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Month: October 2016

It’s Fall Y’all Give-a-Way Time

It’s Fall Y’all Give-a-Way Time

It’s Fall Y’all!

The weather is changing, leaves are turning colors, football is on the television, Halloween is coming, and nothing beats a warm cup of coffee with friends! So to share in the happiness of this wonderful season, The Bucket List Project and Rory’s Crafty Corner are having a “Fall Y’all Give Away.”

To participate all you have to do is enter your Name and E-Mail address below & then you can earn extra entries by participating in the options that follow! Easy as Pumpkin Pie!

2 winners will be chosen this Monday, October 31,2016 at 6pm CST to receive not only a $10 Starbucks Gift Cards but also a hand made crocheted coffee sleeve by Rory’s Crafty Corner (Valued at $10 a piece)!

Rory's Crafty Corner Blue Coffee Sleeve

So get started & Happy Fall Y’all!!

 

 

 

 

 

The Bucket List Guide to Iceland – Part 2: Iceland’s Outdoor Adventures

The Bucket List Guide to Iceland – Part 2: Iceland’s Outdoor Adventures

As I shared in my previous article, The Bucket List Guide to Iceland – Part 1: Reykjavik, Iceland is a land of unbelievable adventure, great food, and amazing beauty!  I felt an overwhelming sense of discovery everywhere I went. I couldn’t shake the feeling that every time I saw a waterfall, the coastline, or some other unbelievable landmark, it was as if I had never seen anything like it before.

I went to Iceland in April of 2015 to complete 3 Bucket list items:

95) See the Northern Lights (aka: Aurora Borealis)

134) Swim in the Thermal Blue Lagoon in Iceland 

130) Eat weird things
          #17) Harkal (Fermented Shark Meat) – Iceland

 

Despite my valiant efforts, I failed seeing the Northern Lights.  However, what I did discover was a geothermal land of unbelievable adventure and incredible beauty! Wondering what you should do in Iceland? To help you out, I have split up my review into two parts:

Part 1: Reykjavik (Click Here to Read)

Part 2: Iceland’s Outdoor Adventures 

Iceland’s Outdoor Adventures

With the tourism slogan, “Pure. Natural. Unspoiled. Iceland. The Way Life Should Be!” you can assume that Iceland is going to be a clean, natural, unspoiled destination.  Though Reykjavik is phenomenal, make sure you get out and explore everything the country has to offer in the outdoors!

Rent A Car

walter-mitty-my-rental-carThere are no trains in Iceland and though there are cheap public buses in the city, there really isn’t a decent public transit system for travel around the country. That doesn’t mean you have to subject yourself to expensive restrictive tour buses. Iceland is an easy country to navigate – it is an island with one major highway, the Ring Road (aka: Route 1). The Ring Road is about 831 miles long, extends around the entire coast of Iceland and offers the freedom and unrestricted views you will be craving!

If you want to drive yourself, SAD CARS offers the cheapest car rentals in the country.

Here are a few driving tips you should know ahead of time:

  1. Most of the rental cars are stick shift
  2. Speed limits in Iceland are 50 km/h (30mph) within cities & 90 km/h (55mph) on all other paved roads
  3. Off road driving is illegal in Iceland
  4. There are Speed Trap Cameras everywhere & the fees can be very expensive

Visit the Golden Circle

The Golden Circle is one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations and for good reason. It is a 200 mile road outside of Reykjavik and it includes 4 natural sights that should be on everyone’s outdoor Iceland bucket list:

