Saturday, December 16, 2023

Are you ready for the adventure travel boom?

What kind of adventures are you planning for your next travel experience? If you’re like many of today’s experienced travelers, you may very well choose an adventurous and somewhat risky trip in the future.

Skydiving in Texas

According to the October 2023 Global Rescue Fall Traveler Sentiment and Safety Survey, more than a third of respondents indicated that they believe in YOLO—you only live once. That maxim drives them to do as much adventure and immersive travel as possible before they no longer can.

Larry and I have traveled with that thought in mind for many years. We have gone hang gliding in the Alps of France, hiked in the Dolomite mountains of northern Italy, gone sky diving and ziplining multiple times, trekked on a glacier in Iceland, observed polar bears in the wild, rafted among glaciers in Antarctica, and much more.

Ziplining in Fiji

Although we have viewed some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world and visited many important historical sites, those experiences are treasured as much or even more because they reflect an adventurous spirit that we hope to never lose, even if we’re not physically able tackle such activities (in our 90s?).

Jumping into a waterfall  on
Colorado River in Grand Canyon NP

Adventure travel is growing

So we encourage readers to think outside their comfort zones, a behavior that is becoming more common with growing adventure travel and revenge travel demand. “Travelers are exhibiting…a mounting desire for immersive experiences,” said Dan Richards, CEO of Global Rescue and a member of the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board at the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Dune buggy on coast of Barbados

Most travelers responding to the survey (65%) want to go to destinations they have never been to, while 17% want curated trips to new, unusual destinations where they can have completely new experiences. New Zealand, Australia, Antarctica, Iceland and Japan were the most frequently mentioned places
survey respondents listed as bucket list travel destinations. “We anticipate increasing interest in adventure travel like African safaris, hiking trips, camping excursions and motorcycle tours,” Richards said. 
Hiking in Dolomites in Italy

Keeping safety in mind

Not everyone, however, is seeking more risk or adventure in their travel itineraries. More than half of respondents are taking the same number of adventurous or risky trips since the end of the pandemic, reporting they enjoy the way they travel and do not see a need to change. More than a tenth (13%) said they would take fewer adventurous trips to minimize health and safety risks while traveling.

Hot air balloon over Capadoccia, Turkey

With increasing desires for more risk and adventure travel coupled with elevated international war and violent conflict, most survey respondents welcome the technological advances like adding satellite connectivity to smartphone capabilities. Most respondents (82%) said they would feel safer with satellite connection abilities on their smartphone. They liked knowing they could call for help if they lost cell coverage, even though only 13% said they had lost cell coverage in the past.

Hang gliding in the Alps of France

Still, it provides peace of mind for friends, family or colleagues—while you’re out making unforgettable memories!

Survey content courtesy of Bill McIntyre at Global Rescue, the leading travel risk and crisis response provider.

Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier




Monday, December 4, 2023

A splash of fall in Vail

Aspens and mountains from the
Betty Ford Alpine Garden

As autumn turns into winter, I thought you might enjoy a sample of what this colorful season looks like in Vail, Colorado, one of our stops on the road trip we made a couple of years ago. Vail was a one-day destination between Breckenridge and Aspen, so we had a plan for the short stay. But even in one day we were mesmerized by the beautiful seasonal sights.

Betty Ford Alpine Garden

Our first stop in Vail was at the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, a collection of plants that live in mountain regions around the world. We wandered the different sections of the garden for about two hours enjoying the lovely serenity of this place (perfect for families with children). Plentiful exhibits explained what an alpine region is and described the various ecosystems found there. The overall landscaping was outstanding, one of the best urban parks we have visited.
Views from gondola ride up Vail Mountain

Outstanding view from the top

From the center of town, we took the gondola to the top of Vail Mountain. What a spectacular display of golden aspens unfolded below us. Also boarding were many bicycle riders thrilled to be riding the downward trails on speeds that would scare the daylights out of most folks. Views are spectacular, and brilliant red fireweed at the top decorated the trail with its name.

Blooming fireweed

Back in Vail Village, we fueled up on lunch al fresco and of course some window shopping. Vail provided an excellent side trip as we continued driving to Aspen—also aglow with stunning red, orange, and yellow vistas. Late September was a lovely time to visit this region.

Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier

Stands of aspens glow in the sun.

Beautiful view while walking trails on the mountain

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

A garden fit for gods

When visiting the area around Colorado Springs, Colorado, the first attraction that many people think about is Pikes Peak. It’s certainly worth visiting, either by driving up the mountain in your car or taking the steam train so you don’t have to maneuver the often-steep path.

