Monday, March 30, 2020

THE NEW ORLEANS PHARMACY MUSEUM Guest post by Caroline Hatton

The New Orleans Pharmacy Museum

My friend and fellow children’s book author Caroline Hatton visited New Orleans, Louisiana, in December 2017. She took all the photos in this post. For more information about her, visit

After I was born in 1950s Normandy and before I could walk, I caught my earliest glimpses of the outside world when I crawled to the floor-to-ceiling window of my parents’ countryside village pharmacy. Wicker shopping baskets came and went, heavier on the way back. Muddy rubber boots splashed by on rainy days. Across the Route Nationale and village plaza, the church bell clanged the hours away. I grew up playing and doing homework in the back room at the pharmacy, hearing pharmaceutical tales at the dinner table. Later, as a pharmacy school student, I worked as an intern at my parents’ pharmacy in Paris until I graduated in 1979. No wonder I simply have to see old pharmacies and collect photos of antique potion vials when I travel.
By 1979, such sights had disappeared from pharmacies in France.

The New Orleans Pharmacy Museum was no exception, especially since the pharmacist who first set up shop there in 1823, Louis J. Dufilho, Jr., was born in France—just like me! As a teen, he moved to New Orleans with his family and grew up in the family pharmacy. He went back to France and attended pharmacy school in Paris—just like me! He made history when he became America’s first licensed pharmacist.
There were none of these in 1979 France.

Today, the museum exhibits fill two floors. Guided tours are available. The courtyard can be rented for special events. In the 19th century, additional buildings housed the family home, slave quarters, stables, and carriage house.
As a pharmacy intern in 1979 Paris, I once carried a doctor’s prescription to a leech shop to bring back “2 medium leeches” for a patient!
I used an identical item to compound prescription pills in 1979 Paris.

Upstairs at the museum.
A vintage poster for Vin Mariani (Mariani Wine), claimed that it fortified body and brain, and restored vitality. That’s not hard to believe, considering that it contained cocaine from brewed coca leaves. 

Fortifies and Refreshes Body & brain
Restores Health and Vitality

What the museum info failed to disclose, though, is that Mariani Wine is the French ancestor of Coca-Cola. The story goes like this: after the French inventor of Mariani Wine (a chemist born to a pharmacist family) started marketing it in 1863 and achieved international success, in 1885, an American pharmacist by the name of J.S. Pemberton concocted a mere imitation, a “French wine of coca, ideal tonic.” Soon, Pemberton altered the formula, replacing the alcohol with cola extract and the plain water with fizzy water. A few years later, another American pharmacist, A.G. Candler, bought the formula and founded the Coca-Cola company. In 1903, cocaine was removed from the ingredients. And today, the French for Diet Coke is “Coca Light.”

Monday, March 23, 2020

A WEEKEND TRIP TO NORMANDY: Guest Post by Mike Mayone

Bayeux, Normandy
My nephew-in-law, Mike Mayone, who often travels for business, recently had a chance to visit Normandy in France on one of his trips. I thank him for sharing his experience with The Intrepid Tourist and providing a personal view of the place so important in the history of World War II.

With all of the focus on Normandy for the 75th reunion of D-Day, I could not pass up the chance to visit myself.  I had business in Paris and found myself with an available Saturday. 

I learned that the Normandy D-Day landings involved numerous seaside towns and spanned across over 100 kilometers.  I also learned that when Airbnb says that the location you rented is in a particular town, they mean that it is reasonably close to the town.  Luckily, I figured that out before arriving at the Caen train station where I had reserved a car for my Normandy excursion. I just needed the car the night before to get to a lovely town called Bayeux where my Airbnb was located.  Little did I know that Bayeux has a deep history regarding World War II and beyond.  I ran to Hertz to pick up my rental before it closed that evening.  Yep, they decided I looked like the kind of guy that should be driving a delivery vehicle, so they gave me a Fiat diesel delivery van with a manual transmission, complete with a cage in the back that locks separately from the cab.  It wouldn’t have been so bad except that it was bright white and carried a huge Hertz logo on both sides.  Needless to say, during my travels I received a lot of funny looks.
Omaha Beach Memorial
Like the Allies in the summer of June 1944, I planned to invade Normandy, but needed more than the internet to figure out the best way to do it.  Luckily my Airbnb had two useful publications.  The first was for the D-Day Normandy Land of Liberty 75th Anniversary event, complete with maps and an itinerary if you happened to be here in June 2019.  The second was an incredible Life Magazine publication called D-Day, Remembering the Battle that Won the War, that kept me up past midnight with its wonderful photography and prose.  

