Sunday, April 22, 2012

4/22/2012 All About Alligators

Today’s post is all about alligators, just like the title says.


Yes, that’s a live alligator above. It was sitting in the grass sunning itself when we walked past it to get on the boat.

I’m getting a little ahead of myself here, let me back up. The other day when we went to the MWR (Morale, Welfare & Recreation) office we signed up for a swamp tour.

We took off this morning around nine to make it in time for our nine thirty check in at Jean Lafitte Swamp Tours.


I went to the office to get us checked in and to find out which of the four flat bottomed boats we were assigned to. I wasn’t really paying attention to the set of shelves to my left and then I turned and was a little startled to say the least.


We had a really nice day for this bayou cruise. The sun was out but we did need light jackets.


We met the fellow who was going to be piloting our boat and telling us all about what we’re going to be seeing.

He was an alligator hunter for many years and then went to college in his early forties to become a teacher. He said he lasted one year in the local high school and it was all he could take.

It was back to alligator hunting for him. He explained to us this type of hunting was all about the money.

On the way to the boat we passed this young alligator. I didn’t think it was real…. but then it blinked.


And then it really moved and even turned around facing the other direction.


This is our guide and for the life of me I cannot remember his name. Bob says Cap’n Jack.


As I said, we were on a flat bottomed boat which probably would hold 60 comfortably. There were bench seats on each side of the boat and a wide bench down the middle which could seat people on both sides. Orange life jackets were kept in bins overhead in case needed. Drinks and snacks were available for a fee.

The tour started on a man made canal. In fact, there are 8600 miles of man made canals in Louisiana. The oil companies dredged them back in the early 80’s for oil exploration.

We weren’t too far into the tour when we saw our first sign of wildlife. A turtle sunning itself on a log.


And then the wildlife got bigger. Much bigger.


Our guide explained that the swamps are just beginning to come life again after the winter. The water is warming up and the alligators are getting more active.

The picture below is one of water hyacinths. Pretty to look at but deadly to the canals and bayous.


It’s extremely invasive and if left to grow it would cover the waterway killing the aquatic plants. Rangers come in every year and spray the plants so that it will die off but they never get all of it. I don’t know if their intention is to obliterate completely anyway. It is home to many species of insects, lizards and a hiding place for the alligators.

I just happened to see this movement out of the corner of my eye and found this living in the water hyacinths.


And then this came out of hyacinths about ten feet away.


Then he wanted to check us out and headed straight for us.


It was time to move on.


This little shack was moved here several years ago to give people on tour an idea of how the ‘swamp people’ lived years ago. He stressed that they don’t live like this anymore.



In fact, he brought up the TV reality show Swamp People as pretty much bogus. The star of the show who dresses in rags and whose tag line is, “Shoot it Elizabeth, shoot it!” is actually a self made millionaire and owns a tug boat company among other businesses. Its all TV.

This next little shack was built for Burt Reynolds in the movie Gator.


Our boat captain then brought out an alligator head for everyone to have pictures taken with.


We all had our turn.


Then he brought out the LIVE ALLIGATOR!


Once again, we all had the chance to hold this young gator.


His mouth was taped for our safety.

What I couldn’t get over was how SOFT it was. Incredibly soft.


When Bob and I thought of the bayou we imagined it to encompass the whole swamp area. Well, we learned something today. A bayou is actually a waterway and only a waterway. We had been on man-made canals which were straight as arrows whereas a bayou twists and turns and winds around the way nature made it. From the expressions of the other people on the boat a whole lot of us learned something today.


Our two hour tour had come to an end and we thoroughly enjoyed our time on the water.

We headed back home where I got caught up on laundry and Bob searched for something that was making a loud vibrating noise on the truck.

I met a really nice couple, Kirk and Ann from South Carolina, in the laundry room. We had a very nice conversation and I was sorry when the laundry was done. Kirk says he’s going to start reading the blog when he gets back home.

Bob found the source of the noise and fixed it.

Next on our agenda was a trip to the NEX, Naval Exchange, to stock up on beer. It’s only $14 and change for a case of 24 cans of Bud Light. We won’t need to buy beer for awhile! From there it was to the Commissary to stock up on meat to get us through until we get back to Delaware. We should have eaten before we went shopping!

Errands done, we went home and got packed up for travel as much we could. We’re taking off early tomorrow morning and we don’t want to have all the little stuff still to do.

After dinner of a roast and veggies cooked all day in the crock pot we settled in for the night, anxious to get on the road again.


Lynn Hubbard said...

I do love Louisiana, and the Bayou, its been a very long time since I was there, but your post made me feel like I was on the boat with you.

Anonymous said...

There are several alligator farms near where I live. They are required to release so many back into the wild. The only problem is that they are big enough to survive and aren't afraid of people because they have been fed all their lives. We have found them in our yard and even in the barn.

Snookie said...

I hear ya Martha! When my grandparents were in Florida their mobile home park had "Wally" in their pond in the middle of the park. Wally thought nothing of crawling under a car in someone's carport to find some shade. They all thought it was cute when Wally was little but as the years went by and Wally grew it was a whole different story. Of course Wally was then removed and let go in the wild.

Donna K said...

The Bayou would be an interesting place to visit but I just can't get thrilled with alligators!! A boat ride would be nice though. Great pictures - you are braver than I am!!

LaVon Baker said...

Well, that was fun!! Soft, huh?

Love your haircut!!