Avery Island, Louisiana – May 2019 – Hot Times at the Tabasco Factory

Tabasco is known the world over for giving kick to many different foods. All of this spice comes from a small factory in southern Louisiana.



The grounds are beautiful, and the Tabasco Company offers a complete look at the history and production of their product.

The visit starts in the company museum.



The self guided tour takes you from building to building. Along the way you pass some Tabasco themed artwork.






While most of the peppers used in the production are grown offshore, there is a greenhouse that they grow the plants to assure quality control, and provide seeds for their sources.







The barrel house is where the mash ages.



The blending of the salt, pepper and vinegar takes 28 days.



The bottling line was the most interesting. A small group of workers oversee the entire process.

Below a quality control worker monitors the process.



The bottles fly along their path.



Yet she can spot an issue, and pull the bottle from production.



An overview of the bottling operation.



More quality control.




The workers seemed at ease with the stream of people watching them through the windows.



These innocent little bottles give so many so much pleasure, and to some serious heartburn.



Their product is shipped worldwide – today it is going to Portugal.



Just outside the line are some giant bottles.

The factory tour was interesting, and well designed.

New Orleans – May 2019 – Botanical & Sculpture Gardens

City Park in New Orleans is a perfect place to escape the hustle of the city and relax. It is larger than Central Park in New York, with a number of attractions throughout, including the New Orleans Botanical Garden.



There is an impressive piazza just across the street.



The street itself is lined with Live Oaks, complete with Spanish Moss.



The Arrival Garden is colorful, with the flowers growing up the wall.



There is a nearby sculpture garden, as well as sculptures scattered throughout the gardens themselves.






The walkway was in full bloom.



Most of the gardens were destroyed by the flood waters from Hurricane Katrina, but with donations and volunteers from all over the country it has recovered nicely.



The Train Garden is designed to represent New Orleans in the early 1900s. It has over 1300′ of track, and on weekends they run the trains.




The Yakumo Nihon Teien Japanese Garden was completed by the Japanese Garden Society of New Orleans.



Throughout the gardens are well placed sculptures to accent the flowers and plants.



City Park is home to more Live Oaks than any other urban space in the country.



A view inside the Conservatory of the Two Sisters.



A final look back towards the gardens.



And the Arrival Garden becomes our Departure Garden.



As a spectacular bonus just across the street is the Casino Building, which is being restored. Just outside on this beautiful day was the Cafe du Monde beignet truck!

No need to fight the crowd in the French Quarter, we had wonderful, warm, powdery beignets in the relative calm (along with 30 4th graders on a field trip!) of the park.






Washington DC – May 2019 – People of the World at the Embassy Open House Day

Once a year many of the embassies located in Washington have an open house, officially known as The Around the World Embassy Tour.




This was the event we went to Washington for, and it didn’t disappoint. On this busy Saturday the embassies were open from 10-4. We had selected 14 from over 50 that were open. In the end we visited 17, but only 6 that were on our original list – regardless it was a great time.

Easily the best part was meeting the people from around the world. Each embassy had a variety of people – artists, musicians, delegates, and just regular folks from their home country. In the Peru embassy we met the artist Mario Arcevedo Torero.





Our morning continued down the street at the Embassy of Trinidad and Tobago, A recurring theme soon began that the smaller countries had the most lively groups.





At the Iraqi embassy we met this artist and his traditional (yet electrified) guitar.





India’s was so popular they took over the nearby street and had a concert, with the traditional dancers, as well as a drum circle.











The visit to Albania was great as well – really tasty free food, traditionally costumed people, and a free shot of alcohol at the end!





There were numerous people in their traditional dress.






Despite tasting our way through 7 countries we had lunch in Costa Rica. As with the others it was nice to taste the local foods.

While many had small tastes of food and drink, some had food lines set up for a nominal fee – it was well worth it.





The Dominican Republic was a lively place as well.





In addition to the dancers there were a number of craftsmen, including this chain saw artist who makes amazingly small items using a chain saw (and seemingly still has all his fingers).




The Korean Cultural Center featured dancers as well.




The second act we saw was a drum line. It is interesting that the cultures from around the world tend to use similar items for their entertainment – dance and drums.




The Haitian embassy featured an artist doing paintings on site.





Meanwhile over at Cote d’Ivoire the greeters wore traditional headdresses.





They also had a display of costumes.



This artist was proudly displaying her work – it was beautiful.





Ah Belize…. What a party….




Before you even entered the grounds you couldn’t help but feel the energy of the party.





People were dancing in front – people were dancing in back.




People from very different cultures were jamming out to the Belize party. Ironically they were next door to the Muslim Center, which we visited in what I would expect should be quiet respect, but you could still hear the party next door – hopefully they get along ok.




