Tag Archives: Alligator

Louisiana Swamp Tour

Louisiana Swamp Tour

This past weekend was the family reunion for my Mom’s side of the family.  There were 37 family members and friends in attendance.  We began our reunion day with a Louisiana swamp tour.  The weather was cool and breezy which was great for us but it limited the wildlife experience. 

I grew up in swamp country.  My paternal Grandparents raised 9 children on the bayou we toured.  I played with my cousins, fished and crabbed on the banks of Bayou Manchac.  The tour company was doing a brisk business on this October weekend.  It was great to see so many people taking an interest in the bayou way of life. 

There were alligators aplenty but the stiff breeze kept the birds and water fowl hidden from view.  This was a bit disappointing because Louisiana is called the Sportsman Paradise and is home to hundreds of different bird species. 

Here are few pictures of our morning spent on the bayou…As I mentioned there were plenty of gators for the tourists.  The alligator found in Louisiana is the American alligator.  It has remained almost unchanged since the Cretaceous period. Louisiana has the largest alligator population.

Louisiana Swamp Tour...American Alligator

There are an estimated 1 million alligators living in the Louisiana swamps. The American Alligator lives in freshwater environments such as ponds, wetlands, marshes and swamps.  The American alligator will grow to be an average of 13′ long and weigh as much as 800 pounds.  Large male alligators are solitary territorial animals. When a female alligator is mature enough to reproduce she will build a nest of decomposing vegetation during the summer months.  The decomposing vegetation creates heat and the heat inside the nest determines the sex of the alligators.  The mother will defend the nest from predators and assist the newly hatched babies into the water.  The babies will remain with the mother until they are about 18 months old.    Smaller gators like the one in the picture are more tolerant of being in close proximity to other gators.  However, the larger alligator of the group will defend prime territory. 

 The jaw muscles of an alligator are extremely powerful.  However, the muscles that open the jaw are much weaker in comparison.  An adult human can hold an alligator’s mouth closed with a bare hand.  Alligators main prey is smaller animals that can be eaten in one bite. Alligators are typically timid creatures and will avoid humans.  However, when humans feed animals in the wild they begin to associate humans with food.  This will eventually will cause the animal to lose its fear of the humans and can become a greater danger. 

Our swamp tour was on Bayou Manchac near what was once the fishing village of Frenier.  Frenier was a fishing village that during the late 1800’s grew to be home to more than 300 residents. The black storm (hurricane) of 1915 destroyed the village and killed most of the residents.  The survivors soon abandoned the village.  Today Frenier is home to 75 full-time residents and 12 part-time residents.

Louisiana Swamp Tour

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Filed under Nature, postaweek2011, Weekend Getaways and Vacation Spots

A Rose-Colored Memory…

Have you ever taken a trip down memory lane?  I don’t know about you but my trips are far more romantic in nature than the reality ever was.  Everything is remembered through rose-colored glasses.  The house was bigger, the trees were taller, the colors were brighter and of course the people were younger.   However, when I have had the opportunity to actually stop by the place remembered, it turns out that memories are usually a far cry from reality.

My Memory!

My Dad grew up on the bayou with his Parents and three brothers and five sisters.  He and my Mom met in highschool, married and moved to the city.  I grew up a city girl, but I spent plenty of time on the bayou. 

One of my Uncles and his family lived on the bayou when I was growing up.  It was a wide meandering slow-moving bayou surrounded by swampy marshland, two lakes and a river.   I spent plenty of  time with my cousins along the banks of that bayou;  fishing, crabbing and playing. 

The old house was sandwiched between the bayou and the railroad tracks.   The house had a screened in porch and was tall enough for someone to walk under.  During the summer months we slept with the windows open and I would lay awake listening to the lonesome sound of the train whistle and the  splash of the fish on the water. 

At night the swamp would come alive with the sounds of nocturnal critters moving around and the glowing red eyes of the gators as they searched for their evening meal.  And sometimes I would scare myself thinking about what else might be lurking out there in the swamp.

Reality!

Recently, I was in NOLA for an extended weekend.  My husband and I decided to take a little detour from our route just to see what we might see.  I could hardly believe that it had been 20 years since my last visit to this place where I spent a wonderful part of my childhood.

My cousins still own the house but now it is referred to as “The Camp”.  The house is much smaller than I remember.   The only person that might be able to walk under it would be a two-year old and the screened porch has been enclosed. 

The bayou seems much more narrow and not nearly as mysterious as I remember it.  There are twice as many homes or camps on the bayou these days.  I noticed that the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has taken up residence in the area.  And I couldn’t help but also notice that there were several homes and camps that were destroyed by the most recent hurricanes.   But life on the bayou continues today much as it did all those years ago when I was a little girl living, laughing and loving my time spent on the bayou.

It was quite, not too much happening on this particularly hot August afternoon.  The place was incredibly peaceful not a soul in sight.  There wasn’t a breeze to be had and the water on the bayou was as smooth as glass. And although it doesn’t look very much like I remember it…it sure was a sight to see!

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Filed under family, Life..such as it is, NOLA, postaweek2011