  1.  Þingvellir National Park: The national parliament of Thingvellir, IcelandIceland was established at Þingvellir (Thingvellir) in 930, and held sessions there until 1798. The area became a national park in 1930 and was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2004. In addition to its historical importance, Þingvellir (Thingvellir) is also the location of the separating North American and Eurasian continental shelf plates, causing a visible rift in the valley.
  2. Gullfoss: Gullfoss (the Golden Falls) is a 3 tier stair case waterfall that will take your breath away! The waterfall is formed as the Hvítá river rushes southward flowing over Gullfoss at an average rate of 109 cubic meters per second. While enjoying the beauty of these magnificent falls, make sure you read the monument devoted to Sigríður Tómasdóttir of Brattholt, strokkur-eruptswho is considered the savior of Gullfoss.
  3. Geysir: The world renowned geothermal hot spring area around Geysir includes several mini geysers and 2 big ones, Great Geysir and Strokkur. Although the original Great Geysir is not currently active, its neighbor, Strokkur, erupts every 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Kerið Volcanic Crater: Kerið is a crater formed some 5,000 years ago, with a pretty deep lake in the bottom.  While I was there, in April, the lake was frozen and tourists were allowed to climb to the bottom of the crater. During warmer months, it is said that the lake is a mesmerizing blue surrounded by gorgeous colorful vegetation! Please note that it does cost about 400ISK (About $3.50 USD) to enter the area, but it is worth it.

See the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis)

So I totally struck out seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland, but that doesn’t mean you will! The best chance of seeing the Northern Lights is when the sky is clear. Often, when it’s cold and dark outside – the aurora activity is high. Take a drive away from the city lights of Reykjavik for an unobstructed view of the night sky. It is said that the best time to see the northern lights in Iceland is from October to March, however there is no guarantee. Vedur is the national weather website that forecasts predicted visibility of the lights.

Visit with the Icelandic Horses

icelandic-horsesThese small, pony-sized horses are a majestic breed.  According to Wikipedia, the breed is used for traditional sheepherding work, as well as for leisure, showing, and racing. They are everywhere, but I found many of them lined along fences on the Golden Circle.  Bred to carry adults smoothly and willingly over difficult terrain, Icelandic Horses bring their cheerful demeanor and sensible attitude to each ride.

Visit a “Foss”

In Icelandic, the word “Foss” translates to “waterfall.”  Iceland is enveloped in waterfalls of all shapes and sizes.  Each one offers a unique beauty that is unrivaled anywhere else. Gullfoss in the Golden Circle is one of the biggest waterfalls in Iceland. ensku-husin-waterfall However, there other waterfalls that should be part of your Iceland Bucket List.

  1. Gullfoss (The Golden Waterfall): See above
  2. Skogarfoss: Located in the village of Skogar, Skogarfoss is a beautiful waterfall that you can walk up to. It is a popular destination and easy to find if you follow the tour busses.
  3. Oxararfoss: Located in Þingvellir National Park, you can walk along the continental rift wall which flows into the river Öxará.
  4. Ensku Husin Area Waterfalls: Hraunfossar and Barnafoss are two waterfalls in the Ensku Husin area. These were the 1st waterfalls I encountered along my drive into the northwest.
  5. Detifoss: Is the largest waterfall in Europe in terms of water flow, and is said to be the most powerful as well. It falls 150 feet down.

Explore the Land of Fire and Ice

skeidararjokull-glacier-and-the-mighty-vatnajokull-watching-over-usIceland is home to beautiful glaciers and active volcanoes.  When out east, you can also visit Jökulsárlón ice lagoon. It is filled with large chunks of ice crashing about in the darkness of the Atlantic ocean. You may recognize it from the movies, including two James Bond films. From there, make time to visit Vatnajökull National Park.  It is the largest glacier cap in all of Iceland.  You can climb a path along Skeidararjokull glacier, while doing so, you will see the amazing blue glacier ice along the side.

Please note that glacier climbing is considered dangerous and should not be done without professional assistance.

Along the same trek, you will see Grímsvötn above you, a basaltic volcano which has the highest eruption frequency in all of Iceland. In May 2011 it erupted, causing major disturbances, not only in Iceland, but to air travel in the United Kingdom, Greenland, Germany, Ireland and Norway.  On beautiful days, you will even see lenticular clouds hovering over Grímsvötn.

Explore the Beaches in Iceland’s Suderland

Driving along the Ring Road (Rte 1) in the southland of Iceland is an adventure in itself and you’ll pass many of the popular tourist attractions. However, the road along the southern coast offers beautiful views of the coast line and will take you to the black beaches. To get there, head to Dyrhólaey or the city of Vik.  kirkjufjara-beachNearby you will find two popular destinations:

  1. Kirkjufjara Beach: Kirkjufjara beach offers gorgeous views, where the Atlantic ocean comes ashore, powerfully crashing waves onto the black sand beach. You can hike leisurely along the top of the cliff or make your way to the bottom and the beach. However, please note all signs. In 2015, authorities regulated the area due to loose rocks.
  2. Reynisfjara Beach: Reynisfjara Beach is a natural black sand and pebble beach with large boulders. However, the highlight is the interesting basalt caves. The basalt columns resemble a rocky pyramid and form an extraordinary cave, Hálsanefshellir.

reynisfjara-beach-the-hallsanefshellir-cave

Go Swimming!!

