"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, February 20, 2018

App To Help Relieve Crowding Issues At Tokyo Disney

Above, a crowd enjoying a show at Tokyo DisneySea. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

When we visited Tokyo DisneySea (part of the Tokyo Disney Resort complex) in 2015, it seemed that at least half the population of Tokyo were also attending. Wait times for rides exceeded 30 minutes on average. We enjoyed the park anyway.

To help alleviate this problem, the resort operator is resorting to an app.

According to Nikkei Asian Review:
Tokyo Disney Resort operator Oriental Land will roll out a smartphone app in fiscal 2018 to relieve crowding issues that have frustrated guests at the popular theme park. 
The app will offer a single platform on which customers can buy tickets, book hotel and restaurant reservations, and view park maps with estimated wait times for attractions. It will also be compatible with the smartphone-based e-ticket system introduced Tuesday. 
Another feature, in-park online shopping, should do much to help with the congestion problem. Visitors looking to buy souvenirs and the like tend to crowd stores after the park closes for the day. The app will let guests shop during their time at the park, such as while waiting in line, then pick up their purchases when they leave or have them delivered. 
The app will initially be in Japanese, with Oriental Land to add other language options for international visitors later. It plans to collect and analyze data on users' activities within the park for use in developing new services.

To read more, go here

Japan Not A Top Destination For Westerners

Above, the Godzilla mural at Toho Studios. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

A recent survey found that Japan is a popular tourist destination for people of other Asian nations, but as far as Westerners are concerned, not so popular.

According to Japan Today:
TOKYO - Japan’s alluring contrast of tradition and contemporary has made it a fantastic getaway destination for travelers looking to immerse themselves in country known worldwide for anime, video games and cuisine. 
And thanks to the 2020 Olympic Games looming on the horizon, the country attracted a record number of tourists in 2017, totaling a whopping 28.69 million people. Chinese (7.35 million) and South Korean (7.14 million) travelers claimed the top spots, but according to the survey, only a paltry 3 million tourists hailed from Western countries.

There are reasons, more like misperceptions, for this:
They’ve found that several factors could have contributed to the apparent lack of visitors from Western countries, including long travel distances and the general perception that Japan is an expensive country to visit. 
Nevertheless, those reasons pale in comparison to what is probably the biggest obstacle preventing Westerners from enjoying Japan to its fullest: the language.

To read more (the article has a nighttime photo of the Godzilla head in Shinjuku), go here

One of My Furry Neighbors

Last night I was watching the snow falling and I noticed some strange tracks in the snow in the area behind the garage.

They were single-file tracks and I've never seen them before.

Were they from a yeti? A space alien?

I did some checking and found out what made them. They were from one of the furry residents in this area. A rabbit.

Just a little while ago, I took this shot of a bunny outside of my bedroom window:




More Pix

Above, the front of the property. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Well, I changed my mind.

I decided to wheel out the trash container to the street and while doing so, I took some more photos. I figured I may as well get used to walking in snow. This is fairly new to me since it doesn't snow in Los Angeles. So, outside I went. (Besides, the snow melted a bit to make the trash container task easier.)

Here they are:

Above, the snow-covered mountains across the valley. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, my other acre. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, a view of the road with the neighbor's to the east. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, the view from the road looking west. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, a view looking west. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, the Mustang and The Beast. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, the front of the house. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Graceland Seeking $20 Million Bond Issue

Above, the front of Graceland mansion. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Elvis Presley Enterprises is seeking a $20 million bond approval for funds for expansion of museum space and other improvements.

