Saturday, February 9, 2008
Marvelous Marsh- Jean Lafitte and the Baratarians
New Orleans gets a bad rap. It's only known for it's wanton reputation. But there is a wealth of beauty for nature lovers to consume, if only they know where to go and are not afraid of the swamp!
Yesterday Byron and I went to the Jean Lafitte National Preserve to break in our new hiking boots and heft around some weight in our new backpacks. That trip to the Grand Canyon is sneaking up fast and we have to snag some training time.
A long time ago there was a notorious pirate named Jean Lafitte. He and his ragtag band of "Baratarians" crisscrossed the swamp and bayous with their booty of ill gotten gain, selling to the wealthy planters and citizens of New Orleans. Not much is known about Jean Lafitte, because that is how he desired it. It is known that he sent goods and men to help Andrew Jackson during the Battle of New Orleans in the war of 1812.
Well, Jean Lafitte park is right in the same area where this band of pirates made their home base. What a great place they picked. Mushy, swampy, spooky, mysterious, foggy, and full of all kinds of frightful delightful creatures, Alligators, cottonmouth snakes, copperhead snakes, mosquitos! Enough to scare off all but the most courageous or fool hardy!
Not really. The park has done a great job of installing board walks throughout so that you don't have to get your designer boots in the least bit dirty. There are trails for those who like to get their designer boots dirty. But remember this isn't Disney World. There are real alligators and snakes there and you are not viewing over a guard bar. It is a very real, up close, fun experience. You must be quick to catch the flitting of a butterfly, snake or bird and serenely still to pick out the snout of an alligator peeking up from the midst of submerged logs and duck weed. In April the swamp puts on its spring glory in the form of irises, yellowtops, and water hycinths. Fall brings out the firey reds, yellows and maroons of swamp foliage, and the winter berries stand out stark against the grey sky and water.
Sometimes people miss all that Louisiana has to offer because it isn't turned up on end like some other really beautiful places-Wyoming, Colorado, Kentucky etc.. You have to immerse yourself to experience the beauty of nature in Louisiana. It doesn't present itself on a wide screen mountain for comfortable viewing from the car. These pictures are from our little romp in Jean Lafitte National Preserve yesterday.