Tabasco country

16 May

Before leaving Grand Isle, we asked our new friends where our next stop should be. The answer was a resounding Avery Island. So there we went. (Now, we really don’t have a set plan and are just asking around where to go next so if you have a suggestion, let us know!)

The drive wasn’t long at all and finally our first in 100% sunshine. I really had no idea what was on this island except they produce Tabasco there, as everyone told us to take the tour. We had no internet and our phone service stinks (thanks Sprint) so we couldn’t even look up what there was to do on the island. We arrived around 6 to find out that the small island is private homes and the only areas that are open to the public are the Tabasco tour area and Jungle Gardens, a preserve, both of which were closed. Since the area was really beautiful and they opened early in the morning, we decided to just camp right outside the gate and then tour first thing in the morning.

We parked in a parking lot for boat trailers, across the street from a lake. There were people fishing all hours of the day and night and, of course, also admiring Skyhorse.

As we were settling in for the night, a man knocked on our door. The man, Dick Parsons, recognized Skyhorse from the article in the Citizen in December! Turns out, he’s an avid reader of the Citizen and lives seasonally in Big Pine and on Avery Island. His wife’s great grandfather is a McIlhenny, part of the Tabasco family that started it all.  Because of this, he and his wife have exclusive rights to live on Avery Island along with the rest of her family, all of whom are descendants of the McIlhennys. The following day, we toured Jungle Garden (saw turtles and alligators) and the Tabasco factory, where we sampled some delicious spicy snacks–every flavor of Tabasco sauce, Tabasco coke (so yummy), and condiments spiked with Tabasco. The raspberry-Tabasco soft serve was a-ma-zing! Too bad we don’t have a freezer or I would have bought it all. As part of the tour, we also got mini Tabasco bottles in a variety of flavors. Check out the bottle in your pantry. The label has the family name and says “Avery Island.” The little things you overlook while making your bloody mary 🙂 Here’s a bit more about Avery Island: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avery_Island,_Louisiana

Later, Dick drove us around Avery Island, giving us the insider private tour. It was amazing to learn the island’s history and that all his family lived in that one place! The family has been exclusively living on the island for almost 200 years and have a big reunion every 5 years. We learned that the island is very green, has active oil and salt mines, an Egret refuge, and pepper plants. It really was a hidden piece of paradise and we are so grateful to Dick for showing us the marvels of Avery Island. He invited us into his gorgeous house to meet his friendly dogs and gave us a bottle of reserve Tabasco. The hospitality continued when Dick, his wife Brina and her nephew Tuck invited us to dinner in the neighboring town, New Iberia. There, Dick mentioned that I looked familiar and he may have been on a jury panel of mine a few years ago. And as I sat there  racking my brain to no end, I DID remember him as a potential juror, talking about how he was a retired pilot for Delta. Really, what a small world!

I’m so glad we stayed around an extra day to spend time with Dick and Brina. And I still can’t believe this crazy coincidence! I hope we run into many more of these situations along our travels!

Having some technical issues with embedding pictures into the blog but all pictures thus far are in snapfish albums. The links are under the “Photos” tab.

One Response to “Tabasco country”

  1. Zia May 18, 2013 at 3:11 am #

    Awesome post! Makes me miss Louisiana already…or for the first to win a long time.

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