"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, December 15, 2017

MotorHome Magazine Annual Readers' Choice Awards

Above, Winnebago "takes the Gold" for their Class C RVs. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The January 2018 issue of MotorHome magazine arrived in today's mailbox and it includes the results of the Annual Readers' Choice Awards.

I'll post the more interesting ones (at least to me anyway).

The winners (Gold) are as follows:

Class A Motorhome: Tiffin Motorhomes.

Class B Motorhome: Roadtrek.

Class C Motorhome: Winnebago Industries, Inc.

Dinghy Vehicle: Jeep Wrangler.

Fuel Station: Pilot Flying J.

Holding Chemicals: Thetford.

Motorhome Awnings: Dometic Corp.

RV Battery: Interstate Batteries.

RV Campground/Resort: Pala Casino RV Resort.

RV Casino/Resort: Pala Casino RV Resort.

RV Retailer: Camping World.

RV Tires: Michelin Tires.

RV Toilet: Dometic Corp.

Sit-Down Restaurant: Cracker Barrel.

Best State In Which To RV: Florida.


If you are a subscriber to MotorHome, your copy should be arriving any time now. If not, check with your favorite newsstand.

18 Years Ago...

Above, my dad in front of Godaido temple in Matsushima, Japan in 1951.


It seems like whenever an immediate family member passes away, time seems to accelerate. I don't know if it is just me who notices this or if anyone else gets the same feeling.

It was 18 years ago today that my dad passed away from lymphoma. At times, it seems like just the other day and at other times, it seems ages ago.

My mom passed away ten years and one month after my dad. I miss them both to this day.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

FCC Abolishes "Net Neutrality" Rules



Former talk radio show host David Gold posted:
FCC rejects Net Neutrality. Liberals' hair on fire. Predicting end of You Tube as an example.  
It's good for ISPs. They can charge bigger sites more for the large bandwidth they consume. Lead to more innovation. Faster speeds.

 To read more, go here and here.

No More Oval Office Striped Wallpaper!

Above, the replica Oval Office at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Last summer, President Trump did something that I had been clamoring for: he got rid of the horrid striped wallpaper Barack Obama installed in the Oval Office.

According to the Mercury News:
As much as Donald Trump was derided for initially taking himself away for a 17-day golf vacation, his long absence from the White House was necessary for an important reason. 
It allowed a team of more than 200 people from multiple agencies to complete much-needed renovations on the West Wing and the home’s interior. 
The main work on “the people’s house” involved not very glamorous updates: replacing an overworked heating and air conditioning system, refreshing floors, woodworking and paint and repairing the South Portico steps for the first time since the Truman administration, CNN reported, following a tour the White House gave to reporters Wednesday. 
Of course, the most intriguing site of renovation work was the Oval Office, the seat of power in the America and the free world.

The Oval Office looks a lot better now that the striped wallpaper is gone.

To see what the Oval Office looks like today, go here

What Really Killed the King?

Above, Elvis Presley's grave. Photo by Armand Vaquer.


An interesting article on the cause of death of Elvis Presley was posted last year and updated a few months ago in The Huffington Post.

It was written by former homicide detective and forensic coroner Garry Rodgers. His conclusions are surprising, but they do make a lot of sense. He puts the beginning of the end in 1967.

The article begins with:
Elvis Presley suddenly dropped in the bathroom of his Graceland mansion on the afternoon of August 16, 1977. He was rushed to Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, pronounced dead, then shipped to the morgue and autopsied the same afternoon. 
Three days later, the coroner issued Elvis’s death certificate stating the cause as “hypertensive cardiovascular disease with atherosclerotic heart disease” — an arrhythmia, or heart attack for short. 
However, toxicology results soon identified several pharmaceutical drugs in Elvis’s system with codeine being ten times the therapeutic level. This started accusations of a cover-up and suggesting conspiracy theories of a sinister criminal act. 
Pushing 40 years after, modern medicine and forensics took a new look at the Presley case facts and indicated that something entirely different from a heart attack or a drug overdose really killed the King of Rock & Roll.

