Category Archives: Adventure travel

Priya Indian, Rays – suburban Detroit 

  • E4BB38C9-2ED7-485D-9EDD-0B8AFA556349.jpegWe had good Indian food at Priya near Troy, including onion badjis (which the restaurant called onion pakora) and dosa, a southern Indian crepe, plus more traditional  fare like saag and shrimp tikka masala. Then onto Rays ice cream in royal oak where the kiddie scoop I got was just as enormous as the regular scoop. Not complaining.
  • Had a bit of a scare when Noah and I couldn’t find my moms memorial bench in the park on scotia road in Huntington Woods. We found it has been relocated temporarily to city hall while the park is being redone.
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Filed under Adventure travel, Michigan, Uncategorized

For future reference: how to go glamping in Moab

I used to love to camp – but my bad back makes sleeping in a tent on the ground, even with a pad, out of the question. So glamping – which presumably mixes glamour and camping but most importantly, offers the promise of a firm bed inside a tent – seems like the way to go. Our friends Denise and David went glamping in Moab and report that: “It was just great! Love sleeping in a tent, AND in a bed ;)”  Denise’s photo (above) of the tent at sunrise has me in heavy daydream mode…

For future reference, here’s the appropriately-named glamping outfit they went with: Under Canvas

More information on how to glamp (including in my beloved Ithaca) is here.

The NYTimes is also on it….

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Filed under Adventure travel, Ithaca

Canoe options in Iowa – for future reference

Good canoeing options offered today by the DM Register – for future reference:20140831-194829.jpg


The Iowa River meanders through the central and eastern parts of Iowa, protected by the Iowa River Greenbelt, an effort started in the 1980s to connect Iowans to this river with hundreds of adjacent acres of recreational and protected lands.

It means there are plenty of trees carpeting the deep river valley, where a rocky stream that isn’t much wider than 75 feet bustles through.

I recently checked out a segment, a short 6-mile trip from Steamboat Rock to Eldora.

“It has bluffs, a rocky bottom and a nice drop (or gradient). It’s a nice stretch of river,” said Sandra Morlan of Rock-n-Row Adventures in Eldora.

If you go

Here are other recommendations of paddling trips with good fall colors from Central Iowa Paddlers and Todd Robertson, the DNR’s River Programs Outreach Coordinator.

Red Rock Water Trail at Lake Red Rock: This 36-mile trail is a great back-up plan if stream levels are too low. The trail includes rocky cliffs and a sea cave at Elk Rock State Park and a paddle-in campsite at Hickory Ridge. Eagles’ nests and migratory birds make for great wildlife viewing and fall colors are in blaze, especially around Hickory Ridge. Use caution on windy days that create big waves on the lake. As the days get colder a wetsuit may be needed.

Middle/South Raccoon Water Trail near Adel and Redfield: The Middle Raccoon’s high bluffs and the South’s unspoiled, remote woods make these great rivers in Central Iowa for fall colors. They are also good fishing streams for catfish, smallmouth bass and walleye.

• Middle River Water Trail near Winterset: A nice trip is from Roseman Covered Bridge to Pammel State Park. The river is tight, usually only 50 feet wide, which makes for a nice tree-lined trip. The river may be swift in higher waters, but watch out for low water in fall. The covered bridges of Madison County are famous for love, of course, so bring a honey on this one.

• Upper Iowa River near Decorah: If you want to take a longer drive, it may be worth it. Although it’s not yet an official state trail, this National Wild and Scenic River is nothing short of a gem and has long topped the lists of paddlers statewide. The water is spring-fed and clear, and the rocky bottom leaves fun riffles to paddle through, all along breathtaking bluffs that rise up to 60 feet. Fall paddlers love this one, of course, because of the surrounding blanket of trees and forests and the selection of numerous outfitters to drop you off.


DNR maps and brochures of Iowa water

For nearby outfitters to rent canoes or kayaks, go


Filed under Adventure travel, DESTINATIONS - Iowa

Getting excited for RAGBRAI ride


It’s hard not to feel the excitement about RAGBRAI this year, which begins today in western Iowa – – especially since the whole city of Des Moines, where I live, is gearing up for the arrival of thousands of riders here on Tuesday (the route, which changes every year, goes through DSM for the first time in ages this year!). There are all sorts of parties, concerts, food vendors, residents readying for the big event!

And our friends in Windsor Heights (a DSM suburb) are among many who are opening their homes to host a few riders – and those riders  will definitely luck out. They’ll get a fantastic outdoor pool, beautifully landscaped yard, drinks, meals and meet two of the nicest Iowans ever (and that’s saying a lot)! Just heard from a friend in Ames who needs a place to stay – and even more important “a real shower” during the Des Moines overnight so looks like we’ll be squeezing some more people into our house. (We’re already hosting an Israeli exchange student as of today for several weeks).  The more the merrier.

