In early July my family went on it’s own Louisiana Tour. My daughter was visiting from Chicago and asked to do something uniquely Louisiana. I suggested a swamp tour – bull’s eye! When I called for reservations the person who answered my call emphasized that we needed to show up early. The drive from Denham Springs took 90 minutes. Turns to the landing were well marked. As we arrived the crowd was building. Every swamp tour is unique. I hoped this one would be outstanding.
“Dr. Wagner’s Honey Island Swamp Tour” takes about 2 hours. The boat captain was very clear in his instructions and vigilant for passenger safety.From the moment we stepped on board he gave clear instructions how to enjoy the trip. The canvas cover provided shade from the hot summer sun. Most of the time we were moving and the breeze kept us surprisingly comfortable.
The water was higher than normal for the time of year. Getting into the best areas was easy. The folage was lush. Native flowers adorned the banks and trees along the waterfront. As we cruised down the Pearl River the guide’s informative dialogue answered many questions before they were asked. He pointed 0ut changes to this watershed over time and the continuing encroachment of residential development.
He showed us flowers and trees unique to the area like the bald cypress and various species of tupelo. We passed beautiful homes and hunting camps. Beautiful egrets and herons posed for pictures on downed tree trunks and among swamp foliage.
What everyone really wanted to see was the wildlife. We entered a side slough and started looking for alligators. The guides vast knowledge of all things swamp was impressive. Gators were plentiful that morning. They swam along the bank, rested on logs – and sensing the boat, swam in our direction.
After making sure everyone was keeping well inside the protective railing he started feeding the alligators; tossing marshmellows and offering hotdogs on a long stick. Most of the reptiles were 3 to 6 feet long. One was over 10 feet. All the while he shared information about the beasts, their habits and life cycle.
Heading back toward the landing and going north to another branch he took us to see wild hogs.
He shared a story about a day when he was hunting in the area. As he was going up the river he saw a hog swimming the river pursed by a pit bull chase dog. The dog’s owner was on the bank and called out for him to grab the dog and save it. The guide (obviously not an idiot) knew grabbing a pit bull wasn’t likely to turn out well and chose to pick up the hunters instead. They got to the hog and dog swimming just in time for the dog’s owner to grab the dog by the collar just as it went under. Then he noticed the other hunter had grabbed the hog. Now that’s a story! And coming from this guide, I believe it (maybe.)
Leaving Slidell and heading home we diverted to Middendorf’s at Manchac for a late lunch. Since 1934 the resturaunt has attracted hungry travelers and locals alike. We shared fried alligator as an appetizer. The thin fried catfish was good. They also had many other options on the menu. What I enjoyed most was the ambiance – from the view of the dock and water to the displays inside. It’s just a fun place to eat.
This was just the break from her busy life my daughter wanted. What a day of memories. Imagine a group of your friends enjoying this Louisiana Tour experience together in our new Sprinter Limo or 28 Passenger Luxury Mini Bus. You would be talking about it everytime you get together. Remember, “we drive … you have fun!”
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