Moab, Utah - a Hidden Wonder

by Lorilee Larsen, Travel Time Travel Advisor

IMG_0216.JPG

We just returned from our first weekend getaway to discover more of Utah.  We had never heard of Moab until a co-worker of Lorne recommended it.  What a lovely hidden gem, 2.5 hours  southeast of Salt Lake City.

After an easy Friday afternoon drive, we arrived in Moab and the scenery was more than we expected, beautiful red rock on a grandeur scale, seemed to go on forever in each direction.  

The existing hotels in Moab are all bustling and many have recently been renovated.  We reserved a room at the Holiday Inn Express and were delighted to have a full mountain view. A new hotel building is also underway, due to the high occupancy in Moab, with the most recent being Marriott Fairfield Inn and Suites which is just opening its doors. Another great option is Moab Under Canvas - an upscale glamping experience on the outskirts of Moab.

Moab is surrounded by two national parks;  Canyonlands and Arches National Parks.

We booked two tours during our stay.  We enjoyed a 4x4 drive through Canyonlands National Park with our guide and drove to incredible heights, taking in tremendous sights.  We learned that numerous movies have been filmed in this park, including "Thelma and Louise" 's infamous final cliff scene ! (See photo below with me in it)

After lunch, on our next tour, we rafted down the Colorado River in a 10 passenger dingy, perfect for our 35C afternoon.  It was a great way to stay cool and continue basking in the gorgeous red rock backdrop.  

As I mentioned Moab is an undiscovered wonder that North Americans have hardly taken note of, however, Europeans have visited Moab by the hundreds, for many years.  At our hotel and at restaurants we heard primarily Italian, French, German and Swiss being spoken. They love Moab and have been instrumental in sustaining what Moab has become today.  

Moab is known for fantastic hikes as well as being a bikers paradise.  Every kind of bike tour is offered with extensive new bikes paths connecting the town to the parks and river.

On our first evening we drove down a pretty road beside the Colorado River.  We stopped to climbed some rocks  and the sun began to set, it was lovely.  The next day our guide pointed out this same road and told us that National Geographic had voted it the #2 most scenic route in the US, second to California's Pacific Coast Highway. The drive is over 40 miles long and includes a restaurant and a well-loved winery.

For extra ease in getting to Moab, one can fly Boutique Air from Salt Lake City to Moab in plush, white leather seats, aboard a 15 passenger aircraft for a 55 minute flight at a cost as low as $60/person.

Keep Moab in mind for a new discovery of nature's beauty in Utah. 

5 Things I Learned in India

by Stephanie Bishop

When I told friends and family that I was going to India on holiday, they definately fell into two camps.  

CAMP ONE:  "Really?  What about the poverty/ The crowds? The food?"

CAMP TWO:  "I envy you!  India is at the top of my bucket list - I can't wait to go!"

And me?  Like many first-time travellers to the country, I fell exactly between the two camps; excited about the discovery yet apprehensive about the unfamiliar.  Happy and anxious at the same time. 

 Golden Temple in India

Golden Temple in India

1) It’s a huge country, so be prepared to be overwhelmed. And don’t be overly ambitious: India’s impossible to see in a couple of weeks so it’s wise to see one bit at a time. I chose a Golden Triangle Tour with Globus – it’s a popular itinerary for first‐timers taking in Delhi, the “Pink City” of Jaipur, plus Agra, home of the Taj Mahal. If possible, arrive a couple of days before your tour starts so you can adjust to the time difference and get over some of the inevitable culture shock

 Amer Fort outside Jaipur, India

Amer Fort outside Jaipur, India

2) Don’t try it on your own. Of course, you can travel independently here, but if time is of the essence and you want someone to help you unravel the mysteries, go for a guided tour. Certified guides will be your interpreters, and not just for language (though I was surprised to learn how widely English is spoken) but for do’s and don’ts, where it is safe to eat, shopping ideas and how to best interact with locals. Our guide was brilliant in arranging for us to visit the Taj Mahal early in the morning.