I learned in preparation for my D-Day landing that D-Day really simply means “Day-Day.”  Since it was a “Day” that changed the world I can see why they named it twice.  The morning of February 15 arrived and even though I was a bit sleep deprived, I got up, ate breakfast and used the map in the trusty Land of Liberty booklet to determine my plan of attack.  I decided that since Bayeux is close to the center of the five landings from D-Day, I should begin by driving to the farthest landing first. That meant that Utah Beach, about 30 kilometers from my Airbnb, would be my first visit.  As it turns out, the US was responsible for the invasion at Utah beach, so I definitely wanted to check it out.  Utah Beach is in the town of Sainte-Mere-Eglise.  This is the location where the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions were on the front line when the landing began at 4 AM on June 6, 1944.  Thousands of ships, vehicles and equipment pushed their way to the beach while Allied aircraft bombed German fortifications on the coast.  Walking along the vast beach, I could almost feel the guns firing from every direction. The somber February morning added to the effect.  Despite the favorable outcome of the Utah Beach landing, I couldn’t help but feel that I was blessed to live in a time where I wasn’t called to fight for my country.

My next stop was Omaha Beach.  If you only went to Utah Beach you may have thought that the Allies were invincible and would easily overcome the enemy.  A short time at the Omaha Beach landing site made it clear that wasn’t the case.  As the invasion started there, the Germans mowed down the approaching Allied forces.  Thousands were killed and wounded.  I learned later in the day that Eisenhower had no Plan B. Maybe that added to the resolve of the troops on Omaha Beach who broke through the German defenses around mid-day on June 6.  Given all the loss of life at Omaha Beach, the scene reminded me of the memorials I have seen for 9-11 in New York City.  They are special and speak to the heroic effort of those who lived and died. 
American Cemetery, Normandy.
Next on my route was the Normandy American Cemetery.  This is the place where the enormity of D-Day really hits you.  Walking through the grave sites of the nearly 10,000 service members placed there, you can feel the price of war.  I was on the early side so after parking my van, I walked to the visitor center, banana peel in hand (from a late morning snack), thinking I could throw it out prior to exploring the sacred site.  I should have realized they would have metal detectors and security at the entrance.  Everyone working there was very nice but I felt foolish as I put my banana peel in the tray usually used for your cell phone and wallet.  After getting beyond security I asked the woman behind the desk where I could dispose of my banana peel and she said no one in the building is allowed to have food so she wasn’t sure how to help me.  My quick thinking in asking where the Men’s Room was saved me.  It can be rare to have a moment of levity in this kind of situation but I needed it.
The Visitors Center was one of the best things I saw all day. They also had a 15-minute video for visitors showing how the planning, invasion and aftermath transpired.  I would have paid a steep price to take this all in but it turned out that it was one of the only free museums offered.

After that I walked all of the grounds, saw the chapel and was amazed by the painted ceiling.  As I headed back to the van, I saw what looked like a group of high school kids gathering near the memorial.  I changed course and made it to the memorial right before this Atlanta based high school band, called the Whitewater Band, played God Bless America and Taps.  It was beautiful. 

It was now after noon and I needed to plan the rest of the day.  Up until this point the rain held off.  Next down the line was a British led invasion at Gold Beach.  I plugged the name into Waze and was on my way.  As I drove on a few one-lane roads and cow paths I stopped the car in the middle of the road (aka cow path) to make sure I entered everything correctly.  Waze said I did.  As it told me “you have reached your destination,” I looked to the right to see a beautiful vista of Gold Beach but it was about a mile away as the crow flies.  I decided that if I typed in the name of a monument that might get me to where I wanted to be, so I did that and it sent me a few miles down the road.  At least I was now close to the water, but I only saw a few cars and people on foot.  I parked the van, got out and joined the other walkers on a very rocky path.  After making it a half mile or so, I realized this was a very natural version of a memorial.  Not to be discouraged I decided there must be another town around Gold Beach where there would be more activity and I found the town of Arromanches.  It wasn’t that far and proved to be a great last visit for the day as the rain started to fall.
Bayeux Cathedral
With the rain coming down I headed back to Bayeux.  I got to the Airbnb and unloaded some of my gear and decided to head to the supermarket. Along the way I visited La Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Bayeux. This cathedral goes back to the 9th century and is magnificent.  On the way back, I covered most of Bayeux and enjoyed some great sites in between the rain drops.

