Friday, November 29, 2013

Tennessee for Thanksgiving

We accepted Sandy and Charles Lee’s invitation to drive from Abbeville to Tennessee and have Thanksgiving dinner with them.  We left last Monday and drove (record for us) 614 miles in one day.  We took off at 4:15 a.m. and got here about 4 p.m.

We’ve had a whirlwind of activities since then, which I will blog about next week, but I want to put something up so you know where we are. 

Wednesday they drove us to Opryland in Nashville.  Oh, my, how beautiful.  Here’s the daylight photo of the nativity scene….


 and here is the night time view….


We enjoyed walking through Opryland to see all the holiday decorations


Other scenes deserve a photo on their own



Here is a collage of other scenes of bars, restaurants, etc.

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Here we are for our photo shot

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As we left we took a couple shots of the outside


















This photo is fuzzy as I took it from the car as we were leaving, but it does show how beautiful the grounds are decorated.


We had a great Thanksgiving with The Lees and their family.  Hope you had a joyful time with those you love as well.

Remember, you are loved.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Tabasco and fish fry

Wednesday a bunch of us from Betty’s RV Park took a ride to Avery Island, outside of New Iberia, to visit the Tabasco manufacturing plant.  We’ve been here several times before, but it is always interesting to see what new things they have at their Country Store (gift shop).

You are charged $1 to enter Avery Island and I always thought it was cute how they retrieved your money.  Instead of handing them the money, the attendant sticks out a skinny stick with a clamp on the end that you put your money under. You can click on the photo to enlarge it.

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Here’s the outside

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We signed up for the tour behind this large bottle.


Our tour guide was very, very good this time….much more knowledgeable than others.  Although she gave the same memorized pitch she also gave interesting tidbit here and there.  Like we found out that the McIlhenny’s had three girls, so when they married the grooms had to agree to change their name to McIlhenny.  Also back in the day, pepper pickers were paid with “company coins”  that could only be redeemed at the “company store”.  This practice was stopped in the 1920s when it was outlawed by the government.

All the seeds to grow the Tabasco peppers come from peppers at Avery Island only.  They are shipped to many South American countries to be grown there and prevent disease or weather to destroy a whole crop. Once the peppers reach the exact shade of redness required they are always picked by hand and ground up and salted the same day. 



This mash is then stored in used wood barrels from Jack Daniels, after the char is shaved off, for three years.


Then the mash is put in a wooden vat along with high grade distilled vinegar and it is mixed for 28 days.  It is then strained and immediately bottled.  Here is an interesting fact:  all Tabasco Pepper Sauce is bottled right here in this one plant in Avery Island.  They send Tabasco to 130 countries with information written in each of those languages.  The day we were there they were running three lines all going to France.



They run a counter so you can see how many bottles are being filled.


Another interesting fact:  Tabasco fills 700,000 bottles A DAY

Next we went to the Country Store


This place has everything Tabasco from neck ties, tee shirts to Tabasco asparagus.  Many things aren’t available anywhere else, like the Raspberry Chipotle Sauce, which I bought, or the Tabasco Pepper Jelly, which I also bought (going to pour it over a block of cream cheese for happy hour one night).


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To learn more about Tabasco’s plant read our previous blog post back in March 2009 Avery Island

We finished off our outing by going back to Bon Creole for lunch and this time I got the seafood gumbo with shrimp and crab.



Did you know in Louisiana gumbo is always served with rice and potato salad.  I think the potato salad is to cool your pallet from the spices.


As if this wasn’t enough activity for one day we went back to Betty’s and had a fish fry AND then Judy Bailey came over and along with Dan Goan we had a concert!!!!!



Bill and Maryann provided about 50 croppy fish filets that Bill had caught and they graciously fried them all for us.  Others brought hush puppies, potato salad, pasta salad, onion rings, fried potatoes and I made cole slaw.  A wonderful array of desserts finished off the meal.



Happy and full plates.

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 Judy Bailey and Dan Goan gave us a wonderful concert


Dan has gotten very good on his guitar and is now singing solos.


