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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
The Green Army Drum Corps

The Green Army Drum Corps

Walt Disney World remains closed for now, but if you were able to visit, a must-see stop would be a performance of the Green Army Drum Corps in Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This is a percussion trio outfitted in the style of the Green army Soldiers of the Toy Story movies. They march and perform several times a day, so check a Times Guide when you’re there.

Posted by Donald Fink in blog, Disney, Theme Parks, Video, 0 comments
Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort: A Photo Tour

Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort: A Photo Tour

Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort has gone through some changes over the past two years, so we thought it might be time for another look. From the new Skyliner, the new neighbor to the north called The Riviera, to new buildings outside Old Port Royale, the resort has seen changes to its skyline.

The Skyliner

There’s a new form of transportation available at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, and that’s called the Skyliner. The Skyliner is an aerial gondola that runs to Hollywood Studios and Epcot. It makes a stop at the new Riviera Hotel and has connecting services to Disney’s Pop Century Resort and Disney’s Art of Animation.

When the Skyliner first opened, we took a ride from Epcot to Hollywood Studios with a stop at the Skyliner Station at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. We found the ride comfortable and very enjoyable. It affords a unique view of some of the Disney Skyline we hadn’t seen before.

The newest transportation system at Walt Disney World is the Skyliner. this is an aerial tram similar to trams used all around the world, mostly at ski resorts. There is quite a bit of speculation about how this system will work in the heat of Florida’s summers since they do not have air conditioning. Our experience has been positive so far. There are several windows in each cabin and there’s quite a bit of air flowing when it’s moving. We’ll see.
Disney’s new Skyliner has a central hub at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. Guests leaving here can travel to Disney’s Art of Animation and Pop Century Resorts on one line, Hollywood Studios on another, and a third line goes to Epoct with a stop at the new Disney’s Riviera Resort. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
There are two entrances to each Skyliner. Here is an entrance for wheelchairs. the coach is brought off the main line and stopped, allowing more time to board. It’s then re-inserted into the flow when everyone on-board is safely situated. Other passengers will board a slowly moving tram as it makes its way around the terminal. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
There’s a Joffrey’s Coffee Kiosk at the Beach Resort Skyliner Station, just in case you need something to drink or a big ol’ donut. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

Our understanding is that bus service from Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort to both Epcot and Hollywood Studios has started running every hour instead of the customary 20-minute interval found at most resort bus stops. This is because of the Skyliner service to these parks. It’s like Disney hotels that have boat service to another attraction, like the Yacht and Beach Club to Hollywood Studios. So, if you’re not fond of the Skyliner, your wait for a bus could be a bit longer than you expect.

The Grounds

Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort is situated around a water feature called Barefoot Bay. Each country has a beachfront along this small lake, but the nature of being along a lakefront means that things tend to get spread around. In fact, one of the biggest complaints we see on social media about Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort is that it’s too big. It takes too long to walk from your room to the food court and lobby at Old Port Royale. Fortunately, there’s a bridge in the middle of the hotel that connects old Port Royale from the countries on the opposite side of the lake. There’s also an internal bus service that moves guests around the hotel grounds. It’s really not hard to get around once you know the drill.

This bridge, which spans the narrow part of Barefoot Bay, goes between Caribbean Cay Playground and Jamaica and Aruba. Another smaller bridge connects Caribbean Cay and Old Port Royale. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
Take a look at some of the things we found as we walked the grounds at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort.
Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort is themed after five different Caribbean Countries: Trinidad, Barbados, Jamaica, Aruba, and Martinique. Here is a view of Barbados, located to the left of the bridge near the Main Entrance. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
Each one of the countries at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Hotel has a beach. No swimming or wading is allowed as you can see by the fence at the shoreline, but you can enjoy a total of six swimming pools on the property. In the meantime, if your aim is some quiet downtime on the beach, you can grab one of these hammocks or a lounge chair. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
The main swimming pool at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort is called Fuentes del Morro. It’s patterned after a Spanish fort of the 18th century; an architecture that’s prevalent all throughout the Caribbean. This is the main fun spot for the resort, located near all the other amenities like Old Port Royale and the Banana Cabana. Photo by Donald Fink.
There are five quiet pools at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. This pool is at Aruba. Photo by Donald Fink.
The attraction to Caribbean living and Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort for many people has got to be the party atmosphere, especially for the kids around the main pool. But sometimes you just need a quiet spot to reflect or do whatever you might do in a quiet spot. Fortunately, there are many secluded and quiet areas around the resort that offer a place to unwind. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
The new lobby at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort is at Old Port Royale. The old one, at the Customs House, was removed to make way for the new Riviera Resort. Photo by Donald Fink.
In October, 2018 the check-in to Disney’s Caribbean beach resort moved from the Customs House to Old Port Royale. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
In most Disney hotels, there’s an area where kinds can entertain themselves while you take care of the business of checking in. And of course, the TV is playing Disney. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

The Food

 Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort has several places where you can grab a meal. The most obvious is the main food court in Old Port Royale, called Centertown Market. You can get all three of your meals and there’s inside or covered outside seating available.

If you’re in a hurry, there’s Centertown Market Grab & Go, where you can get salads, sandwiches, and snacks already made and ready to enjoy. You can get bakery items too.

Dining is at Sebastian’s Bistro, which is outside Old Port Royale in the building it shares with the Banana Cabana. Sebastian’s in only open for dinner.

The way you get your meals at Centertown Market is that you first place your order at this order desk. From there, you make your way to the pick-up windows, located to the left of this image. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
Just around the corner from where you place an order at Centertown market is where you’ll find the pick-up windows. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
You can also place your orders through your MyDisney app on your phone, and pick it up here. It’s a good way to avoid the lines. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
Like many of the Disney Resorts, the food courts have a toaster or two and a microwave for your use. You can bring your own food and prepare breakfast if you prefer. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
It might be Florida, but it certainly looks like the Caribbean when you sit down to enjoy your meal at Centertown Market. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
The Grab N Go in Centertown Market is a great place to go if you’re looking for a quick dessert. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
At Centertown Market, there’s covered seating outside too in case that’s more to your liking. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
Sebastian’s Bistro opened in Oct. 2018 and is open for Dinner. Photo by Donald Fink.

Sebastian’s Bistro is the new dining restaurant at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. It is a new building since 2018, located outside Old Port Royale and next to the Fuentes del Morro Pool. Sebastian’s replaced Shutters, which was located inside Old Port Royale.

Sebastian’s is considered casual dining with island-inspired cuisine, like Jerk Chicken with Black Beans, Cilantro Rice, and Dark Rum Glaze. You can find their menu here.


There’s a comfortable bar next to the Fuentes del Morro Pool called Banana Cabana. It’s a walk-up bar and also has seating in a covered area. You can enjoy tropical drinks with names like Caribbean Smuggler, Guave-Rita, or a Bourbon Breeze. And yes, there’s beer too. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

And Finally

The skyline is changing at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. To the west is the Skyliner, but north of the hotel is the new Riviera Resort. This is Disney’s newest Disney Vacation Club resort and has been open for only a short time. Photo by Donald Fink.

There’s a lot to like about Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. The times we’ve visited and even stayed at this hotel, we couldn’t escape the feeling that there was a lot of emphasis placed on the party atmosphere of Caribbean life. The Fuentes del Morro Pool seemed to be the center of activity around the resort, promoting outside activities all day, every day.

Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort seems to have a place for everyone. Whether your notion of fun is an active day at the pool or a quiet place by yourself to reflect, it’s here.


Posted by Donald Fink in blog, Disney, Theme 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