Landscape view from one of the red sandstone formations

Yet, Garden of the Gods is the most visited attraction in the Pikes Peak region. It’s a great family destination where you can simply drive through (there are several areas to park and walk around) or spend a few hours exploring the Visitor and Nature Center as well as the Park itself.

The most notable geological features that attract people to Garden of the Gods are magnificent red sandstone rock formations, many of which are more than 300 million years old. These rocks were created as ancient mountains that eroded and were buried in their own sediments. Massive sand dunes moved across the land, while seas and oceans covered the land, then retreated. This formed horizontal layers over millions of years. Erosion through the ages has resulted in iconic formations such as Balanced Rocks in the south part of the park.

A few years ago, Larry and I revisited Garden of the Gods on a Colorado road trip. In the park we meandered on plentiful paved pathways admiring the immense and varied formations. 

Siamese Twins formation
One trail led us to the Siamese Twins, a famous pair of formations accessed by a 160-foot rise. Once there it is possible to look through a craggy opening between the Twins and see Pikes Peak and other mountains in the background.
Pikes Peak and other mountains seen from Siamese Twins

For the active traveler, there are 15 miles of hiking trails. We headed out on one trail to explore beyond the areas where most tourists congregate and got slightly lost—but not before encountering a lone deer. Then we headed to the Perkins Central Garden Trail, an easy one and a half mile round trip trek on a concrete path that starts at the North main parking lot. We also hiked parts of the Chambers/Bretag/Palmer trail which provides excellent views of many of the  famous, named rock formations.

How the Garden came to be

In August of 1859, two surveyors started out from Denver City to set up a townsite. While exploring nearby locations, they came upon this beautiful area of sandstone formations. Surveyor M. S. Beach suggested that it would be a “capital place for a Biergarten” when the country grew. His companion, Rufus Cable, a “young and poetic man,” exclaimed, “Biergarten! Why it is a fit place for the Gods to assemble. We will call it the Garden of the Gods,” and the name stuck.

Larry is dwarfed by the huge rocks.

In the early 1900s, Charles Elliott Perkins, head of an upcoming railroad, wanted to establish a home in the Garden of the Gods and to build his railroad out to Colorado Springs. He died in 1907, before making arrangements for the land to become a public park, although the land had been open to the public for many years. Knowing how Perkins felt about the Garden, his children donated his 480 acres to the City of Colorado Springs with the stipulation that the park remain free to the public.

Today Garden of the Gods is a treasure for the city and for all who wish to visit.

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Magic of Maui

 As Maui reopens for tourism after the devastating fires, I decided to look back at photos from our visit a couple of years ago. Reminiscing makes me want to return in another year or two to enjoy beautiful scenery, beaches, and new adventures.

Larry on our tour of several beaches

Beautiful beaches

Soon after arriving, we drove along the northwest coast and explored several beaches including Fleming Beach Park and Honolua Bay, where we walked through overgrown vegetation to the water.

Trails to the beach can involve walking through jungle-like areas.

Surfers enjoyed big waves at another beach, while we hiked on promontories and paths featuring rugged coastal landscapes. Nakelele Blowhole was spouting fairly well since we arrived there near high tide.

Beverly perches on a rock ledge overlooking the ocean.

Road to Hana

Of course, we couldn’t be in Maui without driving the Road to Hana. We left early, planning for an all day adventure. Although we had done this drive many years prior, it’s a fascinating experience all over again. The Hana Highway is very narrow and curving with speed limits of 10-15 mph most of the way. Another challenge is that thick plant growth on both sides of the road somewhat restrict views of oncoming cars on the 14-mile stretch that includes 617 curves and 54 one-way bridges.

Waterfalls abound

We stopped to take pictures at waterfalls wherever parking was available. At Waikini Falls (also called Three Bears Falls) we snacked on the banana bread that we had bought at a roadside shop called Halfway to Hana. The black sand beach at Wai’anapanapa State Park was formed from polished volcanic rocks. Together with waves splashing against black lava cliffs, this park is an adventurer’s playground.

Black sand formed from volcanic rocks

Sunrise on Haleakala

Another favorite excursion is watching the sun rise from a 10,000 foot advantage of Haleakala volcano. It’s one of the most spectacular events ever experienced on our travels. Many years ago we had awakened at 2:00 a.m. to ride up the mountain in a van and then ride 37 miles down to sea level on bicycles.

Magnificent sunrise on Haleakala

On this visit, we chose a van for transportation up and down the mountain. It’s surprisingly cold before dawn because of the elevation, so we were bundled in jackets and blankets while waiting. When the golden rays of sunshine start to appear through the clouds the temperature rises about 20 degrees in a matter of minutes. After about an hour, streaks of yellow and pink lit up the horizon, and mountain peaks began to poke out. The brightness was almost blinding after being in darkness for so long.
The temperature is near freezing before sunrise.

Haleakala last erupted in 1620, so we felt safe from such activity. It is a shield volcano, a lake of lava with a cap over the top. Lava oozes out rather than forcing its way out in an explosion. Now, the crater has sunk leaving a big hole and a large valley due to erosion.

With more light, the crater is easily visible.

Ocean time

Landscapes on Lanai are filled with rocky precipices.

After that experience we were ready for sunshine and water spraying on our bodies. A full day excursion on a catamaran to remote Lanai Island filled the bill. From breakfast on the boat to snacks and drinks on the return trip, it was a fun day.
 Snorkeling, dolphins swimming nearby in shimmering blue water, a picnic lunch on shore, and a hike to Sweetheart Rock on Lanai rounded out the day’s adventures.
Because Lanai is somewhat remote, the beach is relatively untouched.


Almost every evening features beautiful sunsets.

And then there were the magnificent sunsets! Almost every evening brilliant sky colors and reflecting seascapes decorated the landscape. One evening we took a sunset cruise. Although the weather turned out to be overcast with dark clouds, the sunset was still amazing. With such gorgeous scenery, visiting Maui is definitely worthwhile (and there are plenty of golf courses to enjoy, too).
A sunset cruise provides reflections on the water.

If you can, plan a trip there in the future; it will help the island recover from the fires, and you’ll have memories for a lifetime.

Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and its fabulous Falls

For many people the most iconic photo of Yellowstone National Park, the picture they recognize most, is of majestic Yellowstone Falls taken from Artist’s Point. It’s the one site visitors feel they must see. It doesn’t disappoint!

We loved it so much that we spent most of a morning there and then returned on another day. The waterfall flows into the valley that is often called the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, and together the scenery is hard to beat for pure natural beauty. Between Larry and myself we took hundreds of photos, each slightly different but still showing the glory of God’s creation.

Around 500,000 years ago a huge volcanic eruption occurred in Yellowstone. It emptied a large underground chamber of magma. The roof of this chamber slowly collapsed, forming a giant caldera, which began to fill with lava and sediments. For thousands of years the lava flow and Yellowstone River have cut a path through the rocks, and the canyon now extends for 24 miles.  

Steam from geysers can still be seen in the canyon walls. Various minerals from this hot thermal activity continue to alter the canyon face and create abundant colors that frame the river below.

If you drive on the North Rim of Yellowstone Falls, you can stop at various pullouts including Lookout Point, Grand View, and Inspiration Point. A fairly steep path with switchbacks takes you to the brink of the Lower Falls where you’ll witness how powerful the Falls are as water spills over the edge. Reaching a height of 308 feet, the Falls are spectacular as they roar and splash high in the air upon reaching the canyon bottom.

On the South Rim, the most visited spot is Artist’s Point. There we were intrigued with multi-colored, exquisitely beautiful canyon walls. Shades of pink, amber, ivory, tan, and green, glisten in the sun. We tried to capture the variety and enormity of the canyon while watching the Yellowstone River snake through the rocks on its downstream path.

The green streak many people notice is the result of a thicker rock layer which makes for a thinner water flow at that particular spot. To me, it adds additional interest to the overall picture of Yellowstone Falls.

Artist’s Point is accessible to most people, so it can become very crowded. Photographers anxious to set their tripods in preferred spots might arrive as early as 5 a.m. Since I’ve started using only my iPhone camera (which takes better pictures than my point and shoot camera), it was easy for me—with a little patience--to slip in among other visitors to take the exact photos I wanted.

Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier


Saturday, November 4, 2023

Sleep in a glass lodge--see the Northern Lights

Okay, fellow travelers, especially those who are adventurous and look for unusual trips to take. If seeing the Northern Lights is on your bucket list, here is a terrific way to do that!

Off the Map Travel announces the launch of the “Panorama Luxury in Tromso” program featuring accommodations in two new luxury glass lodges in Norway. Available in a five-night package, the AERA nord-Panorama Glass Lodges put guests directly under the Northern Lights in the arctic Tromso wilderness for two nights with three nights in a three-bedroom luxury Tromso apartment with private chef. In both locations, the search for the Aurora is primary, designed for watching in comfort from your bed. The experience also includes local arctic dining and winter activities such as a husky sledding and snowshoeing.

The launch coincides with the height of the “solar maximum,” the time in the sun’s 11-year cycle where the sun is most active causing the brightest and most frequent displays of the Aurora Borealis.

Perfect for couples wanting to combine luxury with an immersive arctic experience, the two new AERA nord- Panorama Glass Lodges sit in a remote area north of Tromso, more than two hundred miles above the Arctic Circle. The glass lodges include king-sized bed, luxury bathroom, kitchenette and dining area, designed for uninterrupted sightings of the Northern Lights.

All are surrounded by glass walls with glass ceilings for views of the Arctic night sky. With an emphasis on sustainability and preservation of the environment, the clean, contemporary Scandinavian design of the new panorama lodge features local natural materials to blend with the wilderness outside.

“We have combined the new eco-sensitive lodge accommodations with private tours by Tesla and other environmentally conscious activities. This is a new experience that delivers adventure but doesn’t compromise on comfort, quality and sustainability,” says Jonny Cooper, founder of Off the Map Travel , exclusive arranger of the trips to the new glass lodges.

Available from December to March, the new Panorama Luxury in Tromso package sleeps two people in each lodge. The six-day, five-night itinerary is priced from $6080 USD per person (at the time of this writing) based on four adults travelling. Flights are additional.

The itinerary includes privately guided tours in a Tesla, two nights in the luxury glass lodge, three nights’ accommodation in Tromso in new luxury panoramic, fjordside apartments with private chef, a private Northern Lights Tour with dinner, a private Tromso island tour, a huskies tour, a snowshoe experience, and a king crab dinner.

 Full itinerary:

King crab, a culinary delight
Day 1: Arrive, check into Tromso, culinary city walk

Day 2: Tromso island tour (Arctic Cathedral, Fjellheisen Cable Car, Sami    introduction) and Northern Lights Tesla tour

Day 3: Husky sledding; dinner on your own

Day 4: Fjord sightseeing and picnic by Tesla, and then transfer to AERA nord-Panorama Glass Lodge

Day 5: Snowshoe exploration and sauna day plus king crab dinner

Day 6: Depart


For more information visit, call 1-646-701-0041 or email

Information and photos courtesy of Meryl Pearlstein and AERA nord-Panorama Glass Lodges





Friday, October 27, 2023

A hike to remember in Yellowstone National Park

Reflections in the geyser pool at West Thummb
The weather was sunny when we started the hike to Storm Point in Yellowstone National Park. It was our first day in the park, and we had already driven from Jackson Hole, through Grand Teton National Park, so we were ready for a little exercise.

Earlier in the day, clouds had covered the Teton Mountains, but the haze lifted and the sun came out. On entering Yellowstone we drove through Grant Village and then on to West Thumb Geyser Basin for our first look at the geysers and boiling steam pools that discharge into Yellowstone Lake. Bright colors and reflections of clouds in the pools provided positive first impressions of interesting geology for which the park is known.

Bacteria in the water make brilliant colors in the geyser pools.

Storm Point is at the top 
of this map.
I had two possible hikes on my itinerary list, but when we missed the first one, we decided that Storm Point would be a good place to stop. The trail started at Indian Pond and proceeded on a two and a half mile loop to a point high on a cliff at the edge of the lake.

One of the attractions of this hike was a colony of marmots just past the point. It would be fun to take a break and watch these cute creatures scampering around before starting the return part of the loop.

Larry walks in the woods.

It was a pleasant hike through the woods. We saw a variety of wild flowers, crossed a pond, and trekked through tall, shady pine trees. As the trail neared the beach, large pieces of driftwood and unusual geologic formations caught our attention.
Beverly found driftwood on the beach.

But soon, warnings of possible rain that we had previously ignored, loomed in the darkening sky. Since we were almost at the peak of the hike, there really was no advantage to turning back. 

The wind began to blow; we quickened our pace. I tightened the grip on to my visor and then removed it altogether, zipped up my jacket and placed the visor inside.

Just as we reached the actual Storm Point, the wind began howling and pelting both rain and sand against our skin. Jagged grains of sand stung from the force of the wind. We got soaked from the driving rain. That colony of marmots? They had taken refuge from the storm. Only one was still around, looking quite forlorn.

The sky, water, and beach turned dark in the storm.
So we trudged on, shielding our eyes and bodies as best we could until we rounded the point which gave the hike its name.
We got a full dose of nature in multiple forms.

Following the other side of the loop trail, we eventually were back in the forest, which offered protection from the stormy elements. The rain subsided, the sun returned, and we even saw a deer before finishing the hike.

This buck was a bright spot on our return hike.

Lessons learned: Pay attention to weather forecasts, and pay attention to the name of the hike.

Storm Point was exactly that.