To read more, go here

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

National Park "Fee-Free" Days Reduced For 2018

Above, Half Dome at Yosemite National Park. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Since the recession is over and funds are needed to handle the backlog of maintenance projects totaling $11 billion, the National Park Service is reducing the number of "fee-free" days.

According to the Sierra Sun Times:
December 13, 2017 - WASHINGTON – The National Park Service announced today that the public will be invited to experience all national parks, without entrance fees, on four days in 2018. 
The four entrance fee-free days for 2018 will be: 
  • January 15 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • April 21 – First Day of National Park Week
  • September 22 – National Public Lands Day
  • November 11 – Veterans Day

To read more, go here

News From JAPANiCAN

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[Hokkaido] Mahoroba

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[Hokkaido] Kohantei

The scenery of Lake Toya viewed from the lobby and the large communal spa on the top floor is unforgettable. Staff will strive to ensure that you have a calm and relaxing experience.
Japanese-style Room (East Wing)
+ Dinner & Breakfast
from JPY 15,653Book


[Hokkaido] Sounkyo Onsen Choyo Resort Hotel

With a long history and seasonal changing scenery, this a popular place to stay for both domestic and foreign guests alike. Magnificent views can be seen from all rooms - deep valleys and high cliffs
Japanese-style Room
+ Dinner & Breakfast
from JPY 9,580Book


[Hokkaido] Niseko Northern Resort, An'nupuri

The perfect place to stay for those who enjoy a bit of skiing and snow sports. For those that prefer something more low-key, you can watch food being prepared in the open kitchen, or take a gander at the 180 degree view of the scenery surrounding the hotel.
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[Hakone] Hotel Green Plaza Hakone

The baths use premium quality hot spring water from the hotel's own source. Spoil yourself as you soak in a relaxing bath while you take in the dynamic view of Japan's most famous peak, one that changes with the time and season.
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from JPY 9,723Book


[Gifu] Miyamaouan

All baths in the large communal bathing areas are continually replenished with all-natural hot spring water drawn as is from the source. Private open-air baths and private indoor baths are free. Plus enjoy free milk, yukata rental and ramen after enjoying your soak! 
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Moody Blues Finally Make Hall of Fame



Many rock fans from the 1960s are letting off major sighs of relief after it was announced that the Moody Blues are finally being inducted into the Rock 'N Roll Hall of Fame.

It's about friggin' time!

According to the Los Angeles Times:
New Jersey rock group Bon Jovi and its fans can stop living on a prayer: the band is headed into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, along with the Cars, Dire Straits, the Moody Blues, Nina Simone and pioneering gospel singer-guitarist Sister Rosetta Tharpe. 
The Cleveland-based institution unveiled its newest roster of inductees on Wednesday morning, adding another handful of honorees to more than 300 previous inductees. 
The Rock Hall’s voting membership, consisting of more than 900 music critics, record executives, managers and other industry insiders, closely matched the results of the hall’s fan voting, which began after this year’s nominees were announced in October. Fan voting adds just a single vote to the overall totals for the top five vote-getters but nevertheless lets the voting body know in no uncertain terms who the public most wants to see enshrined within its walls.

To read more, go here.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Fodor's Top Vacation Destinations For 2018

Above, Elvis Presley's Graceland mansion in Memphis, Tennessee. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

One of the world's leading travel information sources, Fodor's comes out with their annual lists of destinations to go to and destinations to avoid.

The Mercury News has their list of top vacation destinations for 2018.

They begin with:
Last week, we brought you Fodor’s NO list, which featured 10 destinations to avoid in 2018. Now we’re exploring Fodor’s wanderlust-inspiring GO list of 52 destinations to explore in the coming year. If you’re thinking what we’re thinking (who gets to take 52 vacations in a year??), think of it this way: Armchair travel is fun, too. 
The list includes not only destination information, but hotel suggestions, insider tips and even book recommendations. Heading for Marrakesh, Morocco? Fodor’s travel experts call it a “romantic desert oasis,” suggest you get lost in the mazelike medina, hike in the Atlas Mountains and read Paul Bowles’ “The Sheltering Sky” to get in the mood. 
Prefer blues, barbecue and Elvis Presley? Memphis is No. 6 on the list, with recommendations for where to hear great music (Beale Street), indulge your Presley fandom (Graceland), indulge in barbecue (Corky’s) and read (pretty much anything by John Grisham).

