As I’ve mentioned in other posts, when you’re visiting New Orleans, don’t bother with a car unless you plan to get out of the city. We rented a car for a few day trips from New Orleans to visit Oak Alley Plantation, for an unexpected trip to Mississippi, and to get to our last destination at Avery Island, home of the Tabasco factory and Jungle Gardens.
Avery Island is about 2.5 hours from NOLA and I was trying to figure out how to convince Dave to go out there just to see a bunch of gardens. It turned out that Dave was really interested in seeing the Tabasco factory, which just so happened to be right next store to Jungle Gardens, so no convincing was needed!
After a long drive we arrived at a tiny bridge where we had to pay $1 toll to cross onto Avery Island. Since it was raining, we chose to see the factory first in the hopes that the rain might stop when it was time to wander the gardens.
The TABASCO® factory has regular tours daily. Our charming guide gave us a quick rundown of the factory before sending us to watch a dated, yet amusing video about the factory and it’s history. Tabasco brand sauces have been produced by the McIlhenny family since the 1860s. The factory now produces 700,000 bottles a day and sells Tabasco Sauce to 180 countries worldwide. It’s the only Tabasco factory in the world, so any time you see a bottle of Tabasco, it came from Avery Island.
The family owned McIlhenny Company is very serious about producing consistent quality in their products. The factory is built over a salt mine claimed to be as deep as Mt Everest is tall, and only Avery Island salt is used in Tabasco Sauces. Peppers are grown on farms around the world and a red stick called Le petite Baton Rouge is used to gauge the color of a ready to harvest pepper.
After the video, we continued on to see the factory itself. All the little bottles running along the conveyor belts reminded me of the Tillamook factory in Oregon. Not super interesting for me, but I sort of liked the idea that every bottle of Tabasco in the world comes from this place. We were rewarded for our visit with several tiny adorable bottles of Tabasco to take home and then we were sent off to explore my favorite part, the Tabasco Country Store. Amongst the kitschy souvenirs there were tons of crazy Tabasco flavored dips and treats, even ice cream! I of course had to try everything that I had never tried before… although I did stay away from the soda. You can see many of the quirky and delicious things that the Tabasco Country Store has to offer online at http://countrystore.tabasco.com .
Sorry, no photos of the Tabasco factory experience. Just not pretty enough for me, no offense Tabsco factory!
Jungle Gardens in the rain
When it was time for us to see Jungle Gardens, the rain had actually gotten heavier. We decided to go see it anyway, since we had driven all the way out there. I’m glad we did, but I was still disappointed that it was raining so hard, not a tolerable drizzle that I’ve become accustomed to in Seattle. Fortunately we could drive through the huge gardens and appreciate most of the beauty from our dry car.
We were given a map after paying our $8 entrance fee and were told that we couldn’t get lost if we stayed to the left. Different varieties of landscapes and gardens were marked on the map, almost every point of interest visible from the car. The rain didn’t stop me from getting out often, running to compose my shot, wiping my lens, and climbing back into the car drenched. Dave even joined me out of the car a few times to check out the Buddha Pavillion, the tangle of a bamboo forest, and Bird City. If it weren’t raining I would have insisted on walking all over the expansive grounds, because it was truly beautiful. I can only imagine what the place would have looked like on a sunny day during the Spring. Here are some of the rainy shots I got.
Try the soda at the Tabasco factory! I’m regretting that I didn’t. Then tell me how it tastes! ;)
When it’s raining as hard as it was in Louisiana, a lens hood can come in handy. Keep your camera pointed down and preferably covered up until you are ready to shoot. If you continue shooting, don’t forget to check that your lens hasn’t gotten wet. Use a lens cloth to wipe.