Taj Mahal - India

3) Enjoy the food. Indian food is so much more than curry and I experienced some delicious, surprising meals. North American food is widely available, especially in upscale hotels, but it would be a shame not to try some local specialities. Be careful of the spices though! A meal in a private home, arranged by my guide, was a definite highlight.  

 Indian Foods 

Indian Foods 

4) Read up ahead on local customs. You may be expected to remove your shoes when visiting temples. Ladies may be expected to have their heads or legs covered. It’s so important to show respect.  

 Street scene in Hyderabad, India

Street scene in Hyderabad, India

5) Attitude is all. India is not Canada and there may be mysterious, inexplicable delays in service. Traffic is horrendous, yet fascinating, and will make rush hour at home look like a dawdle. Your personal space may be invaded, and you are guaranteed to witness things you’d never see at home, from piteous beggars and cow dung patty sellers to sidewalk dentistry.  

Next time I go to India, when people ask why, I'll be telling them it's because it's a beautiful, confusing, alive and captivating county, and I can't wait to go back!

Travelling Solo with Kids - by J Pearson

Jason Pearson recently travelled with his two young sons, Sullivan, 11, and Max, 8, around the world in 341 days. Their adventure was, in part, a tribute to the boys’ mom, Jane, who died of cancer when Sullivan was four, and Max an infant. Jane had always dreamed of travelling the world with her boys, just as her family had done when she was 10 years old. In this story, Jason, Max and Sully cruise the Caribbean with Norwegian Cruise Line.

Travelling with kids, as an only parent, is rewarding. I get to see them 100 per cent of the time in all their glory, watching through their eyes as they discover things for the first time. The excitement, energy and curiosity in which they participate and explore is like nothing else. I’m able to experience what they experience and make the final call on what activities we do. But travelling solo with kids can also be difficult, frustrating and tiring. When I’m completely exhausted and just can’t deal with one more, “Daddy, can I…?” there is no one else to tag in or help.

Norwegian Cruise Line does a superb job of anticipating this. They cater to kids in a way that makes it feel like the vacation is just for them and they’re in control. Sully and Max are able to enjoy all their favourite foods (for Max this means unlimited ice cream cones/ floats), as well as select show performances and excursions that they are drawn to.

Norwegian Getaway’s kids’ club programs are the cherry on top. At night, the boys plan the next day around what activities they want to attend. And I am able to enjoy some much needed solo time, without having to worry about where they are or what trouble they are getting into.

Mystical Machu Picchu

By Joy McGinnis - Feb 21, 2017

One of my first “bucket list” trips was to Machu Picchu, Peru.

I was recently out of a bad relationship and looking for some spiritual sustenance with which to salve my lovelorn heart.

I had always dreamed of hiking the Inca trail, but when I learned camping was part of the experience, I just had to say no. 

I’m all about adventure and cultural immersion, but I don’t sleep on the ground. 

Every girl has her limits. 

Click here to read more about this article.

Travel & Technology - By Joy McGinnis

Technology and the travel industry have a love-hate relationship. 

Our degree of connectivity with our preferred suppliers and quick and easy answers to specific needs and requirements is great, however it can backlash when clients use the Internet as a tool to then take our suggestions and go to non-service websites to save a few dollars.

Joy McGinnis is a Travel Designer with Travel Time Inc.  To read the rest of her article, please click here or on the picture. 

Our South Pacific Adventure

After four days visiting friends in Brisbane and three weeks touring four islands in Indonesia, Ally and I are now back safe and sound in Mandurah, West Australia.

In Indonesia, we started on the island of Borneo.  Borneo is a very big island with three countries sharing its landmass - Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei.  The main purpose for us to visit Borneo (and, in all reality, the main reason we went to Indonesia in the first place) was to visit with the orangutans.  Over 3 1/2 days, we had "close encounters" with both wild and semi-wild orangutans in the national park (Tanjung Puting) at Camp Leakey and several other wildlife preserves.  Observing these creatures up close was fascinating to say the least. 

