Friday, December 7, 2018

Year 4


Another year has come and gone for us here at Route To Adventure. As of December 1st we’ve started our fourth year of bringing our travel adventures to you through our website and I for one couldn’t be more excited.
Year three took us to a lot of great locations. We had two large trips that took us to Disney World and another to South Dakota. Most people would be happy to have taken just one of those trips and we got to do them both this year. However, it’s the things that we do in between large trips that really matter. Those small day or weekend trips are what helps keep the most adventurous of people happy. With me finishing my “day job” in California and our move home to Utah, we didn’t get out as often on the weekends as we planned. In fact, we’ve been very busy as of late just trying to adjust to our new surroundings, even though they are very familiar, and figuring out our new school and work schedules. This and flying back and forth to California by myself for a month really hindered our weekends this summer. That’s just life I guess and now it’s time to put that behind us and look forward to the new year.
We are very grateful for the opportunity that we had to explore California for the last two and a half years. We took the chance to see a lot of things your typical tourist wouldn’t bother with. Heck, we went places that most of the lifelong residents that I talked with had never visited. We saw historic missions, movie sets and roads. We visited the San Andreas fault, Old Town San Diego and Old Town Temecula. We also left a lot on the table. I have a dream to drive what remains of old Route 66 and while I traveled small pieces of it, I didn’t get all of the California section like I wanted. We didn’t make it to San Francisco, but we did make it to San Jose. We didn’t see the Monterey Bay aquarium, but we did see the Aquarium of the Pacific. Ugh, the list goes on, but the point I’m trying to make is that we got to experience a lot of things while we were there, and we’ve left enough to warrant a few more trips back.
Enter year four. Now that we’ve moved home, we can get back to the types of adventures that inspired me to start Route To Adventure in the first place, exploring Utah. At the time, I had only wanted to focus on our Jeep and ATV adventures, but our California experience opened my eyes to a larger world. I realized that there was a lot of things here in my own state that I had never seen because they were “too far away” or we just didn’t feel like it. Heh, heh, how ridiculous of me. In California we learned that if you want to see something, you had to get up early, and you were going to spend three hours in a car to get there. Well I happen to know that I can hit almost every corner of Utah in four and a half hours. There is no reason that we can’t se a lot more of our own back yard. So, we will continue the blog like we have for the last couple of years. We’re going to search for the unknown and the popular all the same. There will be a lot of dirt traveled on wheels and heels, but there will be the historic and modern sites and museums as well. Adventure can be anything you want it to be and you don’t always have to be risking your neck.
We will be tackling our big trip of the year early in 2019 as we hop a plane to fly to sunny Hawaii. This will be our first trip to Hawaii and we will be seeing the islands by way of a Norwegian Cruise ship. This will allow us to see the top attractions the islands have to offer in relative comfort. It’s a vacation that we have been looking forward to for a long time and I can’t wait to share it with you.
Also in 2019  you will see us back in Moab, we’ll be hitting up some of our great national parks and monuments and we’ll be covering some local hiking areas. We currently have some out of state trips planned but I’ll let you in on those as the year goes on, just in case some of them have to be rescheduled.
Another big thing coming that I’ve teased for a long time will be our big focus on video and our YouTube channel. I know I’ve talked about it in the past but let’s face it, I have a huge back log of footage that I want to get out to you because, while the photos are fun, it’s probably a lot more fun to see it visually as opposed to me telling you about it in a written story. So, I’m working on those now and hope to start rolling them out soon.
In closing, I’d like to thank all of you that continue to come back to our site and follow us on social media. There wouldn’t be a reason to write these articles if nobody read them. If you find an article interesting, please share it with your friends if it’s about something that might interest them as well. I love to hear stories about how our stories have taught someone about a new place or inspired someone to get out and explore on their own. Thank you!

