Friday, 2/8/08 Day 6
We didn't do much today. We started school late and stretched it out all day with little breaks here and there. My math (I'm about ½ done with the Algebra book) got a bit difficult and it took me longer than usual.
The weather is nice. It was clear and sunny with a light breeze. It's quite beautiful here. While Dad and I were grilling a delicious dinner of steak, sweet potatoes, and sautéed eggplant, we expressed our feeling on how we thought we were really cruising now. I noted some flaws: First, I was wearing sweatpants and a long-sleeved shirt -not a bathing suit. Second, the water is a murky brown - not crystal clear. Third, there aren't any white sand beaches of any sort. Lastly, the dinghy wasn't dropped and we weren't swimming and spear fishing. All in all, though, the scenery and sunsets are nice and we feel like cruisers in this stop that is half way to paradise.
Saturday, 2/9/08 Day 7
Today was almost exactly the same as yesterday. Dinner was different and school took a long time without breaks. We're doing well with the projects and clean-up. The second water tank (the one without the bladder) is fixed (it was leaking too), and the salon, stuffed full of unpacked boxes yesterday, has half been taken care of today. We seem to be moving along just fine. We're staying in the Mermentau for tomorrow as well. That's good; it's peaceful.
Sunday, 2/10/08 Day 8
It's very easy to say today was a "ditto" of yesterday and the day before. Again, there were a few changes. While we weren't doing school, Josh and I played with the Legos. Today we had another amazing supper. Dad made veni-burgers and humus with matzo. On the side was a salad with tahini dressing on top. It was all delicious! I think we may leave for Intracoastal City tomorrow.
Monday, 2/11/08 Day 9
Yeah!! I finally have something to talk about. We traveled on the ICW to Intracoastal City, LA. This place was hit hard by Hurricane Rita. We've seen what it has done to the landscape and we've seen pictures of water all the way up to the rooftops. I remember this place from our last trip. We went to the store we went to last time, but only found a small shop and a construction site behind it. Inside, a lady told us that the old building was destroyed and that they are building a new one - this time on stilts.
When we got to Intracoastal City, I got land under my feet for the first time in 4 whole days. It felt good.
Traveling on the ICW, right at the entrance to the city, we saw some seriously cool tows. There were tows with 3 huge, tall poles that could be driven into the bottom and act like legs or anchors. These same tows were decked out with big, fancy cranes too.
We are all tired. It's 8:45 and we are getting up early in the morning, so I'd better get to bed.
Tuesday, 2/12/08 Day 10
Today was fantastic! We left Intracoastal City before 7:00am and made our way to Avery Island up Bayou Petit Anse.
Avery Island is owned by the McIlhenny Family - the makers of Tabasco hot sauce. The island is a huge salt dome and has salt mines, as well as oil and gas wells, a plantation and a factory for making Tabasco sauce, bird gardens, and the "Jungle Gardens," which have many rare plants, as well as a mini Buddhist temple with a big Buddha.
The Tabasco plantation includes huge fields for growing the Tabasco peppers, houses and a school for some employees and their families, and the McIlhenny estate somewhere nearby on the island. We took a tour at the factory and learned how original Tabasco sauce is made and the history behind it. Tabasco is sold in over 160 countries, but this is the only bottling factory. A large amount of processing takes place the day the peppers are picked. They are weighed, doused with salt, and put into a grinder on the first day. The McIlhenny family still plays a major role in the production of Tabasco sauce. They personally pick special plants to have the seeds taken out of them later for other uses, weigh all of the peppers, inspect the crop, and test the Tabasco wash after fermentation of peppers. It was all pretty interesting stuff.
After the tour, we went to the Tabasco Country Store. We got to taste all the Tabasco products. There are 6 sauces: Habanero, Original, Green Pepper (Jalapeno), Sweet & Spicy, Garlic, and Chipotle. Tabasco also makes tons of other food, including mustard, soy sauce, ice cream (sweet & spicy flavored and Jalapeno flavored), soda, and chili. All of this is flavored with Tabasco. We bought some Sweet & Spicy and Chipotle sauce, and got some free mini bottles of the Original and Green Pepper (Jalapeno) sauces.
