Part 7: Allemond Point Camp


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The Trip

We 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 landing.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

We 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.

While standing on the bank of the bayou, I spotted this gator on patrol.

This 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.

He swam in big, lazy circles looking for lunch.

While we were gazing at the gator, the lizard above came down the tree right in front of us.

This wasp nest was right next to our camp.  The good news is that they did not bother us.

The locals love their boats.  This couple and their dogs came down the bayou while we were gator watching.

After 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.

These 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.

We 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.

Our sister boat, with a full load, headed out raising huge clouds of spray.

Once out in the water, we could see stands of bald cypress trees.

The other boat is hidden in his wake spray.  There were quite a few boats out on the river since it was Sunday.

We 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.

We 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.

The 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 season.

This 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 water lilies.

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 in bloom.

On our return to the landing, we passed this osprey nest on a cypress tree in the middle of the lake.

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 rain protection.

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 this egret.

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.

Tomorrow, we will head south toward the gulf.

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Photos and Text Copyright Bill Caid 2012, all rights reserved.
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