Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Best Swamp Tour In Louisiana

Well folks that isn't me. In fact also let me infatically state: I am not perfect either. And today is proof of my imperfections.

But first let me state why I am not the best swamp tour in Louisiana.

Because I don't want to be the best. If you are the best, you begin to think you have no room for improvement, and that could be boring, but worse, when you are the best, someone is always trying to knock you down.

For instance I just got a notice from Trip Advisor of a review of de la Houssaye's Swamp Tours , and you can click the link here: to go to the Trip Advisor site and read the rave reviews of my tour along with the two suspicious ones who attempt to knock me down. Regarding the on titled: RUDE... I assume if that really happened to them, that they dailed a wrong number, as in one similar to mine, and some one yelled at them, and the reviewer thought it was me doing the yelling! Things are not always what they seem.

Now to get on with today and my imperfections. It started with me changing the impeller in my outboard motor that pushes my tour boat. The impeller is the rubber core of the water pump which keeps my 4 stroke engine cool. Of course I have done this simple repair before, but not on this make.

To make a long story short, I installed the propeller but pulled something out that I could not get back in. Despite my best efforts, I knew I needed some professional mechanical assistance. So I left a couple hours ahead of time to head for the repair shop. My first stop however was not the repair shop, it was at my front gate where I picked up a couple of stray dogs coming out of the woods and put them in the kenneel in the back of my truck along with the Catahoulas that were already on board. I did not want to go back to the house to kennel them, because I was already pressed for time, and I did not want to leave these dogs loose near a highway. We then stopped at the 1st outboard repair shop which was already engaged in a rush order. That ain't happening

So, plan B, I went on down the road to another outboard marine repair shop on the way to the tour, where they attempted to help, but were basically suggesting I get on a waiting list for two weeks, and leave my motor with them. NOT two days before the 4th of July weekend.

Plan C: resulted in me going by a friend's house to borrow his 25 HP outboard and notified my guests, now waiting at the landing, that I was on the way. After arriving there and being unable to start my friend's borrowed motor, I was unable to launch my boat and do the tour. At this point my guests were a bit disenchanted with my imperfections and two ladies advised me they were leaving due to my unreliability to launch this morning's tour. Before leaving, they took pictures of the overcrowded conditions of the dog kennel in the back of my truck. And,I could tell by the look on their face that they have probably been watching too much Animal Planet and would most likely report me for being cruel to my animals in the overcrowded conditions. Oh well, at least they were not subject to the possibility of being run over by a high speed moving vehicle!

As I continued to attempt to start the motor, the next group decided to pull out. Unfortunately, neither of these gave me an opportunity to discuss options such as my friend who was about to come in with a tour boat ready to go, and take them out. I let these folks leave and took the rest of the people down in the swamp to visit the mama gator who was guarding her nest on the bayouside.

Let me be the first to admit, I am not perfect, but I did my best to provide for a swamp tour for my guests who had a reservation to do so. Obviously, I let them down.

Oh well, tomorrow is another day, and I did end my day, by reassembling my outboard after visiting a third repair shop in Henderson and borrowed a tool to make it all happen.

So here it is I am facing a new day and a new month, with beaucoup Lake Martin swamp tours scheduled for this 4th of July weekend. And I have a working outboard motor with a working water pump!

We press forward in spite of our imperfections and unfavorable reviews of unreliability and rudeness.

It is a beautiful day, and I'll see you at the lake!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Best Swamp Tour In Breaux Bridge

That's what people are telling me they heard is that I have the best Louisiana swamp tour, and that they went and researched reviews, and so apparently my daughter was right when she curiously asked me a few years ago; "Daddy, are you the world's most famous swamp tour guide?"

A stock photo of me and Christina by Philip Gould

Little children say the funniest things!

At any time, if you come to do a tour with me, I will be the best swamp tour guide I can be, and after 25 years of doing tours for my friends and guests from all over the world, being the best is not as important as being happy and sharing the rich culture, wildlife and humor Cajun Country is famous for, and that's what really matters to me.

