"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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Friday, September 22, 2017

One Year Ago and Clampout-Bound

Above, at The Odyessey on September 24 when we went for dinner
there and to show Asya the party room. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

It is hard to imagine that it has been already a year since the final arrangements were made at The Odyssey restaurant for the portrait unveiling party.

Here's what I said about it at the time.

Asya said this morning:
[It] was a great idea of you to decide to do that!!

As for the rest of today, I am heading off to Camp Okihi on the Kern River for the Peter Lebeck Chapter's clampout. 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

15 Fascinating Sights of Tokyo

Above, the Wako Department Store in Ginza. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

For those who can't get enough of Tokyo or those who would like some ideas on what to see while there, CNN Travel has an article on "15 sights that make Tokyo so fascinating".

They begin with:
(CNN) — Tokyo isn't so much a city as an idea made real. Tokyo the future, the past and the present fused together into a metropolis like no other in the world.   
From its crazy street fashions to its fastidious salarymen, here are 15 ways the choreographed chaos of Japan's capital city engages, puzzles and bewitches.
You'll never guess what number 8 on the list is! (Or maybe you will.)

To see what they are, go here

T + L: Add Bryce Canyon To Your Bucket List

Above, Bryce Canyon National Park. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

There are many wonders to see in U.S. national parks, some of them can be found in Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah.

I have been to Bryce Canyon many times, most recently in 2003 (yes, I am bit overdue) and always found it an enjoyable experience.

The editors at Travel + Leisure agree and they feel that a visit to Bryce Canyon should be on everyone's "bucket list".

They wrote:
There are incredible hiking trails all over the United States, but very few come close to the gorgeous views you’ll find at Bryce Canyon in Utah. 
Every year, over 1.5 million people visit Bryce Canyon National Park, and it’s easy to see why. The stunning sunsets and sunrises make the reddish-orange canyon practically glow with color. 
Plus, Bryce Canyon is home to hundreds of hoodoos, spire-shaped rock formations created over hundred of years from water and ice carving into the rock. 

To read more, go here

How To Visit Yosemite From A Pro

Above, Yosemite Valley from Tunnel View. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Travel writer John Flinn can't stop returning to Yosemite National Park. He's been there 100 times. Thrillist has an article on his many visits to Yosemite with his advice on how to fully enjoy the park.

It begins with:
There’s a way to arrive at Yosemite Valley, the well-trafficked area of Yosemite National Park that houses its most picturesque cliffs and waterfalls, that takes you through a tunnel. When you emerge, the vista of El Capitan and Bridalveil Fall are perfectly framed against the background of Half Dome, just as Ansel Adams captured it in his famous 1934 photograph. For those who have visited the viewpoint, it’s as if you can reach out and touch a postcard.
He even tells where to get lobster tacquitos just outside the park.

To read more, go here

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Nikki Haley Defends "Rocket Man" Nickname For Kim Jong Un

As usual, the pansies from the left and news media are having collective cows over President Trump's use of a new nickname for North Korea's Kim Jung-Un at the United Nations.

But U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley is defending it.

According to the New York Post:
World leaders are talking about “Rocket Man” and it’s a good thing, said US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley. 
“This is a way of ​ ​getting people to talk about​” North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Haley ​told ​ABC’s​ “Good Morning America​” on Wednesday.​ ​”It worked​. ​Every other international community is now referring to him as ‘Rocket ​M​an.'” 
President Trump repeated the t​erm he used to mock Kim earlier in the week during his first formal address to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday when he said “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and his regime.” 
Haley said the moniker is serving the purpose of grabbing the attention of world leaders.

To read more, go here

Japan Reached 20 Million Foreign Visitors

Above, the stage of Kyoto's Kiyomizu-dera. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Japan has again reached the 20 million foreign visitor number this year. The total is mainly due to visitors from Asian countries.

