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Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Blissful Beautiful Bayou

What a day! A rollercoaster day, one of the best on the trip. I [still] haven't uploaded any photos off of my DSLR for days/weeks, but I DID upload a few photos from my Poing & Shoot, and although these are raw, unedited photos, I thought my posts needed a little color and photographical oomph to boost the words. Hopefully this makes it easier to read and easier to picture what the day was like.

I threw in a photo from Las Vegas, of us outside Circus Circus as we headed out to walk the strip. We are quite the duo because when we head out, we are usually carrying the P&S because it allows us to easily take the arm-out photos of ourselves, instead of having to flag down a passerby and get them to take one for us. Then I have my Sony around my neck, and sometimes, Matt is carrying the Canon as well. Never want to miss a moment!

This photo is from Meteor Crater in Arizona, taken by our great tour guide. I forgot her name, but she knew her facts and she led a great tour. Plus, she takes some sweet photos too! It is hard/impossible to capture the essense of the crater with one photo. I didn't have the time to do a panoramic, and I don't own a fisheye lens, so this will have to do. Just imagine this crater stretching far in each direction, beyond the edge of the photo.

Alright, onto today! Matt and I woke up, and like usual, I was starving and pumped to go to breakfast. I practically leaped out of bed and verbally drug Matt out of bed. We went into the lobby and ahead of us to our left sat a shelf with a coffee pot and condiments. And. That was all. Note - I am not a coffee drinker. At all. If this had been a basket of Diet Mt Dews or Diet Wild Cherry Pepsis, maybe I wouldn't have been so devastated. BUT Coffee does not equal Pop, OR Continental Breakfast, so I was majorly disappointed. After about 10 minutes of sulking [only half kidding...] I was jerked out of my mope by a phone call. [Oh, and when we checked in the night before, I heard the lady say there was breakfast. I even called to ask about what time the breakfast was. She told me the times and we hung up. To me, coffee does not equal continental breakfast, so that was why I was so disappointed.]
Anyway, back to the phone call. We hadn't heard all night from the bayou tour, but in the morning, Matt's phone rang with an unfamiliar number. We were in! 1:30 - Munson's Swamp Tours. Perfect. We checked out of the hotel and headed in the direction of the church that I had found on google. Not having the exact address, we basically were just looking for churches along a specific road. We came up to one; it was surrounded by cars and I couldn't see the sign. I had seen online that mass started at 10:30 and it was ohhh 10:27 when we pulled into this crowded church's parking lot. I ran out and up to the front door, and looked at the plaque. It was a baptist church, so I ran back to the car and we sped down the road in search of St. Anthony's Catholic Church. It was now 10:28. Another half mile down, we saw even more cars than the baptist church's parking lot and I figured we had found it. Sure enough, at 10:29, we pulled into St. Anthony's parking lot. Walking in late to church, especially one of those days when it is PACKED, is not on my favorite top 10 list. But sure enough, we walked in to a FULL church, and we found room to stand in the back. After a few minutes, an usher waved us down aisle to a spot with two [smalllll] spaces for us. Better than standing for an hour though! It was a great mass though; it was their Knights Mass, where the Knights of Columbus were decked out with robes and swords [!!] and fuzzy hats. I've never seen anything like it, so I was fascinated. No photos though, A-I didn't have my camera. Ok, I had my P&S in my purse. But B-I think that would be frowned upon a little bit. Nothing says outsider than someone taking photos in church, right?! Haha, I didn't chance it.
After church, we sought out some lunch and headed in the direction of our tour. We were supposed to show up at 1:15, but because of the close/late call with church, we didn't want to be late. Plus, we finished eating fast and didn't have anything else to do in the mean time. We drove slowly in the direction of the tour, and we pulled over a few times so I could take photos of burning sugar cane fields. We still showed up almost a half hour early. Fees were paid, small talk exchanged, petting of an overweight dog occurred [hypothyroid if I had to guess!] and we were ready for the tour. I hate to admit that I can't remember the name of our guide, but I don't know if he even told us. I think his name was Lawrence, but that's only because on the boat, there was a sign that said Cap'n Lawrence. The business is called Munson's Swamp Tours, run by Bill Munson, but our tour was given by his friend/brother/cousin or somebody like that. They were buds, and so great to talk to.
We headed off in a pontoon, down the canal toward the swamps. We were the only two on the tour, and the weather was AMAZING. Blue skies, no bugs [except for lots of red wasps but they stayed mostly way above the boat and in the woods. But I still freaked out every once in a while.], perfect day. For the next two hours, we were given lots of information about the bayou, the swamps, the land, and the history of the area. We saw alligators, herons [blue & gray], egrets, raccoons, and lots and lots of black vultures. This land is privately owned so we had the entire thing to ourselves, and the guides feed the animals. We watched an alligator swim up to the boat and be fed chicken pieces. Cap'n also threw bread to the raccoons, which was probably my favorite part. I know they are such buggers and can cause so much trouble, but they are SO CUTE! Seriously... Usually, the only time we see raccoons is as road kill on the highways, so this was so amazing to see big and baby ones in the wild! Matt and I were both taking photos, so I would guess we have atleast 500 photos of the 2 hour trip. The photos here are just the P&S ones, so the others will come later. Yeah, yeah... someday haha.
The vultures followed us the entire way and got pretty close to us at times. Luckily, none of them did their business on me or Matt, as Cap'n said happened a few times on other tours. We saw a 12 ft alligator named Jack, but he wasn't in the mood to eat. Apparently, they don't like the water dipping below 75 degrees, so they are starting to hibernate right now. Since it was so sunny and warm today, we got lucky and were able to see 4 alligators.
Here is a photo, taken by Cap'n, of Matt and I on the tour. It was so fantastic. Those trees are growing in deep water. On either side, there is swampy, marshy areas, but those trees on either side of us are growing in pure water. There is just a film on top of the water, called Duck Weed, that makes it look like grass.

