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Wandering the Roads Behind Moab

Wandering the Roads Behind Moab

We all know about the National parks when we visit Moab, Utah. We even know about many of the backroads used by mountain bikers, ATVs, and other 4WD enthusiasts. What many folks may not know is that some of the most scenic areas around Moab are right in its backyard.

We visited two areas behind Moab today:

First, leaving Moab to the west, we ventured along the Colorado River on the opposite side of Potash Road, and out along Kane Springs Road. This area has several BLM (Bureau of Land Management) campgrounds and day-use areas as well as some seriously scenic country.

Next, we returned to town and made our way out to Potash Road on the opposite side of the River and out to Jug Handle Arch, and Long Canyon Road. We traveled the road only for a short distance for these images, but the road will eventually exit at Dead Horse Point State Park.

This was just a taste of these less-traveled backroads near Moab. No doubt we’ll end up spending more time here in the not-too-distant future.

 

Traveling some of the less known roads behind Moab.
Posted by Donald Fink and Bonnie Fink in Blog, Travel, Video, 0 comments
Chaco Culture National Historic Park

Chaco Culture National Historic Park

At Chaco Canyon, many of the original “Vigas” are still embedded into the walls. These wooden features made up the floors of multi-story buildings as well as the foundations for the rooftops.

We’ve called them many names in the past. They were the Anasazi, the Ancient Puebloans, and today, at Chaco Canyon, they’re called “Chacoans,” or just “Chaco People.” The truth is, none of the names we’ve made up over the centuries really fits, and we have no idea what they called themselves.

What we do know is that Chaco Canyon was the cultural, political, and economic center of these ancient people from around 850 A.D. to 1250 A.D. It’s thought that thousands of people lived here while roads were built and maintained throughout their area of influence.

We visited Chaco Canyon recently and walked among the many ruins, enjoying the landscape and the isolation of this northern New Mexico National Historic Site. The closest town is Farmington, and getting to Chaco Canyon took a bit of determination. Starting from State Highway 505, we turned off on County Road 7950 and drove about five miles until the pavement ended. We then proceeded along a dirt road that was minimally maintained for another thirteen miles, then another five miles over a road that was not maintained at all. We made it okay, and so did lots of other folks. The one small campground was full.

There were two first-come, first-served campsites. All others were by reservation only. Part of the campground is currently closed because the nearby rock walls are tending to fall, making for a potentially hazardous tent site.

The main entrance to Chaco Culture National Historic Park is from Highway 505 and along County Road 7950, about 20 miles from the highway to the park. Much of the trek is unimproved dirt. And to be fair, when we visited the park, the trip in was at about 10 MPH and we encountered a grader working the shoulders. On the way out, the road was comfortable at its posted speed limit of 30 MPH. The grader had finished his work while we were there.

There are several hiking trails within the park, but for this trip, concentrated mostly on the various pueblos that were situated along the loop road from the visitor’s center. Below are a few images we made along our way; mostly from Pueblo Bonito. This massive pueblo was thought to house a thousand inhabitants, and it’s a truly believable number. we encountered a volunteer ranger at the site that was able to tell us a great deal about the structure and what we believe to be true about its history. If you visit, be sure to seek these folks out. they have a great deal of knowledge and are willing to share.

Here’s a brief overview of what we found on our last visit to Chaco Canyon (Chaco Culture National Historic Park).
Posted by Donald Fink and Bonnie Fink in Blog, The West, Travel, US Parks, 0 comments
Artist’s Paint Pots

Artist’s Paint Pots

Artist’s Paint Pots is an attraction in Yellowstone National Park. Located about three miles south of the Norris Geyser Basin along the Grand Loop Road, this is a collection of over 50 springs, geysers, vents, and mud pots.

As one of the “out-of-the-way” locations, this area seems to get a little less traffic than some of the more popular areas of the part, but if you happen by, it’s worth a stop.

The trail loop is about 1.2 miles in total with an 80 rise in elevation. We enjoyed this location early in the morning. The cold air made the steam rising from the various features more dramatic.

Posted by Donald Fink in Blog, US Parks, Video, 0 comments
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