Tag Archive for travel guide

A Tour of Mission San Luis Obispo

I stayed over in San Luis Obispo for a day after the end of the 2014 Wine Bloggers Conference—I needed the time just to decompress and organize my thoughts before heading all the way back home. And I apparently needed to take a tour of Mission San Luis Obispo for some inspiration.

Click twice for the panorama.

Click twice for the panorama.

I love discovering treasures in the everyday, and as someone who grew up on the Central Coast, I’d seen plenty of this mission. But I’d never gone inside, and as I walked by, I happened to notice a crowd gathering for the next free docent tour. Why not join, I thought. So I did.

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The docent gave us a brief history of the mission’s timeline, starting with its founding in 1772 by Father Serra.

Statue of Father Serra outside the mission.

Statue of Father Serra outside the mission.

During the 1800s, the West became more of a lawless place, which is the very reason those doors have an extra couple of feet on top—to stop outlaws from riding in on horseback. Also interesting is that the mission was made over after being returned to the church’s care once California became a state. As was the fashion at the time, it was redone to resemble typical New England clapboard churches with a steeple and all. Thankfully, it was returned to its roots in the early 1900s.

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Inside the building, I was fascinated by the colorful vines and birds on the walls.

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New Orleans’ Adventures: Honey Island Swamp Touring

The Gourmez happy in the swamp.

The Gourmez happy in the swamp.

This is the fourth entry in a series on my December New Orleans vacation. Lest you think this many entries is a few too many, just know New Orleans has always been high on my list of cities to visit, so I was pretty excited to finally do so! Blog #1 was on the north side of Lake Pontchartrain, Blog #2 was on dining at night in New Orleans, and Blog #3 was on drinking at night in New Orleans—and no, drinking need not be limited to the dark hours in this town.

The dock at Cajun Encounters.

The dock at Cajun Encounters.

For our next New Orleans adventure, we went 40 minutes east of the city to Slidell. Honey Island Swamp is 20 miles long, and a good portion of it is protected for wildlife conservation. A large number of boat tour companies operate within the protected section of the swamp, and we chose Cajun Encounters on a recommendation. It’s $25 for a day tour of the swamp, and with a tour that takes about 90 minutes, it’s well worth it. I thought it a deal in all honesty. They offer transportation from New Orleans for an extra $20 if you don’t have a car.

First view of the river. Click twice for the largest picture.

First view of the river. Click twice for the largest picture.

Who doesn’t love Spanish moss?

Who doesn’t love Spanish moss?

Our tour guide was super nice and pretty entertaining for a man with only a few months under his belt. Questions were always welcome. We went through three distinct areas of swamp. The first was similar to a standard riverbank but with plenty of Spanish moss, reddish leaves, and cypress outcroppings called knees.

Knees in the water.

Knees in the water.

This was December, which means winter and the least active time for the swamp’s wildlife, so we were cautioned we wouldn’t see a lot of it. We didn’t, but there were some creatures to encounter!

Turtles on the left.

Turtles on the left.

Plenty of snapping turtles lined the banks, and they’d dive into the water when we got close.

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Travelogue: Tieton, Naches, and the Chinook Pass

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Sunset over the mountains.

This is the last of my travelogues from my October visit with my mom and stepfather in Central Washington. The first was on a day in Yakima and the second was on a day in Ellensburg. This entry covers the beautiful scenery to be found in the tiny towns of Tieton and Naches nestled in the Cascades and driving along State Route 410 West toward the edge of the Snoqualmie National Forest, also known as the Chinook Pass. There is no food in this post—shocker, I know!—but we did stop for pictures at a few restaurants and wineries along the way that are known for good eats or tastings.

The Naches Valley is gorgeous all on its own, as you can see in both of these panoramas taken off the side of Summitview Rd. that runs between Naches and Tieton.

Click twice for the largest view!

Click twice for the largest view!

Click twice for the largest view!

Click twice for the largest view!

The town of Naches has a number of pretty nooks and crannies, including their welcome building.

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Make sure you visit the fruit stands in season on the side of road leading toward Yakima.

I dare you not to eat one of these in person.

I dare you not to eat one of these in person.

Unique decorative squashes.

Unique decorative squashes.

Many of them also offer local goods like hot sauces and jams. There was a restored soda counter in one stand that now serves as a display for old-fashioned candies.

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