Showing posts with label California. Show all posts
Showing posts with label California. Show all posts

Friday, December 7, 2018

Dauphin Island and the History of North America’s Colonization in Miniature

Fort Gaines - Photo: Pixabay
Dauphin Island, Alabama is a barrier island at the Mouth of Mobile Bay. It is a tourist attraction, the home of around 1,200 people, the site of the Estuarium marine sciences laboratory and a164-acre Audubon Bird Sanctuary. It’s a pleasant, pretty and useful place that receives most of its income from tourism. On the face of it, one could hardly guess that Dauphin Island bore the name “Massacre Island” for 8 years, or that it was occupied by every major European power in American history at one time or another.

The earliest records of human activity on Dauphin Island are the burial sites of the Native Americans known as the Mound Builders. The Serpentine shell middens on Dauphin’s northern shore suggest that this culture had been using the island for 1,000 years before the 1st Europeans arrived in the Americas, possibly occupying it on a seasonal basis, and definitely using it as sacred ground for the honored dead. 

Spain got the jump on the rest of the Old World when it came to America’s. Since we attribute the continents “discovery” to that country (even if Columbus is to be taken at his word that he was, in fact, Italian) it is only fitting that Spanish explorer Alonzo Pineda was the 1st European to map the Dauphin Island in 1519. By standards of the time, his work is considered incredibly detailed and accurate.

It wasn’t until 80 years after Pineda made his map that the next great European colonial power arrived on Dauphin’s shores. In 1699 French explorer Pierre Le Moyne, sir d’Iberville, future architect of French Louisiana, was beginning his exploration of the mouth of the Mississippi. He and his men anchored on Dauphin Island and, in a textbook European misreading of Native American culture, mistook the human remains he found there as the aftermath of some savage (or savages’) battle or atrocity. Thus the Island received the name “Massacre Island”.

Bones or no bones, d’Iberville liked what he saw. Under the French Massacre Island became a settlement, trading-post and, for a time, the capitol of the Louisiana Territory, a.k.a. 2/3rd’s of the continental United States. As such, “Massacre Island” began to seem an inappropriate name. In 1707 the island was renamed Dauphin Island in honor of the “Dauphin” of France, the title given to the prince who is the heir to the French throne. 

Later events would suggest “Massacre Island” was a more appropriate name after all. In 1711 pirates raided Dauphin Island, with all the attendant murder, rape and pillage one might expect. In 1717 a massive Hurricane very nearly leveled every structure on the island. Then, horror of horrors, the British arrived. 

For the better part of 100 years, Dauphin Island was a microcosm of colonial European conflict in the Gulf of Mexico. Great Britain took it from France. Spain took it back from Great Britain. Virtually the only players on the North American field who didn’t reclaim it was the Indians. Back and forth it went until 1813 when a still green United States acquired the entirety of Mobile Bay, Dauphin included. The British took the Island one last time, for old times sake, during the War of 1812 (or actually a few months after; communications were very slow in the early 19th century), but after that Dauphin Island has remained thoroughly Alabaman until the present. 

Dauphin has seen a great deal of American history unfold, from cultures of the 1st immigrants who came via the Bering Strait, to the earliest efforts of the conquistadors, to the western European scrum over valuable New World real estate. All in all, that’s not too shabby for a little strip of land off the edge of Alabama.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

A Peaceful Retreat on Catalina Island, California

Catalina Island - Photo: Pixabay
When life’s stresses and strains get too much for you, head over to Catalina Island and you’ll find a peaceful retreat that’s bound to have you relaxed in no time.  The island is only approximately 22 physical miles from the mainland, but in terms of lifestyle and sheer population, it’s a lifetime away.  With only 2 ports on the island, one into the main town of Avalon, and the other into the more secluded side of the island at Two Harbors, and only two ways onto the island, via the water or helicopter, there’s very little noise from vehicles.  Relatively few cars exist on the island and most visitors either get around on foot or bicycle.  

Despite being such a small island, there are things to do here on the days when you feel like doing something a little more energetic than watching the sun move around, and when you first arrive on Catalina Island you should visit the local Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau which will give you all the information you need about what’s on, where to find it, and of course ideas of where to stay and eat if you haven’t already made reservations.  In the peak months, however, you should always at least reserve your room before venturing across to the island.  Although you may be lucky to arrive and find a room free, it’s not likely during high season because of the limited amount of accommodation available.  

Two of the most popular places to visit on Catalina Island are the Catalina Island Museum which charts the history of the island through its various stages from the more recent history through the Hollywood era (the island was one of the first main Hollywood film sets) right back to the Native Americans.   Just about 2 miles out of Avalon you’ll find the Wrigley Botanical Gardens which will delight anyone who has an interest in flora and fauna.  William Wrigley (as in the chewing gum empire) once owned the island and you could even stay in his mansion which is now converted into a bed and breakfast establishment.

Catalina Island may not sound very exciting when compared with the attractions of Los Angeles and San Francisco, but for anyone needing to escape the hustle and bustle of city life, it’s a perfect beach oasis. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

California Sports Fishing: The Big Catch

Sports Fishing - Photo: Pixabay
The State of California is known for its gigantic redwood forest, Hollywood, and the Golden Gate Bridge. Also, California is known for its vast stretches of white sand beaches and its sunny weather. Located on the western part of the United States, California is one paradise that you will definitely want to go to.

