North America

Art Deco Buildings in Downtown Asheville, North Carolina

photo courtesy ExploreAsheville.com

Downtown Asheville

The South’s Green, Progressive Mecca

 

If you want to understand the essence of downtown Asheville that exists between the dichotomous extremes– with the outlandish opulence of the Biltmore Estate at one end of the spectrum, and grungy backpackers in a drum circle at the other– head to the Pack Square Cultural District, at the bustling heart of the mountain town.

 

Walking down Biltmore Avenue from historic Pack Square, we pass indie record and bookstores, clothing boutiques ranging from hip to hippie-fied, an old-timey general store, an art house cinema, the lively patio of Wicked Weed Brewing, an endless array of farm-to-table restaurants, and the legendary Orange Peel music venue, all in a span of 10 minutes.

 

Buddhist Monks in downtown Asheville's Pack Square

Buddhist Monks in Pack Square

 

Although it’s well past lunchtime on a Monday afternoon, the people-watching here is extraordinary. There are slick urbanites dressed all in black, aging Boomers, bearded hipsters, stroller-pushing Earth mamas, fresh-faced college kids, blue-haired lesbians holding hands, red-robed Buddhist monks, dreadlocked hikers fresh off the trail and tattooed cowboys busking for spare change… again, all in a span of 10 minutes.

 

It’s an eclectic, colorful mixture of left-leaning progressives, all of them drawn to this tiny mountain town, which many residents describe as “an island of blue in North Carolina’s vast sea of red.” And we’re here to find out why.

 

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The Mobile Skyline at Sunset on Mobile Bay

The Mobile Skyline at Sunset on Mobile Bay

Fishing Mobile Bay

& the Mobile-Tensaw Delta

 

Carnival in Mobile, Alabama is over. In this coastal city, where the first American Mardi Gras was allegedly observed in 1703, all the parades and pageantry are done for the year; all the beads have been swept from the streets; all the Kings’ and Queens’ coronation costumes have been put away into storage.

 

But just 45 minutes south of the city, on picturesque Dauphin Island, the Mobile Jaycees are already hard at work planning one of the area’s other major events, the annual Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo. Founded in 1929, the ADSFR has earned the Guinness Book of World Records title as the world’s largest fishing tournament, attracting thousands of fishermen to the area every summer for over 80 years now.

 

For the men who make up the Mobile Jaycees– working class guys who make a living as landscapers, plumbers and police officers– the Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo is every bit as important as Mardi Gras, carrying on a rich maritime tradition that dates back hundreds, if not thousands of years.

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Sea Turtle Inc Turtle Rescue Center in South Padre Island, Texas.

Our Sea Turtle Rescue with

Sea Turtle Inc

 

“We just got a call from the captain of a local shrimp boat,” said Jeff George, the Executive Director of Sea Turtle Inc. “They’ve got a sea turtle that was trapped in their nets this morning, and he’s in pretty bad shape. Do you have time to help out with a rescue?” Our answer to this sort of question is always an emphatic YES!

 

We were about 15 minutes into our tour of the Sea Turtle Inc facility in South Padre Island when George interrupted our conversation with Administrative Assistant Jean Pettit. We immediately dropped everything, piled into Pettit’s car, and made our way across the causeway to the town of Port Isabel.

 

Sea Turtle Inc Tour

Ivy, Who Lost a Flipper Before Being Rescued in 2014

 

Along the way, Pettit explained that this was the fourth call they’d gotten this year from the shrimp boat, The John Henry. The Texas Shrimp Association actively supports the use of Turtle Excluder Devices– a grid of bars with an opening, either at the top or bottom of the trawl net, through which larger animals such as sea turtles and sharks are ejected.

 

But occasionally large barnacles on a turtle’s back cause them to get entangled in nets and fishing lines, leaving them submerged and unable to catch a breath. This can lead to shock or even death if the turtle does not receive treatment. So it was with a mixture of excitement and trepidation that we hustled down the dock towards the boat.

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Mardi_Gras_Indians on Super Sunday in New_Orleans

New Orleans’ Mardi Gras Indians

 

The iconic Mardi Gras Indians are as inexorably linked to the annual New Orleans carnival celebration as beads, boobs and booze.

 

But beyond their sensational suits laced with gorgeous gems, fabulous feathers and impressively intricate beadwork lies a rich cultural history dating back nearly 300 years.

 

And, until fairly recently, this fascinating story was unknown to virtually everyone who lived outside NOLA’s tightly-knit “Black Masking Indian” community.

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The Mobile Carnival Museum Exterior

The Mobile Carnival Museum

& America’s First Mardi Gras

 

Held every year on the day before Ash Wednesday, Mardi Gras (a.k.a. Fat Tuesday, which falls on February 17 in 2015) in New Orleans is a cultural spectacle to behold, rivaled only by Carnival in Brazil and the Holi Festival of India.

 

But, as impressive as the Crescent City’s celebration of the historically French Catholic holiday is, America’s first Mardi Gras festivities were held in what is now known as Mobile, Alabama.

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Co-Founded by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett, Green Global Travel is an ecotourism, nature / wildlife conservation & cultural preservation magazine. More about us.

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• AFRICA
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Morocco- A Journey into the Atlas Mountains
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How To Get To Antarctica w/out Doing the Drake
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Nepal- Hiking The Annapurna Circuit
Taiwan- Top 5 Eco Activities in Taipei
Thailand- Top 5 National Parks
 
• AUSTRALIA/OCEANIA
Australia- Top 5 Eco Attractions
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Tahiti- Pearl Diving in Bora Bora
Tahiti- Ruahatu Marine Sanctuary, Bora Bora
Tahiti- Swimming With Sharks in Bora Bora
Tonga- Eua Island Eco Activities

 

• NORTH AMERICA
CANADA
Churchill- Into the Wild of Manitoba
Churchill- Polar Bear Fight
Churchill- Polar Bear Photo Gallery
Churchill- Tundra Wildlife

UNITED STATES
America’s Best Volcanoes
AL- Fishing Mobile Bay
AL- Mobile Carnival Museum
AK- Denali National Park
CA- Hiking The John Muir Trail
FL- Sanibel Island Eco Activities
FL- Crystal River, Swimming with Manatees
FL- Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge
GA- Barnsley Gardens
GA- Top 5 Autumn Activities Around Atlanta
GA- Best Christmas Light Displays
GA- Top 20 Atlanta Christmas Events
GA- Jekyll Island Eco Activities
GA- Weekend in North GA Mountains
GA- Top 5 Eco Attractions in North GA
HI- Hawaii’s Big Island
HI- Hawaiian Mythology
HI - Top 5 Kauai Nature Attractions
LA- Lafayette Cajun Food Tour
LA- Mardi Gras Indians Super Sunday
LA- Voodoo Museum
MT- Hiking Glacier National Park
NC- Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge
NC- Asheville's Green Restaurants Scene
NC- Asheville's Top Ecotourism Attractions
NC- Greensboro Travel Guide
NC- Great Smoky Mountains National Park
NC- Outer Banks Wild Horses
NM- Top 5 Eco Attractions
NY- Going Green in NYC
TX- Sea Turtle Rescue, South Padre Island
WV- Outdoor Adventures
Yellowstone- Mammoth Hot Springs
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Yellowstone- Upper Geyser Basin
Yellowstone- Lower Geyser Basin

MEXICO
Cancun- Cancun Underwater Museum
Cancun- Mayan Museum of Archaeology
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Riviera Maya- Rio Secreto
Riviera Maya- Tulum & Coba
 
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