Going a bit out of order here due to phone issues
Our last full day in Louisiana started with an unnecessary early morning. Jamie Walters, DCE at St John in Palmer scheduled a swamp tour for all us Alaskans still left in NOLA. Somehow the company messed up though and while our paperwork said the 9:30 tour theirs said the 12:30 tour. So we got a few things done and left two hours later than planned. Our bus driver was really knowledgeable and told us a bunch of things regarding NOLA in general and in particular about Katrina. We arrived early at the tour place and had to wait for the swamp boats to head back in and drop off the earlier groups. It was mighty hot just standing around outside, trying to catch whatever shade we could.
We were split up between two boats to mingle with the other Alaskans. Miranda and Gretchen went with one boat and Keri and Ellie on another. The boat captains were both very knowledgable and funny. Ellie and Keri’s captain even liked to tell jokes and tease some people on the boat. The captains all throw marshmallows at the alligators to get them to come close to the boat. It’s funny to watch an alligator change direction all of a sudden to chomp a marshmallow. Alligators are opportunistic eaters and no really hunters. They are more afraid of humans than we are of them but we had to be careful not to hang our fingers out the side of the boat since the captains use hotdogs on a stick to get the gators to jump… Fingers look an awful lot like hotdogs to a near sighted alligator. :-O
Gators weren’t the only visitors. We all got the opportunity to hold a small tree snake (though not everyone did). We even passed the snake between boats. We saw Lola, a large 10ft female gator. Normally you can’t tell the sex of an alligator but because she was in Big Al’s territory (a large 16ft male (females only grow to 8-10ft normally) they knew she was a female as he wouldn’t allow a male the size of Lola in his territory. There were even wild boar hanging around. They are allowed to be hunted all times of the year right now. The population is large and they are causing the destruction of the swamp with the rooting they do. Ellie and Keri even got to see some piglets along with holding a turtle. Gretchen and Miranda weren’t quite as lucky but did get the chance to see some baby blue herons in the nest.
Thankfully our bus arrived quickly after finishing the tour and not keeping us waiting too long in the heat. After arriving back at the hotel we decided to take the chance to try the beach again. There were some thunderheads building but we stuck slightly close to Louisiana. We found a nice sand bar beach just west of the town of Bay Saint Louis. The water wasn’t deep but it was warm! We sat in the water and just floated and talked about our week together.
Upon leaving the beach we meet a couple of CLB’s (Community Life Builders, also know as yellow shirts who helped at the gathering) and one of the gathering planners Gretchen knew from Facebook but hadn’t met in person. Upon the recommendation of the hotel concierge, we are dinner at the great seafood restaurant in Bay Saint Louis called The Blind Tiger. They boast of having no freezers. They don’t freeze any fish and only serve local caught fresh seafood. Because of this their menu changes daily. It was an awesome meal and hurrah for our last night.