The next question would be how's the fishing? Today, sports fishing is becoming more and more popular in the State of California. No matter what your experience level is, you can be sure that you will find the right kind of fishing in the Golden State.

Aside from its beautiful scenery, California will be able to offer you abundant and diverse marine life that you will definitely want to get your tackle in to.

There are quite a lot of major fishing grounds in California that you can expect to provide you with big game fishes.

The fact that California has about 1,100 miles of ocean coastline and 220 thousand square miles of ocean waters as well as more than 4 thousand lakes and reservoirs and more than 30 thousand miles of streams, rivers, etc., you can be sure that you will be able to find the types of fishing you want.

Deep sea fishing is even becoming popular in California. From blue marlins to sailfish, you will be able to catch it in California. Whatever fish that you want to catch, California will be able to deliver. In fact, if you are lucky enough, you can even snag some great white sharks along the coastline of this state.

If you are into fly fishing, then California will be able to offer you hundreds of fly fishing sites. In Northern California, you will be able to enjoy one of the best fly fishing destinations in the world. You can try the Sierra Nevada for this kind of fishing. Aside from the lush unspoiled natural scenery, you will also be able to enjoy hundreds of fishing opportunities.

The Owens River is also a great place to fish for trout in California. Compared to anywhere else in the country, you will not be able to find a river like this one as it will offer one of the best fishing in the country.

You will also be able to get rainbow trout, particularly in the Lake Shasta. Also, the large big brown trout are abundant in this state.

So, if you are planning to go on a fishing holiday with your friends or your family, you can be sure that California is the place to go to. With its countless fishing grounds, you can be sure that you will be able to take advantage of the countless fishing opportunities that this state has to offer.

Just remember that you should try booking early for your fishing charters or reservations on lodges as fishing is becoming very popular in California that it is not uncommon for it to get fully booked.

Also, you might want to bring your camera with you and know about the local laws about fishing and the requirements, such as a fishing license. By preparing in advance, you can be sure that your fishing holiday in California will go without a hitch.

Remember these tips, and you can be sure that you will have a memorable and pleasurable trip during your fishing holiday in California.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

WINEMAKING Secrets From Napa & Sonoma, California

Sonoma and Napa Counties are known for its fine wines.

The golden sun and the abundant soil yield luscious, flavorful grapes. These are then carefully fermented and blended with closely guarded secrets that have been passed on from generation to generation, and perfected—like wine itself—through time.

English: Oak wine barrels at the Robert Mondav...
Oak wine barrels at the Robert Mondavi vineyard, Oakville, Califorian USA (Napa Valley) 

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Visitors to Sonoma and nearby Napa County can arrange wine tours where they can visit different vineyards and learn at least some of the techniques and technology that goes into each bottle. Each label has its own secret, and its own philosophy.

For example, wines can use different kinds of grapes, and vineyards can hold as many as 20 different kinds, each baptized with very poetic names: Petite Syrah, Grenache, Bouschet.

Winemakers study the flavor, acidity, color, fruit intensity, and tannin structure of each grape—which all contribute to a blend’s appearance, complexity and taste. The winemaker’s skill is seen in the delicate orchestra of flavors, as unique to the winery and to the harvest year as a fingerprint.

Some wineries will maintain “genetic libraries” of grapes, which contain different cross-breeding of varieties that allow the experts to experiment with the flavors. This also allows them to employ a technique called micro-vinification. Essentially, the property is divided into vineyard blocks, each planted with a different kind of grape to yield a greater diversity of flavors, aromas, colors and textures.

Soil, fertilization, irrigation and time of planting and harvest can also yield different flavors from a single variety of grape. For example, some vineyards believe that it’s better to minimize irrigation, since it dilutes the intensity of the fruit. This is called “dry farming.” This must be balanced, of course, with the plant’s need for moisture—hence the need to choose an area where the roots can mine the water efficiently.

The flavor can also change according to when the grapes are picked, and the wine experts carefully study the optimum time of harvest. For example, the Zinfandel grape is an early ripener, and must be fermented two weeks before the other grapes that go into what wine aficionados call “Mixed Blacks.”

The grapes must be hand-picked and then put through a special pressing process that preserves the skins and phenolic bitterness. Then, experts must gauge the length of the fermentation process based on the grape’s ripeness and inherent amount of sugar. These are then put into barrels. Many wineries boast of using only the finest containers, such as 100% French oak, which carry the wines for several months before they are bottled by hand.

The bottling itself must be done with great precision and gentleness, and the challenge is to minimize the amount of sulfites and other foreign matter. Some of the wineries use century old techniques, with delicate tools that tap gravity.

These are just some of the secrets of Sonoma and Napa wines. However, to truly understand the science and art of winemaking, it’s best to arrange a tour of the different vineyards. Many of the tours include a “palate class” where experts will point out what flavors to watch out for in each glass, and how to pair a wine with different kinds of food.

Are you ready to travel to the famous Wine Country of Sonoma and Napa, California?

Click Here to make your travel easy and stress-free!
Some of the best wines on the face of this Earth awaits you.