a big sign at the shooting area as well.

Above, the national forest closure sign. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Speaking of the shooting area, I observed a vehicle there and notified the McKinley County Sheriff. We were requested to do so at last Saturday's meeting. The vehicle left before the sheriff arrived (he responded in eight minutes). I was about to cancel the call but he arrived before I could do so. We chatted a bit. 

Above, the Jeep and corral from inside the gate. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

On the way home, I stopped at friend Nandoh's house and we visited a bit. He was working on his 1964 Jeep CJ5. 

Above, the shooting area closure sign. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The little rain we had yesterday did wonders with the dust that was in the air. The air was nice and fresh despite the winds we are having today. The temperature was in the 60s, but it is to get warmer out tomorrow.

World Atlas On Monument Valley

Above, some of Monument Valley's massive sandstone rock formations. Photo by Armand Vaquer.


Monument Valley is a well-known area that straddles the Utah-Arizona border. It was a favorite place to shoot western movies by director John Ford.

For those wondering about Monument Valley, which is a tribal park of the Navajo Nation, World Atlas has just posted some factoids about it.

They begin with:

Monument Valley is a valley located in Navajo Tribal Park, across the border of the U.S. states of Arizona and Utah. The Valley features massive rock formations, including hills, cliffs, and buttes. Monument Valley is considered one of the grandest and most photographed attractions globally, exhibiting sandstone masterpieces that reach 1,000 feet in height. 

To read more, go here

Foreigners Visit "Timid Japan" On Trial Basis

Above, Narita Airport international arrival lobby. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Some years back, Japan had travel posters that read, "Discover Japan" and the like. Today, they should issue new posters that read, "Timid Japan".

Japan is now taking "tippy-toe" steps in restarting tourism into the country. Small tour groups are being allowed in with ridiculous restrictions.

According to Nikkei Asia:

TOKYO -- Japan's government on Tuesday started a trial reopening to foreign tour groups, as a first step toward a planned wider relaxation of rules in June, as the country emerges from a long border shutdown due to COVID-19.

The government will draw up guidelines for a safe revival of tourism from information gathered in this trial. However, with only 50 participants in the project, there are worries that there will not be enough data collected, which could delay a full reopening.

Japan has already opened to foreigners, to an extent, with a limit of 10,000 visitors per day but these arrivals tend to be workers and students under special visas.

On Tuesday afternoon, a group of tourists arrived from the U.S. at Tokyo's Narita Airport. They will stay for eight days, taking tours to popular destinations such as Nikko Toshogu Shrine in Tochigi Prefecture and Matsumoto Castle in Nagano Prefecture.

Six travel agents will take a total of 15 groups during the trial period that lasts until early June. Tourists from Singapore, Thailand and Australia are also expected to take part in the project.

Each tour group will comprise up to four people, who will be accompanied by a tour guide.

Nippon Travel Agency will use cars for travel within a prefecture. Tourists will be required to wear face masks on bullet trains.  

These tourists will have their temperatures taken daily. The tour guides will also carry antigen test kits, and if an infection is suspected, arrangements will be made with local medical facilities.

To read more, go here

Poll: Americans Forced To Cut Back On Spending



At this point in this mid-term election year, I would not want to be a leader in the Democrat Party. Things are going to hell in a handbasket and much of the problems rests with them, especially His Fraudulency Joe Biden.

KRQE posted a poll from NewsNation in an article posted yesterday.

They wrote (some snippets):

CHICAGO (NewsNation) — Americans’ lives have fundamentally changed in response to rampant inflation, according to a new NewsNation/Decision Desk HQ poll released Monday. Across the country, consumers are cutting back on dining and entertainment but also essentials including groceries and gasoline.

Nearly half of those surveyed said they are worse off financially today than they were a year ago. By comparison, only 18% of respondents said they were better off.

Even the post-pandemic travel boom is in jeopardy as people reconsider what they can afford.

With Memorial Day just around the corner, nearly half of registered voters say they’ve changed summer vacation plans — some moving trips closer to home but most saying they have had to cancel plans altogether.