To read more, go here

Replacement Fire Extinguisher Arrived

Above, the recalled fire extinguisher (left) and the replacement. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

After about 2 weeks since I contacted Kidde, the replacement Kidde fire extinguisher arrived today. It is to replace a defective model that was recalled. The original fire extinguisher came with The Beast.

Above, the new fire extinguisher. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The new one came with a return shipping label to send the defective fire extinguisher to Kidde.

Monday, December 11, 2017

SOROS BANKROLLING TRUMP SEXUAL HARASSMENT ALLEGATIONS

Above, left-wing billionaire George Soros.


Isn't it funny that the press conference of the three bimbos who are making (actually, repeating) their allegations against President Trump was sponsored by a left-wing movie company bankrolled by George Soros?

Info Wars reported:
Left-wing activist group Brave New Films, which hosted a press conference Monday for women accusing Donald Trump of sexual harassment, is funded by billionaire globalist George Soros, according to the group’s website. 
The purpose of the conference was for the women to call for a congressional investigation into alleged sexual misconduct by POTUS.

To read more, go here.

Leftist Bimbos Are Back



The Looney Left Report

Here we go again. 

Three women who appeared last year during the campaign claiming that President Trump "sexually harassed" them are back at it again. This time, they appeared at a joint press conference sponsored by left-wing movie company Brave New Films, which is, by the way, bankrolled by leftist billionaire George Soros.

First, there's Samantha Holvey, who claims Trump came backstage when she and other contestants in the 2006 Miss USA pageant were dressing. She debunked her own story it turns out.

According to TruthFeedNews.com:
A former 2006 Miss USA contestant wanted us to believe that that Donald Trump saw her “naked” backstage while she was getting her hair and makeup done for the show. 
However, there’s one MAJOR problem with her claim. 
The woman was not “naked.” 
By her own admission, she was wearing a ROBE, and “naked” underneath.
Aren't we all "naked" underneath our clothes?

Next, is Rachel Crooks, who says Trump forcibly kissed her on the mouth. Crooks Was a Campaign Contributor & Supporter of Hillary Clinton & Likes a Site on Facebook Called ‘Liberals in America’. Trump has described her accusation as "fiction".

Lastly, there's Jessica Leeds, who says she was groped and forcibly kissed by Trump on a commercial flight decades ago.

From Fox 6 Now:
In a second case, in which Jessica Leeds accuses Trump of groping her on an airplane, the Trump campaign provided an alleged witness who refutes Leeds' story. 
"Not only did he not do so (and I was present at all times) but it was she that was the one being flirtatious," Anthony Gilberthorpe told New York Post. The article says the Trump campaign arranged the interview, and Gilberthorpe offered no evidence.
Then again, Leeds offered no evidence that the alleged incident ever took place either.

Seeing Progress

Above, yours truly today.


After four days of a regimen of Robafen DM, antibiotics and Montelukast, my cold is getting somewhat better.

Those were the same meds I was prescribed back in April when I came down with bronchitis. They knocked it off in about two weeks. Hopefully, this cold will be gone by next week.

I have no idea where I caught it, but it got me good.

Improvements Coming To Devil's Tower National Monument

Above, Devil's Tower. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Devil's Tower National Monument in Wyoming will be seeing some improvements this coming year.

The Rapid City Journal reported:
The National Park Service announced last week that it is planning a number of upgrades to Devils Tower National Monument that will improve accessibility and visitor experience.  
The most significant is a new accessible approach to the 1.3-mile-long Tower Trail, which winds around the base of the tower. The trail is the most popular hiking path in the park, which attracts around 500,000 visitors every year, said spokeswoman Nancy Stimson. 
Other improvements include new interpretive exhibits along the Tower Trail, an interpretive plaza and accessible walkways to the trailhead and visitor center.  A climber registration office will also be developed and installed. 

