We ventured out of the restaurant for breakfast on our second day. Although we didn’t know it at the time of booking, nor did we realise it when we first arrived, Rue Toulouse was in a very handy position – we could walk straight up to the Grayline tours leaving point and the Mississippi, past several bars and restaurants. It was a win-win.
After our chat to Cathy the day before, Kate and I had decided on a trip to the Louisiana swamp and bayou. It was a half day tour, which suited us as we had plans for the evening.
It was one of the best tours I have ever done. We were bussed to the bayou, waited for our captain and boarded our luxury yacht. Just kidding, it was a custom-built swamp boat; a flat-bottomed boat, not dissimilar to the one in the link:
Our skipper was very knowledgeable, although I suppose they all are, otherwise they wouldn’t be doing that job, would they? He started the tour with the usual health and safety announcements:
“if you drop your camera, tough, we won’t be going back for it. Keep your arms inside the boat, some of these alligators are big enough to jump up to the job of the boat and if your arm is sticking out, it’ll eat it.”
The bayou is surrounded by cypress trees and is basically a series of slow-moving streams or wetlands, often tidal. Our skipper told us that there had been a bit of a flood a couple of days before, so the water was colder than usual. I found that strangely comforting when a 12 feet long alligator started swimming around.
It wasn’t just alligators that we saw, there were some beautiful plants and birds, and soft-shelled turtles and opossum – the captain threw marshmallows to them when we saw them on the river bank.
It was the alligator that made it though. Although we saw a few baby ‘gators, this big old boy kept swimming around us. He’d swim for a few of the marshmallows, but didn’t really want to play. Probably too cold. I couldn’t help but see the similarities to the human skeleton as he was swimming around though. I almost had a film script…
That evening, we went on a river trip on board the Mississippi Steam Boat Natchez, the last remaining genuine steamboat on the river. (Yes, there are others that appear to be, but the Natchez is the only one that is a genuine steamboat.)
The current Natchez is the ninth to bear that name, and there is a whole history to it, but that’s a story for another day. We didn’t have dinner on board, I’m a fussy eater. Just drinks, a bit of dancing and enjoying the ride up and down the river. The jazz band was called The Steamboat Stompers. I’ve done some of those Thames river boat cruises, but being on a boat on the Mighty Mississippi was different again. It is a huge river and quite amazing to see the factories, and so on, along the river banks.
We were glad to only have a short journey home after our boat trip. We needed to be ready for the following day.
© Susan Shirley 2017