More than 70% of respondents said they have had to cut back on purchases over the last month.

Opinions on the underlying causes of inflation vary widely, with some people NewsNation spoke to Sunday blaming President Joe Biden and the federal government.

“I feel that Washington has failed us miserably and it doesn’t look like it’s going to stop,” said Earl Schwartzhoff of Minnesota.

Schwartzhoff said Biden should prioritize domestic oil production and restart construction on the Keystone XL pipeline in order to curb energy prices.

Remember the mantra during the Clinton years: "It's the economy, stupid!"

To read the full article, go here

Monday, May 23, 2022

Finally Some Rain

Above, the deck just after the rain started. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

We're getting some rain in Jamestown, New Mexico. This is the first rain since March. 

It isn't a monsoon rain (that starts next month), but we'll gladly take whatever we can get. 

So far, it is  light sprinkling, but it is enough to wet everything outside. It should be enough to green up the area a little. 

Above, the deck and barbecue are wet. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

It is expected to last a few hours this evening. If it moves eastward, it could help with the ongoing fires.

Earlier this afternoon, I was talking with one of the Navajo clerks at the Flying J about the rain. She said she hopes it does rain. I said, "You could do a rain dance to urge it!" She had a good laugh over that.

UFO Trail: 6 Places Every Extraterrestrial Fan Must Visit

 

Above, the Roswell International UFO Museum and Research Center. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

"Keep watching the skies!" 

That was what the original The Thing From Another World said at the end of the movie. And that was in 1951 and produced by Edward Lasker and Howard Hawks.

The federal government lately has been a little more forthcoming with information when it concerns UFOs. There are some places where those who are interested in them can go.

Outlook India has posted an article on the six places every extraterrestrial fan should visit.

They begin it with:

"The truth is out there, but so are lies."

X-Files had a quite an impact on a whole generation (and beyond). From checking every moving light in the sky to becoming alien-obsessed nerds and space enthusiasts, some of us grew up with much more fascination for the third kind, than the ones around us.

So many sci-fi fans have considered taking up the profession of a UFO hunter, or wanted to visit places where some sort of alien-related activity has been reported. Across the world, there exist several ancient structures which have mysterious origins (leading to conspiracy theories). In other locations, there have been reports of strange events and sightings.

From mysterious ranches to Martian-themed parties, here are some destinations to visit if you are a fan of the third kind.  

To read more, go here

Best Small Towns Near Petrified Forest National Park

Above, Standin' On A Corner Park in Winslow, Arizona. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Arizona is an interesting state. 

One one hand, it is a big desert. On the other, it has pine-covered forests and ranchlands to enjoy.

Often overlooked are small towns to check out. A lot of them are along Interstate 40 in the northern half of the state.

TravelAwaits spotlights five of them within easy reach of Petrified Forest National Park.

They begin with:

The thing about Arizona is that you can enjoy so many different experiences depending on where you are within the state. Within just 3 hours, you can go from the valley of big city Scottsdale to the small towns up north. 

We chose to visit these small towns while on our travels through the White Mountains and beyond, as we always like towns that have a vibrant downtown with unique things to see and do. Stop in and visit these towns when you’re in the area!

Petrified Forest National Park has no RV campgrounds, but there's a KOA Kampground in nearby Holbrook. 

Above, camping is available at the Holbrook KOA Kampground. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

To read more, go here

10 RV Tips Beginners Should Know

Above, The Beast on Tioga Road in Yosemite National Park. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

There's a lot of beginners who have entered the "RV lifestyle" over the past several years, even more so since the pandemic started two years ago.

With that in mind, there's a few things beginners should know before (and even during) heading out on the road in their new RV.

MotorBiscuit has a list of ten tips for them.

They begin with:

Whether you are camping for the weekend, taking a summer road trip, or living full-time on the road, traveling in an RV can be the adventure of a lifetime. However, there are a lot of things you need to know before heading out on the road. We’ve put together 10 RV tips to help beginners stay safe and comfortable before pulling into a campground.

To read more, go here

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