"There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit." - President Ronald Reagan.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

T + L: Visit Osaka Before Everyone Else

Above, Osaka Castle. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Godzilla paid Osaka a couple of visits over the years. Most notably, the visits were made in Godzilla Raids Again (1955) and in Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989).

Travel + Leisure recommends booking a visit to Osaka "before everyone else."

They wrote:
On Tuesday, MasterCard revealed the results of its annual Destination Cities Index. The survey not only provides insight into the spending of international travelers but also predicts where they’ll visit next year. 
According to MasterCard, Osaka is the fastest-growing destination in the world — and has been since 2009. Over the past seven years, overnight stays from international visitors have grown 24 percent. 
MasterCard interprets that Osaka’s rapid tourism growth is indicative of the growing importance of Asia and the Middle East. The index’s fastest growing cities for tourism include Chengdu, Colombo, Abu Dhabi, Jakarta, Tokyo, Hanoi, Riyadh, Lima and Taipei.
To read more, go here.

Yosemite Falls Still Flowing

Above, Yosemite Falls last year. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The record rain and snow from last winter has left a lasting effect at Yosemite National Park this summer.

Namely, Yosemite Falls are still flowing.

The SFGate (San Francisco Chronicle) reported:
It's late September and Yosemite National Park's most celebrated waterfall - Yosemite Falls - continues to put on a show with water plunging 2,425 from its top to the base of the lower falls. 
This is unusual. 
Yosemite Falls is as an ephemeral waterfall fed by snowmelt and usually expires for a couple weeks or months in late summer. 
Scott Gediman, a public information officer for Yosemite, has worked in the park for 20 years and he doesn't remember the waterfalls ever flowing continuously through the summer into fall. 
To read more, go here

Monday, September 25, 2017

Yosemite's July Visitation Numbers Down

Above, Yosemite's North Dome. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The visitation numbers for Yosemite National Park were down this past July over last year's record numbers.

According to the Sierra Sun Times:
September 25, 2017 –  After last year's record setting number of visitors to Yosemite National Park, July 2017 stats has the number of recreation visitors down by 18.9% year over year. 
The Arch Rock Entrance Station (Mariposa -Highway 140) had a slight decrease of visitors by auto of 2.5% compared to July 2016. Year to date numbers show an increase of visitors by auto of 18.0%.
The Big Oak Flat Entrance Station (Groveland - Highway 120) had a decrease of visitors by auto of 28.2% compared to July 2016. Year to date numbers show a decrease of visitors by auto of 27.2%.
The South Entrance (Oakhurst - Highway 41) had a decrease of visitors by auto of 13.5% compared to July 2016. Year to date numbers show a decrease of visitors by auto of 13.1%.

To read more (including the figures for two more entrances), go here

The Tehachapi Loop

Above, The Beast at the Keene Ranch last year. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Platrix Chapter No. 2, E Clampus Vitus will be heading back for its Fall Clampout at the Keene Ranch, which is a few miles away from the famous Tehachapi Loop.

The Tehachapi Loop is called "one of the seven wonders of the railroad world." Construction began on the Loop in 1874 and opened in 1876.

Here's a video of the Tehachapi Loop:

According to Visit Tehachapi.com:
The Tehachapi Loop is a .73 miles (1.17 km) long 'spiral' or helix on the railroad main line through Tehachapi Pass, in south central California. The loop derives its name from the circuitous route it takes, in which the track passes over itself, a design which lessens the angle of the grade. A train more than 4,000 feet (1.2 km) long (about 85 boxcars) will thus pass over itself going around the loop. In 1998 it was named a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.
To read more, go here


Sunday, September 24, 2017

Unusual Teardrop Trailer

Above, the teardrop camping trailer with a forward galley. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

One thing that is always fun about clampouts is seeing RVs of all kinds and descriptions.

They range from travel trailers, fifth wheels, pop-up campers (also known as tent trailers), Class A, Class B and Class C motorhomes of difference sizes.

During this weekend's Peter Lebeck clampout, one trailer caught my eye, since it belongs to one of the group of Clampers we were hanging around with, was a homemade teardrop trailer.

This teardrop was unusual since it has the galley at the front of it. Most teardrops have the galley at the rear. My grandfather built one in the 1940s and its galley was at the rear.

Above, my grandmother cooking at the rear galley of
 the teardrop trailer that was built by my grandfather.

Teardrops are making a comeback since they can be towed by 4 cyl. vehicles due to their size and light weight. They can be bought with all the "bells and whistles" that other RVs have and they can even be bought as kits.

A Most-Important Stop

The Peter Lebeck clampout weekend began Friday morning and ended today at Tommy's Hamburgers in Valencia.

Both times, Glenn Thornhill and I stopped in for breakfast. The restaurant is located off of Interstate 5 near Highway 126 in Valencia. Tommy's is famous for their chili hamburgers.

As Glenn put it:
And so another great ClampAdventure ends, just as it began, with breakfast at Tommy's Valencia, in the shadow of Magic Mountain. Now, the hard part: the return to civilization (such as it is).

The above photo is of a photo of Tommy himself at his original hamburger stand in Los Angeles on Beverly Blvd. and Rampart Blvd. that adorns the restaurant's wall.

Clamper Oktoberfest At Camp Okihi

The Fall clampout of Peter Lebeck Chapter #1866 of E Clampus Vitus at Camp Okihi near Bakersfield is now history. It was an enjoyable weekend of fun and friviolity (despite having one of my camp chairs stolen following last night's initiation ceremonies). It had been years since I last attended a Peter Lebeck clampout.

There were about 80 Clampers and 4 PBCs in attendance.

Above, the Kern River flows alongside of Camp Okihi. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The weather was nice and the clamp-site, Camp Okihi, was perfect. It was on the north shore of the Kern River.

Someone asked me if there are fish in the river and the answer is yes. I was with a Clamper who decided to try his luck at a little fishing and within five minutes after his casting his hook into the river, he caught himself a small bass. He tossed it back in. But, the catch is recorded in a photo below.

Friday night was enjoyable with a Oktoberfest-themed dinner. Most everybody, including XSNGH Glenn Thornhill and myself, arrived on this day.

Saturday began with breakfast provided by the chaper's cook crew (with some food donations by the membership). Relaxation and the PBC interrogation took place with a hot dog lunch (by the chapter taking place at noon).

The evening events were the PBC initiation and raffle.

As I had mentioned, Camp Okihi was a perfect location for the clampout. It is rumored that Kern County is putting it up for sale. This would be unfortunate (besides being stupid) for future generations. The politicians are rumored to be saying that it is "too expensive" to keep up. Naturally, all they are interested is the money from some greedy developer to blow on something dumb. The people of Kern County should try to get the politicians (if the rumor is true) to retain the camp.

Here are a bunch of photos from the clampout (since a picture is worth a thousand words):

Above, relaxation, conversation and adult beverages. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, The Beast. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, XSNGH Glenn Thornhill. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, the Peter Lebeck Chapter store. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, some of the goods for sale at the store. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, the Catch of the Day. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, the gathering for the PBC interrogation. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, XNGH Gary Julian and XSNGH Glenn Thornhill at the interrogation. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, enjoying some German beer.

Above, the official chapter bar sign. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, one of the Friday night raffle items. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, yours truly at the interrogation. Photo by Glenn Thornhill.

Above, the Saturday night dinner chow line. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, the Saturday night chow. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, the bar. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, the area of Camp Okihi where our camp was located. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Glenn and I will be doing all this again in two weeks when Platrix Chapter #2 holds its Fall clampout in Tehachapi.


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

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