Sunday, June 2, 2013

NOLA - Part 5

By Monday, the last day of our trip, we had accomplished a lot on our trip to-do list.  I offered Nick a few options for day trips, like going into the bayou or visiting a plantation.  Not surprisingly, the next day, I found myself on an air boat hunting for alligators!!

After a quick shuttle ride from downtown New Orleans to Lafitte, Louisiana (named after the famous pirate, Jean Lafitte), we arrived at Airboat Adventures and got ready to board our ride for the day.  However, we first checked out their lodge... complete with stuffed gators and two albino alligators (only 50 are currently in captivity in the US, so they are very valuable).  

Ready for our adventure

Fun fact - Albino alligators are cannibalistic (aka - this guy ate his other albino friend because the owner didn't realize you are never supposed to put 2 albino alligators in the same enclosure together.  Oooops!

All the air boats departing from the dock and heading into the swamp

The first part of our "swamp tour" was very relaxing.  They have to follow certain noise ordinances while within the town limits, so we slowly motored around the waterway while our guide pointed out various things and answered questions.  He let us know that we would need our ear protection once we hit the marker that indicated he could go full throttle with the engine.  

Beautiful morning for a tour

Cemetery along the waterway (rumored to be where the French pirate, Lafitte, is buried!)

And then he floored it...

Nick and I compared our swamp tour and the alligators to our dive at Stingray City in Grand Cayman.  These gators must hear the boats coming, so they immediately all dive into the water to approach the boats.  We couldn't believe how many gators we spotted.  Smart gators have figured out that boats = food.  And their food of choice???  Marshmallows!!  Our tour guide called them "swamp crack" for the gators.

First gator siting

According to our guide, the average size of an alligator in Louisiana is only 5 feet long.  They can grow much bigger, but most are on the smaller size.  He shared lots of interesting facts with us, including how to catch gators, how the waterways were formed for logging purposes hundreds of years ago, etc.  


Multiple incoming!!

Chomping on a marshmallow

Our guide feeding a gator

Our guide teased this one by putting a marshmallow on top of its head.  It swam around for quite awhile and never realized that his favorite snack was (quite literally) sitting right on top of him...

The swamp was absolutely gorgeous and we had the perfect weather for it.  When the guide would stop the boat in the sun, it was hot-hot-hot.  But when we were moving or drifting into the shade, the temperature was great.

And then we got to the coolest part of the tour... our guide whipped out a baby alligator and let us pass it around to hold it and take pictures with it.  He called her "Amy," but said there was no way for them to quite yet tell if she was female or male.  She's quite the pet and devours 175+ goldfish per week!

Nick said he never doubted for a minute that I'd hold the gator "because it wasn't a snake!"  Very true.

Most of the folks on our boat took the opportunity to hold Amy.  She was quite docile and soft.  The funniest part was the biggest guy on the boat - tallest, big muscles, tattoos, etc. - passed up the chance.  His girlfriend held her, but not him.  Until Nick promptly handed him Amy when she was being passed back to the guide.  The whole boat cracked up as this big guy sheepishly held her for a few seconds while his girlfriend quickly whipped out the camera!

Before our tour ended, we got to see lots more gators, including one who rammed the boat by accident while he was chasing a floating marshmallow!

In pursuit of a snack!

Gobbling it up

Tomorrow... I finish up our NOLA trip with our final meal and a Hollywood moment and a hint at what Georgia was up to while we were gone.  Ironically, Nick is headed back to New Orleans today for a Microsoft conference (aka - "Nerd fest!").  I'm beyond jealous that he gets to head back to this incredibly cool city already!!  Have a hurricane or two for me!

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