Brandan

Here's the link to Episode One of the vlog. Not great, but I'll get better. Maybe:)

Episode ONE

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Disney's Animal Kingdom


 For our final installment of our Disney World experience we’ve saved the best for last. This is, of course, my opinion, but it seems to be the same opinion that everyone in our group shared. Disney’s Animal Kingdom has a lot of familiar elements of rides and shows, but where it differs is not just the animals inside this park, but the atmosphere itself.
Mickey’s presence in the park felt more muted than in others. In this park, the wild is the centerpiece. As soon as you walk through the gates of the park your path takes you through a variety of green trees and plants that that tower over your heads, helping you to forget that you are in a them park and instead in a secluded jungle. Although, the twenty thousand other guests that are there with you do will dull this illusion some.
Before long, you find yourself staring at the Tree of Life. This tree’s massive trunk is made up of different animals that are “formed” into the trunk. This alone is impressive to see and is fun for the entire family to count how many animals they can find. At night, the tree comes to life like only a Disney attraction can, with elaborate lighting and motion pictures. The animals that are camouflaged by day move about the limbs of the tree in vibrant colors that is well worth waiting for, even if your feet hurt and you’re ready to get back to the room. Parent’s and children alike will be blown away with this one.
Have you ever wanted to go on an African safari to see some of the world’s largest and exotic animals? Well this experience might be the closest to the real thing as you can get here in the United States. We jumped aboard an oversized truck and headed into the wilds of Africa where we go to see animals such as, lions, tigers, giraffe, elephant and crocodile. Here there are no fences between you and the animals and to be honest, there really isn’t anything obvious keeping the animals away from each other either. This is just another example of Disney “magic” that we aren’t meant to know but I think that it is the most impressive of their feats here at Animal Kingdom. That may sound lame but, these are the types of things I notice. I like to know how things work.
There are plenty of photo opportunities while on the safari from both sides of the truck, but I would suggest trying to get an end seat. That is, of course, you like a lot of heads in your photos. Regardless, this is an amazing experience for the entire family. It will also have one of the longest waits so plan your day accordingly.
Another attraction that will have a long line but is a don’t miss is Expedition Everest in the Asia part of the park. This high-speed terror was the best ride for me during the entire trip. Prayer flags, like those found on the real Everest, are strung throughout the area as you approach the ride. I would advise you to take advantage of the Fast Pass for this ride because the line will be long, however, it isn’t the worst thing to get stuck in a long line. There are plenty of artifacts and other visuals to pass the time. A highlight for me was the impression of a supposed Yeti found in the Himalayas by Josh Gates back in 2007. No matter what your personal beliefs on the Yeti are, it is fun to suspend reality and enjoy the story that you ultimately are taking part of on this ride.
The ride itself is fast, rough and will take you up to the top of Everest where you come to a stop at a dead end. The track here is twisted, crumpled and broken and for some reason covered in hair elastics. I still don’t understand that one. In the next instant you are pulled backwards back through the mountain for a short time until it’s time to meet the Yeti himself which is when you get to take the drop back down the mountain. It truly is a fun experience and it would be a shame if you skipped this ride.
The latest thing to grace Walt Disney World is a new land based on the hit film, Avatar.  Now, full disclosure, I’m not a fan. I couldn’t get past the trailers for the movie, so I am not really qualified to comment much about the attractions here. In fact, there is only two rides here and the line for the premiere ride, Flight of Passage, was so long that after 45 minutes in line we left with another 45 minutes to go. The kids stayed the course with the grandparents, but it just wasn’t worth it for Misty and me. I heard it was cool though.
I did let them talk me into riding on the Na’vi River Journey and I was less than impressed. Now, I don’t want you to think it was a terrible experience, far from it. I liked the detail that went in to making you feel like you were walking through an alien world full of strange, glowing rock formations and odd plant life. This was spot on. I’m just not a fan of the film, therefore I didn’t enjoy it like I would have had I been a fan. Everyone I talked to enjoyed their experiences here and like anything else, I would advise you to try it for yourself and form your own opinion. If you’re going to spend the money to go to Disney World, you should try everything you have time for.
We spent two days exploring Animal Kingdom and as I stated earlier, our family liked this park the best. The atmosphere in this park, along with the animals kept here, offer up a different experience than the typical theme park. I felt like I was seeing something that I hadn’t seen before which made the experience more enjoyable than I had anticipated. It is up to the individual to decide what they like best about their Disney experience, but I feel safe in saying that Animal Kingdom would rate high on most visitor’s scales.
I like to keep these articles short, but I wanted to mention that there is a lot of other things to see in Animal Kingdom as well as the other parks. Unfortunately, I can’t make them sound interesting enough for you to read such a long article, so I would encourage you to do some research if you are planning a trip to Disney World and learn about all of the things that I couldn’t mention during this series. There is something for everyone in each of these parks and I think if you travel knowing what you want to see and do, your experience will be all the better for it. And with that, we leave Disney behind us and we’ll move on to our adventures from South Dakota. I can’t wait.

Brandan