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Archive for the ‘green travel’ Category

I googled “sustainable travel, branson”

Posted by deborahmclaren on November 23, 2009

cause we’re going to Branson, Missouri.

didn’t get much….

Posted in green travel, sustainable tourism, sustainable travel | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World

Posted by deborahmclaren on October 21, 2009

I have spent the past couple of weeks thumbing through the book “Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World” by Paul Stamets. As you can imagine from the title, Stamets is practically religious in his message that we can use living systems to solve environmental problems and to restore ecosystems.

One story that stands out in my mind is about his brother’s no-till farming technique. After the produce is cut, the stalks and roots are left in the field. As mushrooms grow in this material they hold the earth in place, absorb and keep more water, and return nutrients to the land. The land stays fertile.

Stamets also discusses the numerous ways that mushrooms have been used as medicine, discussions from the renewal of toxic land to the rehabilitation of toxic human bodies, gardening techniques, how fungi can live off of and absorb and grow on human hair, petro products and other crazy stuff — and compares mushroom growth and shapes to those of galaxies and universes. Could this book be more interesting? And it is written in perfectly readable, understandable English.

My husband Rob and I started taking our son, Anil, mushroom hunting this fall. He was immediately captivated and not only discovered many different types of fungi, but was intensely interested in helping us identify them later. I think part of his interest might have had to do with the fact that many mushrooms are dangerous and have names like “Death Angel,” and sometimes glow – like Jack-o-lanterns. Very cool for 9 year old boys — and I’m happy its mushrooms instead of Play Station 3 warriors… way more organic!

I’m going to have to check Stamet’s book out for another term from the library. It’s too much fun. And I think I might have to start doing mushroom tours! I’ve got some great places in mind — call me if you want to tour both wild and domestic mushroom sites in Minnesota next year!

Truffles-R-Next!

Posted in Book Review, ecotour, green travel, mushrooms, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Slow Foods Dinner at White Earth Indian Reservation

Posted by deborahmclaren on September 14, 2009

Janice Chilton, chef at the Minwanijige Cafe at White Earth (Minnesota) presented a beautiful and delicious dinner for Regional Flavor participants from around the US last week. Participants traveled from America’s Grape Heritage center in NY/PA, the Arkansas Delta, south central Colorado, the Ohio Appalachia, and the “Grow Nebraska” project to learn more about our efforts here to combine economic development and support for microenterprises connected to regional foods, culture, heritage, arts, and tourism.

Janice prepared a late summer salad of veggies and greens from country gardens at White Earth. Toasted pine nuts and raspberry vinegrette provided a light, flavorful and earthy topping.

We feasted on braised pork, creamy new potatoes, wild rice and mushrooms, baked pumpkin and homemade wheat/butter bread. Janice served mini caramel and cream pies and locally harvested and hand-made maple syrup candies. Richwood Winery, the newest vintner in Minnesota, provided the wines.

Ojibwe singer Annie Humphrey played guitar as the sun set behind her over the White Earth forest. You can find out more about Annie at http://www.myspace.com/anniehumphrey

Musician Annie Humphrey

Musician Annie Humphrey

Over the years her songwriting has focused on a specific theme with a message to “Be brave and have a good journey.” Her haunting song “Beautiful Son” is still in my heart and my mind.

The Minwanjige Cafe is located at 33287 County Rd. 34, Ogema, MN 56569. It is at the intersection of 34 and 143, across from Strawberry Lake Store. (218)-983-3834

Minwanjige Cafe

The Slow Foods Dinner topped off a 3-day program that included touring White Earth and West Central Minnesota, and a regional meeting held Sept 10th at MapleLag Resort that brought together enterprenuers and economic leaders in the region. The “Regional Flavor Circle” in Minnesota will continue to work to support the growth of sustainable entreprenuers in a geographic circle that includes the village of Mahnomen and Itasca State Park (headwaters of the Mississippi River) on the north and the villages of Fergus Falls and Wadena along the south. A Regional Flavor Entreprenuer office will be set up at M State in Detroit Lakes, MN. Contact Juanita Lindsay at CherokeeUpNorth@gmail.com or myself for more information – especially if you are interested in being part of the Regional Flavor Circle.

Posted in Buy-local, ecotour, entreprenuers, green travel, microenterprise, Minnesota, Native tourism, Slow Foods, sustainable tourism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Organic Cooking Tours of Turkey!!

Posted by deborahmclaren on May 1, 2009

Travel Turkey in a gentle, environmentally and health conscious, earth honoring way.  All the fruits and vegetables you cook are organic.

