Donald Fink and Bonnie Fink

Roadside View of Capitol Reef National Park: One Day at This Utah Attraction

Roadside View of Capitol Reef National Park: One Day at This Utah Attraction

Do you know where Capital Reef National Park is? We found it by chance more than two decades ago and we’ve been going back since then.

Capital Reef is a small National Park located in southern Utah. It’s in the neighborhood of the Grand Escalante National Recreation Area, Zion National Park, and Bryce Canyon National Park. The closest town is called Torrey. Not much there except a small grocery store and a handful of restaurants, cafes and hotels.

The area has grown significantly over the years, but we think it’s still one of the best kept secrets in southern Utah.

Here’s a video we made from a recent trip through Capitol Reef. We hesitate to say that it was our destination, but rather, it was a diversion as we traveled from one place to another. Next time we’ll want to spend more time and explore some of the backcountry.

We spent just a single day ambling around Capitol Reef National Park in southern Utah. Here’s what we found by observing from the roadside.

We spent about six weeks in this area a few years ago when we were RVing full time and came away with a few stories. Here are a few:

Capitol Reef National Park – Our introductory piece from a couple of years ago when we visited this the Park.

Capitol Reef national Park – Image gallery – Some of our first images from Capitol Reef National Park. They’re still relevant since nothing has changed over the years.

Capitol Reef – Waterpocket Fold – We dive into the fascinating geology of the area around Capitol Reef called The Waterpocket Fold. By visiting Capitol Reef national Park, it’s no mystery that the area has been very geologically active and this article explains a little about how it all took place.

Capital Reef National Park – Wayne Wonderland – Here we dive into a bit of the recent history of Wayne County and who the first Mormon settlers were.

Goblin Valley – Utah’s Weirdest Rocks – This should have been listed first. If you visit Capitol Reef National Park and you come from I-70, you pass by Goblin Valley State Park near Hanksville. This place has the weirdest rocks we’ve seen anywhere and it’s worth a visit, especially if it’s on your way.

Posted by Donald Fink and Bonnie Fink in blog, Travel, US Parks, Video, 0 comments
Impressions of the Parks Near Moab

Impressions of the Parks Near Moab

If you like wide-open spaces—and who doesn’t these days—then one place that might be at the top of your list should be Moab, Utah. And we don’t mean the City of Moab—even though it’s a fine city—but the overwhelming number of national, state, and county parks in the immediate area.

To tell you about everything to see and do around Moab would take a sizable book. In fact, books are written pretty much everything you could think of to do in this American Southwest destination. From rock climbing to day hiking, mountain biking, four-wheeling, you name it, it’s here. There are tours if you want to be shown around, and there are rentals if you want to head out on your own. Many people bring their own equipment and head out to the backcountry.

Our quick little video here shows just a bit of only two parks in the Moab area: Arches National Park and Canyonlands. Both are easily accessible with any kind of vehicle and are an easy day trip from downtown Moab.

Canyonlands and Arches National Parks are two of our favorite places in the southwest. We’ve spent a great deal of time visiting these wonders over the years, and it seems as though it’s a new experience each time we come.

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Posted by Donald Fink and Bonnie Fink in blog, The West, Travel, US Parks, 0 comments
Penguins on the Falkland Islands

Penguins on the Falkland Islands

One of the highlights of our recent trip to Antarctica was a stop at the Falkland Islands, where we drove out to a place called Volunteer Point to view a large colony of King Penguins. The road trip took about 2 1/2 hours. The first half-hour was on a paved road. We then transitioned to a dirt road for another hour or so, and the remainder was cross country through peat bogs that served as cattle pastures.

Our vehicle was a four-wheel-drive diesel Nissan pickup that looked as if it was a personal vehicle of the driver. When questioned about it, he mentioned that he was just helping out the tour company and that his “day” job was as a mechanic in a local shop in the town of Stanley. He was handy to have around since several vehicles got stuck in the bogs on the way out. Our impression was that being stuck was not unusual.

You can visit Falklands Conservation to learn more about how this organization is working to benefit the penguins on the Falkland Islands, and some of their other important conservation projects.

