Scuba Diving Trips Worth Planning

What a better way to kick off summer than to take a deep dive in our deep seas? Scuba diving gives you one of the most personal encounters with ocean life. Scuba gear has given us the opportunity to see how one of our largest ecosystems on the planet functions. When you dive below the surface you are diving into a whole different world. Not only are you able to explore marine life, but shipwrecks and lost treasure could possibly be found. EscapeHere has an article with The 10 Best Scuba Diving Locations in the World, we are here to share five.

Cozumel, Mexico

Up to 100 feet of visibility, the opportunity for scuba diving in Cozumel is endless. The Maya Reef that runs for 600 miles, reaches from Central America to Cozumel. This gives its visitors multiple opportunities to see what lies beyond the surface. Maybe the sun isn’t really your thing; try looking into night dives. Summer is the best time to visit because the cheaper hotel prices and the water is a lot warmer.

Hawaii, USA

Due to the location, Hawaii’s marine life is not as plentiful as those in the Caribbean. However, this also means that their marine life is unique to its location. The manta ray night dive is one of the more popular scuba dives, located off the island of Kona. Diving into complete darkness, the rays swim overhead. Diving off of Moloka’i gives its visitors the opportunity of getting to see hammerhead sharks and more importantly, the Hawaiian monk seal (pretty rare). Summer isn’t the only time visitors can enjoy diving, humpback whales migrate during the months of December to April. This means divers might have the chance to hear them.

Great Barrier Reef, Australia

1,430 miles, the Great Barrier Reef is visible from space because of its size. This size also enables the unique marine life. The coral reef itself is breathtaking, but the large sea turtles can really turn some heads. This is one of the most recognizable scuba diving spots around the world, and there are obvious reasons why.

The French Polynesian Islands

There are over 100 islands and 11 of them offer scuba diving centers. The French Polynesian Islands are known for their beautiful beaches, but what about the water and below? This can be overwhelming, but on the bright side this means there are more options. Starting at the beginner level and then working your way up to advance, the French Polynesian Islands offers its visitors literally endless options.

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Due to the choppy conditions and strong currents, the Galapagos Islands can be a better choice for more experienced scuba divers. The waters are not only full of fish and hammerhead sharks; sea lions and fur seals also fill the water surrounding the islands. Most famously known for where Charles Darwin developed his theory of evolution, the Galapagos Islands offers a whole different perspective to diving. July to November is prime time, but remember this isn’t just a short trip. These areas take days to explore.

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Louisiana Summer Musts

A Louisiana Summer is filled with endless amounts of activities. However, the overwhelming lists of things to do can take the fun out of choosing. We are here to provide two Louisiana experiences that are a must to check out this summer. Fighting the heat can be a hard thing, especially here in the south, but thankfully Louisiana is right on the water. Giving us many opportunities to take advantage of our state’s location.

Tiki Tubing

A Louisiana summer can’t go by without a trip down the river.  Located 6 miles north of Denham Springs, Tiki Tubing is a great way to cool down in the heat. Open every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday until the end of summer, guest pay $25 (plus tax) and receive a tube, parking, and transportation upriver. No pets, styrofoam, or glass allowed. However, you are allowed to bring your own ice chest. So need to worry about buying expensive water in the gift shop. There are ice chest floats available for $10 and there are also ice chest available to rent for $9. Opening at 8am and not closing until 3pm, visitors get the whole day to float down the river.

There is a release form that must be signed before being allowed to float, print it out and fill it out beforehand to speed up the waiting process. This link includes all of the prices for tubes. Do not bring your own tube or boat, they will provide it for you.

(225) 223-1156                                                                               [email protected]                                                                     www.tikitubing.com                                                                                                           Tiki Tubing, LLC                                                                                                                32625 Hwy 1019                                                                                                          Denham Springs, LA 70706

Seaplane Tours

Louisiana is famous for their swamp tours, but what about something higher in the air? Another Louisiana Summer option to try is a seaplane tour.  Seaplane tours are the best way to see Louisiana from a different perspective. Southern Seaplane, Inc. offers three specific Seaplane tours, but they also offer their guest the option to build a custom tour.

