Getting Swampy in New Orleans

It’s not hard to get swampy in New Orleans. Frankly, the whole city is a concrete facade floating on a swamp. Our potholes are legendary. Actually, I wouldn’t call them potholes. To me, a pothole is a foot wide at most and up to 5 inches deep. You could pop a tire and screw up your alignment if you hit one hard enough.

What we have here are lane-wide, foot-deep sinkholes and places where the road just isn’t there. You could lose your whole front end if you hit one hard enough. You’ve got to be on your game if you plan to ride a bike at night or drive a car faster than 20mph. So when I saw this posted the other day, I had to giggle.

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When it rains in the city, we get big muddy puddles that take months to dry. In the process, those puddles fill with tadpoles. Yay nature! In fact, Mike and I only had to walk about 200 feet this summer to the nearest puddle/pond to check out the tadpoles.

Though crouching next to a neighbor’s conversion van and garbage cans to squint at wiggling frog spawn under the rainbow slick of motor oil is great and all, Mike and I tend to dream a little bit bigger. So we’ve taken a few adventures out to Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, which is about 45 minutes south of the city.

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There are a few trails at the nature preserve, and most of them are on wooden walkways that weave through the swamp. What I like about these walkways is that they’re handy for getting you out into the swampy water and they offer an amazing illusion of safety. There are gators in the swamp, and like most living beings, they tend to avoid confrontation. But if a bigass gator were to decide he wanted to climb 6 inches up onto the walkway and then roll over for some belly rubbing, he very easily could.

Because that’s what gators are after. Belly rubbing. Right?

This little guy was only about 6 feet long and pretty skinny.
This little guy was only about 6 feet long and pretty skinny. No zoom lens. He was 3 feet away.

Generally, the tree canopy and the swamp grass is really plush in the spring and summer. It’s full of the sounds of frogs, locusts, and so many other bugs and birds. A person could lay awake in a tent all night wondering what the hell was that???

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Mike's checking out the critters with a set of binoculars.
Mike’s checking out the critters with a set of binoculars.

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Though I haven't seen a crawfish yet, this is where to find them. They make little mounds that look like mud chimneys.
Though I haven’t seen a crawfish yet, this is where to find them. They make little mounds that look like mud chimneys.

During our swamp walks, we discovered that September is spider season. These spinners will make impressively wide webs across the whole trail. A person can’t go 30 feet without ducking one. On our last adventure, there were so many, we only made it a mile before deciding we were quite satisfied with our nature quota for the day.

I appreciate the hell out of spiders. Their webs are gorgeous. Their bodies are fascinating. They catch mosquitoes and gnats and other nasties. But too many spiders is too many spiders and September = too many spiders.
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We were actually being pretty well swarmed by mosquitoes too, so it leads me to wonder just how many spiders it takes to keep mosquitoes at a bearable level? And furthermore, is there ever a bearable level of mosquitoes?
jeanlafitte06I never thought I’d say this, but it’s hard to go back to the city after hanging out in the swamp. So our next adventure into swampy territory will have to be the brackish wetlands. If we can swing it, I’ll be sure to keep you posted.

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