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Archives for August 2012

Check Your Tires and Road Trip to Chinatown

While the metro area of Minnesota and out state areas are home to some very good Chinese markets and restaurants, Minnesota does not have designated Chinatown. Many states do have Chinatowns, many of which have involvement  and/or representation from the American Chinese Associations. What designates a Chinatown could be disputed, but if tourists consistently visit it as such, it likely made our list. So get your oil changed, check your tires, and head out for a road trip to one or more Chinatown’s across the United States. If you are visiting one of these cities home to a Chinatown area, you’ll be able to experience a little piece of China. Sights, sounds, produce, cuisine, art, books, furnishings, gifts and more are waiting for you. What is your favorite Chinatown you’ve visited?

Map of US States with one or more Chinatowns

Map of US Chinatowns in States

List of States with Chinatowns

New York
Washington DC

What is your favorite Chinatown you’ve visited?


Living Off the Grid with the Help from Tires

Efforts to reuse, recycle, and re-purpose items is constantly evolving as we figure out ways to do more than just turn old paper into new paper. Scientists, architects and environmentalists have been working toward making sustainable living more mainstream, as we reevaluate the demands of Americans and our consumer habits. While living off the grid isn’t on the minds of every American, it is increasing in popularity and probability.

The millions of old tires produced and discarded in the United States have found a role in the creation and building plans of what people commonly call Earthships. These buildings are self-sustaining and are made out of what many would term junk; glass bottles, plastic containers, and tires. Tires are used in the foundation of many of these Earthships, and detailed systems are incorporated to provide water from rain and electricity from solar panels. There are many videos on YouTube highlighting some of the Earthships being built, but here is one from the Tulsa, New Mexico area where an entire community of Earthships exists.

Have you seen an Earthship before? Would you or could you live out of a self-sustaining home like this?


Check Your Tires and Road Trip for BBQ

If you find yourself with a road trip planned, why not become a connoisseur of our vast American BBQ styles. As you make your way to your final destination, you can taste and compare some of the US’s original cuisine.

Take off from Minnesota and enjoy the different BBQ flavors across our country starting in St. Louis, working your way South and East.

BBQ Regions in USA Plan your road trip


Regions of BBQ Flavor and Technique in the USA

St. Louis: No light dusting of sauce here. Heavy on the sauce and flavor.

Kansas City: You’ll find lots of spare ribs (pork) with a thicker sauce that includes tomato, molasses and brown sugar.

Texas: Is known for their beef, specifically beef brisket that uses a long smoking process. It produces well cooked and tender meat with a tomato and vinegar sauce blend.

Louisiana: A melting pot of flavors influenced by world cuisine for a very unique flavor of meat (usually pork) and sauces.

Alabama and Kentucky: Sauces often include bourbon and mayonnaise that distinguishes this region of barbeque from the rest.

Memphis and Nashville: You might find a white BBQ, in addition to some amazing dry rubs and sauce, often served on the side so you can appreciate all the flavors.

Carolina’s: Known for a thinner sauce highlighting both vinegar and mustard in their BBQ recipes.

While all of these places feature delicious variations of barbecue, Minnesota has hot dish! Ever had a hot dish with a BBQ sauce? Where is the best BBQ you’ve ever had?

Coolest Travel Inventions of All Time

Ever wonder what we did before GPS? Well, we used maps. Someone sat in the passenger seat and acted as a navigator, reading the map and telling the driver where to turn. Whether you still prefer a map or couldn’t live without your GPS, one thing is certain; inventions continually come along and make our travel experiences easier or better. Take the movie screens added to the first vehicles and the collective sigh of relief from parents all over the country who could travel in peace for top travel inventions for familiesa few hours. Obviously there are many inventions that could make the list, but these are a few we thought families would appreciate.

Top Travel Inventions, In No Particular Order

  1. Built in car seat installation bars in vehicles; the ones that anchor seats securely to the car seat and are very quick and simple to connect to. Anyone who has gone to battle with seat belts and belt clamps/buckles to install a car seat knows what I’m talking about!
  2. The cup holder. I’m not sure how far back manufacturers figured this out, but every pop and coffee drinker in the decades since has appreciated this invention. Can you imagine a vehicle without one?
  3. Television screens, DVD players, and head phones to keep kids entertained on long car rides. ‘Nuf said.
  4. Internet hot spot solutions so travelers can easily access Internet while riding in the car.
  5. Smart phones and apps have helped people find travel destinations and conveniences without the headache. People traveling alone or in inclement weather are safer now with communication anytime, provided it is NOT WHILE DRIVING.
  6. Drive-Thru windows provide weary travelers with hot coffee anytime and quick food to shorten travel time. Even banks, pharmacies, and bill pays are getting into the action to make life more convenient.
  7. Digital traffic signs are nice to alert travelers of closed roads, detours, construction zones, heavy traffic, inclement weather, and more.
  8. GPS systems in cars and on mobile devices hopefully have lessened spousal arguments about which direction to go. Hurray for anything that relieves stress!
  9. The check card/debit card that can be used to pay at the pump, saving you a trip into the gas station. This is especially helpful to those with young kids buckled into car seats.
  10. Squirt-top water bottles, juice bottles and travel mugs. Again, anyone with kids (or a spouse who always seems to spill) knows that a squirt-top bottle is absolutely a life saver on a long car ride, keeping clothes and seats clean and dry!

Which inventions make your list of favorites?