Everyone so enjoyed themselves

Jim (Judy’s husband) Merlene, Betty and Peggy
Sharon and Sam
Reg and Karen
Karen, Sharon, Sam, Maryann and Bill

Remember, you are loved.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Really Big RV Set-Up

This is the longest rig set-up I’ve ever seen.  It belongs to Jay and Vicky. 

Vickie & Jay

All lined up going down the road it is 73 feet long.  Their small car is in the container behind the truck. This is what it looked like coming into Betty’s right in front of our rig.

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Here it is backing into their site.

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Oh, yah, that’s a 40 foot fifth wheel they are pulling.

Remember, you are loved.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Woodman-Bon Creole-Sugar Farm

I’m going to tell you right now, this is going to be a long, large, lengthy (?) blog post cause we did a lot of stuff all in one day.  So pace yourself, get a cup of coffee and get comfortable.


We spent a whirlwind day last Saturday driving outside of New Iberia to visit Gerald Judice, The Wood Man. Gerald and his family go to the swamps in February when the water is high and harvest pieces of cypress. 

They bring the wood back home and stack it around the trees in their front yard to dry for a couple of years before making it into wood decorative items.

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Gerald sells most of his creative wares at craft shows and Farmers’ Markets in the area. His passion was turning bowls on his lathes. Gerald’s prices are very reasonable and he works in various types of woods. 

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Gerald also has 25 fruit trees in his back yard and he is very generous in picking fruit and having it available for us to take.

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After we made our purchases Gerald turned a bowl for us and explained the process.


Look at the size of some of the blocks of wood Gerald turns. These will make 10 to 12 inch bowls.  Gerald said it is getting very hard to find wood pieces this thick.










You can read these blog posts about our previous trips to Gerald’s:  Cypress Wood Man  and Woodworking-Lunch-Acadian Museum

We then went to Bon Creole Lunch Counter.  This is a favorite place for Jim and I…the food is soooo good.

Beautiful murals on outside
Like many lunch counters, you place your order
then you sit down and when your food is ready they yell out your name to come and pick up
We ordered the shrimp po’boys
Betty got gumbo
Karen isn’t a fan of seafood, but she was very pleased with her over-filled ham po’boy.

As if this wasn’t enough activity for one day, we then drove to Loreauville, a little town along the Bayou Teche a little ways from New Iberia, to visit the Walet Sugar Cane Farm. I was very excited about this visit as I’m very curious about sugar cane operation.  This is their harvest time (October thru December) and there are huge fields all over this area. We’ve seen the large machinery cutting the cane from a distance, but I wanted to understand the whole process.

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Betty is friends with the Walet family. Here is Miss Amaryllis (pronounced a-MAR-a-lis) and her daughter, telling us the history of the former plantation.






The cane is very tall and grow from 4 to 19 feet tall. 





Next we drove a mile from her house to the fields, where Dan (her son) was driving the large cane harvester.
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Dan was so kind to explain the whole operation to us. Canes are placed mechanically in the ground and must contain at least one bud.  New sprouts grow up from each joint. Some of the cane tumbles to the ground during harvesting and start growing there. It takes about 14 months for the cane to grow to a height to be cut. They get several cuttings from one planting through the years, but with declining yields each year.  Dan said they replant about every five years.  Look at the size of the harvesters  used.

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Here are some of the cane

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The gentlemen peeled some cane and let us chew on it to extract the sweet, sweet juice.

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I remember when I was little growing up in Florida my dad would send me to school with a section of peeled sugar cane to chew on as my recess treat.


You see carts and 18-wheelers full of sugar cane driving down the highways around here this time of year on their way to processing plants in Jeanerette and St. Martinville.

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We really appreciated The Walets for giving us so much of their time to show us around and explain things.  They even gave us a large bag of early processed sugar for us to divvy up amongst us to taste.

We finished up about 2 p.m. with plenty of time to get back to Betty’s for our daily 4:30 p.m. happy hour.  But it had been a full day of activity, but very enjoyable.

Remember, you are loved.
Read the story behind this saying HERE