The New Orleans Bayou Tour

This tour offers a view of New Orleans that many don’t get to see. Flying over the Superdome and French Quarter, experience all the views New Orleans really has to offer. Not only are you able to see the city, the tour also offers a view of the beautiful, green swamps that surround New Orleans.

Save Our Coast Tour

Not only will you get to see the eroding coast of Louisiana, this tour includes a education. The story of what the coast use to be. This tour will not only explain and show, but they also educate people on the efforts that are being taken to preserve the coast.

Cajun Heritage Tour

Want a little bit of air and water? This is the perfect combination. This three hour tour has an hour flight tour with an authentic swamp tour through Kraema, Louisiana. You get an overhead shot of Louisiana and then jump into a boat to experience Louisiana swamps up close.

Southern Seaplane, Inc. also offers guided fishing charters. You can fish the Louisiana barrier islands. Just a short 45 minute trip will lead you to a five hour fishing trip. Click herefor more information.

(504) 394-5633                                                                              [email protected]                                              http://www.southernseaplane.com                                                                       Southern Seaplane, Inc.                                                                                                       #1 Coquille Dr.                                                                                                                   Belle Chasse, La 70037

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College Enrollment in Louisiana at a High

Louisiana Believes posted an article expanding on the achievements of the Class of 2018. The number of Louisiana graduates seeking college enrollment has climbed to an all-time high.

The Louisiana Department of Education and the Louisiana Board of Regents have partnered up to announce that over 25,000 high school graduates (the Class of 2018) in the public school system were enrolled into higher education right after their graduation. This is over 4,000 more than the Class of 2012, that is an increase of 23 percent.

Not only are students pursuing a higher education, they are also using their resources like TOPS to get financial help. TOPS stands for the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students. It is a “program of state scholarships for Louisiana residents who attend either one of the Louisiana Public Colleges and Universities, schools that are a part of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System or institutions that are a part of the Louisiana Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.”

Over half of this growth is due to the increasing amount of African-American students furthering their education after high school and seeking college enrollment. More than 2,500 more African-American students enrolled in some form of higher education than the students that graduated in 2012. Commissioner of Higher Education,  Kim Hunter Reed made a statement,  “We are delighted to applaud this good news because we know what it means for our students. In today’s rapidly changing economy a high school diploma is no longer enough.”

The statewide graduation results came in for the Class of 2018, showing that Louisiana achieved its highest cohort in its history. Not only did it show that more students were furthering their education, it also showed that the rate for students who errands “early-college credit” also rose, Even just the amount of students graduating increased. Here are other highlights of the Class of 2018:

  • The amount of students seeking college enrollment in an out-of-state school has slightly risen. 88 percent for instate and 12 percent for out-of-state. In 2017, it was 89 percent in state and 11 percent out-of-state.
  • The amount of students who enrolled in a two year program vs a four year program stayed the same. For the Class of 2018, 71 percent were enrolled in four year colleges and 29 percent were enrolled in two year programs.
  • Over twenty school systems beat the record. The top three school systems were St. James, Zachary, and West Feliciana parishes.

Here is a list of things Louisiana is doing to try and raise the college enrollment:

  • Offering students dual enrollment, helping them obtain college credits while taking courses in high school.
  • Diversified and expanded Jump Start; a program helping students adjust to the workplace and career courses.
  • It is required for students to choose if they want to complete the financial aid forms that would help fund furthering their education.
  • The state has an accountability system that measures schools to see if they equip students for furthering their education.
  • Every 11th grade student has access to the ACT. No matter their background or even their financial status.

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The Best Father’s Day Pork Chops

Looking for the perfect recipe to cook for Dad? This pork chop recipe that was published on epicurious could be the perfect choice. They are so versatile and that makes them an easy go-to. Father’s Day is not the only day this great recipe can be made.  The best part? Literally almost anything can be paired perfectly with this recipe; anything from a salad to a baked potato.