According to the Nikkei Asian Review:
TOKYO -- Japan is welcoming tourists at a faster pace this year, with the number of foreign visitors surpassing 20 million as of Friday, but the influx has also shed light on infrastructure issues in need of attention. 
Japan hit the 20 million threshold 45 days earlier than last year, Akihiro Tamura, commissioner of the Japan Tourism Agency, told reporters Wednesday.

To read more, go here

WinnieOwners.com Opens For Business

A new sister forum to iRV2 has been started.

According to an email from the administrators:
The Winnebago forum on iRV2 has been very popular; so much so that it has become hard to see the breadth of topics being discussed.  Because of it's popularity, we felt Winnebago Owners needed their own community to call home. 
We have created a new stand alone forum specifically for owners of RVs built by Winnebago Industries and its subsidiaries.  You can find the new site at www.WinnieOwners.com.
I was given a "courtesy account" by the administrators, so I am already there.

They said:
Members who had participated in the Winnebago section of iRV2 also had courtesy accounts set up as well to go along with their existing iRV2 accounts.

So, if you are an owner of any Winnebago product, you'll want to join. 

Last Chores Done

Above, The Beast at the Malibu Creek State Park dump station. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The last chores in preparation of going to this weekend's Peter Lebeck clampout are done.

First, I headed up U.S. 101 to Malibu Creek State Park to fill the fresh water tank and then empty the grey and black water tanks.

Following that, I got fuel for The Beast.

After getting home, I got out the leveling blocks and leveled The Beast so I can turn on the refrigerator/freezer tomorrow night.

All I have to do is to pack up a few things and I'm ready to go.

2nd Anniversary of Jack Larson's Passing

Above, Jack Larson addresses the gathering at the Superman plaque dedication in 2014. Photo by Steven Kirk.

Two years ago today (it doesn't seem possible) Jack Larson passed away at home in Brentwood.

We last saw him the year before at the Superman Celebration plaque dedication and luncheon and he looked good despite being 86 at the time.

A memorial service for Jack was held two months later at the James Bridges Theater at UCLA.

It just so happened that last night I watched several 1951 episodes of the Adventures of Superman, most notably "The Haunted Lighthouse", in which Jack (as Jimmy Olsen) was the focus.

Today's the day to raise a glass for a toast to Jack.

Baker, California

Above, Alien Fresh Jerky. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

While heading for my first night's stop in Las Vegas during my Great American Eclipse trip of last month, I stopped in at Baker, California, which is midway between Barstow and Las Vegas in the Mojave Desert.

Baker is long known as the "Gateway To Death Valley" and it was a favorite stop for resting and food for travelers. The town was initially also known for the Bun Boy Restaurant and Motel. I hadn't been in Baker for many years, so I was surprised to see the Bun Boy business all closed up. I was told by a server at Del Taco that it had been closed for about six years.

Baker is also famous for its giant thermometer. I managed to get a photo of The Beast with the thermometer and the closed up Bun Boy in the background. It was reading one hundred degrees at the time. Well, it is in the desert in the middle of August.

Above, The Beast with the giant thermometer and the closed Bun Boy in the background. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

While I was in the Baker Del Taco, a Facebook friend asked me if the Alien Fresh Jerky store was still open. I had never heard of it before. As I was leaving Baker, I spotted it and took a photo of it. It appeared to be open for business, but I didn't stop in. I have since been told that they have good beef jerky. Note the alien decor, especially the lights in the parking lot.

Mount Shasta

Above, a view of Mount Shasta along U.S. 97 north of Weed, California. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

On the way south from Oregon while en route to Lassen Volcanic National Park, I passed by another volcano in Cascade Range of volcanoes, Mount Shasta. 

From Wikipedia:
Mount Shasta (Karuk: Úytaahkoo or "White Mountain") is a potentially active volcano at the southern end of the Cascade Range in Siskiyou County, in the U.S. state of California. At an elevation of 14,179 feet (4321.8 m), it is the second-highest peak in the Cascades and the fifth-highest in California. Mount Shasta has an estimated volume of 85 cubic miles (350 km3), which makes it the most voluminous stratovolcano in the Cascade Volcanic Arc. 
The mountain and its surrounding area are managed by the U.S. Forest Service as part of the Shasta–Trinity National Forest.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey:
Mt. Shasta is a majestic, steep-sided stratovolcano located about 97 km (60 mi) north of Redding along the I-5 corridor in Northern California. It is the most voluminous of all the Cascade Range volcanoes, and the towns of Weed, Mt Shasta City, and McCloud lie in the shadow of its 4,317 m (14,163 ft) high snow- and ice-clad edifice, which also holds the headwaters of the Upper Sacramento River. Mount Shasta began forming on the remnants of an older, similar volcano that collapsed 300,000 to 500,000 years ago. The collapse spawned one of the largest landslides known on Earth, covering more than 440 km2 (170 mi2) of Shasta Valley to the northeast. Activity over the last 300,000 years includes long intervals of quiet interrupted by shorter spans of frequent eruptions. Eruptions at about 11,000 years ago built Black Butte and Shastina on the western flanks of Mount Shasta. In the last few millennia, smaller eruptions have broken out at the volcano’s summit and from vents on its upper east flank. USGS scientists are working on constraining the age of the most recent eruption. Preliminary work indicates the volcano erupted in the past 200-300 years. Hot springs and volcanic gases seep from the summit indicating a relatively young and still-hot system. Non-volcanic shedding of young volcanic rock and ash from Mount Shasta’s steep slopes occurs during heavy rainfall or glacial floods. In the last 1,000 years, more than 70 mudflows have inundated stream channels. The record of eruptions over the last 10,000 years suggests that, on average, at least one eruption occurs every 800 to 600 years at Mt Shasta. USGS and UNAVCO seismic and geodetic networks provide real-time volcano monitoring data. Earthquake activity has been low for the last few decades and ground deformation is negligible.

Rain, Snow Calming Oregon Wildfires

Above, a smoky haze settled in Crater Lake during my visit. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Fires raged in and near Crater Lake National Park all summer. In fact, many areas of Oregon were ablaze for weeks. I didn't see clear skies again until I got into Northern California last month.

Finally, the state may be getting some relief as snow and rain has begun to fall.

According to the Mail Tribune:
Snow dusted Mount Ashland and a bit more fell on parts of Crater Lake overnight as light rain continued to wet the lower valleys and further calm area wildfires. 
“And so it begins. The first flakes of the season!” a Mt. Ashland Ski Area Facebook post said, complete with an early-morning photo of blowing snow. 
Crater Lake National Park’s entrance center and parts of the rim got as much as half an inch of slushy snow, according to the National Weather Service.

To read more, go here

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

New Twist In Case of Missing Joshua Tree Hikers

Above, the south entrance to Joshua Tree National Park. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The investigation of two missing hikers in Joshua Tree National Park may be taking a different twist.

They were reported as being seen outside of the park after they were reported missing.

KESQ reported:
JOSHUA TREE, Calif. - The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department confirms to News Channel 3's I-Team Reporter Karen Devine that there is an on-going investigation outside of Joshua Tree National Park in the search for Joseph Orbeso and Rachel Nguyen.  
One man has come forward telling Karen Devine that he believes the pair along with another couple were actually staying at a different Airbnb across from his house in Joshua Tree after they had been declared missing. 
To read more, go here.

7.1 Quake Hits Mexico City

Above, workers searching through rubble looking for survivors. Reuters photo.

At least 119 people were killed when a powerful 7.1 magnitude earthquake hit Mexico City, Mexico's capital city.

The quake caused many buildings to just crumble when it hit around lunchtime.

Snow Already In Yellowstone

Above, inside the Old Faithful Inn where it was warm and cozy. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

It appears that Old Man Winter is in a hurry to get started, and it is not even autumn yet.

Yellowstone National Park got a dusting of snow.

According to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle:
Yellowstone National Park visitors are going to have some trouble getting around.  
Park officials closed several roads Tuesday morning because of ice and snow but have reopened a few of them as conditions change.  
As of Tuesday afternoon, only Old Faithful to West Thumb was still closed to public travel because of snow.

To read more and to see a photo of Old Faithful Geyser surrounded by snow, go here

Fall Platrix Picayune Posted

Above, the Keene Ranch is once again the clampsite. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Platrix Chapter #2, E Clampus Vitus has finally posted the clampout edition of the Platrix Picayune. Some, I know, have been waiting with baited breath (meaning, they have a worm on the tips of their tongues) for the Picayune to be posted.

The doin's is happening October 6, 7 & 8.

The Platrix Picayune reads, in part:
LOS ANGELES—Speaking to a throng of print, radio and television news reporters from inside what used to be one of the ancient Lizard People’s underground tunnels in downtown Los Angeles, but is now the middle of N. Hill Street in front of the sadly neglected Fort Moore Pioneer Memorial, Noble Grand Humbug Richard Dougall explained why Platrix was once again headed back to The Tehachapi Loop.
“It wasn’t our first choice,” the beleaguered Humbug explained, continuing “but Lake Hemet fell through, not our fault. And our second choice, Live Oak Camp, also fell through because someone on their end screwed up their schedule. Our third choice, well it burned the hell down and is not available right now, so we are headed once again back to Tehachapi Loop, where I certify on my honor as a Humbug of our Ancient and Honorable Order that we will have one hell of a great time!”
Unfortunately, he was speaking to himself, as the reporters all left when they found out he was a Clamper, and not one of the legendary ancient Lizard People of Los Angeles as previously rumored. When he realized he was alone, Dougall wandered off muttering to himself, “Guess they’ll find out about it in the Picayune instead.”

For you bretheren who have not gotten word of the Fall Clampout, go here. (The secret codes will be asked before you can get into the website.)

For the rest of you, if you want to go, you will need to go through the rites of initiation at the clampsite. If interested in becoming a member, contact me.

If James Bond (the late Sir Roger Moore) can survive the rites of initiation, so can you!

"Five Things You May Not Know About Monument Valley"

Above, the Mittens and Merrick Butte. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Last November, I stayed a couple of nights in Monument Valley at the Goulding's Lodge Campground.

I've been through Monument Valley before, but until last year, I never stayed there or took a guided tour.

My visit to Monument Valley was a highlight of my three-week trip across the country (roughly 3/4 of it). Even though it got down into the 20s in temperature at night, it was still an enjoyable visit.

Indian Country Today has an article on "Five Things You May Not Know About Monument Valley".

It begins with:
Thanks to John Ford, the filmmaker behind legendary Westerns like Stagecoach and The Searchers, Monument Valley is among the most recognizable vistas in the world. 
Known for its majestic, free-standing sandstone buttes, this sprawling, 92,000-acre valley attracts more than 250,000 sightseers per year. Visitors come to this isolated area on the Arizona-Utah border to hike, drive, photograph or simply experience its natural and ever-changing beauty. 
But contrary to popular belief, Monument Valley is not on public land. Unlike many nearby national parks in Arizona and Utah, Monument Valley is a tribal park owned and operated by the Navajo Nation. 
“We’re a tribal entity,” said Nelson Parrish, a supervisor at Monument Valley. “Within park boundaries, you’re on Navajo land.”
Above, John Wayne's cabin from She Wore A Yellow Ribbon. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Whether or not you are a Western movie fan, I recommend a visit to Monument Valley. It is also a photographer's paradise.

To read more and find out what the five things about Monument Valley, go here

Clampout Season Prepping

Above, getting the propane tank filled. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

One little chore in preparation for the upcoming clampout season was to head to the local U-Haul to fill the propane tank.

I last filled it before heading off to Idaho to view the Great American Eclipse in August. It was a nine-day trek and I used the propane the whole time for the refrigerator/freezer, stove and water heater.

