Friday, December 6, 2013

Swamp Thing

Free Dock in Mandeville
We are here in Mandeville, LA. waiting for a cold front to pass.  The place is just awesome!

The town is beautiful and quaint, full of old homes and tall trees all decked out in fall colors!  I am just not used to the colors having lived most of my life in South Texas.  We don't HAVE fall!

Riding along the bike path on the LakeFront

We had a couple of nice weather days here and took a long bike ride on our first day.

We love the miles of bike path along the Lake.  The park is well kept.  This is just what was missing back home.

Taking a break on the bike path under the canopy
I marveled at the yellows, oranges and reds along our path to the grocery store...

Fog beginning to recede along Sunset Point
The beauty of the lakefront was stunning at times...

Boats just parked along the Bayou
Today we thought we would take a dinghy ride up Bayou Castine to see if we could find some gators.  I've been looking for them since we first entered the waters of Louisiana and have yet to find a single one!  We splashed the dinghy and went exploring!

Hundreds, maybe thousands of sailboats are docked in the Bayou
Coming in on our first day, we could see that there were lots of sailboat masts sticking up somewhere back up the Bayou.  I am still laboring under the misconception that sailboats can't get into these streams and small rivers...  as I said... a misconception.  As we motored slowly along, we could not believe the number of sailboats of all sizes we encountered.

There were boats larger than ours moored along the shore.  Many of them had small shacks built, kind of boat houses.  What a cool setup that would be!

There were probably 20 turtles on this log, these were the brave few...
We wound around through the Bayou with ever decreasing width.  We saw lots of turtles sitting on logs, most of which plopped into the water as we approached... But there were a few brave souls who posed for a photo op...

The cold weather probably kept the majority of critters in hiding.  We were able to sneak up on several birds, one of which didn't move, but most of which took flight at our approach.  I guess they don't get many visitors up here in the swamp.

What IS this bird?
We had one mystery creature... There was this dark colored, large bird that came up from the water's surface when we came around a bend.  He seemed ungainly in his takeoff and flew directly at us and over our heads.  I thought it was a cormorant but in seeing the picture, I'm not so sure.

The waterway became increasingly narrow and log-strewn.  The moss grew thicker on the trees and hung lower...

Interesting choice of words...
I must admit to feeling just a little bit creeped out by it all as we glided along...

We passed beneath the railroad bridge
We continued on up the Bayou until it began to narrow enough that we feared shearing a pin on our outboard.

Silly us, we had not brought along a spare, so we turned off the engine and paddled along in silence.

This is when it really got cool...  I came to the realization yet again, that Bruce and I have been given such a rare and unique opportunity.

I've never seen these things before
I have these moments whenever I am overwhelmed by the beauty of a place... I think back to my former life and remember what it was like.

I can hardly imagine a life other than this one ever being "enough" for me again.

The things we get to do every day... the places we see, the beauty we are living within and participating in... the ever changing-ness of it.  There are no words...

We had to duck beneath some low-hanging branches
We began to regret our use of the outboard on the inbound trip.  Now we could slow down and listen for the swamp sounds.  The occasional plop of something slipping into the water, the call of some bird in the distance too far for us to see...

Maybe Marie Laveau lives here...
The leaves falling from the tops of the towering trees, taking others with them on the way down...

We began to look more closely at the small things around us.  We found several trees with the bark bared by some unseen teeth...  Do you think there are BEAVERS out here?

We came to a highway stretching across the swamp where the Bayou became more narrow than we wished to travel in the dinghy.  A kayak would have been great fun, but that, we left at the boat.  We turned back and paddled our way back to the railroad bridge, then started the motor up again.

Lake Pontchartrain from the dinghy
We had a bit of trouble with the outboard so Bruce wanted to take it out and run it wide open for a bit.  We passed by the boat and headed back out to the Lake.

We sped around and flushed out the cobwebs, then turned and sped back to our cozy home.  It was a hoot!

While we found no gators, we had a totally unexpected swamp experience that we will never forget.

We will be leaving Louisiana in the next day or two, and the times we've had in this beautiful state will be forever special as the first of our cruising escapades...  While we never saw a gator, we didn''t find Marie Laveau... We have loved the warmth and hospitality of the people who live here.  Our eyes have been opened to the endless possibilities that Cruising can reveal.  We are SO sad to leave, and yet we are excited to move on to the next chapter in our journey!


  1. Finally catching up on your posts and sounds like you had a great time in New Orleans and Mandeville. Gotta get beignets from Cafe du Monda and olive salad from Central Grocery ... good going!

    Mandeville is such a great place, and how can you beat the price for docking?! Glad ya'll wound up there and enjoyed it. We've yet to meet Dani and Tate, but have met Robin. She made our sail pack that we're going to install this Spring! Very nice lady ... small world.

    You know, I've lived here all my life and spent many times on the swamps of the Pearl River (Honey Island .. you know, where the Honey Island Swamp Monster lives) and rarely see a gator. They're out there, but very hard to spot sometimes. I think I saw more in the back of my previous house than anywhere else ... not a good thing. =)

    Goes to show, everything works out for the best! We look forward to meeting up someday, and now you're on the same path we'll be taking so I'll be really interested in reading about your passage. I read on FB that you left Mandeville yesterday and Rabbit Island today ... you guys have guts to go in this foggy, cold weather! Glad it all went well ... stay warm and be safe!

    1. We really enjoyed everything about Louisiana! I am amazed that as soon as we crossed the border into Mississippi... it all changed. Louisiana is one of a kind! We are so glad to have experienced it!
      Very cool that Robin did some work for you and it is SUCH a small world! We had pizza with Robin and Paul the night before we left. It was delicious and the four of us had a LOT to talk about!
      I wouldn't say we had guts, we just didn't expect the fog to be that thick and didn't expect for it to stay. I've got a post going about that one too so check back.
      We'll see you guys out there and I'll be anxiously await the sale of your house to hurry you along.

  2. How did Rabbit Island turn out? Is the dredger still in the little channel there?

    1. We popped in to the East entrance and there were no dredges. Thankfully only the one other sailboat. It was so beautiful in the morning when the fog was gone. Thanks for the heads up however, it would have been a shock if we had tried to bebop in without prior knowledge and found them and no plan B.