Tuesday, April 16, 2013

More Adventures, More Bus Problems

Yesterday’s bus tour began at Donner-Peltier Distillers. It’s a new company that makes vodka from rice and rum from sugarcane. We split into 2 groups, one to taste first and the other to tour first. Don and I were in the tasting group. Mind you, this is at 9:00 a.m. Most of us had to admit that we weren’t accustomed to sipping vodka and rum, straight, especially first thing in the morning!

The best taste for me was the praline flavored rum, but it’s not yet in production so I couldn’t buy any.


The tour was led by the Master Distiller, who moved here from Oregon. It was interesting to learn the process and to see how spotless the operation is.


The next stop was the Bayou Terrebonne Waterlife Museum. The displays, videos and murals were very well done, especially the life-size models of water creatures.



This alligator didn’t fit within the range of my camera.


And several items in the gift shop were interesting, but none of them made it home with us.


Our third stop was at Terrebonne ARC, a center for the developmentally disabled. Several businesses and services are in operation on land donated to the center when a military base was closed several years ago. One area is used for egg production, with a comment that the chickens have it better than some people for the comfortable house they live in.



Mardi Gras beads and other festive items are created.



There’s a candy shop and a bakery.



And, of course, a gift shop where you can buy many of these goods. I got a jar of salsa.


What a full morning! Next we went to the Southdown Plantation House for lunch in the outdoor pavilion. The morning’s heavy fog had turned into a heavy mist, which made even the floor under cover of the pavilion’s roof totally wet.


After eating, some of us wandered through the mansion.


If you look carefully at the second chimney from the left, you’ll see it’s smaller than the others. That’s because it was hit by lightning in the recent storm that blew through this area, and evidence of broken bricks could be seen on the lawn and inside on the second floor.

I didn’t see the sign banning photography inside until after I had taken this shot. But I didn’t use flash, so I didn’t cause any harm.


The rest of the house was equally lovely, and I enjoyed seeing it.

While this may seem like a full day, we still had two more stops to make!

The next was Cajun Man’s Swamp Tour. Captain Ron Guidry took us on a boat tour of the nearby bayous and swamps.



We only saw a few alligators, partly because of the misty/rainy weather, and most of them were small like this cute little guy.


Here’s a larger ‘gator, probably about 5-6 ft. If you can estimate the number of inches between the tip of the nose to the eyes, each inch is roughly equivalent to a foot of body length.


We saw several snowy egrets and at least one blue heron.


And a few snapping turtles.


Ron is an interesting guy and entertained us with his homemade accordion and later his beautiful Martin guitar.


Sorry, no pics of the guitar, but here’s his nice ‘gator strap.


We saw lots of bald cypress trees, the state tree of Louisiana. Most were covered with Spanish moss, and many were accompanied by ‘knees’ like the ones below. The knees grow from the tree roots and help to stabilize the tree. Click here for more info on bald cypress trees and better pictures of knees.


Our next stop (yes, one more to fill out the day) was at the Greenwood Gator Farm.


We went into the gift shop before taking the tour to wait for another busload of our group to finish their tour. I was really tempted to buy this ‘gator playing the Zydeco washboard for our Arizona yard art collection. But Don didn’t think it had the western desert look we’re working toward. Shucks! He sure is cute!


The cell phone holders in the glass case below (sorry for the reflection) were, from left, $50, $30, $80, $100, $100. Just imagine how much that guitar strap cost Capt. Ron! Well, maybe not so much. He probably knows somebody.


On the tour, we learned about alligator nests like this one, but with a lot more eggs, up to 50 or more.


Here’s what the nests look like in the swamp.


With all the right permits and fees paid, they fight off/distract the mother ‘gator with a pole while gathering the eggs, making sure to keep them upright in the same position as found in the nest. What a delicate operation to conduct while fighting off an angry alligator!


The month of September is open season for alligator hunting. With the proper tags and equipment, hunters can catch the really big ones. Some are longer than 13 feet.


I won’t post or write any details about the processing of the meat, because, frankly, I couldn’t stomach it. But the meat is such a delicacy, only the best restaurants serve it. Last year’s entire catch, processed at this location, went to a restaurant in Boston. No local restaurants got even a morsel. I can’t even imagine how much that alligator meat cost. Here’s part of last year’s catch.


Whew! What a day. Now for the bus problem. It was finally our turn. We were so happy with our bus, a modern one with a door that opens flat against the side of the bus, plus a driver Mike who can somehow make that 45-footer weave through narrow streets that I’m not sure I could get our 40-footer through. But it seems that the alternator failed and therefore there was no power to start the engine. So we had to cut our tour short and get on another bus to go back to our RV park so that bus could return to pick up its regular passengers. Not a big problem, and I hope none of us have any more bus boo-boo’s!

Sorry for the long blog, but it was a long day. Today, we had a few activities locally, but Don and I did our laundry and took care of mundane things. Evening entertainment was so-so, so I was able to come home and finish this blog entry! Early to bed because – guess what? We’re going on another bus ride tomorrow!

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