We walked the ¾ of a mile to the factory and while we were in the Country Store it started to rain hard. We tried to wait it out for about an hour before trying to bum a ride from someone (hitchhike). It was hailing the size of butter beans and it got cold. Mom and I were the only ones with sweatshirts, so Josh was all huddled up inside. We saw our tour guide in the shop and she offered us a ride. We gladly accepted the offer.
I had a real fun day at the Tabasco factory. The rain stopped us from going to the gardens, but if the water is too shallow to leave in the morning, we may get to go there. I'm having a good time.
Wednesday, 2/13/08 Day 11
Today was almost as good as yesterday, but not quite. Daddy made a terrific breakfast and Josh and I did school until noon. At around 12:30, we ate a lunch that caused much debate. Dad made Cream of Mushroom soup with extra mushrooms, garlic and an onion, mixed with chicken and veggie bouillon cubes. He also added brown rice which didn't have enough time to fully cook because everything else would have overcooked. The discussion was whether we thought fully cooking brown rice until it is mushy is overrated. The vote was about 3 ½ out of 4 because Mom couldn't decide. We made jokes about the crunchy rice. One of the jokes was that it was making one of my loose teeth hurt.
After lunch, we went back to Avery Island. The workers were nice and showed us how to get to the post office and the miniature grocery store/gas station. The island has its own fire station, but there is no reason for police other than the security guards based at the entrance, because if you do anything wrong/bad/illegal, Mr. McIlhenny will kick you off the island.
After that excursion, we went to the Jungle Gardens and Bird City. I found a walking stick that we kept with us. E. A. McIlhenny was an avid birdwatcher, naturalist, and explorer. He created the gardens with all their plants, such as a few different species of bamboo, camellias, Japanese magnolias, and azaleas, as well as many different trees. There were also lagoons with water hyacinth growing in it and supposedly there were gators, but we didn't see any. Another sight in the gardens was a Buddhist temple. It was in a clearing with a pagoda on either side. Two sets of spiral stairs led up to the temple with the Buddha enclosed in glass with a tiled roof on top.
Nearby, we went to Bird City. There were probably a thousand Great Egrets that were mating. Some egrets were already sitting on eggs. E.A. McIlhenny was noted for helping to save and make a good environment (a.k.a. Bird City) for the Snowy Egrets. Naturally, all the other tourists thought the egrets were Snowies. One look at our bird book confirmed that they were Great Egrets, not Snowy Egrets.
We came home and watched "Jurassic Park II: The Lost World". It was great! Mom said it's going to be cold tonight, so I'm sleeping in long-johns and a big extra cover to keep me warm.
Thursday, 2/14/08 Day 12
Today was super cold! I got dressed in long-johns, blue jeans, a long sleeved shirt and a hoodie w/ an extra hat underneath. Mom said it was too cold for me in the cockpit and that I should get back in bed (for it was the warmest place on the boat at the time), all dressed as I was with 2 thick extra blankets on me. I did as I was told and found the comfort of a warm bed in a cold environment. Mom and Dad couldn't snuggle up in their own bed because they were sailing us to Morgan City, LA. The trip was pretty uneventful, though I only saw part of it, for I was either doing school or huddling in my bed for a good amount of the time.
We got to Morgan City and by then it had warmed up. We remembered some things from the last trip, such as an abundance of restaurants and a small beaten up dock for pleasure craft, full of old run-down shrimp boats. We were surprised to find the dock rebuilt and cleaned up with plenty of room for us. We talked to the harbormaster and he told us how he "cleaned those guys up."
A very cool thing about Morgan City is that it has a sea wall about 25 feet high on the bank of the Atchafalaya River (pronounced a-che'-fa-laya) to protect the city from flooding. The ICW and the Atchafalya are one at this point. If there is a flood threat for the area, the harbormaster can close the flood gates to keep the water out of the city. This happened during Hurricane Rita.
We walked around for a while and found a place to eat called Rita Mae's. It was the only restaurant we could find that wasn't full because of Valentine's Day. The service was slow. We waited for our food for like an hour. When we got it, it was good and hot, though. It was an okay day.