Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Life Is Good

de la Houssaye's Swamp Tours has been conducting tours into the largest rookery of wading birds in North America for over twenty years.

The birds are nesting at Lake Martin in record numbers this year and in spite of the oil spill media blitz, the tourists are coming too.

For now the birds that hatched in the rookery this spring are snow white, and leaving the nests, and learning to feed themselves on the floating cypress logs and mats of plants on the south side of Lake Martin as seen below.

It is hard for me to appreciate the pristine natural beauty as seen below and savor the abundance of wildlife we have at Lake Martin without flashing back to the images of the degrading environment and dead wildlife only a couple of hundred miles away in the hot zone surrounding the mouth of the Mississippi River near the oil, spilling into the Gulf of Mexico and polluting our coastal marshes.

The swamp where I do my tours is too far inland to ever be effected by the oil spill, and for now the marshland south of us is safe too, because the oil spill is moving east and away from us.


Life is good, and if it weren't for the media, we here in Lafayette would have no idea how heartbreaking it is for the wildlife and people who inhabit the mouth of the Mississippi River a couple of hundred miles away. My heart goes out to them who are suffering the effects of pollution, corporate lying, and government incompetence in relation to the BP oil spill there.

And though I do not know anyone personally who perished in the fire on board the Deepwater Horizon, my condolences are felt for the loved ones left behind who were missing the eleven men who were not here for this past weekends Father's Day observances.

It is too soon to tell where this thing is going, but I have to wonder if the life I experienced growing up in the coastal south Louisiana in the latter half of the twentieth century will soon only be a memory and stories that I share with my grandchildren rather than an actual heritage that we pass on to the next generations.

The boat landing at Cypremort Point, north of Marsh Island wildlife refuge.

I have many fond memories of launching our boat in the glorious colors
of dawn as seen below.

Then experiencing the sunrise over the point before we cross Vermilion Bay as seen below.

And the anticipation of what will be the results of the first cast.

Then as our fun begins to turn into a fruitful harvest...

We cannot resist also catching some of our great Blue Point crabs to round our our day on the water in the coastal marshland where the Gulf seafood is so abundant.

For now, life is good here in the coastal areas of south central and western Louisiana, where I grew up eating fresh caught shrimp, crab and fish.

We have had the best crawfish season in the Atchafalaya Basin Swamp in over a decade, thanks to an abundance of snow melt coming down the Mississippi River.

And the tourists who are steering clear of New Orleans and the oily beaches east of there are finding the food, music, and swamp tours here in the Lafayette area are an easy alternative to the contaminated hot zones of the oil spill disaster a couple of hundred miles away to the east.

The boat loads of children out of school looking for adventure and an education in our wetlands here have been heartwarming.

Almost every morning, a sunrise tour leaves out as the fog hangs low and then the magnificent clouds of summer form in the late morning and a few thunderstorms pop off to cool us in the afternoon.

For now, life is good in Cajun Country and the swamp tours, food and music is still here for us to share when you come to visit.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Oil Is Not Here, But The Economic Tsunami Is

Lake Martin Landing is still beautiful,
but it is not the busy parking lot it normally is in the summertime.

Contrary to what the media may be leading you to believe, we in Lafayette, are not totally polluted, our seafood is not contaminated, and we are still in business, unless you guys stop coming to Louisiana for the food, music and swamp tours.

Although many of our visiting guests believe visiting Louisiana means New Orleans, one of the biggest benefits of the post-Katrina Louisiana is touristsand New orleans natives have discovered Lafayette as an improved alternative to the good times of "The Big Easy".

We have great restaurants, good music, and excellent swamp tours, just like the big city, but almost none of the negatives of the big city.

A few families are still coming out with the kids and experiencing our unsploiled natural beauty and anticipating some adventure as seen in this tour that went out yesterday.

The mouth of the Mississippi River and the oil spill, is about 200 miles away and that is a different story than here in Lafayette.

We are far enough away that our wildlife, seafood, and environment is not being directly impacted by the BP disaster.

Although it has been nice to see all the smiling faces and so few empty seats this spring, it is starting to look like the BP oil slick epicenter, is ceating an economic tsunami hundreds of miles away from the actual physical damage.

Although we are far from the polution and the dangers associated, we are experiencing an economic downturn as a result of people thinking we are polutted and in the hot zone.

Rather than a full boat and a couple of empty seats; it is starting to look like an empty boat for the most part and a couple of occupied seats.

And worse, I am getting cancellations on a regular basis.

It has been nice, to experience the sunsets and to see the birds return to the rookery, but it looks like I may be visiting Lake Martin in the near future, much less than I prefer, as people allow the negative media about the oil spill hundreds of miles away to keep them from the Lafayette area.

And just when we got a Lake Martin local resident at the lake to cook for us!

One of the locals and his wife, started coming out to the landing in the outdoor kitchen he built on a 16 foot utility trailer, and would feed us incredible Cajun dishes at the landing for free. I know if you are not from here it sounds wierd or suspicious, to be giving good food away for free. But it is southern hospitality, taken up a couple of notches, Cajun style.

Like when I went to Hawaii, before I got there, I had been warned to be careful of the locals. But when I got there, they took me into their home and fed me, and loved me, because I thankfully recieved their gracious hospitality. They took me in and treated me like family, because I was like them, and they knew I would have done the same for them if they came walking by one day.