Whenever I go to the beach I want to go swimming!  However, please note that swimming at any of the beaches listed here or anywhere connected to the Atlantic is not recommended or considered safe. Swimming in them is ill advised due to the temperature and severity of the ocean.

With that said, Iceland is full of geothermal pools that offer the chance to soak in warm waters all around the island. Water from these geothermal hot springs can range from 37–39 °C (98-102°F).  Here are several pools that you should definitely explore:seljavallalaug-pool-in-iceland

  1. Nautholsvik Geothermal Beach: Read all about it in Part 1: Reykjavik
  2. Seljavallalaug: Seljavallalaug, also known as the Seljvavellir pool was built in 1923 and is the oldest pool in Iceland.  However, it is not on any tourist guide list or main tour map.  To find this hidden pool, drive the Ring Road until you see a sign that says Seljavellir. Pull to the back right of the area until you find a newer pool where you can park. From there, walk about 30 minutes towards the bottom of the valley. There are worn paths that are easy to follow. You will have to jump over a little waterfall (be careful), but it’s an easy walk. After you cross the waterfall, follow the river, you’ll come to pipes pumping hot water – they will lead you to the pool – just around the corner.
  3. The Blue Lagoon: The Blue Lagoon is probably the #1 item on everyone’s Iceland Bucket List.  It is spa is located on the Reykjanes Peninsula – southwestern Iceland, near the airport. Although this is one of the most visited attractions in Iceland, its definitely worth it. The drive is easy and there is ample parking. Another option is finding the ticket center in Reykjavik, there you can pre-purchase your tickets and get a bus pass to the Lagoon. The bus runs hourly. The Lagoon offers general entry, but you can also purchase various spa services. Entry includes a wristband, which acts as a key for your electronic changing room locker and allows you to keep an electronic tab if you partake in the outdoor bar or restaurant.  To learn more or purchase cheap tickets online visit The Blue Lagoon Online world-famous-geothermal-blue-lagoon
Swimming in the Blue Lagoon in Iceland is Definitely on my Bucket List! #BlueLagoon #Iceland Click To Tweet

Find the U.S. Navy Plane Crash

In 1973, the United States Navy was flying a DC 3 over Iceland when they ran out of gas and crashed on the beaches of Sólheimasandur. Everyone survived the crash, but apparently they just left the plane there and went home. The plane has been there ever since.  Unfortunately, it is stripped clean, but the shell of the plane remains at its final resting spot on the black sand beach.

There are no signs or much information readily available when trying to find the plane, you just have to do some research. When you park on Ring Road, please remember that off roading in Iceland is illegal. Park your car on the highway and hike 4km in to the plane.

To locate this hidden piece of history, use these GPS coordinates: 63.459523, -19.364618

The easiest thing to do is to plug these coordinates into the search bar of the Google Maps app. Once entered, you will see a marker on the Google Maps titled, Sólheimasandur Plane Wreck.  If you are in Iceland, hit the 3 lines at the top of the search bar to open the menu and select “start driving.” This will give you directions to the spot on the Ring Road where you park and start your journey.

us-navy-plane-in-icelandus-navy-plane-in-iceland-2

 

 

 

 

 

All in all, there is a reason that Iceland is at the top of everyone’s travel list recently. The unparalleled beauty, friendly people, unspoiled landscape and opportunity for adventure make it a fantastic travel destination. Whether you want to spend time in the city or take an outdoor adventure, Iceland is right for you. Give it a try – you many be surprised!