According to the Commercial Appeal:
Operators of the Elvis Presley home and related attractions will seek approval of a $20 million bond issue for more museum space and other improvements. 
Elvis Presley Enterprises is applying for an issue of taxable revenue bonds by the Economic Development Growth Engine of Memphis and Shelby County. 
The application, scheduled to be considered Wednesday, says the financing would pay for “additional museum, food and beverage and retail opportunities.” Not mentioned is a controversial performance venue that led to a lawsuit by Graceland last year. 
A statement from Graceland said, “Various opportunities are being considered for expansion of Elvis Presley’s Memphis entertainment and exhibit complex, all to enhance the visitor experience and create more employment and improvement in Whitehaven. This is not related to the pending performance/event venue.” 
Graceland’s operators put expansion plans on hold last fall and filed suit in Shelby County Chancery Court challenging a non-compete agreement between the city and Memphis Grizzlies. That lawsuit was dismissed Thursday by Chancellor Jim Kyle.

To read more, go here

My Mistake, 4 Inches!

Above, a view from the front yard with a semi on Interstate 40. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

I stepped outside for a bit to take a few pictures of the snow. When I did, I found that the snow on the deck was four inches deep when my foot sunk into it. I had guessed we got three inches of snow last night.

Unfortunately, the snow is too deep for me to wheel out the trash container to the road (today is trash day in Jamestown). But I only have one bag full of trash in it, so it'll wait another week with no problem.

Some of the photos I took:

Above, the side and back yards. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, the front yard and gate. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, The Beast and the Mustang. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, another shot of the front yard from the deck. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, the front yard looking east. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, snow-covered mountains across the valley. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Looks Like I'm Staying In Today

Last night's snowstorm dumped about (my guess) three inches of the white stuff.

While watching television, I was able to see it fall as I had the lights on in the area between the house and behind the garage.

This morning, it appears that it was a heavier storm than the one of the night of February 11. At present, the temperatures are in the teens and won't go any higher than the thirties during the day. So it will stay on the ground for much of the day.

From what I could see, traffic on Interstate 40 is moving as I saw several big rigs heading west towards Gallup.

Some photos:

Above, the side yard looking east. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, behind the garage. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, looking east towards the neighbor's yard. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Yellowstone Super-Volcano Said To Be "Under Strain"

Above, one of many hot springs in Yellowstone National Park. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

A swarm of earthquakes hit Yellowstone National Park and they have some people, particularly the British press, jittery.

According to the Daily Star (U.K.):
A raft of earthquakes measuring above magnitude-2.0 have been recorded at Yellowstone, in the US state of Wyoming, during the past 24 hours. 
The largest earthquake measured 2.9 on the Richter Scale and struck at a depth of 9km at around 6am on Sunday. 
Though fairly small, the flurry of seismic activity at the 3,500-square mile volcanic hotspot highlights the unstable nature of the landscape. 
All of the earthquakes struck near Hebgen Lake in western Yellowstone, home to gushing geysers, dramatic canyons and a dangerous underground volcano.

Granted, a super-volcano is below Yellowstone National Park, but earthquakes are common to the park and don't mean a big eruption is imminent.

To read more, go here

A Bit of Rain and Snow

Above, the side yard from the front porch. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Another storm has rolled in this morning and it is currently raining with some snowflakes mixed in. The snow isn't lasting (not cold enough).

All last night, with winds were howling at about 25 mph, which set off a wind advisory by the National Weather Service. The winds stopped when the rain/snow started.

Godzilla Store In Tokyo

Above, Godzilla peers over the Toho Cinemas in Shinjuku. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

If any Godzilla fan has been sitting on the fence contemplating a trip to Japan, maybe this will spur them into action.

Last October, the first ever official Godzilla store opened in Shinjuku, Tokyo. It is only a couple of blocks away from the giant Godzilla figure that peers at onlookers below near the Hotel Gracery.

The store carries a number of Godzilla goods, many of which are limited edition items.



It is located at the Marui Annex, 3 Chome-1 Shinjuku-, Shinjuku, Tokyo 160-0022, Japan.
Hours: 
Monday 11AM–9PM
Tuesday 11AM–9PM
Wednesday 11AM–9PM
Thursday 11AM–9PM
Friday 11AM–9PM
Saturday 11AM–9PM
Sunday 11AM–8:30PM

For more information (you'll need to have the website translated if you don't read Japanese), go here.