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 pork chops, with the bone in.   *They should be pounded to about ½” thick
  • 2 large eggs, beat them
  • The zest from half of a lemon
  • 1 cup of red wine vinegar
  • ½ cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups of panko (This is Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 6 tablespoons of olive oil, they need to be divided
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh oregano, chopped up
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme, chopped up
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Kosher salt

UTENSILS

  • Large baking dish
  • Large, heavy nonstick skillet
  • 3 shallow containers.   *Large enough to fit a pork chop

INSTRUCTIONS

The first step is to place the pork chops in the large baking dish. Take the vinegar and cover them evenly. Leave the protein to sit for an hour at room temperature; this will help ensure that the pork chops are tender.  While waiting prepare the dredging stations; this is where the pork chops will get their coating. It’s best to use nonporous, shallow containers for dredging.  Take the three shallow containers and add flour to the first one. Add eggs to the second one and add the panko, thyme, oregano, and zest to the third. Make sure to mix all of the seasonings that go in the third container.; this is what will give the pork chop that crispy outside.

Place the skillet over medium heat, adding three of the six tablespoons of olive oil. This will allow the pan to heat up while seasoning the pork. The first step to seasoning them is to, generously, sprinkle the pork chops with the freshly ground black pepper. Using a fork, dredge the pork chop in the flour first. Making sure each side is fully coated. Then move the pork chop to the egg, coating both sides. The last step is to coat the chops in the last mixture. The panko should cover the entirety of both sides of all of the pork chops.

Work in batches, cook two chops at a time. To be fully cooked, each one should be left on the heat for four minutes on each side. Once the first batch is done, wipe out the skillet with a paper towel to remove any residue. Add the last 3 tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet. Let the oil heat up a little bit but it doesn’t need too much time. Then place the last two chops in the skillet, cooking these also about four minutes on each side. Remove from the plate and serve!

What dad wouldn’t want to bite into a delicious, homemade pork chop!

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Travel to San Miguel de Allende

Travelers who have visited Mexico’s San Miguel de Allende rave about its enchanting atmosphere Travel + Leisure recently published a very thorough and informative article about San Miguel de Allende. The city’s stunning architecture consisting of cobblestone streets and multicolored Spanish-colonial buildings is considered to be so unique that the city has been labeled as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Some believe that the city has a special, enthralling effect on Americans ever since the art institute Escuela Universitaria de Bellas Artes welcomed Chicago’s Stirling Dickinson as the director. Under Dickinson’s direction, the city was transformed into an international arts colony. Following World War II, the G.I. Bill allowed veterans to travel to San Miguel to study. Consequently, descriptions of the city reached the United States, inspiring other Americans to add a visit to San Miguel on their bucket lists.

While art remains a crucial element of San Miguel, the emergence of the restaurants Moxi and Áperi have aided in the city’s transition to a gastronomic destination as well. At Moxi, diners experience a taste of traditional Mexican cuisine with some international influence, while Áperi offers “food for the five senses” that is inspired by ingredients from the region.

A key stop in San Miguel is the Church of Immaculate Conception, which is locally referred to as “Las Monjas” (the Nuns). When it was first built, it was intended to serve as a housing complex. Today, it functions as a convent for the sisters belonging to the order of the Immaculate Conception Church. Another crucial cultural stop is the Sanctuary of Atotonilco’s “Sistine Chapel of Mexico,” where visitors can view walls covered in breathtaking 18th century religious murals. For a more casual activity, visitors can travel to one of the many street markets to buy various handmade crafts. One of the most popular markets is the El Tianguis de los Martes, where shoppers can find baskets, pottery, clothing, and other keepsakes.

