spent the night at Calcasieu Parish and then headed north toward a
Louisiana state park for the night. Along the way, we passed
the headquarters of the Tabasco hot sauce facility, but they were
closed. We then headed toward the state park, but they were
full. As a last resort, we headed north and found room at
the Allemond Point Campground. As it frequently turns out,
this was a MUCH better solution as the camp was mostly empty and
there was a cajun restaurant at the boat landing across the levee
from the camp. We had dinner at the restaurant and
discovered that they offered swamp tours and air boat rides at the
The photos below are what we saw.
declared a "down day" and decided to stay an extra night at
Allemond Point. Above, Bob is caught in the act of relaxing
next to the bayou.
standing on the bank of the bayou, I spotted this gator on patrol.
fellow was actually quite large. With collisions, "an inch
is as good as a mile". With gators, "an inch is equal to a
foot". Popular lore is that for each inch of distance between
the eyes corresponds to a foot of overall length. So, this
is a pretty big gator.
swam in big, lazy circles looking for lunch.
we were gazing at the gator, the lizard above came down the tree
right in front of us.
wasp nest was right next to our camp. The good news is that
they did not bother us.
locals love their boats. This couple and their dogs came
down the bayou while we were gator watching.
some chill time, we decided to go over to the landing and book an
air boat tour. These local "beauties" were waiting their
turn for a different boat.
are custom air boats; there were 3 in service. They are
about $50K each and come in different seating
configurations. The 3 boats each had different propeller
setups as well. The most powerful boat was also the
narrowest and had a 4-bladed prop. The boat above, our ride,
had a 2 blade prop.
settled in for the ride. Knowing that the boat would be
incredibly noisy, I brought my ear plugs in addition to the muffs
that the vendor provided. It was STILL loud.
sister boat, with a full load, headed out raising huge clouds of
out in the water, we could see stands of bald cypress trees.
other boat is hidden in his wake spray. There were quite a
few boats out on the river since it was Sunday.
went through large stands of water lilies. The locals view
these as an invasive species; they are only local to Japan.
The lilies were intentionally introduced in the early 1900s and
have taken over large portions of the swamp. According to
our guide, nothing eats them and they double in population every
month. They choke the channels and prevent navigation with
any prop or pump driven boat.
stopped at a secluded cove and spotted this gator. The
guides feed him, so he comes when he hears the boats
approach. This gator was not as large as the one we spotted
in the bayou behind our camp.
area in the Achafalaya Basin floods on a regular basis. The
basin was constructed as a flood mitigation reservoir for the
Mississippi river. The Corp of Engineers diverts a big
portion of the river into the basin to prevent flooding
downstream. The basin is big, many tens-of-miles on a side
and there are high levees that allow additional water to be
stored. But, when the basin is full, then the areas
downstream are at the mercy of the river. Some portions of
the basin are dry land and the locals have hunting and fishing
camps set up there. The guide told us that the river rose to
the level of the seats of the chairs next to the cabin last flood
channel was relatively straight and was likely man-made.
We went into a secluded area to check
on some crawfish traps that the guide owned.
The trap was set among a big clot of
The locals call these crawfish,
crayfish and mud-bugs. This was a pretty big one, perhaps 5
inches from claw-tip to tail. Later in the day, we would
consume about 5 lbs of these tasty creatures.
The water lilies may be an invasive
species, but they sure have nice flowers. Many of them were
On our return to the landing, we
passed this osprey nest on a cypress tree in the middle of the
The osprey nest is in the tree on the
left; you can just see her head sticking over the top of the
nest. The cypress trees were logged many years ago and many
of the stumps remain and are boating hazards.
This a duck blind. You drive
your boat under it and then stand in your boat. The roof
structures are on tracks that allow opening and closing them for
Interstate 10 was visible at the
north end of the lake. The guide told us that the bridge
pilings were driven 120 feet into the mud and stuck another 30
feet above the water. He also claims that the whole
structure is sinking into the mud.
En-route to the landing, we scared up
These local boys know how to
party. This is a floating party hut. Note the keg
cooker and bbq at the left. And, you cannot have a party
shack without TV, note antenna on roof.
The water lilies supported this bird
as he was hunting.
The levee that surrounds the
Achafalaya Basin is quite high. Note the size of the levee
relative to the vehicles parked on its banks.
Allemond Bend was an interesting place. When we completed our tour, it was hot. So, we headed into the bar for refreshments. There was a zydeco band playing and the bar was hopping. Several Pineapple Bombs later, we were ready for dinner. Of course, given the location, we had to go for the crawfish. Five pounds of crawfish for 4 of us. But, there is not much meat on each and therefore you have to eat a big bunch to be filled up.
will head south toward the gulf.
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