I just pulled out the stuff from my official RAGBRAI packet (this is the first year I’ve gone legit and paid to ride for two days, rather than just hoping on the ride for a day as I did two years ago) and I’ve got various wristbands and bike tags. Cannot wait!!

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Filed under Adventure travel, bike trails, biking, Des Moines, DESTINATIONS - Iowa

The power of a popup storm: ending up in Flint not Kiev

So how did my husband end up in Flint Michigan yesterday when he was supposed to end up in the Ukrainian city of Kiev? Chalk it up to the challenges of flying from smaller cities, unpredictable summer weather and airline belt tightening, perhaps. The weather was hazy in Des Moines in the early afternoon when he left with a farm group for Kiev via Detroit and Amsterdam. It was already going to be a long day. Which turned into long days when a storm in Detroit required the plane to be diverted to Flint, 17 minutes fly time from Detroit. passengers were told the plane didn’t have enough fuel to keep circling and wait out the storm. It was sunny in Flint and my relatives in suburban Detroit reported there was no storm there.

D. finally did make it to Detroit in the early evening, just missing the Amsterdam flight which had also been delayed by weather. So his group of 20 had to rebook, which is never easy but particularly now with planes packed to the gills. They stayed over night in a hotel by the airport and set off early this morning for Kiev, now via Boston and Paris. At one point, it was going to be via Newark and Amsterdam. Here’s hoping. Even for much less ambitious journeys, we have gotten used to not flying as expected. Last week my daughter got home a day late from California after her flight from Santa Barbara to Denver was delayed for hours on a sunny day. mechanical problems. The same thing happened to me last fall on a bright sunny day in Kansas City, when my flight to New Orleans was delayed for hours and ultimately cancelled. Mechanical. It’s gotten so i am almost surprised when i get somewhere as scheduled. and still we travel. tomorrow I fly from Chicago to London. Relatively easy. Or so it seems now.

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Filed under Adventure travel, Agritourism

TripAdvisor’s “Top travel destinations” – a few surprises….

Lists are dubious but oh so easy to read – and so I sometimes do.  TripAdvisor’s “Winners 25 Best Destinations” (no word on how the “winners” were chosen) includes many obvious places  and I was pleased to see I’d been to the “top eight” (Paris, New York, London, Rome, Barcelona, Venice, San Francisco,  Florence yadah yadah yadah) but some places that we’re visiting soon also made the list. No – not Kiev (see scenes above) or Bucharest (see below) or Moldova (the world’s most unhappy place if you believe this report, where my husband is going. But Prague squeaked into the top 10 at  #9; Berlin was #11 and Chicago  #14.

Bucharest City Hall

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Tour the international space station – by internet


My dad provided me with this post fodder – an internet tour of the International Space Station. It’s a brave new world.

and here’s a list of possible dates to see it over Iowa….


ISS Tue Jan 22/06:41 AM 5 18 10 above NNW 10 above ENE
ISS Wed Jan 23/05:52 AM 2 15 15 above N 11 above NE
ISS Thu Jan 24/06:37 AM 4 27 11 above NW 17 above ENE
ISS Fri Jan 25/05:48 AM 3 20 20 above N 11 above ENE
ISS Sat Jan 26/05:00 AM < 1 12 12 above NE 11 above NE
ISS Sat Jan 26/06:33 AM 4 53 15 above NW 33 above E
ISS Sun Jan 27/05:44 AM 2 33 32 above N 21 above ENE
ISS Mon Jan 28/04:56 AM < 1 15 15 above ENE 13 above ENE
ISS Mon Jan 28/06:29 AM 4 60 18 above WNW 19 above SE
ISS Tue Jan 29/05:41 AM 2 73 73 above NE 21 above ESE
ISS Wed Jan 30/04:53 AM < 1 14 14 above E 14 above E
ISS Wed Jan 30/06:26 AM 4 23 18 above WSW 11 above S
ISS Thu Jan 31/05:38 AM 2 29 29 above S 12 above SSE


This data last updated on 21 Jan 2013 17:35:25 GMT

A silhouette of the ISS shown orbiting above the Earth. This image is suspended within an orange and purple shield, with the words 'International Space Station' above the image, and laurel leaves beneath. ISS insignia

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Advice on how to get Machu Picchu tickets – persistence and a little help from your hotel!