Naturally, luxury hotels have begun to open in the city as well. One of the most lavish of these hotels is the Casa de Sierra Nevada, which is made up of a nest of colonial-style mansions – one of which is the former home of the archbishop of San Miguel. Each mansion consists of about six rooms that each connect to a private courtyard, and the rooms are adorned with fireplaces, copper tubs, textiles, and wood flooring. After years of mainly accommodating backpackers and the avant-garde, some have expressed concerns about such elegant additions changing the city into a solely tourist town. However, others find the performers and vendors lining the streets to be festive and endearing.

The preservation of the Spanish-colonial architecture that serves as a trademark of San Miguel can be credited to the city’s place in history. When San Miguel was ruled by Spain, its population was larger than that of New York City. Following the Mexican War of Independence the population began to decrease, and by the conclusion of the Mexican Revolution in 1920, even more dwellers left the city. Without the wear and tear brought on by high population, San Miguel was able to remain in almost pristine condition throughout the years.

Current dwellers of San Miguel revel in the city’s distinctiveness. They say that the city holds all of the positive elements of Mexico, such as food, culture, and climate, but none of the negative elements. Many are confident that San Miguel is one of the safest cities in all of Mexico. In regard to San Miguel, Victor Martinez, a sous-chef at Luna Rooftop Tapas Bar at the hotel the Rosewood, says, “It’s an organized city – not like other Mexican cities.”

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Jump Start Summers-LA Education

Following a vote by The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE), the Jump Start Summers program has been approved for expansion. Consequently, over 3,000 high school students will be able to utilize their summer break to earn school credits, take place in workplace-focused learning, and gain business experience, while simultaneously earning an income. For completed sessions, students receive a stipend which averages at $690. In regard to the Jump Start Summers program, John White, the State Superintendent, stated, “Workplace-based learning provides an unparalleled opportunity for students to master essential workplace skills, while making their academic school work more relevant. This is true for all students – those who are university-bound, as well as those who are career-focused.”

Jump Start Summers was created in 2017 with the intention of connecting school systems and business leaders to positively impact students and prepare them for the workforce via shadowing and internships. Along with school credits and work knowledge, participants will also develop important life skills such as communication, time-management, and the ability to efficiently work in a team – all of which are crucial for career-building. Jody Purvis, a supervisor of instruction for Livingston Parish Public Schools remarked, “The Jump Start Summers program offers our students a great opportunity to explore their interests in a career and technical education course that they may not be able to fit into their regular class schedule. Students can use these classes to advance their certifications and experience toward an industry-based diploma, or they can simply gain valuable life skills.”

During the program’s first two years, 1,792 students participated through 48 providers. Cumulatively, the finishing students earned 1,676 school credits and 1,998 business credentials. Following the vote to expand Jump Start Summers, 15 more providers were approved, bringing the number of offered programs to 166. These programs are affiliated with high-demand job areas, including drone operation, mechanical repair, business, construction, culinary arts, health care, IT, manufacturing, and hospitality. Software engineer specialist Rose Espiritu of General Electric Power maintains that “the cutting-edge skills, knowledge, and real-world experience” earned by students via the Jump Start Summers Program are pivotal to the initial entrance to these “high-demand career pathways.”

The Louisiana Department of Education released a blueprint called Jump Start 2.0 to gain public feedback. In the blueprint, the intentions of the Jump Start Summers Program are outlined. The outline affirms that Jump Start Summers will “catalyze a new era of learning.” This entails that all Jump Start Career Diploma student will graduate high school with workplace experience which will prepare them for work in high-growth industries. The blueprint also expresses the intention for Louisianans to be as familiar and fond of the Jump Start Career Diploma plan as they are with the TOPS University path. They will achieve this by “actively celebrating students and schools seeing success” from the Jump Start Summers program in its current, emerging stage. Finally, Jump Start 2.0 aspires for leaders in various communities in Louisiana to create systems that connect education and employment with no state intervention. To achieve this, regional teams supervising Jump Start Summers will increase their efficiency, and Jump Start will work to expand activities to age groups beyond the 12th grade.

Students who wish to inquire about participating in Jump Start Summers should contact the leaders of their schools for additional information on the program.

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