Now, if you are wondering if we are flooded over here, I need to advise you to the contrary, the flood is on the other side of a huge levee twenty miles east of me. And furthermore, we are suffering from low water due to a drought, so as far as I am concerned, I wish the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers would install some distribution outlets in the west protection levee and send some water our way, because we need it and it is wrong to try to control flooding by containment, when nature, if we were doing nothing, would deal with floods by allowing it to distribute over a 200 mile wide flood plain that is no longer allowed to flood. A "controlled" distribution would NOT ALLOW peoples farmland or houses to flood, because it would spread out the flood waters and prevent it from rising so high, and thus be a be a better flood control program, it would also be good for wildlife and the coastal wetlands environment. Helloooooo! A floodplain is supposed to flood periodically.

Below is a collection of photos by my friend Claude Nall. All photos are copyrighted and courteously shared for your viewing pleasure. These photos were all taken last week at the swamp surrounding Lake Martin, over a period of 3 days and includes sunsets, a full moon rising and setting, and wildlife all in one of the most amazing and beautiful landscapes in Louisiana.

I will label the photos and especially the wildlife before I publish this post, so you don't have to wonder what they are.

Above is a sunset photo shot from the boat landing, where you can go and take photos like this from land without being in a boat. And below is the full moon rising in the Bald Cypress trees.

A Great Egret flew into this shot at just the right moment to add a big plus to this photo. Claude was not trying to capture the bird, just the sunset. This photo is a good example of how exciting and spontaneous Lake Martin can be for photography, bird watching, or nature study.

Great Egret(right) and Anhinga Cormorant(left)

Three Great Egrets in the early morning fog

Black Bellied Whistling Duck

A Great Egret eating shad

Below are three photos of the blossoms of American Lotus, which are firmly entrenched in the ecology of Lake Martin.

Above, a baby American Alligator, which is obviously a baby, evident by the large eyes. When you compare the proportion of the eyes to the head in comparison to the photos below, you can see an adult alligator below has smaller eyes in proportion to the size of the head.

If you like what you see, and you are planning a trip to south central Louisiana to visit Lafayette and Breaux Bridge, and maybe do a swamp tour with me, I can be reached by calling my cell phone for reservations at 337 298 2630.

And here is the thought for the day: "If a man says something in the swamp and there is no woman around, is he still wrong?" ;-)

The last photo is a save the best for last, it is the full moon setting over Lake Martin at about 3:30AM with the orange glow of Lafayette in the background. Enjoy!

Johnny Cash - 1978 - Cajun Born - Ruso.wmv

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My Wild Louisiana, a preview of some raw footage...

Hi, I am Marcus de la Houssaye, owner and operator of de la Houssaye's Swamp Tours, at Lake Martin. I am also the host of an upcoming reality TV program, called My Wild Louisiana now in production, and soon to be broadcast.

I decided to release a little of the unedited raw footage of an interesting encounter I had with an American Alligator, on tour with a group of college students from Tulane University, a couple of months ago.

The dog baying the gator is Jesse, who is a Louisiana Catahoula, and he bays a gator as quickly as he would a wild hog! Jesse will be with me on the TV program and also works as a professional blood tracking dog with me during deer season. In the spring and the fall when we aren't doing Lake Martin Swamp Tours, Jesse is a hog dog.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Lafayette Swamp Tours and Taco Sisters

It is getting warm, so my Louisiana swamp tours at sunrise and sunset are becoming the norm.

And signs of summer are everywhere, such as the American Lotus, now in full bloom.

After the tour yesterday, Christina and I had lunch in Lafayette at Taco Sisters,

home of the smoked fish taco, on the corner of Vermillion and Johnston in Lafayette.

To quote Christina; "These burritos are out of the box. This is the best Mexican food, I've ever eaten."

She had a BBQ brisket burrito and I had the grilled yellowfin tuna taco with the homemade salza.

OMG, was it good, and I also ordered a large veggie salad,

thinking we'd have some take home, but we ate it all. There was no leftovers. The cheese, black olives, tomatoes, greens, and little wedges of apple, topped with house vinnegrete dressing made every mouthful an explosion of flavor, AND, I only used half of the dressing!

And now that I think about it, the salad dressing was the only thing we had to take home, and I did just that.

Open for Lunch
Monday-Friday 11am-6pm
Saturday 11am-2pm

234-TACO (234-8226)
to order ahead and pick up at the drive through

If you are looking for a place to satisfy a healthy vegetarian diet and have fresh smoked fish, shrimp, meat and poultry too, Taco Sisters can do.