It was much harder than it should have been but I finally am the proud holder of two tickets to visit  Machu Picchu next month. My Bolivian friend at our hotel in Peru’s Sacred Valley came through and things did work, although not without wrinkles. Even he had trouble getting the government website or booking system to work properly for several days. So if you are looking to buy tickets, here’s what I recommend: Go through your hotel if at all possible – which means you’ll have to wire money and some personal details (like your passport number) which is a little discomforting. It cost us about $30 extra – $10 per tix comission to the hotel and $10 to wire money – but I think it’s worth the peace of mind to know that you have advance tickets, given that the number of visitors per day is restricted and it take a lot of time, effort and money to get to Machu Picchu – (you have to book advance trains, hotel, etc.) I’m very excited to see this amazing place!

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Filed under Adventure travel, Peru

Machu Picchu – still trying to figure out HOW to buy advance tickets


The ruins viewed from the Guardian’s Hut

I have never – ever – had such trouble figuring out how to buy tickets for a place in my life. It’s maddening. I have not been able to get  clear answer on 1) if I need advance tickets in November to visit Machu Picchu? 2) If there is any way to get advance tickets?

The Peruvian government has a website to reserve the tickets but because you can no longer use a credit card of any type to pay for them (due to problems with credit card fraud, apparently) it’s highly unclear how the reservation system works. There are all kinds of stipulations that frankly don’t make much sense. Below is the latest missive I got from the Peruvian government website folks. Clear as mud….(My concern is that we’ve spending a lot of time and money to go to the site – we’ve booked planes, trains, a hotel etc – and apparently there is a limit on how many tourists can visit so I certainly would prefer to reserve or buy tickets in advance. But maybe I don’t need to – because we’re not in the peak tourism season. Or maybe I just plan cannot!)

Dear Betsy

We are so sorry but Visa had so many problems with stolen  and cloned cards that they preferred to cancel the payment system from abroad, all foreign card payments are suspended due to the high level of fraud presented.
We don’t accept any other kind of payment.

Probably visa won’t accept the payment until the next year.

If you have already employed a hotel o some service in Cusco they are able to help you to purchase your ticket.

Another option is to contact to some travel agency.

On our website – Consultas (Queries)- agency, you can see the list of the travel agency.
Remember that you have 6 hours to make the payment or your reservation will be cancelled. 

However if you want to visit only Machupicchu City, you can buy your tickets with 3 to 2 day in advance, if you want to visit Machupicchu and Huaynapicchu you need buy your tickets with 2 weeks in advance.

In Perú: 

You can make your reservation on our website and pay Any office of the Banco de la Nación it is necessary to bring the printed RESERVATION FORMAT; Hours of Availability: Monday to Friday from 8:00 – 17:30 hrs and Saturday from 9:00 – 13:00hrs. Only you can pay in cash and Soles (Peruvian currency).  

In Cusco:
In our authorized offices located on Av. De la Cultura Nº238 Condominio Huascar Wanchaq. Hours availability from Monday to Saturday  07:15 – 18:30. you can book and pay
The AATC (Association of voyages and travel agencies) located on Calle Nueva Baja N º 424, Cusco –  Peru Phone: (084) 22-2580. Hours of availability: Monday to Friday from 9:00 – 16:00hrs.  you can pay just with Visa Card     

Remember that 
you have 6 hours to make the payment or your reservation will be cancelled.       

Thanks for your understanding.


Facebook, Skype y Twitter: DRC Cusco Ministerio de Cultura Call Center
Telefono: (51) 84 236061
Direccion: Av. de la Cultura Nº238 Condominio Huascar Wanchaq – Cusco, Perú

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Filed under Adventure travel, Peru

Sending my son off to Peru…without a smart phone



One of the hardest things about dropping my son off at the airport in Omaha this morning is that he didn’t take his smartphone with him (he won’t be able to use it in his destination city: Lima). So of course right after we exchanged our last wave, just before he went through the x-ray machine, – me crying, him looking a little concerned – I thought of something I wanted to tell him. And I couldn’t. Soon enough he’ll be somewhere that he can email us from but not having the ability to text is tough. It’s not like we text that much – I try not to. But not having the option stinks.  It makes me wonder how my parents coped when I flitted off to Europe and the Middle East for months on end, just roaming without  much of an itinerary, and there was no email or texting option. Back in 1982, our only option – beside very expensive phone calls and not-very-timely postcards – was telegram and I do remember once sending a telegram to my dad for his birthday from Istanbul (when I almost forgot it was his birthday). I made the mistake of wishing him Happy Birthday in  Turkish  – which he of course didn’t understand so I may have unnecessarily alarmed him and my mom. This was only a few years after the movie “Midnight Express” came out…

Anyway, I hope to get an email from my son sometime tomorrow just telling me he’s arrived in Lima safely. Then I’ll be fine. I think.



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Filed under Adventure travel, Peru