As soon as my first cousins Kaye and Susan arrived, we jumped into the boat and headed out on the first part of our adventure–the wetland tour. With Susan was her husband, Charlie; and with Kaye was her son, Zach.
If you’ve ever seen Cajun Justice, then you have actually seen some of the areas on my Wetland Tour route. So, we headed up to the “haunted swamp” from one episode, which is also the same swamp where the alligator poachers got busted with the help of a big alligator head decoy. I showed them the spot where the poachers jumped out of the boat and took off running. And the idea hit me, “Hey, I could start doing Cajun Justice Tours!”
After we returned from the tour, we loaded up, and drove to Dulac to enjoy a great lunch at the ever-famous Schmoopy’s restaurant, and I think everyone was very satisfied with their food. I know my softshell crab poboy was delicious!
After lunch, I took the girls to check the crab traps so they could work toward earning their Bayou Woman T-shirts. With only about 8 crabs total, they decided to leave the traps overnight. Good choice.
For supper, we had shrimp and andouille gumbo, which I made using a new product I discovered at Rouse’s the day before.
Yep, I’ve seen it all now: Troy Landry’s Choot’em Andouille. It is labeled spicy, but I didn’t think it was too spicy. We liked it, so I would buy it again. It was a 14 oz. package for about $4.95, which is a fair price for andouille.
During supper, we talked about some more about Cajun Justice, which prompted cousin Susan to ask about “Scary Sally Road”. On that episode, Deputy Storm Fitch tells the tale of how a shrimper got killed on that road, and that on certain nights you can still see his ghost hitch-hiking. So, after dark, like little kids on a ghost hunt, we headed out to that scary road, with me driving their Tahoe.
We saw several pair of creepy-looking eyes that belong to either cats or coons and some spooky-looking oak-tree skeletons, but we never did see anything that even slightly resembled the ghost shrimper. So much for ghost stories. On the way back, I commented how that wasn’t such an exciting trip, but not long after, I had to eat my words.
Me: “O H M Y G O S H ! ! !”
Sound affects: “Thuh-dump, thuh-dump.”
Everyone: “What was that? What was that?”
Me: “Uh, I think we just had an adventure. I ran over a huge alligator.”
Yep, that gator was about eight feet long, and there was nothing I could do but bounce over him in that Tahoe. We turned the car around and went back to see if it was dead, my heart beating wildly in my chest, my knees feeling weak.
Using his cell phone’s flashlight, Charlie bravely got out of the car to scour the shoulder of the road for the gator. Following a slight blood trail, he traced the gator’s steps–it had turned around and gone back into the water from whence it came.
I can only hope that I didn’t do any lethal damage to the gator, and that it will fully recover from whatever injuries occurred. The Tahoe? Well, as far as the front plate holder and the Ole Miss license plate–they are HISTORY. Andthe rubber spoiler that ran along the top of the bumper? Well, it’s a goner, too. This was no small gator, my friends. I’ll get Charlie to measure and tell us how high that gator was off the ground.
In all the years I’ve lived down here, I’ve never EVER run over a gator–not even a baby one. This was definitely a first–the first of several firsts yet to come.
The next day, we went fishing, and Kaye’s son, Zach, experienced a first of his own, and a first for me in that particular brackish lake . . .
a black-tipped shark. And then there was another first. After fighting this strong creature until his muscles were weary and his adrenalin at a peak, I netted it and discovered . . .
it had TWO IDENTICAL KALE HOOKS in its mouth–one in each side. Earlier, something big had taken Zach’s line and gotten away with it, biting it clean off. Sure enough, that shark had come back for more, but this time, Zach won the battle. Here’s a closer look at the hook in the right side of its mouth (sorry for the blur–camera getting old!)
Hook in left side of shark’s mouth . . .
ANOTHER first: never knowingly caught the same fish twice.
And it was a first for Charlie in that he had never seen a hard head, a lady fish, red fish, speckled trout, shark, and large-mouth bass caught off the same boat in the same brackish waters all in the same trip.
But Charlie and I had yet one more first to experience. Not long after he caught that speck and I caught a nice red fish, we had a visit from a couple wildlife and fisheries agents. They wanted to check everything they could possibly check–life jackets, fishing licenses, boat registration, and they wanted to look in the ice chest.
I told this guys in all the years I’ve been fishing, I have NEVER EVER been checked. One of them said, “Well, don’t you think it’s about time you got checked?” Well, no not really. I’d like to go to my grave having never been checked by the LDWF, but I submitted to their demands, and of course, we passed the test with flying colors.
Charlie, an avid outdoorsman about 11 years my senior, also stated that in all his years of hunting, fishing, and boat ownership, he had never been stopped by wildlife and fisheries in any of the states in which he had participated on those activities. So, I don’t know who was the catalyst for all these firsts–Charlie or me? At this point, I’m wondering what we might expect to encounter next time Charlie comes back to fish again?
On our way in, we emptied the two crab traps into the cooler, and returned to the camp to boil them up for our lunch with the help of Cousin Kaye.
The crabs weren’t huge, but they were full and had a really good sweet flavor. And at least one of us ate the lion’s share and really, really enjoyed them . . .
So, let’s recap the trip: We toured the haunted swamp, we fished, we encountered the LDWF, it rained on us, we rode down a scary road, we ran over a gator, we crabbed, we cooked, we ate, and then . . .
I’m so glad they made the trip. It was great seeing them all again. It’s the first time I’ve seen Susan since 1997, and Kaye since 2007, and I hope it’s not that long before I see them again.
Thanks to each of you for a wonderful BWA filled with exciting firsts!