Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Trek America Day 8 & 9: Atchafalaya and San Antonio

An early breakfast and we were on the road again, heading to Louisiana for a tour of the Atchafalaya Swamp.  We arrived at Cajun Jack's and were greeted with a back slap and some light hearted banter from Jack himself (luckily Ben has warned us that Jack would be "an experience").  Born and bred in the swamp, Cajun Jack is half Cherokee Indian half Cajun (I never knew Cajun was an ethnic minotiry, I've only ever known it as a spice used on chicken!).  It's a recognised ethnic minority, originating from north eastern Canada.  He worked as an engineer for Shell before starting his own swamp tour business which he's been doing for the past 30 years and he knows them like the back of his hand. (That's a weird phrase because if I think about it and I was given a photo of lots of backs of hands and had to pick mine, I don't know if I would be able to. Anyway...)

We jumped into his boat and sped down the Atchafalaya River and into the bayou.  It is starkly beautiful, with grey moss covered cypress trees lining the water's edge, and every now and then where there is a bit of land not encroached by the rising water levels you can spot yellow blossoms at ground level, bringing a welcome splash of cover to the otherwise grey and brown landscape.  Usually the water is a dark black/green, but today it's a murky Medway brown due to the rising meltwater coming from the North.  Some of the trees have begun to get ready for the summer and are a gorgeous shocking green, I can imagine the area is beautiful in the Summer. 

We were alligator spotting but they like the sunshine and it was cold and overcast when we were on the boat, so we didn't spot any.  However we did see a Nutria, which looks a bit like a beaver, and two American Bald eagles, which I got very excited about. Love a bird of prey!

We also saw some homosapiens, around 50 odd Cajun people still live in boats and floating houses along the swamps, many farming crawfish and alligators.  Apparently both are very lucrative businesses. 

After the tour we had a quick picnic lunch then back on the road to our house for the evening, a lovely cabin located in the beautiful Sam Houston Jones State Park.  We had an hour or so before dinner so I chose to go for a little run to explore our surroundings.  I ended up by a swamp lake so sat there in the peace and quiet for a bit, a rare treat when you're on a group trek!! The "beware, alligators in the area" signs were a but offputting though!!

We have been split into three groups of 3 and each assigned jobs for the evening, our group was in charge of making the dinner (though really Ben did most of it and we were his sous chefs. Suited me!) We had a delicious vegetarian lasagne which I want to recreate at home, it was so tasty I didn't even realise it had no meat in it until the end.  We ended the night with beer, cookies and cards against humanity, and a bit of night time racoon spotting. They're very cute and I want one as a pet.
The following day we left Louisiana for Texas.  Before we left the park I asked Ben if he could stop off at the spot I found yesterday.  I am so glad he agreed because it waa absolutely beautiful in the morning light, the mist was rising off the swamp and it looked really magical.  My photos won't do it justice!!

We took a touristy photo (again dunno wht that is underlined, stupid blogger app) underneath the Texas sign, and filled up with gas at the largest gas station I have ever seen called Buc-kees.  Literally 40 odd rows of petrol pumps, accompanied by a huge shop filled with food, cowboy boots and souvenirs.

We arrived in San Antonio in the early afternoon and had a couple of hours to explore before Ben picked us up again.   It's a beautiful town and I felt like I was in Spain.  In the olden days (gotta love a bit of vague history) this part of America was occupied by Spain, hence the Spanish feel to it I guess.  We checked out the Alamo, which up until this point I thought was a car rental company.  It's a missionary where the 100 or so Texans tried to ward off the 2,000 strong Mexican army who were storming the area to try and reclaim their land (this may be historically lacking in fact, I am tired and can't remember exactly what Ben told us).  Either way a battle went down and any survivors were executed, the Mexicans won but this led to the rest of the Americans being outraged and joining their Texans in forcing the Mexicans back and eventually the land of Texas became American rather than Spanish.

After the Alamo we just moseyed about really, they have a "river walk" which, yes you guessed it, is a pavement beside the river.  It's very scenic and a little bit Venicey (the river is more like a canal) and has shops and bars either side.  We sat in a bar (happy hour! Free nachos!) with the most enthusiastic waitress we have come across so far, before heading back to the camp site for the night. 
We were checked into cabins, and I won a coin flip for the double bedroom.  It was nice to get some privacy and I could spend all night farting away in peace.  (Group travel limits free farting.  Something that's rarely talked about but everyone feels the same way deep down, ammirite ladies and gents!!!!)

Dinner was very pleasurable chicken fajitas, with a delicious pineapple and tomato salsa (going to have to recreate at home) all cooked on the camping stove.  Who knew you could have such a delightful meal, I always thought it was canned sausages and beans when camping.

And that was the states of Louisiana and Texas! So far we have covered an estimated 3000 km, crazy huh.  Texas is bloody huge, it's bigger than Germany.  I'm writing this in the van and the road is really bumpy and I'm trying to hold in a wee.  I am hoping we stop soon.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for keeping this up to day, love you daughter xx


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