Friday, May 20, 2016

On the bayou

The American south is such a mystery to me. The history, the drawl, the food, the bayou- it was impossible to figure it all out in only a week, so I picked the bayou to start with.

The expo was over, and it was a sunny Friday morning. We met up with some of Nick's former co-workers, a few hours before our flight. (You probably don't think Oregon has much of an unmanned aerial vehicle industry, but it's definitely alive and kicking!) The tour was through Gray Line, a pack-those-tourists-on-those-boats kind of thing. We met downtown and got to at least take a peek at regular NOLA on the bus ride to the bayou.

Ticket office.
The Mississippi!

How could something like this not make you want to get out on the water? ;)

We were shuffled through the usual buy stuff! stand in line for M&Ms! look at these sad indoor captives! routine, before they finally loaded the boat up in the bright sunlight.

Oh animal lovers, I'm sorry. You won't like this post much :(

The boat was quiet and slow, unlike the deafening airboats that raced around us. Between the ear protection those passengers had to wear and the speed of their boats, I'm betting they had a totally different swamp experience.

Haha, it looks so touristy, doesn't it?

And then, this alligator swims up to the boat! Much freaking out and taking of photos ensues.

You may ask yourself, why would an alligator swim up to a boat? Let me tell you a little story. Once upon a time I went to school in Hawaii. Sometimes we'd go to the beach and swim out way beyond the surf, out to where rich people sun-bathed on floating yachts. We'd call out to them and they would throw down food. Why we thought this was so hilarious and cool, I don't know now, but the main thing is there was always food involved. And so...

That's right. How beneficial this is to the ideal diet of the American alligator- not clear on that- but a marshmallow appears to be a strong motivational tool.

The gifs:

If someone offered me a marshmallow on a stick while swimming, this would probably also be my reaction: swim over there fast and eat it before anybody else.

It was a countdown between who would get tired first- the alligator of junk food, or the humans of pictures...

... the alligator lost.

The week was so rushed that I didn't research this tour at all. I had hoped we would see an alligator or two sunning itself on a bank at most, so I was one of those frantic picture takers whenever a gator was on my side of the boat. Ugh, going through ten thousand photos for this post :p By the way, a Peace Corps Ukraine friend happened to be in NOLA at the same time (Jazz Fest!) and a few days later her photos appeared on Facebook- feeding marshmallows to wild boar.

But what I really wanted to see was the Spanish moss, the kind that makes you think of creepy moonlit nights, Creole bootleggers, and voodoo magic. It exceeded expectations!!!!

How eerie is that stuff? I love it!

The bayou was really pretty. I'm sure we were in a super-trafficked area, but it still had this tinge of the unexplored. Minus the alligators, it's totally the kind of place I wish I could tiptoe through.

There was a "grand finale" to the bayou tour.

First, a tiny alligator named Fluffy. "Did he just take that alligator out of a beer cooler?!" whispered our friend Clara when Fluffy first appeared.

Then, a graveyard. I think this graveyard had something to do with a movie, since the captain was telling a story about Tom Cruise drinking lemonade on a local's front porch.

The tour wasn't that long but it got chilly out there on the water, so by then I was ready to be like one of the cute turtles we saw earlier and find a patch of sun to snooze in.

Me and my brother!
All in all, it was pretty cool. No one lost a hand, we kept the marshmallow fields in business, and we were able to see some of Louisiana's unpaved areas. I want to go back to this part of the country with D- walk through the city together, learn more about Katrina, and (finances allowing) hop on one of the big cruise boats and sail even further south.

Have you been on a wildlife tour? Were marshmallows involved? ;)


  1. I'm surprised they let people feed the alligators.

  2. I thought the same thing! Doesn't taming a carnivore with food usually mean trouble?