Even the dogs were hanging around knowing that they would get some too!

Well it has been the best winter in decades, and a fine spring too...

But as great as it has been coming back after the hiatus of three years following Katrina and nobody coming for swamp tours, I assume I am already seeing the effect of the BP oil spill turning away tourists from Cajun Country just like Katrina did.

And just like Katrina did not affect Lafayette physically, the ecomomic tsunami of the oil spill reaches a lot farther than the physical damage does.

So if you were thinking of coming to Louisiana and were afraid that we are no longer a viable tourist destination, I understand. But we are presently too far from the spill to suffer chemical damage, so come get some of the good times in Cajun Country because who knows, maybe the oil will not be stopped and life in Louisiana as a whole will never be the same, but for now we are hanging on and hoping our government gets serious about our homeland security, because it looks like our real enemy is not in the Middle East, it is here and it's initials are BP.

Here is one proud bird who can still fly for now.

Monday, June 7, 2010

For Your Information

The BP oil spill will not physically affect you or me here, because we are 200 miles away.

And it hopefully won't affect me at all, unless you stop coming to Louisiana based upon the media perception that ALL of Louisiana is now polluted and dangerous.

Just like Katrina was labelled a natural disaster to try to hide the truth, about the greatest engineering disaster in the history of the USA, likewise BP is also responsible for an engineering disaster and trying to call it an accident.

Unfortunately, we are not even recovered from Katrina and Rita, and here comes a man made disaster which was preventable, by installation of proper equipment, and has already become the greatest ecological disaster in our history and it is far from over.

If you want to help us here, come and visit our state as a tourist, and take the word home that we are OK, and open for business. We still have the food, music and swamp tours, Louisiana is famous for.

The Figs performing live at the Blue Moon Saloon in Lafayette

And if New Orleans is too close to the oil spill for you, Lafayette is 200 miles from the oil spill. Our crawfish, shrimp, crabs and catfish are as yet uncontaminated.(frankly we don't know how big this oil spill will get as yet)

Lafayette is in the heart of Cajun Country, and has many of the things people go to New Orleans for, with none of the crime and scams New Orleans is also famous for.

I have just researched the Internet for free Cajun music online and I am disappointed that several of the references of the past have either changed programming or are not online at present due to website updates. So I will keep an eye on that one for you.

One is www.synclive.com which provided live streaming of performances of the Blue Moon Saloon. Also has an archive of performances past. They should be up and running again soon. I will keep you posted. Another one is www.960thegator.com and they changed Louisiana music programing to oldies. Its good music but I didn't realize that the music I grew up with is actually so old, they are calling it oldies!

Scuse me, I think I need a little bit of The Allman Brothers!

OK, I am back...2 cuts: Ramblin' Man, and Southbound and I am goood to go!

A yellow swallow-tailed butterfly on a passion flower, yah it is summertime!

Just so you know I am 54 years young. And on that note, I am just getting started making this world a better place to live and grow up in.

We do not own this world, we are borrowing it from our children.

Lets all work together to take care of it.

This is not the world I was born into.

Hmmm....I am taking personal responsibility here, these things like the BP oil spill happen because we let it happen. The protest should not only be against BP alone, but also our government, who failed to protect us from standing water in August 2005, after Katrina made landfall and was far inland in Mississippi when "it" overwhelmed the levees inside New Orleans. Then for 5 days people were left at the New Orleans Convention Center which is on the river, with a wharf. And they could not roll in relief on wheels, so they left those people to die there who could have been transported on the river. Don't tell me we ain't got boats in Louisiana. We have more boats per capita than any other state!

So bottom line here is if you want good Cajun and Zydeco music, you need to come to Lafayette and visit us. If the pollution from the BP oil spill is actually a real threat to your health here in Lafayette, I will be advising accordingly.

If you are coming to do my swamp tour, here are the GPS coordinates to the boat landing where I launch them. 91-54-20-00-W, 30-13-22-00-N But please call first, I do not live there and I am rarely waiting around the boat landing for people to drive up with NO RESERVATION! Call me at 337 298 2630, leave a message if I don't answer, and call back again in a few minutes. I usually always answer, unless I am sleeping.

American Lotus a summertime flower at Lake Martin.

The address to Lake Martin Landing, where I launch my tours is 1321 Rookery Road, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, 70517

I am giving this out because the GPS, Google map, and Map Quest directions and locations given, are so screwed up for Lake Martin Landing, I am not getting into it here. Just trust me on this, it is best you call in advance to make reservations, because I do not run a regular schedule, and also get directions from where you are, to the lake.

And speaking of scheduling, my advice for the next 90 days is sunrise and sunset.

Button Bush blossom, another summertime flower at Lake Martin.

7-8 AM for the morning tour, meaning we will be out of there by 10-10:30 because we are having temperatures in the mid 90's till about 5-5:30 PM and so a late afternoon sunset tour is your next best option if you are not into waking up before dawn to do a sunrise at Lake Martin.

And as you can see below, the sunsets are definitely worth writing home about.

Here is one last thought: If a man says something in the woods and there is no woman around, is he still wrong?