This was a day to remember. We’d do it again in a flash, and it’s on our list of places to return someday.
Posted by Donald Fink and Bonnie Fink in blog, Cruising, Travel, 0 comments
The United Kingdom Pavilion at Epcot’s World Showcase

The United Kingdom Pavilion at Epcot’s World Showcase

Not long ago we made our way through the United Kingdom at Epcot, in world Showcase. We found authentic merchandise from England and Scotland, sampled the traditional British food, and enjoyed Disney’s recreation of the British architecture. The pavilion seems packed full of British culture and history and, to us, represents a good cross-section of how the United Kingdom really is. Take a look at what we found:

The Architecture

The front of the Tea Caddy is a thatched roof timber frame construction that represents a building from the early 1600s’. This particular building is where you can get a good selection of Twinings Tea products. It’s interesting to note that the thatches on this roof-and all thatched roofs we’ve checked at Disney-are actually made of aluminum. It’s the magic of Disney after all. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
Our information tells us that the Tea Caddy is supposed to depict the home of Anne Hathaway, the wife of William Shakespeare. The fireplace, as well as many other decorations inside the building certainly indicate a home setting and the period of the building is certainly right. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
Next to the Tea Caddy are two other buildings. The one on the left is from the 1700s’ and the building on the right is from the 1800s’. Both are basic timber frame construction. The building on the left is called The Biscuit Barrel even though it’s unmarked and the building on the right is The Queen’s Table. To be clear, these are really the same building with different facades. Inside, you’re walking through several shops as though they’re just one continuous store. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
One thing you learn if you go to England (the real England) is that pubs are important. Even if you don’t drink, you’ll find yourself in a pub if you want to eat since that’s where much of the food is served. The Rose and Crown at Epcot’s United Kingdom is an example of pretty much any well maintained pub you’d find in England. We were told that the name, Rose and Crown, was decided because Imagineers did a survey of all pubs in the United Kingdom and discovered that the words that appeared most often were Rose and Crown. Photo by Donald Fink.
You would expect to see a statue in a town square in Great Britain, but here at Epcot there’s a vertical sundial. Our research didn’t reveal why this particular sundial is here in Epcot, but sundials do figure prominently in Britain’s history. As for determining when sundials were first used in England, this subject seems to be a discipline of its own. For us, the sundial is an interesting object and a good place to rest for a minute before walking on. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
Behind the main shops is a town square that we’ve read is patterned after Hyde Park in central London. We’re not quite seeing the resemblance, but it could be true. Behind the park is a building facade that is made to look like some of London’s typical Row Houses, which is very realistic. Photo by Donald Fink.
Hedges are popular in gardens in Great Britain, and hedge mazes are sometimes found in parks and gardens across the country. At the United Kingdom in Epcot, you can find a kid-sized hedge maze in the back garden near the stage. Photo by Donald Fink.
This garden is located behind the Tea Caddie and the Queen’s Table. We believe it symbolizes a garden found at an Apothecary in historical England. During the International Flower and Garden Festival, Twinings Tea offers free tours of this garden, showing off some of the plants that go into various tea blends. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
It turns out there are about 115,500 mailboxes in the United Kingdom; enough to place a box within 1/2 mile of 98% of the British population. The idea of using free-standing postal boxes dates back to an 1840 Postal reform. These Victorian style boxes began appearing in 1852. They usually have a cipher, or insignia, of the reigning monarch at the time of placement. This one, with its EIIR insignia, bears the insignia of Queen Elizabeth II, as do about 60% of the Royal Postal Boxes in the U.K. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
This is known as a K6 Phone booth. The K represents the word “Kiosk.” When introduced around 1935, it was to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of King George V. It was oftern referred to as simply a “Jubilee Box.” The K6 remained the current phone booth in use in England until 1968, when it was replaced by the K8. Photo by Donald Fink.

