Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Everything Cajun--from hot sauce, live gators, birds, poboys, jungles, and gardens

Abbeville, LA
Betty's RV Park

Our adventure started early today.  We gave Dave and Lynn hugs and see ya's as they pulled out this morning.  We left right behind them headed for Avery Island.  

We knew there was a long list of things to see and do today. Number one on our list was to visit the Tabasco factory and store on Avery Island.  

Wouldn't you think this was a toll booth to get on the island?
When we pulled up the "gate guard" had a long stick with a clip on it.  It was a vehicle pass and he said take the first left for the Tabasco tour and a right for the Jungle Gardens.

Jim and Nancy and Dave and Lynn all suggested we do the combo ticket so that's what we did.  We began the tour with the museum.   The McIlhenny Company has been making pepper sauce since 1868.  It is a family run business and what a remarkable family it has been.  One son received a Silver Star, Purple Heart, and Navy Cross and retired as a brigadier general from the Marine Corps Reserve.  One served with the rough riders and was a friend of Teddy Roosevelt.  
After the museum we walked down to the nursery where they plant the seeds.  

The peppers are aged in the oak barrels for three years.  Notice they cover the tops with salt.

The green on the Tabasco represents the green wax that was used on the cologne bottles in the early days of production.

 The workers were paid in company coins that were used in the company commissary so I don't think this safe held much money.

Here's where the sauce goes when it comes out of the barrels.

The salt mine played a part in the Civil War.

The bottling lines were very clean.  If you want to see this part in action, make sure you don't take the tour on the weekend.

I took this shot at 10:30 am.  I wonder what this number would be at the end of the day.

This is the hood of a race car.
We spent some time in the gift shop.  They even had ice cream with pepper sauce.  

Not far away was the jungle gardens.  It was absolutely gorgeous.  Of course having perfect weather did enhance the experience.

Just past this sign we saw our first of many alligators.  

This was the view from the truck.

There were a lot of turtles near a walking bridge and I was going to walk on it.  It's hard to see from the photo but there is a gator near this turtle.  I'm glad Bill spotted the gator before I walked over there.

Our next visit was Bird City.  There were a lot of steps and uneven walking so we just drove by.  These are white egrets.

These were the sites we wanted to see on Avery Island.  Next stop was New Iberia.  How about a rice museum for something different?  

This is the oldest operating rice mill in the United States.
It began in 1912.

It hasn't modernized at all.  
 We sat on church pews to view a video.
Believe me, when I say they haven't changed anything.

There are 14 people who run and operate the business.
When the bags are filled they place the bags in this paper bag that is hand stenciled with the lettering. The big bags of rice are hand sewn.

We did learn that when the 120 day growing season is over they use the field for crawfish.

By now we were hungry and we knew where we were going for lunch.  Nancy told us about a place to get poboy's.  Thank goodness she described the place because we wouldn't have known it was a restaurant.

Here we are at the Bon Creole Counter.
Signage wasn't great, but the girl at the counter said they live on word of mouth.  They were voted the fifth best in the state.

There was a counter with stools and then a room off to the side.  Bill like the buffalo and the other decorations.

I guess this is a sign you are in Cajun country.
I wish I would have had something next to the poboy so you could compare the size.
We shared a shrimp poboy and some rice,gumbo and potato salad.  You needed both hands to hold onto the half sandwich.  It was delicious!

Our next stop was Rip Van Winkles but as we pulled in we realized we needed to head back to Betty's or we wouldn't be there for Happy Hour.  I don't know what would happen if we missed happy hour but neither Bill or I wanted to find out.

Happy Hour included a few new faces.
Mike and I knew the same people from my old motorcycling days.

Betty made reservations for our half price seafood at Black's tomorrow.  It looks like there will only be 7 of us.  There are a lot of empty sites here.  

Turtle Safely.......

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