There are more restaurants per capita in the city of Lafayette, than any othr city in the US, and that means competition is stiff, and the food is often very original and almost always has a Cajun twist.

Mexican, Cajun, Mediterreanian, Japanese sushi, or Creole, no matter what you chose for lunch or dinner, the homegrown ingredients and wild caught Louisiana seafood

Lafayette is famous for, will not only satisfy you, it will surprize you with explosions of natural flavor.

Too many travel writers have described our Cajun food as spicy, which is misleading and inacurrate. Described in one word: it should be flavorful. Although for some dishes, and certainly with some chefs, spicy could be an understatement. And in my opinion, a chef who uses too much pepper spice, is not authentic culturally, and not that good.

You will have no problem with the flavor or freshness of the Taco Sisters.

What amazing food Lafayette has.

Prepare to taste the most delicious tacos you've ever had, made with fresh smoked Gulf tuna, smoked Gulf shrimp or savory meats and poultry. Delicious brisket burritos, veggie tacos and salads made with fresh ingredients and lots of love. No frozen food, just homemade specialties with premium ingredients.

I am providing a link to the Taco Sisters website here,

and as you can see in the pictures, they have a wonderful outdoor dining area

with a colorful flower garden and some interesting artistic fences.

Located at the corner of Vermilion and Johnston Streets in Lafayette.

Typical of Lafayette natives, these women are some of the friendliest and happiest in the world: open for lunch till 6PM, so if you get there late enough in the day, it could suffice as an early evening meal. You can then go a few blocks up the street to the Blue Moon Saloon for happy hour from 5-7 PM.

Go there, get this amazing food, and you may feel like if you do this too often, a diet and exercise program will be in order.

You can come and do a Louisiana swamp tour with me in the morning, and see nature at it's best, and then just 15-20 minutes up the road, seafood for lunch at Taco Sisters.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Swamp People

Hi, I am Marcus de la Houssaye,

owner and operator of de la Houssaye's Swamp Tours at Lake Martin. I have lived on a houseboat in the Atchafalaya Basin Swamp from 1986 through 1995.

The three photos of me below, are copyrighted and are courtesy of Marc Garanger April, 1989

When I first built my houseboat in 1986,

and moved to the Atchafalaya swamp as a permament resident, the old timers claimed I would be the last of the "permanent" residents.

I really didn't understand what they meant by that, at the time, but it was true.

To live without electricity, television,

and having a boat as a main mode of transportation is as rare today, as it was 25 years ago when I first moved into the Basin. Frankly, I am amazed that more people can't disconnect from the mainstream modern lifestyle, and just do it.

What has happened for most of us, appears to be a matter of convienence. We have children who need to be in school 5 days a week, and we have jobs, to pay for our nice car and truck and our mortgage, insurance, internet, cell phone, etc.

But how can we be free, to live off the land and hunt and fish as a true Cajun, if we are so obligated to so many costly things? Well, the answer to that question is: we compromise and live a modern life with a road or street in front of our hiuse with electricity, internet, running water, etc. for five days a week, and on the weekends we haul our boat over the levee

on a boat trailer behind a pickup, and launch into the Basin for the weekend getaway.

It is practical, but still I am amazed that no one seems to be completely commited to living in the wilderness.

I met Greg Guirard on a movie location, a couple of weeks ago and asked him if there was anyone living in the Basin as a permanent resident.

He said "No, you were the last one".

He then went on and expressed concern that we as Cajuns are losing our identity, because we are allowing outside TV and film productions to focus on a small facet of our culture and that causes people on the outside to assume that we all live in housboats, or in houses on stilts,

and we all are swamp people.

Furthermore he pointed out that too many Cajun people are sucking up to and catering to tourists expectations of what is Cajun, such as spicy food, and alligators being consumers of humans. Then he really pushed it and said that too many tour guides were pretnding to be Cajun just to make a buck!

Today, with the Swamp People TV program being so popular, we are concerned that outsiders will assume that what they are seeing is representative of the Cajun culture as a whole. Well that is part of it, and those guys are for real, but they are not common per se.

If you would like to do a genuine Louisiana Swamp Tour, call the number above or click on the link in this line and I will do my best to share a couple of hours of culture, history, geography, and nature study, and I just might share some of my Cajun humor and talk like dat for you!