Turkish Cuisine Tours

Visit  traditional villages, cook with local women, participate in daily life with donkey rides, organic farming, folk dancing and other activities. Visit ancient sites and centers of Anatolian civilizations which spread from Neolithic Matriarchal to Lycean, Hittite, Byzantian, Roman and Ottoman.

Turkish Rice Pudding (Sutlac):

All Organic Ingredients:
6 cups of milk,
1 cup of sugar,
1/2 cup rice,
1 tablespoon of rice flour or corn starch,
3 – 4 teaspoons of vanilla extract.

Wash the rice. Bring 3 cups of water to boil and add rice to water, when rice is cooked, drain it. Place rice and milk on heat when mixture begins to boil add sugar and stir slightly turn the heat down. Simmer for about 10 minutes.

Make a paste of the rice flour with a little amount of water and stir into milk mixture and continue stirring. Simmer some more.

Turn off heat and add vanilla extract. Pour pudding in individual bowls and let cool.

Sprinkle with cinnamon serve cold.

Posted in Buy-local, green travel, travel, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Spring Solstice with the Mayans!

Posted by deborahmclaren on March 6, 2009

We’ve just returned from our Yucatan adventure. I’ll write some short reviews over the next few days. First, for anyone interested in heading there for the Spring Soltice on March 21st, you may want to visit the HACIENDA CHICHEN RESORT & YAXKIN SPA, which claims to be “Mexico’s Best Green Jungle Resort and Eco-Spa Wellness Destination.” I wouldn’t disagree!

C.H. is run by 99% Mayan people from local villages. The Hacienda is owned by 4th generation Mexicans who have dedicated their lands and business to improving the land and culture of the Maya. The grounds are a bird sanctuary, set in a lush tropical forest. The restored cottages were originally built for the Carnegie Institute archeologists who were investigating Chichen Itza starting in the early 1900s. Organic foods are grown in their garden and used in their delicious recipes, based on traditional Mayan foods.

At first I was concerned that they advertise Mayan ceremonies as part of their experience. However, I learned that the staff has helped create and promote the work of the local Mayan Elders Association and the Maya Foundation In Laakeech. These organizations are dedicated to preserving Maya culture, creating healthy opportunities for their people, and sharing culturally-appropriate customs and ceremonies with visitors that help them protect the lands they are making a living on.

More from their website:

Both Jose Santos and Lorenzo Tamay have worked since their late teen years at Hacienda Chichen with a high dedicated service attitude to the guests and an eager personal commitment to learn and grow spiritually in the traditional Mayan holistic Cosmovision of their ancestors. Their commitment to the Maya Foundation Board of Trustees has helped them become the Hacienda Chichen’s Maya cultural spokesmen. They work together preparing the many Mayan rituals performed at the Sacred Maya Ceremonial Site use by the Holy Elder J-Men, or Wiseman, while they continue their training to become Elder J-Men themselves.

In their work as Mayan cultural representatives, they continue promoting the Mayan language, culinary arts, and holistic spiritual understanding of the Mayan healing traditions. Their dedication to preserve their ancestors Mayan cultural legacy has help co-workers see the value of their ancestors Cosmovision and spiritual believes. In August 2008, Jose Santos Tamay represented the Maya Foundation In Laakeech in the 8th International Mayan Encounter dedicated preserve the Maya Culture & Traditions, specially the language and rituals, this three day convention was held in Jolom Konob’ (today the town of Santa Eulalia, Guatemala).

Learn more at Hacienda Chichen.

Posted in ecotour, green travel, Mexico, sustainable tourism, sustainable travel, Uncategorized, Yucatan | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Voting Now Open – Indigenous Tourism/Biodiversity Website Award

Posted by deborahmclaren on January 21, 2009

Planeta Update – Indigenous Tourism and Biodiversity Website Award

>> http://www.planeta.com

The nominees are:

Bookabee Tours
Chalalán Ecolodge
The Great Spirit Circle Trail
Guurrbi Tours
Huit Huit Tours
Indigenous Trails
It’s Wild! Bush Camps
Kapawi Amazon Ecolodge
Magic Mara Safaris
Nguna – Pele Marine Protected Area
Ricancie
Sani Lodge
Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre
TIME Unlimited
Tjapukai Aboriginal Culture Park

Voting is now open for the Indigenous Tourism and Biodiversity Website

Award! Details – http://planeta.wikispaces.com/itbw

This initiative is the result of a collaborative effort between Planeta.com and the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity to showcase best practices in web-based technologies helping indigenous people manage tourism in a biodiversity-friendly way. Voting takes place January 20 – February 20, 2009.

The award is presented to indigenous tourism websites that promote

sustainable practices and educate visitors on cultural protocols and

biodiversity conservation. Nominees include indigenous owned and operated tourism
businesses around the world. See the wiki —

http://planeta.wikispaces.com/itbw — for the descriptions of the operations with
links to highlights and Web 2.0 tools.

Posted in award, ecotour, green travel, Native tourism, sustainable tourism, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Destination: Ely Minnesota

Posted by deborahmclaren on January 14, 2009

Recently I traveled “Up North” to Ely.  This little village could be described as the “Cicely, Alaska (re: Northern Exposure)  of Minnesota” due to ts quirkiness, interesting people, and since it serves as the gateway to the 1500 lake and river entries of the Boundary Water Canoe Wilderness Area (BWCAW). However, it is not fictional,  its a real town, with real people, glorious nature and its own Great North Woods culture.

And yes, they even have a distinctive little radio station – WELY, the “end of the road radio show” that broadcasts to the BWCAW  and the communities of Northern Minnesota’s Arrowhead region.  The community radio station provides news, music, a wide variety of entertainment and personal messages to the hardy people of the Boundary Waters.  A wild polka jam and a reggae hour maybe followed by a message for Miss Ann on Little Bass Lake to remind her to bring back a 5 lb. sack of sugar when she heads home from town.

My sister, Maria, and her husband, Karl, were visiting from New Zealand. My husband, Rob, and our 8-year old son Anil and I were determined to show them some great Minnesota winter fun.  We made arrangements to stay at a comfortable cabin at the Garden Lake Resort about three miles outside of Ely on part of the Kawishiwi River chain of lakes directly connected to the BWCAW. Can you say Kah-wishy-wee?

The two-bedroom cabin overlooked the lake and offered easy access for snowshoeing and winter hiking. A nice couple own the 4-cabin lot and use green cleaning products that, because we all have allergies, was greatly appreciated by our family.  Since they mentioned their dedication to eco-friendly on their website when I first checked them out, I hope they continue to work on becoming more environmentally sustainable.  And, if you ever decide to stay there, consider yourself warned about the religious literature placed prominently in the living area.

We especially loved a midnight star gazing trek on our snowshoes – the sound of our thffft, thffft, thffting through the trees, laughter as we fell into moonlit snow drifts, and spectacular stellar scintillation (stars twinkling brightly) from horizon to horizon. 

We rented our snow shoes from Piragis Northwoods Company for $25 a day (children’s snow shoes were $10).

The deep winter weather was challenging. The morning we were scheduled to go dog sledding we woke up to -27 degrees!  We still managed to get in a  ride with Jake Hway, the owner of Chilly Dogs Dog Sled Trips.  Jake is an experienced dog musher, guide and instructor who introduces hundreds of  kids every year to dog sledding through his work at a nearby Boy Scout camp.

One of the best parts of dog sledding is meeting the dogs. Jake keeps them tied up next to their own little houses in a large lot at the edge of the forest. A bunkhouse stands within the lot and someone stays  there every night to watch over the dogs. The Hways consider each pup a member of the family. You can see the dogs on their website by clicking on “employees lounge.”

Jake  encouraged us to get to know the furry creatures so we tried to individually pet all 57 of those barkin’ chilly dogs.  They are Alaskan Huskies and love to run as much as they love to bark… and couldn’t wait to get hooked up to the sleds. A couple of  dogs tied up near the back of the lot wailed so loudly they convinced me to tiptoe through over some frozen Husky poop in order to give their necks a good rub.

We enjoyed how Jake’s entire family came out to help orient us and encourage us to connect to the dogs, the snow covered forests, and winter trails.  Jake is about as laid back as a surfer in Malibu – except its -27 degrees and he’s wearing lots of long undies and fleece. He’s tall, lanky, strong, and takes a zen-like approach – concentration, tranquility and mindfulness – to his work and his dogs.

Jake and Murdoch (permission from Chilly Dogs)

Jake and Murdoch (permission from Chilly Dogs)

One of the first things we learned is that “Mush!” is NOT the term used to get the dogs moving.  “Hike” is the preferred term. Personally, I thought the most important word to learn was “whooaaa!”  Anil and I sat in the basket of one sled while Jake drove the dogs.  Maria was in the other sled basket as Karl learned to drive the dogs. We were bundled up in some serious winterwear, then covered up and zippered in under the sled’s canvas. I highly recommend ski goggles and mukluks for anyone interested in dog sledding.

