Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Avery Island and Tabasco Sauce

Sometimes it’s funny why people make the choices they do. We knew one of the first things we wanted to do on this trip was to visit Avery Island. There are a lot of little reasons. First, was that when AdventureMan was young, he was sent to a far away country, Vietnam, to fight for his country. Most of his time was spent out in the jungle, and they carried most of their food on their backs. They ate something called C-rations, little meals, like with cans of food, and the Avery/McIlhenny Tobasco company made little tiny bottles of tabasco sauce to include with each meal package. It’s a small thing, but those little bottles of tabasco sauce made a difference to those soldiers.

Later, as we flew in and out of the Middle East, Delta had a special short feature on Avery Island. Long story short, we’ve always wanted to visit there, and now we had the opportunity.

(You have to see this mosquito statue to appreciate it; it must be about 5 feet long and 4 feet high, and there are several of them. )

It was a beautiful morning, and the drive was beautiful, too, cool and lovely. Avery island is surrounded by a kind of river/moat, so it really is an island that once used to be a sugar cane plantation. As soon as we opened our car doors, the mosquitos came at me; I am a mosquito magnet.

The tour of the factory had already started, so I scooted over to the country store, which is a really run place. Who would think there could be so many products devoted to Tabasco Sauce?

Oops! Time to get back over to the factory for our tour, which is like 5 minutes, then a 10 minute movie. Just before the movie starts, the guide (who also works in the gift shop while the movie is running) gives each person tiny sample bottles of several Tabasco products – cool!

After the movie, we get to tour alongside the factory and go into the museum. Very cool. Thousands and thousands of tobasco bottles being filled, and each day they post which country(ies) they are sending this batch to. Today is Ireland.


Tabasco is made with a secret formula of specially grown tabasco peppers, vinegar and salt. Lucky for them, they have their own salt mine on the property. Just about everything they need to make tabasco sauce, right at their fingertips. This was a fun tour to take, and one of our dreams was fulfilled.

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October 31, 2011 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Cultural, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Food, Ireland, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Road Trips, Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

The Creole Nature Trail

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In the next to the last episode of True Detective, at the very beginning of the episode, you see this sign, old and beaten, alongside a narrow country road.

And here is one reason AdventureMan and I have been married over 40 years. He looked at me, and I looked at him, and we knew where our next mini-adventure would take us. The Creole Nature Trail is mere hours away, in a part of Louisiana we love.

Even better, this is so cool, you can download an app for The Creole Nature Trail, free, and using your geo-tracking capabilities in your smart phone, it can tell you about each stop along the 180+ miles of natural wilderness along the trail. I love technology.

True Detectives was atmospheric; the atmosphere was so thick it was like it was a character in the series. The cameras loved the bayous, and the shacks, and the run-down bars; the cameras loved the trees and the semi-swampy lowlands – and they made Woody and Matthew run through them often, LOL. The end comes in a fortification that looks a whole lot like our own Fort Pickens, but is one of what must be several colonial forts, some abandoned, some maintained, along the Gulf coastline.

The Creole Nature Trail is just past the area we know from our visit to the James Lee Burke sites around New Iberia, one of our favorite trips. We know it will be wild, and beautiful, and in some places, a little bit bleak. We know to take insect repellant, as they have world famous mosquitoes in Louisiana. This photo is from our trip to Avery Island, where they make the world’s most famous Tabasco Sauce.

I’m just thankful to be married to a man who is up for the same adventures I’m up for 🙂

March 27, 2014 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Beauty, Cultural, Detective/Mystery, Relationships, Road Trips, Travel, Wildlife | Leave a comment

Defending the World Against Bland Food

One of our life dreams came true when we were able to visit Avery Island and the McIlhenny Company. Tabasco sauce is on every table in almost every restaurant in the South, right along with the salt and pepper. When AdventureMan was serving in VietNam, soldiers had a tiny bottle of Tabasco in each ration, to spice up the food. The quote “defending the world against bland food” gave me a big grin. Rest in Peace, Paul C.P. McIlhenny. (This is from AOL News/Huffpost today)

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Paul C.P. McIlhenny Dead: CEO Of Tabasco Company Dies At 68

AVERY ISLAND, La. — Paul C.P. McIlhenny, chief executive and chairman of the board of the McIlhenny Co. that makes the trademarked line of Tabasco hot pepper sauces sold the world over, has died. He was 68.

The company, based on south Louisiana’s Avery Island, said in a statement that McIlhenny had died Saturday. The statement, released Sunday, credited McIlhenny’s leadership with introducing several new varieties of hot sauces sold under the Tabasco brand and with greatly expanding their global reach.

McIlhenny was a member of a storied clan whose 145-year-old company has been producing the original world-famous Tabasco sauce for several generations, since shortly after the Civil War. The statement said McIlhenny joined the company in 1967 and directly oversaw production and quality of all products sold under the brand for 13 years.

Under his management, the company experienced years of record growth in sales and earnings, according to the company.

McIlhenny also worked to develop an array of items that could be marketed and emblazoned with the Tabasco logo: T-shirts, aprons, neckties, stuffed toy bears, and computer screensavers, the Times-Picayune of New Orleans noted. The newspaper first reported the death and noted that McIlhenny was an executive with a keen sense of humor, quipping days before he reigned as Rex, the King of Carnival, for Mardi Gras in 2006: “We’re defending the world against bland food.”