After the tour, Cap'n started to talk about the alligators they had caught this year and had in the aquarium. He proceeded to pull out a 7 week old alligator from the cage and show him to us. I am not sure the specific reason, but he said they catch a few [they had 2] and keep them until they grow to be about 3 years old and then they release them into the bayou again. Then they'll catch some more babies. This little guy looked fake to me! They have teeth that will draw blood; like little needles Cap'n said. But they are too young enough to do much damage. As long as you hold onto the tail and don't squeeze their bellies too hard, they're fine. Apparently, alligators like to be scratched under the chin, [like dogs!] and when Cap'n did this to the little guy, he started to close his eyes! Just like a dog does when they're being pampered. So neat. Here's a picture of me, holding the little guy. Cap'n was still holding the tail, so I can't take all the credit, but still. This was a big step for me!

Now here is my brave husband. Holding the alligator all. on. his. own! So brave. And SO COOL! What a day.

So, it was definitely a TOP 5 day. Actually, I think that this and Moab, Utah [Arches Ntnl Park] are tied as my top 2 favorite things. BUT, I don't want to discredit everything else we've done, so I'll only say it once. Well, a few more times than that, because I said it on facebook too, oops haha.

If anyone goes to souther Louisiana and wants to tour a swamp, please, google Munson's Swamp Tour. They do a fantastic job and are so nice. I think Matt and I are now their biggest fans.

We are now in Gulfport, Mississippi and hoping to outrun the rain storm that is coming this way. No hurricanes, I don't think... but a front is coming this way. I grabbed a few brochures from our hotel for Mississippi and also Mobile, Alabama, so hopefully we'll find some things to do and see for the next few days. We are moving on to Florida, in order to be in Winter Haven for Thanksgiving with my aunt and uncle!

Go Vikings, facebook tells me that we won today. Oh, and I have never seen a place more in love with their football team than in Louisiana. There is Saints [and LSU] stuff EVERYWHERE! I think that people in Texas might come close with their Cowboy garb, but still... we heard songs on the radio today about the Saints and the town was DEAD during the game today. I believe they won though, so that's good!

Alright, the hubs is getting on my case because he's bored and wants me to put the computer down. Must comply! Thanksgiving is on the way!

Love and blessings. LKR

1 comment:

  1. I love the alligator photos! It looks like you guys are having a blast! I know you said these photos are unedited, but I'm wondering what editing tools you do use? Jon and I have considered getting photoshop but it's a bit pricy! Also, don't know if you are interested but a good sight for photography, cooking, and just general humor ( at least to me) is www.thepioneerwoman.com. Enjoy the rest of your travels!


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