Great music, Gators and Gas

Trip Start Aug 11, 2009
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of United States  , Louisiana
Sunday, August 23, 2009

Last night , once again, we shunned the bright lights and brutal booze benders of Bourbon street for the more subdued and mellowing musical magic of Frenchmen street. The first bar we hit was Cafe Negril, in which a three piece acoustic band (lead, rhythm and bass) played some very cool soul music for us. Trace sat and drank Vodka and coke's that have to be described as tanned vodka’s due to the distinct lack of Coke in them. I stuck to beer, but Jack was lurking around the corner.

Next stop was The Blue Nile. Here we had a couple on stage, the guy was playing guitar and the girl was singing, playing the maracas and a kazoo......yeah. Her voice was brilliant and their renditions of songs like Summertime and House of the Rising Sun were quite beautiful.

By this stage we were quite drunk, me on Jack , Trace on vodka, the Coke not even worth mentioning at this stage. It came to my attention that the men’s restrooms (toilets in American) were the foulest I’s ever seen. Not because they were dirty or the toilets were blocked,...but because it seemed the room itself, and they generally are just one room, a toilet in the corner, no cubicles, and a few urinals, was not happy about being a toilet and had purposely deteriorated quicker than normal as a cry for help. They seemed threatening and sad at the same time. I was never sure if I was going to get a beating or have a friendly chat every time I used them....not that I make a habit of chatting to men in dirty toilets. Anyway, moving on, next bar, we don’t remember the name but we sure do remember the band. It was an all girl brass band and they kicked ass. No amps or microphones, they were pure energy manifested in percussion and wind instruments. There were two trombonists, a tuba, a trumpet, a bass drum, and a girl playing a snare drum cymbal set up. The music was relentless and uplifting.....their sound will stay with us forever.We went back to Cafe Negril but there was a reggae band playing by that time, they were good, but didn’t really say New Orleans to us,...so we went back to the girl band and clapped along like crazed evangelists. CAN I GET A WITNESS !!!!!!!

We staggered back to our hotel via an all night diner at about 2:30 am....completely sated. This place is just brilliant....it would inspire anybody.

I’ll say this to anybody going to New Orleans, once you get over the scattered ass and cover bands just going through the motions on Bourbon Street, make your way down to Frenchmen where the artists actually give a shit about what they do. Just my opinion folks.

Just when we thought our holiday had hit its peak, up jumped the bayou’s of New Orleans. What a special place they are, even with a hangover. It’s hard to believe that a swamp can be picturesque, but believe me, it was beautiful. Once you get over the smell. Natural gas deposits come blurping out every now and then (that’s right, I said blurping, it’s suitable), and the whole place smells like a bachelor party after a Vindaloo eating competition.

Captain Sam welcomed us onto his air-boat, he was suitably weather beaten and a "Har!" wouldn’t have seemed strange. We cruised slowly into the actual bayou for conservation issues ie. no wakes allowed, but once we hit the normal, smaller canals , Captain Sam shouted “OK guys , let’s make some noise” at which we put on the hearing protectors or “ear-muffs” provided and the Cap’n cranked her up. The muffs are essential as that fan makes a helluva noise. We took off like a bullet and my hat shot off, the Captain stopped, turned around but it was gone R.I.P. Take two, off we went again. The speed those boats pick up is incredible. We weren’t strapped in in any way but we never felt like we had to hold on to anything. Even when we skidded around corners sideways smashing over huge clumps of water foliage we never felt like we were going to fly off our bench.....it was all quite exhilarating. I got hit in the face by something flying passed..... it felt like a small aircraft. Sunglasses are essential as there are many bugs flying around and if they go into your mouth, there’s every chance they may come straight out of the back of your head.

The captain took us to the places he knew there were alligators, but he made it quite clear beforehand that all he could promise us were trees and water....of which there was plenty. Pretty soon we spotted what we had come there for. It was only about 3 foot long, but it was an alligator, in its natural habitat. It gave us the once over and disappeared into the murky depths below the boat, where, apparently the 10 to 14 foot monsters hang out when it’s this hot. Only coming up every twenty minutes to get some air and glare menacingly at the surrounding foliage before sinking back into the mulch. We didn’t see any of those but we did see a lot of smaller, but no less deadly alligators. They were everywhere, hatchlings as well. The little fellas are quite cute, even though at a few months old they could probably take your finger off.

It sounds like a kids joke but our captain swore by it. What do you feed gators in a swamp? Marshmallows!!!!! Cap’n Sam said they were like crack cocaine to the gators. Something about them having no other form of sweetness in their diet. He then proceeded to prove it. We stopped in a spot where the water was covered by some kind of water vine. As we stopped several gnarly gator heads popped up about the surface. Samwise, as I was now calling him, partially because of his swamp knowledge and because it amused me, secretly, shouted out “Here come the crack-wagon” and threw a marshmallow into the water. It was instantly snapped up by a five footer. About 4 other smaller alligators started swimming towards us but were sent on their way by the big fella, ....but not before most of them got some sugar from our man on the boat. Then Captain Chaos (a new name that will seem appropriate after the next bit of the story) then held a marshmallow in the air so the gator lifted itself out of the water and put its front legs on the boat....about 2 feet from Trace’s legs. It was funny, for me anyway, Trace shielded me from certain death quite bravely. Then Chaos tied the boat to a tree and went a-shore (oooo very nautical). He sat on the bank with his legs spread out in front of him and placed a marshmallow right where you wouldn’t want to get kicked. Another gator came out of the water , crawled tentatively towards the captain ....and as he/she was about to grab the marshmallow Crazy Captain Chaos hooked his fingers under the gators bottom jaw, lifted the head up and planted a kiss on its nose.....knowing full well that those jaws can administer 2000 pounds of downward pressure. I think the gator must be involved with someone else because it shot back into the water in double time, looking very embarrassed. The captain was happy because he got an adrenaline rush out of it, something he says might kill him or help him live longer.........answers on a post card to “Suicide is Painless” P.O. box blah blah blah.

By the way, the area that he was sitting in was where a 14 footer had been spotted recently. Apparently that guy had become that big by eating almost the whole male population in the swamps the previous year.......Captain Cannibal Croc.....no friend of Captain Chaos.

At the end of the tour the captain said , funnily enough “This is the end of the tour”....thankfully he also said “We’ve only got a little bit of time left and a lot of distance to cover to get back to the base” . This meant it was full tilt fan boat fun all the way back, we sent alligator splashing off in all directions. I had a smile on my face that threatened to split my cheeks.

Fittingly, as we approached home base the captain geared down and pointed out a Bald Eagle sitting on top of a pylon. It was beautiful, and according to Captain Sam, the first one of the season. I had Creedence Clearwater Revival in my mind all the way back to town.
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