The Bucket List Guide to Iceland – Part 1: Reykjavik

The Bucket List Guide to Iceland – Part 1: Reykjavik

observation-tower-view-from-the-hallgrimskirkja

In April of 2015, I decided that Iceland was my next major bucket list destination!  But why?  Why would anyone, who dislikes the cold as much as I do, want to travel Iceland?  Easy, I was on a mission to complete 3 Bucket list items:

95) See the Northern Lights (aka: Aurora Borealis)

134) Swim in the Thermal Blue Lagoon in Iceland 

130) Eat weird things
          #17) Harkal (Fermented Shark Meat) – Iceland

 

Though I failed seeing the Aurora Borealis, what I did discover was a land of unbelievable adventure, great food, and amazing beauty!  There was a thrill of discovery everywhere I went.  It was the first time in forever that I felt like everything I saw was a new revelation.  I loved that childlike feeling of discovery and amazement.

In my humble opinion, Iceland is not just a “quick trip.”  So, I have decided to split up my review into two parts:

Part 1: Reykjavik

Part 2: Iceland’s Outdoor Adventures (Click Here)

Welcome to Reykjavik

Reykjavik is the capital and largest city in Iceland.  Being the world’s northernmost capital, it is a popular tourist destination.  Its long history states that it was established by Ingólfur Arnarson from Norway around AD 870.  Reykjavik is not just a Viking heritage site but a modern city filled with remarkable food, unbelievable art, and exciting history.  So here are my top bucket list items to see or do in Reykjavik, Iceland:

The majestic Hallgrímskirkja Lutheran Church

the-hallgrimskirkja-lutheran-church

The Hallgrímskirkja Lutheran Church is Iceland’s official church and is the 7th tallest structure in Iceland at 244 feet.  As you walk up to the church you are greeted by a statue of explorer Leif Eriksson.  Inside, the simplicity of the Church is breathtaking and the columns and ceilings are said to resemble the basalt lava flow pillars similar to those witnessed along the Southern Shores of Iceland.  Above the entrance, the church houses a large beautiful pipe organ by the German organ builder Johannes Klais.

One of the cool things to do is to purchase a ticket to the observation deck.  This allows you to take the elevator and then hike up 3 flights of stairs up from the clock of Hallgrímskirkja Church where you will have a bird’s eye view of the beauty of Reykjavik, the ocean, and mountains.

Take A “Free” City Walk Tour

The City Walk tour takes you on foot around the heart of Reykjavík with English speaking locals. The main focus is the general history of Iceland and the evolution of Reykjavík as a town. They also tell you about elves, vikings, food, nightlife, music, economic aspects and political affairs. Additionally, they include the funny facts about Iceland and the places you must see in Reykjavík. The “free” City Walk runs 100% on donations from guests, which are offered to the guide at the end of each tour. The tour runs daily, even multiple times a day starting at a park, named Austurvöllur in front of the House of Parliament.  To learn more or reserve your spot on the tour click here: CITY WALK TOUR or visit http://CityWalk.is

Walk down Laugavegur Street

Laugavegur Street is the main street of Reykjavik.  The name means “wash road,” as it used to lead to the hot springs in Laugardalur where in olden times the women of Reykjavík took their laundry for washing. As you walk along the cobblestone road, you will find tons of restaurants, coffee shops, bars, and unique shops to satisfy any explorer or souvenir collector.  At night, Laugavegur becomes the center for fine dining as well as music and entertainment.

tourism-board-ideasOne of the novelty highlights is to visit The Icelandic Phallological Museum where you can explore according to their mission statement, “the serious study into the field of phallology in an organized, scientific fashion.”

Visit the Tourism Information Center

One of the coolest things about traveling is finding all of the fun and free local stuff to do –  maybe next Thursday I can compete in the Tom Selleck mustache contest!

Visit the Perlan Observatory

The Perlan Observatory offers fantastic views of the entire city both from a viewing platform open to the public and a rotating restaurant at the top. If the restaurant is too expensive for you (it is for most), there is also a small cafeteria on the same floor as the viewing platform.

Check out the Cemeteries

Perhaps this is a New Orleanian thing, but in my opinion, cemeteries are always beautiful outdoor museums of art and history.  In Reykjavik, both Fossvogskirkjugarður cemetery beside a bay called Fossvogur and Hólavallagarður cemetery, on the western edge of Tjörnin pond offer a unique beauty. I visited the extraordinary Fossvogskirkjugarður cemetery which has a unique memorial that commemorates the vessels which were lost in the North-Atlantic Ocean during the Second World War.  Another beautiful nuance was tons of gravesite ornaments and lanterns around the headstones.

There is so much to do in Reykjavik! Its on my bucket list now for sure! #Reykjavik #Iceland Click To Tweet

Watch the Birds at Tjornin

tjornin-the-beautiful-city-pond

Tjornin, the beautiful city “Pond” is a small lake in the center of the city where the locals often gather to feed the ducks. The southern end of Tjörnin links it to the Vatnsmýri swamp, a small bird reserve with paths open to the public except during egg hatching season.

This is a perfect place to sit, relax, and perhaps have a picnic.

Go to the Beach for a Swim in the Atlantic

From May 15th until September 15th, use the city’s small airport to take a trip over to Nautholsvík Thermal Beach. Here you can swim in the Atlantic, because they pipe hot water into the ocean. A beach of golden sand has been created and a “pool” enclosed nearby, where the water temperature is about 20ºC.

Visit the Höfði House

hofoi-houseThe Höfði House is a beautiful white house that sits alone on the shore of the Reykjavik coastline. It is best known for being the spot where Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan ended the Cold War once and for all in 1986.

Renowned guests of Höfði House include celebrities and heads of state, amongst them the Queen of England, Winston Churchilll and Marlene Dietrich. In addition, the house is believed to be occupied by a ghost, “The White Lady,” and experienced by its former resident, a British Ambassador.  She caused so much distress that he persuaded the British Foreign Office to sell the home.

Eat Hot Dogs, Puffin Birds, and Rotting Shark meat – then drink Black Death

hot-dogsApparently the #1 street food in all of Iceland is the hot dog! Known as pylsurs, the hot dogs are made mostly with lamb (and sometimes a little pork) and traditionally topped with mustard, ketchup, fried onion, raw onion and remolaði, a mayonnaise-based sauce with sweet relish. You can find them anywhere and they are all delicious, but the king of the pylsurs is Bæjarins Beztu, the stand located down by the harbor on Tryggvagata! In 1998, Bill Clinton ate here and declared it was the best hot dog in the world.  James Hetfield, vocalist of the popular heavy metal band Metallica apparently couldn’t get enough either! To find Bæjarins Beztu CLICK HERE or visit www.bbp.is.

You will also find tons of micro brewery restaurants, casual sit down places, and fine dining all throughout Reykjavik. For those who love seafood, this may be a foodie paradise with the many fantastic fish restaurants serving fresh ocean to table menus.

icelandic-food-samplerHowever, for those more adventurous or wanting to tackle unique Icelandic fair, take a trip over to Íslenski Barinn (aka: the Icelandic Bar).  Here you will be able to sample small plates of Hákarl (Fermented shark), harðfiskur (dried haddock), Grillaður lundi (Grilled puffin), and Langreyður (Whale Fin Meat).  

When eating Hákarl you’re supposed to wash it down with Brennivin also known as Black Death. I don’t know which tasted worse, the fermented rotting shark meat or the horrible liqueur, but it was a fun culinary experiment and the Puffin was phenomenal.

Sit and watch the sun set by the Solfar (the Sun Voyager)

The Sólfar (the Sun Voyager) is a unique piece of art in Reykjavik. This sculpture by Jón Gunnar Árnason, is located next to the Sæbraut road in Reykjavík, Iceland. According to Árnason, “Sun Voyager is a dreamboat, an ode to the sun. Intrinsically, it contains within itself the promise of undiscovered territory, a dream of hope, progress and freedom.”

solfar-sun-voyager

Planning a trip to Reykjavik, Iceland soon?  Hopefully this guide will help you make the most of your time in this magical northern capital city.  If there is something you’re still curious about, or if you have any follow up questions, please feel free to reach out in the comments below and look for my next post: The Bucket List Guide to Iceland – Part 2: Iceland’s Outdoor Adventures (Click Here)

 

My Ultimate Baseball Bucketlist

My Ultimate Baseball Bucketlist

jj-and-dad
My Dad, Mom, and Me

I am the middle kid in my family.  When I was a kid I felt that my dad and I weren’t that close, but somehow we had a common interest, the awesome game of Baseball. My dad was a big baseball fan and frustrated baseball player. He grew up idolizing players like Sandy Koufax, Mickey Mantle and Joe Di Maggio. He tried his hardest to get into the big leagues, but somehow his father pushed him to go to the military instead.