Since humans share 97% of our DNA with orangutans, to say that they are "almost human" is a vast understatement.  On one occasion, one of the females stole a rain jacket from a tourist and was up the tree actually putting it on.  She has clearly done this before and, according to the guide, not the first time she has "worn" human clothes.  This same prankster the next day stole a tourist's back pack and took it up a tree.  She then casually and methodically went through the contents piece by piece, inspecting everything and throwing away anything she didn't like.  The passport was duly ripped into pieces and the cell phone she liked so much she decided to keep it.  Pretty funny to watch when it's not your stuff.

To see how caring and loving the mothers are with their babies, to see how the dominant males truly are "masters of their domain", to see all of them swing through the trees with almost no effort - it was all very magical and spell-binding.  Of course Alyson got close to 1,000 photos just of the orangutans, the majority of which are amazing with some of them absolutely breath taking.

While in the national park, we lived on a small "houseboat".  Google "klotok house boat borneo" and you'll see what I mean.  Living, eating and sleeping on deck with the jungle all around was both primitive and romantic at the same time.  Of course no A/C, only limited running water, a toilet you flush into the river with a small bucket and a shower that takes brown/black water straight from the river.  But the crew (captain and mate) were first rate, the cook was friendly and very talented, and our guide was knowledgeable and informative.

Then we proceeded to the island of Java, the main island of Indonesia with approximately 100 million people (about half the country's total population) and perhaps twice the size of Vancouver Island.  There we saw incredible Hindu and Buddhist temples, thick jungle and rain forests, rice paddies built into terraces high into the mountains, and lots and lots of traffic.

One hilarious thing that happened a number of times on both Borneo and Java was when local Indonesian tourists wanted to take our picture - sometimes with them as well and sometimes just Ally and me.  I guess in some places they don't see many six foot three white guys or blonde women so they have to get pictures to show their friends back home.  We tried to charge them $10 a shot but it didn't work!

Then on to Sumba Island where we stayed at a small resort (only 33 villas on a 2 1/2 kilometer private beach).  Rustic charm and luxurious amenities with service that is second to none.

Our final stop was on the island of Bali.  Yes, all the bad things you have heard about Bali are all true - there is too much traffic, too many MacDonalds, too many KFC's, too many cheap hotels and too many drunk Australian tourists.  But, fortunately, all of that nonsense is concentrated in the southern part right around the airport and the main city of Denpasar.  Venture 30-60 minutes away and you find the charming side of Bali - countless temples, tons of artistic galleries and shops, beautiful volcanoes and countryside, lovely spas, hotels and restaurants.  We didn't venture all the way to the north coast but we were told that that part of the island is sleepy, quiet and peaceful.  Quite the opposite of what you hear on the news.

Now we're back in Australia for the next two months.  The weather has been unseasonably cool and rainy for many months now but we hope that's about to change.  We spent the afternoon today at the beach but, even though it's Friday, is was quite deserted.  I guess 32C and breezy is not enough to get true Aussies out to the beach.  But, for a couple of Canadian snow-dodgers, the day was quite lovely (even if the water is a bit chilly).

We're looking forward to Christmas in a hot climate, BBQs on the deck, and long walks and bike rides along the beach.  

Lloyd and Ally - Kelowna

Travel Changes You - by Joy McGinnis

I’ve written about my own wanderlust, the restlessness that creeps in along the edges of my every-day life, drifting into my daydreams and toying with my focus. 

I feel more alive while travelling, more connected to the present. I live in the moment.

A recent university study compared students who studied abroad against a group who had not. The survey showed that students with travel history scored higher in intercultural learning skills and had a higher appreciation and understanding for different cultural perspectives and interactions. 

Joy McGinnis is a Travel Designer with Travel Time Inc.  To read the rest of her article, please click here or on the picture.