Godzilla's Resurgence To Continue

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


Now that the successes of the Legendary Pictures/Warner Bros. Godzilla and Toho's Shin Godzilla has re-established the King of the Monsters as the top moneymaker in Japan, Godzilla's resurgence will continue.

According to the Worcester Telegram:
Godzilla — Japan’s iconic kaiju monster — has risen once again. 
The creature made its animated film debut in November, and an official store opened in Tokyo in late October, just to name two of the latest developments. The latest charge forward can be attributed to Toho Co.’s Godzilla strategy council, which meets once a month to discuss Godzilla’s next moves. 
The council meetings, held at the film company’s head office in Hibiya, Tokyo, are presided over by the CGO (chief Godzilla officer). After assuming the title in May, Keiji Ota described the council as “a company-wide unit.” 
“What can we do to make Godzilla loved by people all over the world?” the 52-year-old executive said. “This council is meant to gather all sorts of information on Godzilla and map out mid- to long-term strategies.”

Currently, an anime version of Godzilla has met with favorable reviews.

To read more, go here.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Must-See Waterfalls In The West

Above, Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Do you like to look at waterfalls? I sure do. At times they are mesmerizing to behold.

The western United States has plenty of waterfalls and AZ Family has a list of the "must-see" waterfalls in the west. I've been to some of them.

They begin with:
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Fresh air, tumbling waters and rising mist make waterfalls a multi-sensory marvel. There are thousands of these natural phenomena across the country, but experts say some are more special than others. In the spring issue of Via magazine, AAA shares eight must-see waterfalls in the West.
  
To see their list of "must-see" waterfalls, go here

Camping In The Months Ahead

Above, The Beast at Goulding's Lodge Campground in Monument Valley in 2016. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Right now in Jamestown, New Mexico, it is cold and windy. But that won't last for too long as spring will begin next month and then the summer months. That means camping season!

I've already decided on some excursions in the months ahead.

One of them is a return visit to Monument Valley. Monument Valley is about 201 miles from here, a three and a half hour drive (give-or-take). That, to me, is a reasonable distance. I was in Monument Valley in November 2016. While it was enjoyable, it was a bit cold. This time, I would like to go there during the summer months when everything is open (such as Goulding's Lodge shuttles). The heat would be no problem as The Beast has air conditioning and the swimming pool will be open.

Above, one of the sights of Monument Valley. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Also, there is the Roswell UFO Festival that will be held in Roswell, New Mexico on July 6-8. It looks like it would be a lot of fun to attend.

Roswell is 321 miles from here, a five-hour drive according to Google.

Besides those, there is also the spring clampout of the Lost Dutchman Chaper of E Clampus Vitus. It will be held in Arizona. The Lost Dutchman Chapter is the official ECV chapter of New Mexico.

There are also local places to camp at. There are state park nearby as well as RV resorts at some of the Navajo Indian casinos.

This should be a good year for getting out.

New Plate On The Beast

Since the weather here has moderated a bit, I figured it was time to remove the California plates and install the new New Mexico plate.

Since California requires two license plates on vehicles (front and rear) and New Mexico doesn't (rear only), if it wasn't for the E Clampus Vitus plate (or half-plate), the front would have an empty space at the mounting bracket.

I've had the ECV plate since the 1980s. I first had it mounted on the Starcraft tent trailer, then the Gulf Stream Conquest micro-mini motorhome, then on my old Nissan pick-up truck and now on Winnebago.

Here's the front as it looks now:



And here's a little closer view:



Here's the new New Mexico plate:


Wolf Spotted At Crater Lake National Park

Above, Wizard Island at Crater Lake National Park. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Several years ago, wolves were re-introduced into Yellowstone National Park and are currently thriving.

However, this is the first I've heard of wolves in Crater Lake National Park in recent years.

According to the Herald and News:
A local woman had a unique experience with a wolf at Crater Lake National Park on Wednesday and was able to capture photos of the encounter. 
Erika Clements said she was making her daily deliveries to the park for UPS when she came around a corner and saw what appeared to be a dog digging in the snow. 
As she drove closer she realized it wasn’t a dog or even a coyote, but an engendered gray wolf.