Baseball became my dad and I’s connection. He taught me the basics of baseball…how to throw and how to bat. When I won my first little league game, I will never forget it, he told me that I was finally ready to attend my first big league baseball game. Fortunately, we got to travel to New York City and the game was in the Original Yankee Stadium, “The House that Ruth Built.”

At the New Yankee Stadium
At the New Yankee Stadium

I remember every detail of that day: stepping out of the #7 Train; the anticipation; the overwhelming feeling of “baseball energy;” the goose bumps when entering gate #3; and the euphoric excitement when the crowd started cheering.  Wow, that was it. That’s when I was hooked.

Together, my dad and I enjoyed numerous games.  We visited close to 17 cities and he always made sure we caught a game while we were there together. In every moment my dad and I spent together, I was happy.

Visiting every baseball stadium is definitely on my Bucket List! #bucketlist #Baseball Click To Tweet
citizen-park
Citizen Bank Park Home of the Phillies

Then one day, we had a different conversation. He told me he would be going for his yearly checkup and he hadn’t been feeling well lately. We took him to the hospital for his checkup, and I sat in the waiting room – and waited – for what seemed like forever. After seeing the doctor, my dad told me he had to stay in the hospital over night to have more tests. At first, I couldn’t understand why he had to stay longer and I never really asked why. Months passed and finally we were told that he was really very sick. He was diagnosed with Colon Cancer.

Years of treatment went by. As with a lot of cancer patients, my dad had a lot of weight and at times it was startling how drained and weak he was. He always told me that as soon as he got out of the hospital, we would visit every baseball stadium and historic site from the past, present and future (they are always building somewhere).

A few days after he passed away, I vowed that I would continue his wish – complete his dream in his honor.

Years have passed and I have slowly started fulfilling his wish. One city, one stadium, one baseball site at a time, I am getting closer to accomplishing his dream. One of his favorite stadiums was the Original Tiger Stadium in Detroit, I journeyed through barbwire, rocks and tall grass to find this field – what was once the Original Tigers Stadium – and it was worth every cut and scrape. It was 2010 when I got to visit this holy baseball land where greats like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jackie Robinson, and Roberto Clemente all played. It’s weird, but I felt a surge of energy in this sacred land.

original-tigers-stadium-field
Site of the Original Tiger Stadium in Detroit
I feel that he is with me whenever I am in one of those places – it always brings me back to those good times and good moments. I know visiting every ballpark both past and present is a really hard task to complete but I am getting closer every year and I am cherishing the journey!
new-tigers-stadium
Comerica Park Home of the Detroit Tigers

About Our Guest Poster:

John Alo-Sweeney, aka: Mana’Olanakeiki Alo, is the Owner and CEO ALOGRAPHICS Unlimited.  With his background and wide range of influences – from Comic Books to Japanese Animation to German Pop Art to Dutch Graffiti to Extreme Sports to New York City Urban Street Wear, his experience expands many media platforms. He has done custom designs for athletes, local surf and skate shops and has established himself in the music industry in Web Design, Album Covers and merchandising for various musical artists like N.E.R.D, Linkin Park, and Stone Temple Pilots, to name a few. He designs for various brands such as Quiksilver, Billabong, Volcom, Vans, Zoo York Institute and also does digital work and occasional inking work for DC Comics Media. John is also the CEO & Founder of Project ALO, a charitable project which gives used and still functional computers to people who need them – such as veterans, the elderly and the less fortunate, giving them professional opportunities and connecting them to their love ones and to the world.

Angola Prison Rodeo

Angola Prison Rodeo

Being from New Orleans, I never really experienced rodeos or any professional bull riding type events first hand.  However, every year around October there is a slight buzz in the air about the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, Louisiana (and NO I am not referring to the buzz of the infamous electric chair, Gruesome Gertie)!wp-1475613510047.jpgThe Angola Prison Rodeo is an annual event located on the grounds of the Louisiana State Penitentiary commonly known as “The Farm.” The rodeo is held every Sunday during October and one weekend in April and is worth the drive.