The Food

The Rose and Crown is a pub in the United Kingdom at Epcot. As with many pubs across England, it’s also a restaurant. In fact, it’s the only table service restaurant at the United Kingdom pavilion. Entering these doors will get you into the pub. To get a table at the restaurant, there’s a station to the left of the pub, not shown here. Photo by Donald Fink.
Inside the Rose and Crown Pub, you’ll find a bar decorated like many pubs we’ve seen in the United Kingdom. This one absolutely took us back to a pub we visited for lunch in Windsor near the Windsor Castle a few years ago. Photo by Donald Fink.
Inside the Rose and Crown, guests can stand at the bar or find seating at a table. Photo by Donald Fink.
The restaurant part of the Rose and Crown has a warm, welcoming feeling about its decor. We felt at home when we had lunch here. The menu is traditional English with items like fish and Chips, Bangers and Mash, Shepherd’s Pie, and Corned Beef Cabbage, it’s easy to find something British. Or at least, what we Americans think might be British. Photo by Donald Fink.

Most of us here in the US know what Fish and Chips is, but some of us may have never heard the term, Bangers and Mash. Simply put, Bangers and Mash is an English dish made of sausage and mashed potatoes. It’s often referred to as Pub Grub. In 2009, Bangers and Mash was listed as Britain’s most popular comfort food in a survey by the TV channel, Good Food. Here’s a menu from the Rose and Crown.

The quick service restaurant at the United Kingdom in Epcot is called the Yorkshire County Fish Shop. There’s one entree item on the menu, which is Fish and Chips. It consists of two strips of fish served with chips. When we say chips, that’s British talk for French Fries. If you like fish, or even only occasionally like fish, this might be some of the best quick service food at Epcot. It’s certainly worth a try. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
Seating at the Yorkshire County fish Shop is outdoor, overlooking Crescent Lake. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

The Shopping

We’ve seen kids walking around Disney, bouncing a ball, and wondered about the wisdom of bringing your child to Disney with a toy that has the potential to go horribly wrong in such a crowded environment. It turns out that soccer balls like this one can be purchased right here in the United Kingdom. We found a bin of these and other balls in The Sportsman’s Shoppe. Photo by Donald Fink.
At the Crown and Crest in Epcot’s United Kingdom, you can search for your family crest and have it printed along with a brief description of your family name. The framed version depicted here is a bit expensive, but you can have the pages printed without the matting and framing for a reasonable price. Both versions are available “same day,” but if you need it shipped home, it can take four to six weeks to arrive. We looked up Don’s family name of Fink and discovered that it was listed as “Finck.” Our research indicates that his family name was indeed Finck in Germany, before his family came to America in the 1700s’. Photo by Donald Fink.
These penguins are from the movie, Mary Poppins. You can find them in Epcot’s United Kingdom at the Toy soldier. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
When we found these cups at the Biscuit Barrel, we were surprised at the price. They seemed to be very expensive. But when we examined them carefully, they also seemed to be of extremely high quality. Also, they’re made in England; a rare find for fine for porcelain these days. Photo by Donald Fink.
These cups are showing Alice in Wonderland. In this scene, she’s trying to play Croquet using a Flamingo as a mallet and a hedgehog as a ball. Alice in Wonderland, in addition to being a classic Children’s story, was a Disney animated film, initially released in 1951. A Live action version of the story, directed by Tim Burton, was released in 2010. You can find these cups in the Biscuit Barrel. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
Here’s a purse we found at the Queen’s Table at Epcot’s United Kingdom. There are many different British themed items, as you might expect. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
There’s a selection of packaged sweets from the British Isles at the Biscuit Barrel. Here is a package of Clotted Cream Fudge from Scotland. Clotted Cream is apparently a big deal in Britain, thought to date back to the time of the Phoenicians. It’s described as having a nutty, cooked milk flavor, often containing as much as 60% fat. This is no doubt some serious fudge. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
You can find a wide variety of Twinings Tea at the Tea Caddy. Photo by Donald Fink.
Outside of the Tea Caddie, along the main thoroughfare, you can see Alice, from Alice in Wonderland. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
In the garden behind the shops at the United Kingdom Pavilion, you can find Mary Poppins. Like Alice, Mary Poppins appears at different times during the day. You can find a sign posted near the spot listing the times she’s expected to be thee. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

At this year’s D23 Expo, Disney announced the creation of a Mary Poppins attraction at Epcot. No details were given about whether it would be a ride, a show, or maybe a small neighborhood. What we do know is that Epcot is undergoing a major overhaul at the moment, so it could be nearly anything.