Jake and the dogs took us on an exhilarating ride on special trails that have been created just for dog sledding – through heavy forest, across beaver ponds and swampy areas, and over small wooded hills.

Chilly Dogs Dog Sled Trips (used by permission)

Chilly Dogs Dog Sled Trips (used by permission)

Anil’s description of the ride:  “Fun, cool, trees, snow, doggy bottoms, people yelling, the sled, falling asleep on the snow ride while watching blue sky and bumping along on the wooden snow sled while its hitting one hundred thousand bumps in the forest…  My mom shaking me until I started talking and feeling my toes again.” [Editor’s note: This is testimony from a hyper child who has not taken a nap since he was 4 years old. I can’t imagine what happened on that bumpy ride to put him to sleep. Maybe Minnesota winter magic?]

Kiwi Karl summed it up like this, “Dashing through the snow, on a six-dog open sleigh! It was an amazing experience to drive the sled, whizzing by trees, with beautiful Minnesota countryside all around.”

After the ride Jake’s mother, Donna, had fresh baked cookies and hot chocolate waiting for us next to the fireplace. As we sat  thawing out in their rec room we got to see and learn about the family’s mounted animal collection on the walls,  including a surprisingly large beaver, foxes, and several deer.

I  saved one of the most special things about Ely, a visit to the Jim Brandenburg Gallery, for last.  Brandenburg is one of Minnesota’s most loved nature photographers. His extensive career includes over ten years as a newspaper photojournalist,  over 25 years as a contract photographer for the National Geographic Society, and commissions from such groups as the U.S. Postal Service and the BBC.  His daughter, Heidi, who manages the gallery, generously gave me permission to reproduce  his  photo ‘Snow Forms’ here on my blog. Enjoy!

Snow Forms by Jim Brandenburg (permission from Brandenburg Gallery)

Snow Forms by Jim Brandenburg (permission from Brandenburg Gallery)

The beautiful gallery in downtown Ely is warm, open and welcoming. It was designed by Jim and expertly crafted by the same award winning team that constructed his studio, Ravenwood. We learned quickly that the ordinary becomes extraordinary through the camera lens of Brandenburg. The gallery is full of panoramas and prints of the Arctic, wolves, the Inuits of Alaska, Africa, Ireland, and the woods and prairies of Minnesota. The still images are complimented by a high definition video that plays constantly in a state-of-the-art  mini-theater.

Our Kiwi relatives are now as much in love with Ely as we are.  However, we’re looking forward to sharing a down-under experience with them next Christmas when its summer in New Zealand. That’s another trip I’ll look forward to and will share here on the Travel Momma blog!  Stay tuned.

Posted in green travel, Kiwis, travel writing, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The 2009 Rural Tourism Fair in Oaxaca

Posted by deborahmclaren on January 5, 2009

The 2009 Rural Tourism Fair takes place January 19-30. Organizers
promise a very big small event. The fair is hosted each year by
Planeta.com and friends. Details
http://planeta.wikispaces.com/ruraltourism2009

"This year's event expands on what we've accomplished the past few
years in Oaxaca, Mexico," explained Planeta.com founder Ron Mader, who
created the fair in 2001 as a way of conducting an inexpensive
grassroots event to bring together locals and visitors. Among the
advances -- many of the local artisans and tour providers have their
own websites and photo galleries on Flickr.

Highlights

The objective of the Rural Tourism Fair is to highlight options
visitors have exploring the rural countryside in a responsible manner
while modeling what makes an authentic grassroots tourism event. The
fair features travel options around the world and encourages those
using Web 2.0 tools including Facebook, Flickr, Twitter and YouTube to
document best practices. Among the highlights -- a walk with the
weavers in the town of Teotitlán del Valle, dining adventures at the
Caldo de Piedra restaurant, local food tastings, a video night and a
hand's on visit to a community garden.

The event -- now in its 9th year -- is held in late January as a way
to kick start the new year and help participants get traction for new
projects.

How to Participate
There are easy ways to participate:
1) Share photos in the Rural Tourism Photography Group --
http://www.flickr.com/groups/ruraltourism/
2) If you are in Oaxaca, join us for one of the events listed in the
program. Bonus points if you can share photos in the Photography Group!
3) If you organize your own event, let us know so we can add it to the
program

If you can help promote the event, please add a link from your website
or forward the news to a friend. 

Details
http://planeta.wikispaces.com/ruraltourism2009

Posted in ecotour, green travel, microenterprise, sustainable tourism | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

 
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