After spending a day checking out a couple sights in Houston, it was time to continue heading east. Next stop: The Big Easy
Typically, I’ll look at a map every night and figure out where I want to sleep the next night. After a quick search online, I found a hostel, the NOLA Jazz House, on Canal Street. A bed in the co-ed 6 person dorm was $15/night, I’ll take it. I didn’t learn until I checked in that the dorm’s are limited to international travelers and students. I am neither. The hostess turned a blind eye for the first night, but for the second night I had to upgrade to a private room.
The French Quarter
Getting to the French Quarter was simple enough. I just hopped on the street car and rode it down Canal Street for about 20 minutes until it deposited me pretty much at the banks of the Mississippi River.
There is a very nice WWII museum in downtown New Orleans, and normally it would be at the top of my list of places to visit. But this is New Orleans, what is more iconic than visiting the the French Quarter? The WWII museum will have to wait for another visit.
Every meal I ate while I was in town was excellent. The first night I was there, I asked the hostess for recommendations on where to have dinner. Apparently she’s a foodie and she has very strong preferences on where she likes to eat. She recommend a place called Neyow’s Creole Cafe. Apparently this place occupies slot’s one, two and three on her top 10 list. How can I ignore a recommendation like that?
She wasn’t wrong. The food was great and it was pretty popular too. Even on a Wednesday evening there was a wait.
This was my first hostel experience, and I enjoyed it. I met a 20-something college student from Newcastle England. Her accent was so thick that I had difficulty understanding what she was saying. She was looking a little rough around the edges and I commented on it. Apparently she had been partying for the last 3 or 4 days and she was finally starting to sober up.
I also met a couple from Poland. They had been working in Cleveland OH and now they were headed west on a coast-to-coast road trip. From New Orleans they were headed to Houston, then El Paso and north towards Albuquerque. I suggested a few places to visit in Houston. I also suggested they visit the Carlsbad Caverns on their way north from El Paso.
After spending the morning exploring the French Quarter, I decided to go see me some gators. The hostel had some flyers for the Louisiana Tour Company. They offer air boat tours through the swamp and at this time of year, there were plenty of gators to be seen. My tour guide was good at what he did. He was very knowledgeable about the swamp environment and all the creepy crawly’s that inhabit it.
I learned more about gators in those two hours than I had ever thought to ask.
When a gator eats a big meal and they need help digesting it, they will sit in the sun like this. The extra heat helps them digest dinner.
There are more than gators and bugs in the swamp, or so I’m told. Other than the gators, this bird was the only animal I saw on the water.
Meet Miller Light, our guides new alligator. It turns out that the reason he’s so knowledgeable about the swamp is that he’s a conversationalist and tour boat operator is his side job. On the tour before mine he released a 4 foot gator, named Bud Light, that he had been raising for the last two years. It turns out, all of his gators are named after beer.
He catches new born gators and raises them until they are 4 foot long. Once they reach that size, a vet tags them and they are released into the wild where they can be tracked. Gators that are left to grow in the wild have a 2% chance of survival. The gators that the guide raises and tags have an 80% chance of survival.
Alligators are instinctual predators, their brain’s are too simple to be domesticated. Though they can be conditioned to react in certain ways, like Pavlov’s dog. Apparently, because they are so instinctual, being raised in captivity doesn’t affect their chances of survival in the wild.
As this guy was swimming up to our boat I saw several other gators floating around. I was kind of surprised because I had expected gators to be territorial. I asked the guide about this and he said they are extremely territorial. Bubbles is the alpha male in this neck of the swamp and the other gators I was seeing were all female. They were part of his harem.
As we were heading out of Bubbles territory another gator came up to investigate. One of the other people on the boat asked if the guide was going to feed this one some marshmallows. The guide replied that if he fed this one in front of Bubbles, that Bubbles would kill her. So let’s not do that.
That concludes New Orleans. The next update will be the USS Alabama (BB-60). It will be short since I was only passing through when I came across it. Stay tuned!