House Haunter on the Loose

The Avenue Plaza Resort in New Orleans offers a pool, rooftop sundeck, fitness center…and a haunted house? Yes, a Civil War era house occupies the resort’s back corner, and on certain evenings, hotel employees offer free tours. Our guide was new and had only heard rumors of ghostly goings-on.  She’d been told that twelve ghosts inhabit the house which was used as a hospital (amputation factory) during the war.  One of the ghosts objected to visitors playing her piano.  Another sometimes rearranged the toys on one of the beds. If our hosts were in, they apparently were not feeling it.  Vigilant as we […]

Celebrity Sauce

The Avery Island, Louisiana Tabasco Factory tour is about what you’d expect and not at all.  Inside, the factory is the typical sterile, automated, conveyor belt, assembly line.  Not the sort of thing you usually find in the midst of a jungle island.  The McIlhenny family has taken pains to preserve the beauty and habitat for generations.  Back in 1895, before ecology was even a thing, “Mr. Ned” founded Bird City, a refuge to foster a colony of the then endangered snowy egrets. Having spent my life in a prairie, I treasure trees, and massive oaks draped in Spanish moss are especially enchanting.  It was good that I was more than happy just hanging […]

Iberia Mystery Master

The name ‘Iberia’ came up a number of times in the planning of our New Orleans road trip and always made me wonder if it was the New Iberia I’ve come to know and love through the writings of James Lee Burke.  Sure enough, when we walked into the small town visitor’s center, there was a poster inviting aspiring novelists to a workshop. New Iberia, it seems, is a mystery lovers’ mecca.  That’s how good Burke is.  If you love books with such a strong sense of place that you feel you’ve lived there, give Burke’s Dave Robicheaux series a try.  The Neon Rain kicks it […]