Thursday, July 27, 2023

Tips for safe road trips

Road trips are especially popular when families go on vacation in the summer. Fall is also a busy travel time as crowds diminish and weather gets cooler. But the idea of just “taking off” isn’t necessarily the best way to travel economically and safely. Preparation is essential for your road trip to be enjoyable, on budget, and safe.

·  Plan Ahead: Always research your destinations and the routes you'll be taking. Know the weather conditions, road closures, or any area-specific conditions you should be aware of. Download appropriate apps so you can check conditions as you travel, because we all know things can change quickly.


Vehicle Check: Make sure your vehicle is in top shape before you start your journey. A week or two before leaving check the tire pressure, brakes, oil, and coolant levels, and ensure your spare tire and jack are in good working condition.

·  Emergency Kit: Carry a well-stocked emergency kit. This should include first-aid supplies, a flashlight, blankets, bottled water, non-perishable food items, and a multi-tool. You might want to include a warning flare, too.

·  Stay Connected: While the idea of going off-grid might sound appealing, it's essential to have a way to communicate in case of emergencies. Carry a cell phone and keep it charged. Portable charges are essential if you’ll be out of touch for an extended time. Also consider a satellite phone if you'll be in very remote areas.

·  Hiking Safety: If your trip includes hiking, never hike alone, stay on marked trails, and carry a map of the area. Make sure someone knows your hiking plans and when you're expected to return. Know your ability level, and don’t take off in conditions that are beyond your capabilities.

·  Wildlife Safety: Remember you're in their territory. Maintain a safe distance, never feed wild animals, and store your food securely. Especially keep this in mind if you visit national parks. Selfies are not what you should be thinking about if wildlife is in the vicinity.

Photos by Beverly Burmeier and free sources

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Indigenous cuisines delight in this Minneapolis restaurant

One of the pleasures of traveling is discovering unique places to eat and sampling new kinds of food. That totally describes the experience we had during our recent visit to Minneapolis.

Several of the "taco" selections at Owamni

Thanks to our daughter, who snagged a coveted reservation at the nationally recognized indigenous restaurant Owamni by The Sioux Chef, we had a meal totally different from anything we’ve ever experienced.

Behind the scenes

The creation of owner and chef Sean Sherman, along with his wife Dana Thompson, Owamni is a restaurant that focuses on North American Indigenous foods. The name comes from the Dakota name Owamniyomni which Sherman says means “place of the falling, swirling water,” referring to St. Anthony Falls. It is located inside a reclaimed mill on the banks of the Mississippi River. According to Indigenous belief, it is located at OwamniYommi, the sacred site of peace and well-being for the Dakota and Anishinabe people.

Sherman, born into the Oglala Lakota tribe, honed his talents while cooking in the U.S. and internationally for 30 years. In recognition of his culinary and creative abilities, he was awarded a 2018 James Beard Award for Best American Cookbook and a James Beard Foundation Leadership Award in 2019.

Drink menu offers unusual 
Throughout his career, Sherman’s main culinary focus has been on revitalization and awareness of indigenous food systems, integrating these into a modern context, and educating the public about ancient techniques of farming, harvesting, and land stewardship as practiced by his ancestors.

While traveling to different tribal communities Sherman became better acquainted with Native American food traditions. He began connecting to native plants and methods of production and cooking as a way to help indigenous people heal from collective trauma resulting from generations of unfair policies during America’s colonial period.

Believing that the original indigenous diet would also be healthier for today’s consumers, he set out to emulate it by preparing foods that are not processed, contain no cane sugar, soy, wheat (gluten), dairy, or high cholesterol ingredients such as found in beef, chicken, and pork.

The food

So, what does the restaurant serve, you might ask?

Delicious food and drink, I would reply.

Cherry birch tea and 
blueberry and lemon mint
zero-proof cocktail

Wild plants and game are primary ingredients, with these notably purchased from indigenous and local producers. Shareable appetizers include tacos (sandwiches), salads, and grain bowls. Three entrees feature bison, fish, and vegetarian dishes. Drinks include a long list of iced teas and craft zero-proof cocktails that utilize indigenous plants including wild rice, corn, sumac, mushrooms, and more. Some are decorated with flowers other colorful motifs.

The menu is relatively small, but there is enough variety to suit all tastes (if you let yourself be adventurous). Here is what the four of us ordered.

I started with a blueberry and lemon mint mocktail, which was not only scrumptious but colorful and visually pleasing. My daughter had cherry birch iced tea, and the two guys sampled house-made birch beer.

We ordered a selection of sharable items that were passed around and sampled by all, with each of us having different favorites. Now, I really couldn’t describe exactly what was in all the items, but the flavors and textures were exquisitely blended into combinations that we found delightful and filling.

