|March 19, 2012, New Orleans
Travel day—big cross winds—15-20 mph gusting to 30. Very hard driving, compounded by a cement road surface with uneven joints. Ugh. The highlight of our day was touring the Tabasco bottling plant. Actually, having worked in bottling plants, we were both more excited by the Tabasco General Store, where you could get all things Tabasco.
The original hot pepper sauce is now sold in 120 countries, and the plant puts up 700,000 bottles per day. The peppers are grown in Central and South America (better climate, cheaper labor), mixed with salt from Avery Island (which sits on a salt dome they think is as deep as Everest is high). It is then crushed and placed in oak barrels that were once used by the Jack Daniels company (who, by law, can only use their casks once). Holes are drilled in the top of the barrel, and the top is covered with about 1” of Avery Island salt, which allows the mash to outgas but no contaminants can get in. It ferments for 3 years. The barrel is then opened, and the mash is combined with vinegar, and stirred for 28 days before being bottled. That is a long process, for sure. Cool.
Our RV Park in NOLA is right on Lake Pontchartrain, a pretty oasis in the middle of a very industrial area of warehouses. Once inside the gate you would never know it, but it was almost creepy getting here—I was sure this was worse than Marfa, and we had already prepaid a pretty penny for this. But, it is very nice, and offers tons of stuff we have not encountered yet—a pub, a shuttle bus into NO, security gates, etc.
Over the next few days, we will be taking a boat trip into the Honey Island Swamp, touring the Laura Plantation, taking a post-Katrina tour of NO, taking a tour of the French Quarter that, as it turns out, is a ‘sequel’ to the Laura Plantation tour, and taking a sunset cruise on the paddlewheeler Natchez, listening to the Dukes of Dixieland (one of Dad’s favorites). It should be a wonderful couple of days.