In the Bayou

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My last gator sighting had been in the wild world of the Everglades.

I was overdue for a look at one of these fascinating critters.

Chock one up for Louisiana – it sure packs a punch when it comes to the local flora and fauna found within the beautiful landscape of the Bayou. I saw 7 alligators, including an adorable baby one I named Jeremiah! There were snakes, bugs, fish, and all sorts of interesting things to look at during my hikes within Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve. Besides another stamp in my passport, I gained an appreciation for this area of our country, discovering a serene paradise.

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Hooray for another National Park site passport stamp!
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Strolling along the boardwalk in Jean Lafitte NP

The smells were fruity and organic. The sights were varied and unique. The sounds reminded me that I was surrounded by many different animals, some that only live within the delta of this state.

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A gator…

During my Bayou swamp kayak tour the night before, I appreciated the peace-giving atmosphere of being enclosed by the baldcypress trees. I snacked on the Mayhaw fruit – a type of berry that tastes a bit like an apple – as I paddled within the wetlands. Unlike some of my other kayak adventures (Biscayne and Mammoth Caves), this one allowed me to truly get off the beaten path. Our guide was a local who grew up along the river, an expert as navigating his way around the swamp ever since he was just a little kid.

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Our expert guide informed me that this tree is referred to as “The Hand” by the locals.

Louisiana may not have an official National Park, but it has so much to offer when it comes to natural places. I finished my morning hike with a bowl of gumbo from a local establishments, replete with seafood fresh from the wild.

I miss Jeremiah the alligator already. 😦

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My friend Kate and I (she did most of the paddling). You might recognize her from my second trip to the Rockies.

 

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Beach Respite

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Corolla sunrise

Beaches are beautiful. I’ve spent a lot of time on the coast this past year. From snorkeling with the fishes in Dry Tortugas to exploring tide pools in Olympic, the ocean is a magical place.

That’s why my trip to the Outer Banks in North Carolina came at an opportune time. Nothing beats the post-trip blahs like a gorgeous landscape and sunshine. As I floated on my back, cocooned by the salty Atlantic water, I closed my eyes and relaxed like a little star fish. There’s something incredible about letting all your senses be lost in a natural space. Three pelicans jolted me out of my revelry, swooping down nearby to pick up an early lunch from the sea.

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A couple days later and a couple shades more tan, I was pretty darn happy. The freckles littering my arms were a pleasant reminder of my time on the beach. If I close my eyes, I can still recall the scent of the delicious salty air…

* sigh *

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