More sharable items

From the plant section: Sweet potato with maple chili crisp, wild mushroom chowder, true wild rice (hand harvested ) with mashed bean bowl, corn taco—dumpling with jam and maple popcorn.

From the game section: Smoked turkey tinga with berries, bison asada taco with pesto and guajillo salsa, and elk taco with burnt ends, carrot, turnip slaw, and barbeque sauce.

Outdoor terrace at Owamni

Opened in 2021, the restaurant has proved very popular with locals and visitors. Inside there is a long, narrow space with tables positioned toward the river. The dining room is small, so plan ahead and make a reservation. Walk-ins will be seated at the casual outdoor patio on a first-come basis.

Owamni, 410 S. 1st St., Minneapolis, 612-444-1846,






Thursday, July 13, 2023

Conquering jet lag

Jet lag can turn any thrilling travel experience into a tiring ordeal. In this article, Alex Savy, founder of offers practical tips for better sleep techniques, advice for improving sleep and analysing sleep products to keep your travel experience as vigorous as possible.

1. Gradually Adjust Your Schedule

"Jet lag isn't inevitable," says Savy. He believes it's all about adjusting your internal body clock to the new time zone, something achievable with a strategic approach. His first recommendation? "Start adjusting your schedule a few days before departure." For instance, if you're traveling east, try going to bed one hour earlier each day. Conversely, if heading west, do the opposite.

2. Stay Hydrated:

Hydration is another essential component of Savy's anti-jet lag regimen. "The dry cabin air can dehydrate you, exacerbating feelings of fatigue and disorientation," he explains. He suggests avoiding alcohol and caffeine during flights, both notorious for their dehydrating effects, and instead he recommends drinking plenty of water.

3. Seek Light Exposure:

Savy also swears by the power of light exposure in resetting our internal body clocks. "After arrival, spend as much time as possible outside during daylight hours," he advises. This natural light exposure can help realign your circadian rhythm with the local time.

4. Get Rest During Flight:

Finally, he promotes a proactive approach to sleep during the flight. "Use a sleep mask and noise-canceling headphones, or even consider a mild sleep aid if necessary," Savy suggests, emphasizing the importance of rest during long-haul flights.

While these tips won't completely eliminate jet lag for everyone, they can significantly reduce its impact. Everyone is different and may need to tweak these strategies for maximum effectiveness. "Be patient with yourself and listen to your body and adjust accordingly."

Photos from free sources.


Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Try experiences out of your comfort zone

When you travel as much as Larry and I have, especially on cruises, it seems that many of the shore excursions offered are rehashes of similar adventures we have had on other trips—just in another location. While we still enjoy seeing new cities, landscapes, and cultural or historical landmarks, sometimes it’s good to step back and see what else we can try.

So when we found ourselves in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) again, the thought occurred to look for a different activity. Learning Tai Chi at 7:00 a.m. seemed like a novel choice.

Neither of us had ever tried Tai Chi, although we were vaguely familiar with the ancient practice. We sensed that even an introductory class could provide us with certain moves that might help our mature bodies improve balance and flexibility. So we signed up!

The day started with an early morning drive though the city. High rise apartment buildings (financed by the Chinese) are a hallmark of “progress” and modernization. Motorbikes take over highways by virtue of sheer numbers. Masses of locals outnumber cars and trucks as they wind their way around each other and through the streets. It’s an amazing sight to see as you wonder where everyone might be going.

Some folks probably found their way to the same park in the center of the city where our tai chi experience would take place. We followed our guide along manicured paths and lovely landscapes to a paved area where the class would be held.

First we saw demonstrations of Tai Chi by an accomplished group of Vietnamese men and women, who were there with their master. We enjoyed watching their graceful movements, which belied the origin of Tail Chi as a form of self-defense developed in China around 2500 years ago.

Finally, it was time for our group of five, consisting of Larry and me, another mature couple, and a young man who had learned Tai Chi in college, to show our stuff.

Tai Chi is supposed to be easy on the joints, but we found that doing the slow, meditative movements requires good balance and mindfulness. We did our best to follow the flowing, rhythmic movements as they transfer weight from one leg to the other. Graceful we were not.

As soothing music played, we tried to imitate the experts, tried to coordinate hand movements with steps, and tried to stay upright. We repeated the routine several times, hopefully looking a little less clumsy by the end. Mainly, we discovered that Tai Chi is a beautiful form of exercise that is much more difficult than it looks on first glance.

But it was fun learning something outside our normal type of excursions. Even better, we were rewarded with breakfast at a traditional restaurant serving vegetarian and organic foods. The egg rolls were delicious, a fitting finale to this memorable experience.

Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier