Dave & Dot's 25th Anniverary Tour

Week 2 - New Orleans & Baton Rouge, LA

Tuesday, October 9th - We Visit the "Swamp" and meet up with Brutus

We slept in (well, Dot did) today and didn't get on the road until nearly 11am. Our goal today was to reach Baton Rouge only 80 miles north. Long Drive!!!! We chose to take the river road to stop and see some of the old plantations along the river but, again, got lost and had to hurry to one of our predetermined tours . . . a ride on an actual airboat through the swamps of Louisianna! It turned out to be our most exciting tour to date. It was made even better when we found out that another group was booked to ride and there were too many for one boat so Dot and I somehow ended up having our very own boat . . . with our personal driver & guide! That made it really special!

We saw all kinds of wildlife, and our guide, Allen answered all our questions. We toured an area that was privately owned by one of the many refinery's in the area. They had bought it from a big lumber mill that had harvested all the Cypress trees. Our guide said that all the trees we saw today were no more than 100 years old. A couple of the original cypress were left behind because they were hollow and of no value to the lumber company at the time. To get the trees out of the swamp the lumber company built a series of railroad spurs throughout the swamp and then removed what they could find. Subsequently they left track, spikes, and rail bed in many areas as it had sunken below water level. Allen showed us one such place and Dot came away with a piece of thousand year old cypress, a lump of coal, and a railroad spike. Are we really taking that home?

The end of our tour was highlighted by the discovery of one of the locals in the swamp . . . Brutus, an 11 foot 350 lb. alligator. One of four in that particular area. An alligator's territory is small, only about 100 yards square and so they don't move around much. They spend most of each day just floating in the water, then mating with as many females as they can find when in season. That's about it. Our guide says that they have a natural fear of man but because Brutus is fed by the guides on our tour, he has become accustomed to the sound of the airboat and hardly flinches when approached. We ended the tour by taking a high-speed ride back to our starting point . . . Excellent!

We reached Baton Rouge just before dark and ate “fast-food” for the first time (Taco Bell) on our trip so far. What can I say . . . it had been a long day and we just didn't feel like going out. Plus, I had failed to mention that going out to dinner in the South was an experience all its own in that it regularly takes 3 + hours to have a complete meal. Everyone is so laid back here that they are in no hurry to do anything, including serving your food. It is actually quite refreshing once you get used to it!

Our home for the night was a Comfort Inn near Baton Rouge. We have a long drive to Memphis scheduled for tomorrow . . .