We went through a very quiet and strangely austere Brazilian embassy, then headed on up the street to see these two colorful ladies….





Coming from Bolivia! They had a number of dancers performing their traditional dances.





And posed for a group photo at the end of their act.




This older guy was very active in his dance.




And with that we ended our amazing day at the Embassy Open House. This is one you need to put on your list!

Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 14 Molokai

Another great sunrise…

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Time to tie the ship to the dock…

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The high school rowing crew is out for their morning practice…

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We are in Molokai!

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We have a full day of traditional Hawaiian events planned. Our driver Hans has arrived to pick us up.

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Molokai is a beautiful island, very sparsely population.

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We took the main road (!) to the far east end of the island.

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Stopping at the overlook…

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We were at the Halawa Valley for a day of traditional Hawaiian culture.

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The valley features a beautiful cove and beach.

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The Solatorio family has lived in this valley for many generations. This valley is Hawaii’s oldest continuously inhabited community.

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Pilipo Solatorio was chosen at age 5 to be the cultural practitioner for his family. He has carried on his cultures traditions and practices, educating natives and visitors with his stories and songs.

One of the stories he told was surviving the 1946 tsunami.

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His son Greg is carrying on this tradition. Below he demonstrates how to make Poi out of Taro.

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The remains of the church in the woods is one of the few structures that survived the tsunami.

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Hey I left my car in the woods and now there are trees growing through it. In reality Hawaii has a real problem with people abandoning cars; these were less than 200 yard from the beautiful beach.

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After our day with the Hawaiian family we headed back to the docked ship to get ready for our evening event. But first, another sunset with the evening rower.

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Hans returned (with his van’s disco lights in full function) to take us to our evening event.

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We went to the Molokai History Center for a pa’ina (feast). The hostess explained the traditions of food and music for the pa’ina, then we enjoyed an amazing meal.

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Traditional Hawaiian dancers entertained us along with the beautiful guitar music. An amazing evening to end a fantastic week.

Once again, a thanks to Captain Gavin and the Uncruise crew. (and we must bring good karma to their cruises, as we didn’t have any rain in Hawaii either!).

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Brooklyn, NY – May 2018 – Coney Island Lunch

Since we were in the area and I have never been there, we stopped by Coney Island for lunch at Nathans!

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After our nutritious and delicious lunch we took a walk on the boardwalk.

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Even though it was a beautiful summer day (the day after Memorial Day) the place was empty for 1 PM.

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They even have a palm tree on the beach (which is actually a misting palm tree)

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Having seen photos of Coney Island my entire life it was cool to see it in person, with the tall apartment buildings in the background.

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The pier appears to have been recently refurbished.

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We continued down the boardwalk past the various rides, shops and restaurants

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Ending up at the iconic Coney Island subway station.

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New York City – November 2017 – Canstruction

Brookfield Place in lower Manhattan (near the World Trade Center) is the home of ‘Canstruction’, an art display made out of canned foods. The goal is to collect canned foods for the City Harvest, a New York City food bank.

 

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Columbus – July 2016 – Cars, Jazz, Ribs, Pies and More Cars

A Saturday in late July brought a number of events in the area so we made a full day of it. First up Рa Custom Car show down Main Street in Delaware, Ohio. While this car show was nowhere near a nice as the one at Greenfield Village, or even the Good Guys Show at the Ohio State Fairgrounds, they still had a significant number of cars lining both sides of the street for 5 blocks. Nearly all were American, most were customized, but still a nice diversion to start of a long, hot day.

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From there we went downtown to the Jazz & Ribs Festival, along the Scioto Mile. This was one instance that the music was better than the food. We spent a couple of hours listening to a variety of the bands, and enjoying the sights and smells of the rib booths.

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But it was hot – so we moved on to a brief visit to the Audubon Park, just south of downtown Columbus, where I had the opportunity to use my new zoom, taking photos of an Osprey nest, with their wings fully expanded.

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Finally we went to the Franklin County Fairgrounds for two events I had seen advertised earlier, a pie eating contest and a demolition derby. The pie eating contest was a hoot, with the contesting eating cream pies. The contestants ranged from intense, jam their entire face into the pies to ladies who were hesitant to get anything on their faces. The saving grace was our seat was in front of giant fans.

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Last up was the demolition derby, where we went directly after the pie eating, luckily jamming ourselves onto a couple of seat since most of the crowd had sent scouts to camp out and save seats throughout the 2000 seat metal stands. By the time the nect 30 minutes had passed, and the temperature had cooled off to 95 degrees, the place was packed with stereotypical demolition derby fans. After a couple of events (kids big wheel derby, lawn mower demolition derby and a couple with cars) we were done with the heat and headed home. A busy day – but not one of the best.

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