So, why should it be on everyone’s bucket list – especially if you live in Louisiana?  Well, after experiencing it, here are my top reasons:

The Rodeo Itself 

Angola Prison RodeoThe rodeo is comprised of many different events including the familiar bull riding as well as numerous unexpected entertaining events.  What is unique is that the majority of the events are run and participated in by the inmates themselves.  These inmates have no experience, but volunteer to participate for both prizes and “glory.”  In total, the inmates participate in about 10 events including: The Grand Entry (Seen Left), Bust Out, Bareback Riding, Wild Horse Race, Bull-Dogging, Inmate Pinball, Chariot Races, Wild Cow Milking, Bull Riding, Convict Poker, & Guts and Glory.

There are several other events that are run by and participated by professionals such as barrel racing by women competing on the professional tour.  Plus you may get a chance to see some professional trick riders or a motorcycle daredevil.  For the safety of the inmates and the entertainment of the onlookers, there are also professional rodeo clowns running around and adding friendly banter with the announcer.

The Arts & Craft Show

Before entering the Rodeo, I recommend getting there at least an hour early to explore the outdoor arts and craft show.  There are paintings, leather goods, jewelry, woodwork, and even beautiful wooden furniture like handmade rocking chairs.  Many stalls are selling items made by the convicts themselves. It’s a unique experience as you walk around the outdoor stalls.  If you decide you want to buy something, you get a purchase ticket from an inmate and take it to the cashier.  Then return with your purchase receipt and can return your item to your car.  At first you may seem a bit put off as you walk amid some free roaming inmates and others behind a metal fence.  However, you soon relax as you explore the beauty of their handiwork.

I am learning about the Biggest Prison Rodeo in the United States! #AngolaPrisonRodeo Click To Tweet

The FOODDeep Fried Coke

Don’t go to the prison rodeo expecting to eat anything healthy.  But do expect to enjoy the smells and flavors of some of the best fair/rodeo food in the world!  From gigantic smoked turkey legs to bowls of jambalaya to tamales and much more, you can find nearly anything your heart desires (and clog it up) while you eat at this event.

The highlight…DEEP FRIED COKE.  That is right, I said it, DEEP FRIED COCA COLA!!  Essentially, what they do is take coca cola and add it to a batter mixture.  Then they drop the batter ball into a deep fryer and viola, you have DEEP FRIED COKE!  Then they serve you several of the Fried Coke Balls in a cup, cover it with powdered sugar and whip cream and drop a cherry on top.  It tastes like a coke infused beignet or perhaps a funnel cake ball for you folk outside of Louisiana, just sweeter.

The Neighborhood

Ok so “the Farm” doesn’t have any direct neighbors but St. Francisville is about 20 minutes away. St. Francisville is a popular tourist destination, with a number of restored historic plantations open daily for tours, including Rosedown Plantation State Historic Site, Audubon State Historic Site, Butler Greenwood Plantation, The Haunted Myrtles Plantation, as well as several antebellum gardens.  Since the rodeo is on Sunday, why not make a weekend of it by showing up on Friday night and staying in one of St. Francisville’s beautiful Bed and Breakfasts, explore the plantations on Saturday, and then end your weekend tunicafalls-700x525at the Angola Rodeo on Sunday before heading home.

Another thing to do Sunday morning before getting to the rodeo is to explore the hidden Tunica Falls between St. Francisville and Angola. Clark Creek Natural Area, sometimes referred to as Tunica Falls, is a natural haven for bird watching, hiking, photography, botanizing and nature lovers.  There are two trails you can take to reach the falls: the primitive trail or the improved pea graveled trail.  It should take you about 2 hours if you take the improved trail.

The Angola Prison Rodeo is truly not to be missed. It has a little something for everyone – rodeo lovers, comedy/live entertainment aficionados, foodies and art collectors alike will enjoy the event. The rodeo is also kid friendly – so the whole family can come!

For more information visit the Angola Prison Rodeo website, or its Facebook page. The event often sells out so be sure to buy your tickets online in advance. Happy trails!