Devil's Tower National Monument became a popular tourist attraction for movie buffs following the release of Close Encounters of the Third Kind in 1977.  The KOA Kampground near the main entrance screens the movie nightly during the summer season.

To read more, go here.

On This Date: Sam Cooke Killed

Above, Sam Cooke.

Today in rock history according to Creative Loafing:
Today in rock history: on this date in 1964, Sam Cooke, arguably the greatest soul and pop singer of all time, was shot and killed amid questionable circumstances at a Los Angeles motel. While a motel manager claimed to shoot Cooke in self-defense, questions have always persisted regarding the validity of the account and the accompanying details. Cooke had gained a reputation as a smooth, classy crooner thanks to hits like "You Send Me," "Cupid" and "A Change Is Gonna Come," and he regularly enjoyed crossover success on both pop and R&B singles charts. Sam Cooke was only 33 years old at the time of his tragic death.

To read more noteworthy rock milestones of today, go here.


Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Ryokan: The Ancient Japanese Inn

Above, our main room at the Atami Shinkadoya ryokan. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

To enjoy a total "Japanese experience", visitors should stay at a Japanese ryokan at least once during their visit to Japan.

I've stayed in four ryokans (Tokyo, Sendai, Kumamoto and Atami) over the years and enjoyed each one.

The Guardian (U.K.) has an article on ryokans.

It begins with:
Hundreds of years ago, they were a place for Japan’s nomadic samurai to rest their limbs and reflect. But these days, the ryokan – a traditional, family-run Japanese inn that is usually close to a hot spring – seems to be the buzzword on trendy travellers’ lips. Many of them feature modern spins such as onsite Michelin-starred restaurants, robotic toilets and luxury spas, and they are proving a hit with both Japanese tourists and international visitors. 
Airbnb’s annual travel trends report identified the ryokan as one of the most popular alternative accommodations desired by its users in 2018, with a reported 600% rise in bookings (yurt bookings increased by 155%, while nature lodges had a 700% growth). The accuracy of the figures is unclear: last year, Airbnb was accused of misrepresenting data in New York by removing more than 1,000 listings to rig its survey, while another report misleadingly highlighted that outer London boroughs such as Barnet were more popular than Westminster and Kensington. 
Still, what does seem clear is that travellers are eschewing conventional lodgings for places that focus on unusual experiences and “de-plugging”.

To read more, go here

Arnold Steinberg At The Nixon Library

Above, Arnold Steinberg.

One advantage (or disadvantage, depending upon how one looks at it) to being around politics for over 40 years is that one meets many personalities in different political campaigns besides being a part of and witnessing history.

Back in 1976, I was working for the Reagan campaign during the primaries (and was a California Reagan delegate) and then helped in the Robert K. Dornan campaign against Gary Familian.

The campaign director for the Dornan campaign was Arnold ("Arnie" as we called him) Steinberg.

Above, Youth for Dornan members meets with the candidate in 1976. I am at the far left.

Tomorrow, Steinberg will be speaking on his new book, "Whiplash: JFK To Donald Trump, A Political Odyssey" at the Richard Nixon Library & Museum.

Here's what the Nixon Foundation says about Steinberg's lecture:
In this engaging and provocative political memoir, Arnold Steinberg provides an insider’s look into the often widely misunderstood history and nature of political conservatism in American politics, ever since its initial stirrings in the 1950s down to why today’s Generation X has begun to turn against big government and political correctness. His Nixon Library presentation will feature commentary about President Nixon’s political career including the opening to China, aide to Israel during the Yom Kippur War, the end of the military draft, and Civil Rights programs. 
Steinberg, a strategist and analyst, wrote two classic graduate textbooks on politics and media. He is a veteran of hundreds of national, state, and local political campaigns, including U.S. Senator James L. Buckley of New York. Over several decades, he has been widely published in magazines, newspapers and online. Sternberg has been interviewed for many publications and has been a frequent guest on television and radio programs. He started in broadcasting as a student panelist for Fred Friendly’s Public Broadcasting Laboratory, the precursor for national public television.