It turned out that I used a little over 3.6 gallons of propane on the trip. The propane fill-up will last me through this clampout season and, possibly, a little jaunt to Napa Valley and Redwood National Park in Northern California. I am mulling that over.

After getting the propane tank filled, I went around the corner to the coin-operated car wash to clean The Beast. It got a little dirty from sitting since the end of the Idaho trip. It was a month and two days ago that I left L.A. for the trip. Time flies.

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Collapse of Ford's Theater

Above, the front of Ford's Theater in 1982. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

A mailer was received today from the Buffalo County (Nebraska) Historical Society.

It got me to thinking about my family's history in Shelton, Nebraska and the collapse of three upper floors of Ford's Theater in Washington, D.C. in 1893.

At the time of the collapse, my great-grandfather, Charles S. Lucas (who later became the town doctor of Shelton, Nebraska during the first half of the 20th Century) was working in the building. He escaped injury. I visited Ford's Theater in 1982.

According to the blog, Boothiebarn.com:
On this date, June 9th, in 1893, a part of the three upper floors of Ford’s Theatre collapsed killing twenty two clerks and injuring over 100 more government employees. 
After the assassination of Lincoln, the government immediately seized Ford’s Theatre.  Military guards had been posted to the theatre and access was granted by War Department passes.  Matthew Brady was allowed to photograph the interior and members of the stage crew and orchestra were allowed to retrieve their items from within its walls.  After the execution of the conspirators on July 7th, 1865, John T. Ford was given permission to reopen his theatre.  He announced that the play, “The Octoroon” was to be performed on July 10th.  As is shown on the playbills and broadsides from “Our American Cousin”, “The Octoroon” was initially scheduled for April 15th.  While Ford sold over 200 tickets for the performance, there was also a large uproar over the theatre reopening after what had transpired within her walls.

After threats to the theater were made, Ford decided to close down the theater and the government purchased it.
The government decided its best option was to just retain the property.  They began paying John Ford $1,500 a month to lease his theatre.  By July of 1866, the government bought the property outright for Ford for $88,000.  Even before purchasing the building, the government had started renovating the theatre.  They transformed the interior into a three story office building.  In December of 1865, the Army Medical Museum moved into the third floor of the space.
Above, the restored Presidential Box in Ford's Theater in 1982. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The theater was turned over to the Department of the Interior and was renovated and restored to its 1865 appearance. It became a museum and working theater in 1968.

To read more, go here.

Don't Forget Your Dog Before Taking Off!

Winnebago just inveiled their new Class A gas motorhome, the Intent. The unveiling is currently in progress live on Facebook.

It has an interesting feature, one that could present a major problem. It has a "Pet Pal" tie on the outside. If someone forgets to bring in their pet, well, it could be what Clark Griswold did in National Lampoon's Vacation.

Winnebago's Revel Launched

Above, the Winnebago Revel Class B motorhome.

The first new RV has been unveiled by Winnebago. It is a Revel Class B motorhome on a Mercedes Benz Sprinter chassis.

It is a nice-looking vehicle, but being nice-looking will not make one comfortable while on the road.

The things that stood out for me:

  • Small size. It may work for one person, but if there are two adults (with or without kids), everyone will be essentially bouncing off the walls. 

  • The bathroom. It is tiny (the swiveling toilet helps). It doubles as a storage closet. The toilet is a European-style cassette type with a five-gallon detachable tank for emptying. When detached, it has a handle like a small tote suitcase. 

  • No generator. But it does come with a solar panel.

  • Movable roof ladder.

  • The kitchen/cook area is too tiny. There is an extra pull-out table, but it is still too tiny for preparing and cooking meals.

The problem with Mercedes Sprinter chassis is that when they work good, they're fine. But once something goes on the fritz, it is hard to get parts for repairs. This would be an added problem on the road. Finding an authorized Mercedes repair shop would be a headache. I'd much rather stick with an American-made chassis, like my Ford E-350.

The launch event on Facebook will resume at 1:00 EDT with the first of two new Class A motorhomes.