Monday, March 16, 2020

AVILA ADOBE AT OLVERA STREET: The Oldest House in Los Angeles

Avila Adobe, Olvera Street, Los Angeles, CA
During the Christmas holidays we had guests at our house in Los Angeles, which inspired a round of visits to the city’s famous tourist spots. One day we went downtown to Olvera street, to eat lunch in one of the several restaurants that line this short street, and to get a glimpse into Los Angeles’s Spanish heritage.
While eating our lunch on the restaurant's outdoor patio, we were serenaded by a mariachi band.
After a delicious lunch of chicken mole, chili rellenos, and other popular Mexican foods, we browsed the shops and souvenir stands before visiting the Avila Adobe, a house built in 1818 by the Avila family. This was the town house of a prosperous local ranching family. The Avila family lived in the house until 1868. After that it had a number of uses including headquarters for the Commodore Robert F. Stockton during the Mexican-American war, as a rental to other families,  a boarding house, until it fell into disrepair and was condemned.
A child's room
 In 1930, the Avila Adobe was rescued and restored by Mrs. Christine Sterling, who also is responsible for turning Olvera Street into a Mexican style marketplace and tourist attraction. Mrs. Sterling lived in the house until 1963. The house is now part of El Pueblo De Los Angeles Historical Monument.
The family room where the family ate its regular meals. When neighbors and visitors called, they dined with the family at the big table.
The house is filled with furnishings that are similar to those that would have been there in the late 1840s when the Avila family lived there. As we toured the rooms, we got a peek at the kind of life they led. 
Early California music, singing and dancing were enjoyed at the Avila Adobe.
After a meal, guests would enjoy music.
The parlor was used to entertain important guests or for funerals.
The parlor, or sitting room, was rarely used. Exceptions included wedding receptions and baptismal celebrations. 

Ceramic nativity figures are displayed during the Christmas season.
And, because we visited during the Christmas season, a nativity scene was on display.

Visiting the Avila Adobe is free. For more information, go to .

Monday, March 9, 2020

THE PHILLIPS COLLECTION, Washington, D.C.: What Do You Hang Over the Fireplace?

Five Brothers by Alfonso Ossorio at the Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.
On a visit to Washington, D.C., last spring, I visited the Phillips Collection, the art museum that began as the private collection of the Duncan Phillips family and is now a premier museum of modern art. (Duncan Phillips, who founded the museum, was the grandson of wealthy banker and steel magnate, James H. Laughlin, and son of Pittsburgh window glass millionaire, Duncan Clinch Phillips.) For an overall description of the museum collection and its history, see my earlier post.
As we moved into the part of the museum that was the original Phillips house, I was struck by the way the paintings were integrated into the architecture of each room. Almost every room had a fireplace and I was interested to see how over each one a painting had been selected that fit with its color and style.
Music room, with two paintings by Piet Mondrian
One exception was in the elegant music room, where elaborate wood carvings were part of the massive fireplace design and there was no room for more art. Instead, two Mondrian paintings, set off by the dark wood paneling, had been chosen to flank the fireplace.
Here are some, but not all, of the other fireplaces and their accompanying paintings.
Shells and Fishermen by Milton Avery
Amante Series No. 10 by Manuel Neri
Sunset by Albert Groll
For information about visiting the Phillips Collection, click HERE.

Monday, March 2, 2020

HIKING AND BIKING IN NEW ZEALAND, Part 3: Guest Post by Cathy Mayone

New Zealand, Milford Sound
Over the Christmas holidays, my niece and her husband, Cathy and Mike Mayone, spent two weeks in New Zealand, driving, biking and hiking on both the North and South Island, enjoying the southern hemisphere summer and New Zealand's unique landscape. I thank Cathy for sharing their trip with The Intrepid Tourist. For more about their biking experiences, you can go to her blog .