If it weren't for the distance and the headcold I am finally getting over, I would go to this event.

For more information, go here

A Memphis of Many Moods

Above, Beale Street in Memphis. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Memphis, Tennessee is an interesting place to visit. I've been there twice and have enjoyed both visits.

It has plenty to see. From the giant pyramid next to the Mississippi River that houses Bass Pro Shops to Beale Street, there's plenty of things to see and do.

New Zealand's Stuff has an article on the places visitors can see.

It begins with:
The cotton ginners​ were in town the night I visited BB King's Blues Club in the heart of Beale Street. The original Beale Street Blues Boy plied the street for nickels and dimes in the late 1940s, likely never dreaming his name would one day adorn a neon sign advertising his own club. 
Inside, middle-aged farmers dance to the house band's rendition of Lynyrd Skynyrd's Sweet Home Alabama and stuff dollar bills into the white plastic tips bucket at the front of the stage. It's as crowded as a student pub in there, sparky and electric. The cotton ginners get into it, tossing back Buds chased with Jack. Ribs and buffalo wings are on the menu while a man in the toilets passes out clean white hand towels for a $1 tip. If it weren't for the music, the ringing tills would be deafening. 
Across town, there's a place where music lovers who visit Memphis pay homage to the birthplace of recorded rock'n'roll. Sun Studios is the place where Elvis Presley cut his first single and it's hallowed ground for some. Taking a tour of the studios is a religious experience for many - the music culture equivalent of genuflecting in St Peter's. Get past the gift shop and the solid gold is Sun Studios' inner sanctum. This is the recording studio and it's completely original down to the handmade sound baffles in the wavy ceiling. Dotted about the room are recording artifacts like Martin guitars, Elvis's microphone and a drum kit U2 left behind when they recorded Rattle and Hum at Sun in 1987.  

To read more, go here

Saturday, December 9, 2017

2017 Box Sets Reissues Set Record



Music lovers will have a good holiday season this year as a number of artists will be issuing box sets.

According to Forbes.com:
The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan lead this year’s record crop of musical box sets. The multimillion-reissue bandwagon exceeds last year’s peak, with a lot of classic albums returning in anniversary and deluxe editions – by U2, the Eagles, Prince, Radiohead and The Smiths, among others. 
New and announced titles, including vinyl reissues, are currently running at more than 630 for mainstream artists so far in 2017, an increase from the approximate 520 number at the same point in the year from the same record companies in 2016. The number surged in the last few weeks before Black Friday, Cyber Monday and now the first weekend of December – the weekend seen by eBay as the peak time for physical sales of vinyl, CDs, DVDs and Blu-Ray, even old videotapes and cassettes. 
The artists have all put out collections, which will do much to prop up the physical CD and vinyl market. Figures from record-industry groups and eBay last month pointed towards a continuing revival in demand. This is in the face of headlines about the rise of digital downloads and streams, demise of old-fashioned discs and the closure of record stores.

To read more, go here

Friday, December 8, 2017

Dababneh To Resign Assembly Seat

Above, Matthew Dababneh.


Assemblyman Matthew Dababneh will be resigning at the end of this month, which causes the Democrats to lose their super-majority in the State Assembly.

According to KABC News:
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- California Assemblyman Matt Dababneh is resigning after a lobbyist alleged he sexually assaulted her in a bathroom. 
Dababneh again denied the allegation in his resignation letter, but said he no longer believes he can effectively serve his Los Angeles district. He is the second Democratic California lawmaker to step down following allegations of sexual misconduct. He said he'll cooperate with an ongoing Assembly investigation into the claim. 
"Beyond the salacious headlines, I am confident that the completed investigation will bring to light and into focus the significant and persuasive evidence of my innocence," Dababneh wrote.

He should resign now, not wait until the end of the month.

To read more, go here

Democrats Want To Screw California Drivers Even More



The Looney Left Report

It appears that jacking up the gasoline tax and the fees to register motor vehicles isn't enough for California Democrats. Now they are looking into taxing California drivers by the mile.

The Sacramento Bee reported:
Weeks into a new gas tax hike, California transportation officials said Thursday they are studying ways to charge drivers based on how many miles they drove since their last fill-up rather than the amount of fuel they use. 
The problem? California drivers are choosing such fuel-efficient cars that the state fears it will be deprived of enough road construction revenues in the long run. 
The Caltrans study – the California Road Charge Pilot Program report – is billed as a way for the state to move from its longstanding but outmoded pump tax to a system where drivers pay based on their odometer readings. 
Caltrans Deputy Director Carrie Pourvahidi said the state will send out a request early next year to technology companies for ideas on a simple communication system at gas stations or electric charging stations that can instantly tell how many miles the car has driven.

This kind of taxation will hit lower income people the hardest. Others will just leave the state. Who wants to live in a state that is so tax-happy?

To read more, go here

Winter RV Shows

Above, a row of Winnebago RVs at the California RV Show last October. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Looking to buy a RV or just looking? 

There are some winter RV shows coming up in the next two months where people who are in the market can compare floorplans, models and brands of all kinds of RVs.

According to RV Life:
Winter RV shows are the best place to see the latest motorhomes, fifth wheels, and travel trailers.  The events host hundreds of exhibitors showcasing RVs and campers, with special discounts on rigs and various camping gear.  You can also get questions answered by local experts, and attend informative seminars to learn more about RVs and accessories. 
According to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association, there are lots of RV shows coming up soon in January and February.  Check out if any of these events are going on in your area and remember to mark the dates on your calendar.

To read more, go here

Monument Valley Photo Wins A New York Holiday


Above, Totem Pole (left) and other rock formations in Monument Valley. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

A detour to Monument Valley has landed a student a photography prize for his "stunning" photograph.

According to the Daily Echo:
A SOUTHAMPTON student "stunning" photograph has been landed him a prestigious international gong. 
Joshua Masters’ picture of Monument Valley in Navajo County, Arizona, was picked by judges from global travel agency Smaller Earth’s 2017 international photo contest as the best in their 2017 competition. 
As part of the prize, the 20-year-old Southampton Solent student won a trip to New York and will be taking his mum Christmas shopping in the Big Apple.

To read more and to see the photograph, go here

A Doctor Visit

Above, the posters in the examination room. Photo by Armand Vaquer

Today started out with a visit to the doctor's office.

The cold I came down with a week ago still hasn't subsided and the smoke in the air from all of the surrounding fires hasn't helped my breathing any. The smoke actually made it worse.

So, off to the doctor I went.

My regular doctor was on vacation so I was seen be a fill-in doctor.  I was seen after a half-hour wait in the examining room. While waiting, I noticed posters on the wall. One pertaining to pregnancy and birth for the ladies and one pertaining to the prostate, for the guys. Typical "decor" for a medical clinic's examination room

However, on a table was a model of a vaginal ring device. It looked rather peculiar. It looked like something for a man to, uh, "try" out. (I wonder how many guys actually did "try" that thing out while sitting there waiting? Yuck!)

Above, the vaginal ring device model. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Finally, the doctor came in.

After checking my vital signs, etc., he prescribed some anti-biotics and other medications. I then headed to the pharmacy that was nearby. The meds are pretty much the same ones that were prescribed when I had bronchitis last April.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Zion National Park Sets Attendance Record

Above, The Watchman at Zion National Park. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Back when my family first started visiting national parks during the late 1960s, Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks in Utah seemed safely remote from big urban centers such as Los Angeles. 

Not anymore. People have been visiting Zion National Park in record numbers.

According to The Spectrum:
With a month to spare, Zion National Park has set a new record for visitation this year, heightening concerns about overcrowding just as park managers consider a controversial fee hike and requiring visitors to go through an online reservation system. 
The park had counted 4,365,946 visitors through the end of November, representing nearly a 5 percent increase over last year's record numbers. Since 2010, the park has seen visitation increase nearly 70 percent.
Other Utah national parks are seeing record numbers in attendance.

To read more, go here

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