At the Rose and Crown, you may find Carol Stein at the piano playing for guests. She is a talented lady that’s fun and entertaining to watch. Video by Donald Fink.
There’s a band playing at the United Kingdom pavilion called the British Revolution, and you may not be surprised to know that they perform mostly British rock music. they perform several times a day, most days. you can check a Times Guide as you enter the park to see when they’ll perform. It’s worth planning your day to be there for one of their shows.

We’ve spent time in the United Kingdom here in Epcot. We’ve sampled the food, shopped the merchandise, and enjoyed the entertainment, and it never gets old. We can recommend that anyone visiting Epcot and especially World Showcase, spend some time here and see what you can find.

Posted by Donald Fink and Bonnie Fink in blog, Disney, Theme Parks, 0 comments
Manatees of Blue Springs State Park

Manatees of Blue Springs State Park

We went north of Orlando a few miles and visited Blue Springs State Park. It’s January, and the Manatees are here. On the day we were visited, the count was 380 animals.

Blue Springs State Park is based around an underground spring that remains a constant 72 degrees F year-round. When the seawater gets below 66 degrees, the Manatees start looking for warmer water and Blue Springs, with its proximity to the St. John’s River, is high on the list.

In summer months, Blue Springs is a popular park for swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving. The springs offer a chance for divers to explore a cave system that descents more than 100 feet underground. There’s a campground too, so visitors can spend several days.

The crystal clear waters of Blue Springs State Park are home to Manatees in the coldest winter months, but in the summer, it’s a popular swimming hole. Snorkeling and Scuba diving are also on the list. The spring that feeds more than a million gallons of water a day river extends down more than 100 feet into the earth.
Posted by Donald Fink and Bonnie Fink in blog, Florida, State Parks, Travel, Video, 0 comments
Visiting an Alpaca Farm Near Santiago

Visiting an Alpaca Farm Near Santiago

After our Antarctica cruise, we spent a few days in Santiago. One day, we ventured out of town a few miles and visited an Alpaca farm nearby. It was in a small town about an hour north of Santiago in a local farming district, called Llay Llay.

The name of the Alpaca Farm is called Quintessence Alpacas. To quote from their web site, “This family business is dedicated to the fine breeding, export, and manufacturing of the best alpaca and alpaca fiber. As well as to the rescue and preservation of all the beautiful natural colors that Alpaca has to offer.”

If you’re in the area, you can also arrange a tour of their facility, and here’s a quick look at our visit:

Visiting Quintessence Alpacas near Santiago, Chile, we quickly learned what interesting, inquisitive, and intelligent animals these Alpacas were.
Posted by Donald Fink and Bonnie Fink in blog, Cruising, Travel, 0 comments
Lamar Valley, Yellowstone National Park

Lamar Valley, Yellowstone National Park

One of our favorite spots in the U.S., or even the world for that matter, is Yellowstone National Park, in Wyoming and Montana. We travel there as often as we can and try to make it when we have the best chances of seeing animals.

While in Yellowstone, we have several spots we like to visit, but one of our favorite spots is the Lamar Valley, located in the northeastern part of the park. We almost always encounter animals along the road from Tower Junction and east until the highway starts its climb up and out of the valley. We usually encounter bears, pronghorn, many bison, and an occasional wolf (in the distance) or coyote.

This past summer’s trip was especially good for us so we put together a quick video of some of the animals and sights we found while driving the road in the Lamar Valley. Take a look:

The Lamar Valley in Yellowstone National Park is one of our favorite places for spotting wildlife. This picturesque highway between Tower Junction and the Park exit is home to a large variety of critters and with ample places to pull off the road for observing, it’s a great place to spend some time. Photos and videos by Don and Bonnie Fink.
Posted by Donald Fink and Bonnie Fink in blog, Featured, The West, Travel, US Parks, 0 comments
Animal Watching Along the Madison River

Animal Watching Along the Madison River

In the fall, the animals in Yellowstone often congregate in lower areas where they can more easily navigate the winter snow and find food. This is especially true along the Madison River near Yellowstone’s western entrance. Elk often number in the hundreds here while they get on with the business of the fall rut and settle in for the coming winter.
Posted by Donald Fink and Bonnie Fink in blog, Travel, US Parks, 0 comments