This past weekend found me about a two-hour drive from my bayou up to the banks of the beautiful Tchefuncte River near Madisonville, LA. I met up with my good friend, Steph, to see what kind of fun we could generate for ourselves and what kind of trouble we could avoid getting into!
After bickering with the clerk over the (mistaken) sale price of the items, we loaded 10 big bags of pine-bark mulch and 3 bags of top soil into my truck at the local big box DIY store. Next, we set off in search of the Cajun hibiscus. A unique hybrid, these beauties were developed by the grandfather of Capt. Rob Dupont of Impulse Fishing Charters who has a camp right across from Camp Dularge.
Steph had seen my Cajun hibiscus (above) in full bloom last year and just had to have one of her own. They are grown at Dupont Nursery in Placquemine, LA and sold at The Garden Spot in Slidell. That is the most amazing nursery I’ve ever been to, and if you live within driving distance and have not been, then you should certainly make the trip. They had plants and flowers there I have never even heard of, much less seen. And lucky for us, they had just received their first spring shipment of Cajun hibiscus from Dupont.
Saturday morning, we headed to downtown Pontchatoula to judge the annual Gumbo Cookoff! We had done this two years ago, and as luck was still with us, we only had to taste 16 gumbos this year and not 32 like before. There were 10 to taste in the chicken and sausge gumbo category and then 6 in the seafood gumbo categoy. Then we had to re-taste the winner of both of those in order to pick the overall winner of the entire cookoff. The winners were “Team LSU” and the Pontchatoula Jaycees. Team LSU won overall with their chicken and sausage gumbo. Hey, this was really a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it right?
Oh, and we were judging in good company with radio and tv show host, Don Dubuc at the head of the table and Saints radio analyst Hokie Gajan at the other end of the table. Hokie and Don are full of interesting stories and anecdotes, and there was no shortage of laughter at our judges’ table! The head football coach of Pontchatoula High was there, but I failed to get his name. I was too busy alternating
stuffing my face tasting gumbo and laughing at Hokie and Don!
While we were milling around the gumbo tents, I came across a young man whom Don said was from down this bayou. Turns out he fishes down here, but he lives near Pontchatoula. Steph and I introduced ourselves and chatted for a few minutes, and I waited anxiously to ask him a question to which I just knew he had the answer.
“Hey, Steve, do you know where Shelby the Swamp Legend docks his pirate boat?” I asked.
After grinning a big cheesy grin, he said, “Yeah, I sure do. Are you sure you gals want to go down there?”
Well, of course we did. Everybody knows Bayou Woman loves nothing better than a good adventure.
As it turns out, the landing where his boat is docked was on the way back to Steph’s house and very easy to find. We turned off onto the road Steve told us to take, and just about a few miles back, the road came to an end at a couple of boat ramps.
There were quite a few trucks parked around, but not a single soul in site. I mean, not one person was moving around that joint. Steph drove her silver sports car right down to the launch. Nobody came out of the little shack to see if wanted to launch, or buy bait, or anything. Then, as I looked off to the right behind a tall chain-link fence, I saw a sight that just tickled me to no end.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you so excited about anything since I’ve met you,” said Steph with a grin crossing her face.
I couldn’t jump out of her car fast enough with my camera in tow. (Little did I know she was snapping pics behind my back with her smart phone to put on Facebook and make fun of me!)
Evidently, Shelby Stanga has amassed such a following from his beginnings on History Channel’s “Ax Men” that he’s had to resort to tighter security. Don’t you just love the hand-painted sign?
Guess I should’ve made an appointment.
Below is the boat he rips and roars around in on the TV show. He runs that thing up on the bank, turns 360s in it going full speed, and has even wiped out with cameramen on board. This guy is the definition of C R A Z Y !! You can watch his antics on “Shelby the Swamp Man” on History Channel.
And then, there it was. Big as life.
Shelby’s pirate boat.
I stood there a very long time staring at that pirate boat wishing and hoping that Shelby the Swamp Legend would at least come out on the deck and wave to us. Or maybe he would let his dog old Willie greet us. But no such luck. That place looked like it was deserted, too, but hey, I guess even a star like Shelby deserves some time off and a little privacy on his pirate ship.
It was a great adventure that ended in my knowing that the episode about Shelby’s old houseboat sinking (because it sits over to the right of his logging rig) and his buying a pirate ship to replace it were true.
It’s good to know that some things you see on “reality” TV really are true and real.
I know one thing for sure, Shelby is crazier than Bayou Fabio, but if you put those two together on a TV show, it would trump other reality shows as the most viewed show in the history of the you-know-what channel. (Maybe I just gave that network a brilliant idea? I’ll send them a bill later!)
I have to say that finding Shelby’s place has been the highlight of 2014, so far! And I know at least one of my friends who reads this blog from time to time is going to be very, very excited (and jealous) to know that I found Shelby’s hangout! Maybe I can take her there next time she comes down! You will be able to tell from the comments who this person is!!!
Happy adventures, folks! Spring is almost here!