Winnebago Facebook Product Launch Is On

Above, a 1973 Winnebago ad.

The new product launch by Winnebago Industries is on now.

To view it live, go here: https://www.facebook.com/winnebagoindustries/

Tribes Seek Name Changes In Yellowstone National Park

Above, one of several Yellowstone valleys. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

A call has been made by Indian tribes to have two locations in Yellowstone National Park renamed. They claim that persons that these locations are named after committed atrocities against Indians.

According to KTVQ:
GARDINER - Tribes want to see the names changed of two locations in Yellowstone National Park. 
Tribal members rallied Saturday in Gardiner to call for the name replacement of Mount Doane and Hayden Valley. 
“I was the first and last man in the Piikani camp, January 23, 1870. The greatest slaughter of Indians ever made by U.S. troops.” 
That’s Chief Stan Grier of the Blackfoot Confederacy quoting Lieutenant Gustavus C. Doane, who was present at the murder of 173 Native Americans near the Marias River in January 1870. 
The tribes would like to see Mount Doane changed to the First Peoples Mountain. 

To read more, go here

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Yellowstone: Serenity On A Bus

Above, an eruption of Old Faithful Geyser. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

With more people visiting Yellowstone National Park than ever, this presents visitors with a problem, namely, traffic. 

With so many people and their vehicles visiting the park, it makes it more difficult to see the sights and even park. This is especially a problem of one is driving a big Class A or Class C motorhome. It is near impossible to find parking for RVs.

The logical choice, which is what we did two years ago, is to leave the RV at camp and take a tour bus (the tour company we went with picked us up at the KOA we stayed at in West Yellowstone, Montana) through the park.

The Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette posted a travelogue article on a couple's recent trip to Yellowstone with a tour bus company.

It begins with:
Old Faithful isn't as faithful as it is supposed to be, at least according to an impatient gentleman standing right behind me at Yellowstone National Park. The posted prediction time for its eruption on that sunny yet cool summer afternoon is 2:25, but the geyser seems in no hurry except for a few preliminary wisps of steam. 
The beloved geyser, the rock star of Yellowstone, is running late, an eruption disruption, if you will, with O Impatient One clicking off the minutes like a drill sergeant. It's 2:26, he says to anyone who would listen. Now 2:27. Erggh, he huffs at 2:28.

But then fickle and mischievous Mother Nature, who isn't one to be hurried in the first place, rises to the challenge, and iconic Old Faithful, summoned by fires smoldering and sighing beneath Earth's crust, forces thousands of gallons of silvery, scalding water and steam a couple of hundred feet skyward.
Above, the main lobby of the Lake Yellowstone Hotel. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

For information on the tour bus company they used:
Accommodations for Tauck’s “Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks” include Jackson Lake Lodge in Grand Tetons National Park; Old Faithful Inn and Lake Yellowstone Hotel in Yellowstone National Park; Holiday Inn Cody in Cody, Wyo.; the Ranch at Ucross in Clearmont, Wyo.; and the Rushmore Hotel in Rapid City, S.D. 
For more information on this tour and other national parks tours, visit Tauck.com or call (800) 788-7885.
To read more, go here

Oktoberfest Along The Kern River

Preparations are being made to get ready for this coming weekend's clampout north of beautiful Bakersfield for their 2017 Oktoberfest (yes, I know this is still September) with the Peter Lebeck Chapter #1866 of the Ancient and Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus. It has been a while since I last attended a Lebeck clampout.

Glenn Thornhill, XSNGH and I will be heading up to join the guys along the Kern River at Camp Okini. Glenn tells me that this is a beautiful location for clampin'.

Yesterday, I bought my usual supply of soft drinks and, most importantly, beer.

Tomorrow, I will be taking The Beast to get the propane tank filled up. I used quite a bit during the Great American Eclipse trip of last month.

Two weeks following the Peter Lebeck clampout, we will be heading (again) up to the Tehachapi Loop area for Platrix's Fall clampout.


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