Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015
Mesa to OBX

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Alligator Annie's swamp tour! Feb 19

The weather broke sunny and 60 degrees. Great weather to ride a swamp boat. We just happened to stumble onto the original, most fabled tour in the area. Alligator Annie died in 2004, but she put Houma 'on the map' when she started doing swamp tours when she was about 65. That is when she started to slow down a little. Up until that time she was a trapper (nutria to feed the alligators, snakes to sell to exhibits and zoos, lizards and chameleons to sell to pet stores, and whatever else she could get.) She caught the snakes by hand, and only got bit in the face once, according to her son, Jimmy Bonvillian, who guided our tour. She was known to sleep all night in the swamps with a gun to keep poachers from stealing from her traps. She also played the accordion in her spare time. Now this was truly a registered coon ass woman. That's what they call themselves down here. What a place.
Back to the boat ride. We went into swamps, marshes, and bayous, and learned the difference between each. We learned about hurricane damage from Gustav, Katrina, and Rita (Katrina caused the least damage of the three.) We learned about salt water intrusion into the fresh water swamp, even going through a door that they use to close off the canals when salt water backs up too far. We saw at least five bald eagles and one nest. We saw black birds with bright orange beaks that we've never seen before, not even in the Everglades. We spent some time in the Intercoastal Waterway, dodging petroleum industry barges (not one word was spoken about the BP spill, surprisingly). We saw two border patrol boats with 900 horsepower engines blow by us. We listened to talk of what the locals did and who they were, including stories about the sugar cane plantations, that are now housing plans where the petroleum workers live. (We have seen plenty of sugar cane also, both harvested and uncut.) We talked about the TV show, 'the Swamp People', and how the stars of the show live in the area. It was a great trip, even though we didn't get to see our guide call the alligators over to the boat to feed them chicken, which happens when their not in hibernation. We did see some little gators, under four foot, who were out.

Boat cruising down the bayou

Bayou black (that's the bayou's name not color)

Baby gator on a log

Bald eagle and it's nest

Rollin' down the bayou...

Bayou, cypress trees with Spanish moss

Bald eagle in tree

Just beautiful

Gate that can be shut when there has been no rain and the salt water starts to intrude (back up)
Yep!  Our boat is going thru there!

Border Patrol FLYING by.  Gave us serious wake.

Jimmy, our guide.  He was awesome!  I would recommend his trip.

Barge traffic on the InterCoastal Waterway 

After the trip, which lasted two and a quarter hours (for $15 a person)(what a deal!!), we took our guides advice and took a Jeep trip down the bayou. There are four directions around here, down the bayou, up the bayou, that side of the bayou, and this side of the bayou. We went down the bayou, on Louisiana route 56, to the end of the road, in a town called Cocodrie. We watched 6-8 dolphins frolicking in the water, while pelicans chased them around trying to mooch some fish for a while. We took pictures, and watched local oyster boats come in and unload, and saw a three legged chocolate lab hanging out with a wiener dog on the dock, with their owners. We then ate at the Sportsman's Paradise Motel, restaurant, and charter boat house. Two older Cajun women waited on us, told us stories, and fed us the best gumbo yet. They told us about a new oven they just bought, and it didn't work, and the rep was supposed to come from 'up north' to repair it, but he couldn't get there because of snow. As it turned out, ' up north' was North Carolina! ( how bout THAT, Charlie!). We came back to camp a different way, LA 57. Both roads, down and back, were lined by water, filled with oyster and shrimp boats, the homes were all on stilts, and there were still many hurricane damaged buildings. It reminded me a little of some areas around Hatteras Village in NC, without the tourism. There were very few pleasure craft, all work boats, at least this time of year.
I mentioned yesterday that we canceled our departure for a day for this, and it was really well worth the extra time spent in the bayou!

Our little Cajun restaurant - and it was so good!

Of course Mike had to climb up to a high platform to see the view.....and to take pictures!

The view

As far south as you can go in the bayou....

Marina at the end of the road....

Something else that we didn't mention before was that we made up a couple of "Mardi Gras treasure boxes" and mailed them off last week.  Today when we returned from our trip, we had text messages from the recipents of these boxes.  I think we made some people happy!!

Our grandson Carter with his New Orleans Saints football!

Three cool dudes! Scotty, Isaac and Zachary

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