The Times-Picayune said he had taken up the post of company president starting in 1998 before adding the title of CEO two years later. It added that his cousin, Tony Simmons, took over as president last year.

“All of McIlhenny Company and the McIlhenny and Avery families are deeply saddened by this news,” said Tony Simmons, president of McIlhenny Company and a McIlhenny family member, in the company’s statement.

He added: “We will clearly miss Paul’s devoted leadership but will more sorely feel the loss of his acumen, his charm and his irrepressible sense of humor.”

The statement said McIlhenny led the way on new brand merchandising, taking an instrumental role in the company’s catalog business of licensed merchandise. He also was a driving force behind the growing global reach of Tabasco products, today sold in more than 165 countries and territories.

The company said McIlhenny, at the time of his death, was also a company director. He was a sixth-generation member of the family to live on Avery Island and among the fourth generation to produce the Tabasco brand sauce on Avery Island, where patriarch Edmund McIlhenny had founded the company in 1868.

Born on March 19, 1944, he grew up in New Orleans and spent much of his childhood moving between New Orleans the family compound on Avery Island, according to The Times-Picayune.

Reports noted he also had been an impassioned board member of America’s Wetland Foundation because of his longtime interest in preserving south Louisiana coastlines crumbling under the onslaught of decades of erosion.

Attorney Edward Abell called his friend McIlhenny “a well-known figure.”

“It really kind of puts us on the map here,” Abell said, “because the Tabasco products are known all over the world.”

February 25, 2013 Posted by | Adventure, Biography, Cooking, Cultural, Entrepreneur, ExPat Life, Food, Road Trips, Travel | , , | 4 Comments

Just a Little Drama To Spice Up Our Trip to Tofino

I think I may have mentioned that occasionally I am a little OCD. In our family, I am the trip planner. I get an idea, I run things by AdventureMan, he gets a veto even if I make a strong recommendation. He also does research, and asks to have things added in. That’s how we ended up doing two separate trips to Alaska; we realized with all our good idea, we couldn’t do them all in one trip.

 

This time, our trip was centered on two things, Mother’s Day in Seattle and three days at Ucluelet, during which we would whale watch and bear watch. We booked our reservations, months in advance. The night we left Qualicum Beach, we got a nice e-mail from our guide, with devastating news – he had a severe injury and would not be able to take us on either tour.

 

AdventureMan and I looked at each other in horror. “What are you going to do??” AdventureMan asked, and we are in a bad position because our phones don’t work reliably. “He recommended another agency,” I said, “I will e-mail them now and see if we can get on with them.” It’s still early in the season. There is hope. I e-mail them telling them what we wanted, and that we are flexible as to which one we do first, and as to morning or afternoon.

Before we left to drive across the mountains, I checked my e-mail. No response. The drive was quicker that I thought, and we arrived too early to check in, so we decided to drive to Tofino, about 30 minutes away, and see if anything is possible.

 

I took some mountain photos for you on our drive from Qualicum Beach to Tofino.

 

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The day had started cloudy, but by the time we reach Tofino, blue skies are breaking through.Tofino

 

We go straight to Meare’s Landing, where Remote Passages organizes and sends out expeditions to see whale, to see bear, to kayak, to see remote hot springs.

 

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We are in luck! They have already tentatively booked us on our desired trips, we just need to pay and be read in on the safety instructions. We ask them their favorite places to eat, and they say “Sea Shanty in Tofino.” Then we ask if they have been to Ucluelet, and their eyes go all big and shiny and they say “Go to Zoe’s! We love Zoe’s!”

 

So we walked to the Sea Shanty, where an amazing waitress, Brianna, took care of us. You may think that I exaggerate when I say she is amazing, but Brianna was really good at making customers happy AND she boats to work from the island where she lives. We were so impressed, because while we have had wonderful weather, we know wonderful is not how weather always is, and in a boat you are exposed to weather, and to weather related sea changes. She didn’t seem in the least bit proud, she just took her bravery as something normal. Wow.

This is the view of the Sea Shanty from the sea.

 

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This is an interior wall at the Sea Shanty.

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This is the fabulous Pacific Northwest Bouillabaisse Brianna brought us, divided into two bowls. It had Alaska crab, local clams and mussels, local salmon and fish. It was lacedd with saffron threads, the way a truly good Bouillabaisse should be. It was purely awesome, and accompanied by a Shanty salad, also huge, also divided for two. Even divided, we waddled out of the Sea Shanty, convinced it is one of the best meals we have had on our trip.

Bouillabaisse

We did save a little room, though, for Zoe’s, a bakery in Ucluelet. We had INTENDED to buy croissants for breakfast the next morning, but there were none. We ended up buying cookies and pie. The next day we ended up buying more cookies and more pie. The third day, we went in early for breakfast before a hike. Zoe’s has magic. The crusts are really light and flaky. The berry pie was full of berries; I don’t know what they were held together with, but the pie was almost entirely berries. The gingerbread cookie was chewy, and gingery. AdventureMan’s chocolate-caramel-something else bar (twice) was so rich that you had to nibble at it through the evening, it was too rich to eat all at once. Oh my. Go to Zoe’s.

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Zoespie

May 14, 2016 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Communication, Cultural, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Food, Living Conditions, Restaurant, Road Trips, Weather | , , , , , , | Leave a comment