Thursday, September 29, 2016

Wine Season -- Elderberry Wine - Mis-Step

I just poured out five gallons of elderberry wine. I'm in mourning.
Let's not talk about it for a while.....I might cry.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Biloxi, Mississippi to Lake Charles, Louisiana Trip, 2016 -- Day Four

Salt rock
Today we checked out of the casino and moved ourselves to Louisiana.  First stop - Avery Island near New Iberia to see the place where Tabasco hot sauce is made! We saw an episode on TV recently about this place and decided if we ever got the chance we would stop. This place started on a salt dome that was processing salt before the civil war and providing it to the confederacy. The facility was destroyed by the Union army.

The company is privately held by the McIlhenny family since 1868, which is saying something in this day and time. Family still operates it.

The first building is a mini museum showing how the company has grown throughout the years, including some information about the family. 

They have a very nice tour of an example greenhouse.  They don't grow all of their peppers any more, but do rely on a network of small farmers that grow for them, but this showed how the plants are started. They use tabasco, habanero, and jalapenos now in their various sauces.  Then we got to see the mash warehouse where the peppers are ground into a mash which is aged (for three years) in barrels,
The barrels have a layer of salt on the top
then we got to walk through the mixing facility (where they add the vinegar, salt, etc.) and mix it, then the bottling warehouse.  They were making and labeling bottles for Japan today. The end of the line was where they package them up. 

Interesting to think how many bottles each of these barrels will fill...hmmm...55 gallons/6 oz bottles = ????

The mixing vats
The bottling, labeling, and packaging warehouse

We had lunch in their restaurant -- more Cajun food, of course.  

All in all, a very nice visit.  I have to hand it to this place, they keep it as tidy as can be - even the grass is cut in perfect lines! ha! Of course, John noticed that.  I have a deeper appreciation for how much goes into making something as simple as a condiment that we put on our food all the time. It was very interesting.
They have another whole park there for the families - the Jungle Gardens, but we didn't have time for all of that today.  We were off to Lake Charles for the night.
Steamboat Bill's butterfly shrimp meal
After arriving and resting a bit, we headed over to John's favorite place, Steamboat Bills, for dinner.  My VERY LAST Cajun meal for a while - I think I'm about up to here with Cajun food! ha! But John had his bowl of gumbo and was a happy camper.

Tomorrow we're headed home!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Biloxi, Mississippi Trip, 2016 -- Day Three

Excitement!! Today I got to do something I've never done before! We're going for a ride on an air-boat!
The day started with a nice, light breakfast at the Hard Rock Grill. Ugh...I've had too much food in the last couple of days. We both needed something light.

After breakfast we were off to find Moss Point, Mississippi, which was pretty easy since all these little towns just run into each other along Hwy. 90.  It took about 30 minutes to get to the Gulf Coast Gator Ranch and Tours. 
 If you want to see alligators, this is the place to go.  They have 105 acres here, and there are a bunch of grown alligators living right up near their building.  Some really big ones, too!
 They have about 5 different cages with babies in different stages of growth. They try to save them when they hatch because the older gators will eat the babies, so they move them along in these cages until they are old enough to fend for themselves.
There's a protected walkway through part of the swamp to the boat ramp, with plenty of gators on each side.  You can feed them along the way, and John did. 

 Some of the teenage gators getting ready to be released to their swamp soon.
Then we boarded the airboat! The ride was a little over 30 minutes, and we had a ball. Some fast speeding through the swamp and some slow trolling to feed gators. They give the gators marshmallows (can that be good for them?) to get them to come out - they seemed to love them!

That was so much fun! After our tour, we got in the car and took a ride along Highway 90 back up toward Pass Christian, just leisurely taking in the sites. Then we stopped for lunch at Pelican's Wharf. Good seafood again!
 Back at the hotel, we walked along the pool area by the bay to enjoy the sunset.  Just gorgeous!  There's a pelican on the top of each of those dock posts, but it's hard to see here.  The dock is roped off because it's in really bad shape.  I guess they don't use it anymore, but the birds sure do.

 Then we walked out front so I could get a picture of the big, neon Hard Rock sign!
 We had supper at the Hard Rock Cafe, but I forgot to take pictures.  Instagram fail!  Tomorrow we're off to Louisiana!

Biloxi, Mississippi Trip, 2016 -- Day Two

Our first stop on day two we visited the Jefferson Davis Presidential Library and Museum, Beauvoir. 

Jeff Davis was the President of the Confederate States during the civil war, and the home that he had here was where he moved to after the war to write his memoirs and the history of the confederacy.  The home was originally owned by an acquaintance of his, Mrs. Dorsey, and after her death he and his daughter, Winnie, inherited the home and lands.

 The home and grounds had to be restored after Hurricane Katrina, and the association has made efforts to bring it back to the original state.  
 John at the top of the stairs at the entrance of the home.
 I'm sitting on the porch waiting for the tour to begin.
 Beautiful glass in the front door and windows.
 The grandfather clock in the front reception area is original and still working! Made in the 1700's, it tells the date of the month in the small circle at the bottom. Amazing craftsmanship.
 The buffet in the reception area is original to the home and weighs over 600 pounds, 
which is why it is still there!
 Jeff Davis portrait
 Beautiful tea set. Sigh....
 From the kitchen building which is attached at the back of the home.
 Details in the Library building.

 The books he wrote after the war at Beauvoir.

 They had a couple of rooms full of memorabilia from the civil war.

After our visit to Beauvoir, we had a late lunch at Shaggy's.  Delicious!  John had gumbo with catfish fillets, and I had a shrimp salad.  

 On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at Sharkey's to get the grandchildren a few things.  This place is HUGE -- so much to choose from. 

After resting a bit, we had dinner at the Hard Rock buffet (groan...too much food), and gambled some more.  I won $5.00 on the slot machines! Whoop!  This place has so so so many 1 cent machines that I have no idea how to play.  They are all electronic and confusing.  I prefer the old style slots, but there weren't too many to choose from.  

We had a great day and were pretty tired by the end!

Biloxi, Mississippi Trip, 2016 -- Day One

Monday we left for a mini-vacation to explore Biloxi, Mississippi.

It started with bad traffic due to a terrible accident on IH10 in San Antonio as we were driving through that slowed us down by at least an hour, and continued with either accidents or construction all the way, making travel AWFUL! But we finally made it to Biloxi about 7:30 pm, and we checked in to the Hard Rock Casino. Whew!
 The view from tht Atchafalaya Basin Bridge as we traveled across.
 We checked in and had a late dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe.  Delicious, but I forgot to take a picture of the food....the drinks I took a picture of! ha!
 A Nervous Water Stout (aged in whisky barrels) that John had, and a Peachy Keen drink made with Patrone and rum. So delicious!

The hotel is full of musician's memorabilia -- a suit that belonged to Sammy Davis Jr. and a military style suit worn by Johnny Cash.

The view from our 2nd floor room.  It's very pretty out there on the water.  The pool area is just below our window and we did some people watching this week.  People are fascinating.
 One of the many different styles of light fixtures throughout the hotel. This one was gold chains in a wave design. My camera is not doing it justice.
 John Lennon's jacket.  This belonged to the original Biloxi Casino that was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina.  The jacket was found and refurbished.
We did a little bit of gambling before bed.  I'm not much of a gambler, but John enjoys it some. We didn't last too long as we were both pretty tired!