To read more, go here

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Free Internet Access To Be Given On Tokaido Shinkansen Line

Above, a Tokaido Shinkansen train arrives at Atami Station. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

For those traveling on a shinkansen between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka, free Internet access will soon be given to those who would rather look at their laptop screens than viewing the passing countryside.

The Asahi Shimbun reported:
Free access to wireless local area networks (WLANs) will be available soon on the Tokaido Shinkansen Line. 
Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Tokai), operator of the Tokaido Shinkansen Line, said Jan. 25 that it will start providing free WLAN access in trains and stations.
The new service will be introduced on N700A-series bullet trains in the summer and is scheduled to be available on all 2,096 cars of 131 trains by the end of fiscal 2019. 
West Japan Railway Co. (JR West), operator of the Sanyo Shinkansen Line, with which the Tokaido Shinkansen Line shares tracks, is positive about the plan, according to JR Tokai officials.

To read more, go here

Tokyo Sightseeing

Above, the Tokyo Skytree. Photo by Armand Vaquer.


Need some ideas for sightseeing in Tokyo?

The Kyoto-centric blog Kyotours Japan has some suggestions for places to see while in Japan's capital city.

They begin with:
We're all about Kyoto here at KyoTours Japan, but that doesn't mean we don't have other favorite spots all over Japan. Our Beyond Kyoto series of blogs is all about things to do and places to visit throughout Japan. Today, we'll fill you in on a few  unique locations in Tokyo, the world's largest city and a must-see spot on any Japan vacation. Some of these places are well known, and some are off the beaten path, but we think they're all worth visiting! A bit of googling and online research can provide location info and visiting hours for all of these sightseeing spots. Enjoy!

To read more (with photographs), go here

Lisa Marie Presley $16.7 Million In Debt

Above, the Lisa Marie jet of Elvis Presley. Photo by Armand Vaquer.


Lisa Marie is in debt. The daughter of Elvis Presley, not the jet Lisa Marie.

Ouch! It is hard for me to get around the thought that someone could get themselves into a financial hole of $16.7 million. Apparently, Lisa Marie Presley is in that financial hole.

According to E! Online:
Lisa Marie Presley states in court documents filed amid her divorce battle that she is $16 million in debt. 
In 2016, the 50-year-old daughter of the late Elvis Presley and fellow singer, who is also famous for her short-lived marriage to the late Michael Jackson, filed for divorce from current husband Michael Lockwood, with whom she shares twin daughters. Amid their court battle, legal documents have revealed glimpses of Lisa Marie's finances. 
Newly submitted documents show that she is more than $16.7 million in debt. She said she has yet to pay more than $10 million in tax bills from several years past, that she has defaulted on a $6 million mortgage she took out for a home she owns in the United Kingdom and that she also has more than $47,800 in credit card bills and also has tens of thousands of dollars owed to attorneys.

To read more, go here

Friday, February 16, 2018

Fireball: Carole Lombard and the Mystery of Flight 3 Expanded Edition

Above, a vintange photo of the El Rancho Vegas.

Yesterday, after taking care of business at the Gallup office of the Motor Vehicle Division, on the way home I stopped at the Flying J to pick up my mail.

I received a package from Amazon of the expanded edition of Fireball: Carole Lombard and the Mystery of Flight 3 (trade paperback) on the 1942 TWA place crash that killed actress Carole Lombard and 21 others.

I already have the hardcover edition, but new information and 32 pages of photos included in the expanded edition were too tempting to pass up. I started reading it last night.

One thing that intrigued me was the El Rancho Vegas Hotel where Lombard's husband Clark Gable waited while search and recovery operations were taking place on Mt. Potosi.

Above, a view of Mt. Potosi from Interstate 15. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The hotel opened during the previous year and was the biggest hotel in Las Vegas for many years. It was destroyed by a fire in 1960. It was located at 2500 Las Vegas Blvd. It looked like it was a fun place to stay.

Since it has been a while since I read the hardcover edition, I am enjoying reading the expanded edition. It is an excellent read!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Productive Day

Today was productive as I went to the New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division in Gallup to get myself a New Mexico driver's license and to get The Beast its New Mexico plate (unlike California, New Mexico only requires one license plate.

Since the process of registering/titling a vehicle in a different state involves a V.I.N. inspection, I will have to return again to register the Mustang. Before I even do that, I have to complete and send to Sacramento a request for a duplicate title. The one I have/had disappeared. I found The Beast's title. Once I receive the duplicate title from Sacramento, I can then register the Mustang in New Mexico.

I was pleasantly surprised on the cost to register vehicles in New Mexico. For one year, the RV registration would be around $108. For two years, the cost is $211. Guess which I did? The two-year one!

In California, the cost to renew The Beast would have been around $300-500. This tells me that I made a good decision in moving here!

So, The Beast is all registered, and I have its new plate, registration and title (they print those on the spot).

Before I went to the Motor Vehicle Division, I waited for the delivery man to bring the office chair I bought yesterday.

Here it is:

Above, the new office chair. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Not So Much

Last night's snows weren't as much as last Sunday night's.

It began in the evening as rain and then turned into snow showers.

In case you're wondering about meteorological terminology about snow, here's what Almanac.com says about snow showers:
Officially, the National Weather Bureau says that a snow shower is steady but light snow that comes and goes in intervals. A snow flurry consists of harmless flakes of very light snow.

Here's some photos I took this morning. Although today's temperatures are expected to remain in the 30s, this will probably be gone by this afternoon.



Wednesday, February 14, 2018

It's Started

Here we go into Round Two of snowy weather in Jamestown, New Mexico.

Just as the forecasters predicted, snow showers have begun to fall. One report warned of slushy road conditions on Interstate 40 near the Continental Divide (where I am at).

I did manage to click off a couple of pictures:

Above, the front yard. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, my mom's bear planter stand. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

It's Beginning

Well, it looks like things are beginning to happen here, weather-wise.

I just went outside to uncover some old patio furniture, knowing that it will rain this evening and will clean them off. While removing the plastic wrap, rain sprinkles were just starting.

Here's The Weather Channel's forecast for tonight:




How Much Does Recreation Vehicles Account In Annual Economic Activity?

Above, The Beast at Lassen Volcanic National Park. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Travel and leisure is a big industry in the U.S. and around the world.

One may wonder, "How much does the RV industry account to annual economic activity?

Business Wire has just the anwer:
RESTON, Va.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Coming on the heels of a record-breaking year of sales for the RV industry, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced today that RVs accounted for $30 billion in direct economic activity in 2016, the most recent year for which statistics are available. The data from the Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account (ORSA), the first ever government report recognizing outdoor recreation as a significant contributor to the U.S. economy.

$30 billion? That's a nice chunk of change!

To read more, go here

Is The Japan Rail Pass Worth The Money?

Above, a couple of Japan Rail Passes I've used. Photo by Armand Vaquer.


Is the Japan Rail Pass worth the money?

That question is often posed by tourists who plan to visit Japan who may or may not do some traveling outside of Tokyo.

Zooming Japan has an article that should answer that question.

They begin with:
A question I get almost on a daily basis is: Is the Japan Rail Pass worth it?

Short answer: Yes, for long distance travelling (e.g. a round trip from Tokyo to Kyoto). 
Ok, ok. You want the long answer, right? :)

Their long answer starts with:
In Japan the most convenient way to travel around is by train. 
Japan offers a huge variety of train passes that will allow you to save money. 
There are regional passes which make sense if you only stick to a certain region during your stay. 
There’s also the “Seishun 18 Kippu” which is great if you don’t have a lot of money, but a lot of time. 
The Japan Rail Pass is probably the ultimate budget pass if you use it wisely. 
With the Japan Rail Pass you can ride a huge variety of trains, some buses and ferries for FREE!! for either 7, 14 or even 21 consecutive days.

To read more, go here

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