Part 3:  New Zealand’s South Island Alps, Lakes and Fiords

As our airplane approached Queenstown, we marveled at the surrounding snow-capped mountains.  As we procured our rental car, the agent casually said, “Oh, you are lucky to have landed. They often divert to Christchurch due to the weather.”  Having heard about the terrible floods that had been ravaging the South Island in the prior weeks, I had been monitoring the weather and relieved that we had some partly sunny days ahead of us.  Given the unforeseen weather, I had also kept our itinerary loosely planned for our five days in Queenstown, which makes for a great home base for many of the South Island’s sites.
Otago Wine Trail
We rented bikes in the old historic town of Arrowtown.  Its buildings reminded me of Colorado’s Old Western towns.  Upon hiring (as they say, rather than renting) the bikes, we didn’t get very far since the Farmer’s Market was just coming to life.  Once on our way, we headed to the Otago Wine Trail that follows a creek to the larger river and gorge.  The highlights of this trail include two suspension bridges we had to cross, one of which was quite long.  The trick is to not look down and not have too many people the bridge at once!  
Kawarau Gorge suspension bridge
We also came to the Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge, the world famous, original bungie jumping site.  Seeing even the most fearful people give it a go, it was tempting, but the vineyards were beckoning us.  The vineyards are all right along the trail so we stopped at a couple of them before turning around for the return.
Drive to Milford Sound
We picked one of our sunniest days to go to Te Anau and the Milford Sound.  Your options are to fly, bus, or drive from Queenstown, with some tours providing combination fly/bus/cruise day trip options.  It’s a two hour drive to Te Anau, and then another two hours to Milford Sound.  We seriously considered the expensive flying option, but determined there were too many things we wanted to see along the way.  Mike was up for driving, so call us crazy, but we did a day trip, stopping in the small lake town of Te Anau in both directions for a break.  The beautiful landscape kept us occupied the whole trip, and the road into Milford Sound cuts through a tunnel rather than having too many hairy turns, so the driving was more manageable than anticipated. 
Milford Sound cruise
Once in Milford Sound, we took Cruise Milford’s two hour “boutique” cruise, which was a smaller boat advertised not to be filled to capacity.  It is recommended that you book in advance during the high season, as it would be a shame to show up in Milford Sound and not be able to get a cruise.  Also, there are not many eating options in Milford Sound, so plan for picnic food.  The other tip is to avoid the $10 / hour parking that is closest to the cruise docks and do the free parking / shuttle that is near the airport, making sure you allow enough time.
Milford Sound waterfall
The cruise does a loop on Milford Sound going down on one side to the opening of the Tasman Sea and back on the other side.  The greenish-blue Sound waters contrasted beautifully with the steep, snow-capped mountains abundant with waterfalls.  The boat even went up under some of the waterfalls, giving advance warning to those who did not want to get wet! 
We made several stops along the way in and out of Milford Sound such as Mirror Lake, and to take pictures in the fields of lupines--the beautiful, pink and purple flowers that bloom all over New Zealand in the summer.  We arrived back in Queenstown around 10 pm at night, just as the sky was turning to night.  (New Zealand summer days (December) are filled with long daylight hours, making this day trip more doable.)

For a shorter day trip from Queenstown we did the 90 minute drive over to Lake Wanaka.  It was one of the busier lakes with swimmers, kayakers, jet skiers, boaters, and parasailers.  Tired from our previous two days, we kept it simple with a beach take-out lunch and a lakeside walk.  Plus, we needed to conserve our energy to stay up for the New Year’s Eve Queenstown activities.  After happy hour on our balcony, we walked down into town around 7 pm when we heard the music begin.  There were local bands playing to an enthusiastic, mostly middle age with children crowd.  We found it to be a very “sane” New Year’s celebration but perhaps it was still early.  We headed back to our AirB&B for dinner and balcony viewing of the fireworks at midnight, and we wished our family and friends a Happy New Year 18-21 hours before the U.S. would celebrate.
Mount Cook Visitor Centre
We kept New Year’s Day, a partly rainy day, even simpler and opted for a walk around Queenstown, including Queenstown Gardens.  The next day, we headed out for the last part of our trip, driving two hours to Twizel, and then another 40 minutes past Twizel to Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest peak.  We oriented ourselves at the wonderful Aoraki Mount Cook National Park Visitor Centre. 
Hooker Valley track
Having fallen in love with New Zealand’s suspension bridges, the Hooker Valley 5 km fairly flat track afforded us with three bridges leading us to Hooker Glacier Lake and closer views of Mount Cook.
Hooker Valley hike destination with view of Mount Cook
Back in Twizel, we checked into our AirB&B, slightly different accommodations, as it’s a true B&B in the home of its owners with a farm of three sheep, two young cows, and chickens. Our balcony looked out onto the fields where a Lord of the Rings battle took place. Twizel and the surrounding areas are known for their bright star viewing. With the long days, we were too tired to wait for the pitch black sky but we left the curtain ajar for a quick peak when we awoke in the middle of the night. Twizel, and so many towns we encountered in New Zealand, made us feel like we were returning to a time in the U.S. pre-Big Box stores and Amazon Prime. The towns still have the locally owned hardware and clothing stores, pharmacies, and bakeries.
Lupines and Lake Pukaki
We perhaps saved the best for last with our final bike ride, the Alps 2 Ocean ride, which is one of New Zealand’s 22 great rides.  From Twizel, we rode through the middle of wide open pastures with views of the mountains.  And then we reached Lake Pukaki, with its stunning turquoise blue water juxtaposed with the white capped Aoraki (Mount Cook).  It looked even more stunning on this day now that the Australian bushfire haze had dissipated.  We rode the trail around the lake until the trail ended, ate a picnic lunch, and then did the return trip to Twizel.

Our time had come to make the final drive to Christchurch to catch our plane home.  We left New Zealand wondering why we had never had it on our bucket list. Its people, beaches, mountains and activities afforded us a lifetime of memories and a reminder why we travel.

Related articles and links:

For more information about New Zealand’s amazing Great Rides cycling initiative and an in depth look at all of our New Zealand biking adventures, visit my “Great Riding” articles on my Swim Bike Run Survive blog.

For an in depth look at the Milford Sound, check out Owen Floody’s three part series.

Our South Island accommodations included: