Tchefuncte River Adventures

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

Tchefuncte River Adventures

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?

Tchefuncte River Adventures


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.

Tchefuncte River Adventures

And then, there it was.  Big as life.  

Tchefuncte River Adventures

 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!


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  1. I would love that type of adventure!! And that hibiscus is gorgeous. I tried growing some a few years ago and event though they are perennials, mine died after 2 years. Everytime I replaced one, it would live 1 or 2 years. 🙁 Guess I’ll stick to the dandelions, they never die. 🙂

    1. Dandelions never die! Unless you spray them with Roundup, of course!!! My Cajun hibiscus survived a freeze before, but I’m not sure they’re going to make it this time. We had the most brutal winter in quite a few years, and covering them with a sheet just wasn’t enough, I fear. I should have cut them back and then covered them, but it was a rough winter for me, too, with too much time spent indoors, ill. But spring is just around the corner, and if I close my eyes too long, it will pass on through without me. I’m going to do my best to make the most of it and takes lots of pics for y’all, too!

          1. Dandelion greens are a good source of vitamins A, B, C, and D, as well as minerals such as iron, potassium, and zinc

            Dandelion roots and leaves were used to treat liver problems. First Nations Peoples boil dandelion in water and drink it to treat kidney disease, swelling, skin problems, heartburn, and upset stomach. In traditional Chinese medicine, dandelion has been used to treat stomach problems, appendicitis, and breast problems, such as inflammation or lack of milk flow. In Europe, it was used in remedies for fever, boils, eye problems, diabetes, and diarrhea.

            Even in “Western Medicine” the roots are mainly used to stimulate the appetite, and for liver and gallbladder problems. Greens can also be used as a diuretic to help the body get rid of too much fluid.

            More Reference: University of Maryland Medical Center – http://j.mp/OEqIN1

            1. My mom and grandmother used/uses all types of natural plants. My great grandfather was a Cherokee medicine man. In our walk around the property yesterday, mom showed me a dead weed that she called pepper grass. She said her mom used to pick the seeds from it and use them to season stuff.

              My neighbor uses dandelion greens in salads, etc. We have two types growing in our yards here. The leaves of one are prickly and you have to wear gloves to pull them. The second one, has smooth, longer leaves. Both produce the dreaded white fluff that spreads like wild fire. This neighbor and I both grow different types of herbs and we have an open yard policy if either needs what the other grows. Makes it nice and easy.

              1. What a great heritage. You’re sure to make records of everything your mom has taught you right? I mean, put it down in writing or type those things up so they can be alive long after she is gone! I love your open garden/yard policy! Would it be that all neighbors could get along so well . . . . great hearing from you, Cammy!

  2. Glad y’all had a wonderful adventure.
    Pre Pirate ship, some friends of ours had family in from Chicago, and all they talked about was the Axe Men and Swamp People shows. Soooo…one day they all took off to find the stars. They went to Shelby’s place and they were able to meet him. They said he was exactly the same in person as he is on tv. Crazy! What you see is what you get. I’m happy y’all didn’t trespass. Shelby does carry that over sized pistol.
    The next day they came by our home, picked up Hubby and they headed to Pierre Part to find the Landry’s. Troy wasn’t around and neither was Clint. (Clint is a neighbor to another of our friends.) The “Chicagoland” people were fascinated by the scenery in the swamps of Louisiana and went home happy.
    BTW, that Hibiscus is beautiful. One day, I hope to get plants in in front of my house. We pulled up everything and it hasn’t been replaced in 2 yrs. time. Want to do some landscaping? That is at the top of the to do list once the camp is finished. Actually, I may end up hiring a landscaper since I don’t know doodleysquat about plants. The camp is getting close to completion, but even the camp is on hold for now. Hubby is having surgery Wednesday.

    1. Well that’s just pretty dog gone cool that he came out and chatted with them! Next time, send those folks down here for a wetland tour with me! Not a bad drive down here and you know they’d love the scenery of the swamps and marshes! You and hubby come, too.

    1. The only that thing would’ve made it better is if he would have come out and chatted with us or even posed for a pic. The only reason I ever watched him on Ax Men was because you mentioned that Shelby was your favorite. Don’t you think he and Fabio would make a great pair? Fabio could get him down here to go gar fishing. Woo hoo! Let the craziness begin, LOL!!! If I were a TV producer who had the resources to make a little demo of those two, I certainly would!

    1. Most welcome m’dear! We can’t have yer faithful readers getting bothered by some rogue technology – it’s great when it works (much more efficient than floating bottles down the Bayou)!

  3. Just read the wonderful story about Shelby–I see my friend is still adventuring and I am jealous, but glad you share them with us–I am still being Grandma for 2 –will be calling you soon –your Cocodrie friend !!!

    1. You promise you will call? Busienss for both of us will be booming again, right? Miss you, my Cocodrie friend! Hey, bring the kids to Pyrate Day at the marina on April 5th. Please? So, when are WE going on an adventure together?

  4. That hibiscus is gorgeous. I don’t have a place to put one, even in a pot. Not even sunshine on my balcony. But I am going to try a basket of bougainvillea this year, just for grins. As for the dandelions, when I was growing up in Iowa, dandelion wine was the big thing, along with rhubarb. And when I had my pet squirrel, he considered dandelions the same as candy.

    There are two dandelions here. The ones most people recognize, the one that drives people crazy in their lawn, actually is a European import. But there’s another, “false” dandelion that’s a Texas native. It looks much the same, but it’s a paler yellow, and taller.

    When I first saw the boat, the first thing that crossed my mind was that someone had nijacked one of the Columbus replicas and hauled it off to the swamp. I’ve never heard of this Shelby character, or his show, so I don’t know about that. But I recognize that style of sign. After hurricane Ike, there were a lot of people living aboard some very unusual vessels, and they usually had signs around that were even more direct than Shelby’s. “This Property Protected by Smith & Wesson”. That sort of thing.

    What a wonderful post this is. It’s got my juices flowing for a little travel, but first there’s a little work to be caught up. We’ve had a couple of decent weeks, so I’ve been working full time. That mostly has meant that I spend my evenings staring at the walls, eating cereal for supper, and then falling into bed. Having to get back in shape for work isn’t as easy as it used to be!

    By the way – a little housekeeping note in case you don’t know. I got six (count ’em! SIX! email notifications for this post, and not a one of them had a clickable link. That may be a glitch that’s worked itself out, but I wanted you to know.

    Have the wild irises started to bloom yet, or is it still a bit too early?

    1. They have not started to bloom, but things are now movign so rapidly, if I don’t go out every other day, I will surely miss it. (There was a plug-in that was causing all kinds of troubles we didn’t know about, so I appreciate any time something goes awry, please email asap so I can have Tech. get right on it! I really do appreciate it because I don’t always know . . . and hopefully it is now fixed.)

  5. What an adventure! I watch Ax Men from time to time and Shelby is a favorite. His Pyrate Ship is totally cool!

    That hibiscus is gorgeous. I’ve never taken the chance with one. They like our spring, summer and fall but getting them through our winters is dicey. Many people here plant them in large pots, then wheel them into their garages to overwinter. I don’t have a garage.

    Did you manage to get in and out of that garden center without breaking the bank? That’s one of the most dangerous places in the world for me; I’m like a kid in a candy shop and want to buy it all.

    1. Well, Gue`, to be quite candid, coming off a slow, hard winter, there just wasn’t much change jingling in the pocket, if you know what I mean. Although I DID let Steph talk me into getting two pots of this fabulous pink petunia called Super Petunia – Cotton Candy, that will climb if you give it a wire backing. I discovered it last year in front of the feed store and truly fell in love, so now I have some of my own!!! Now, if I ever go back with money in my pocket? Katy, bar the door!!!!!

  6. Since I don’t get cable, I have no idea who Shelby is. You were in some of my old paddling grounds. Too bad I wasn’t around to join in the fun! Glad you had a good day. 🙂

    1. Well, it wouldn’t be too hard to find some old episodes on the website for the History Channel. Maybe even on Youtube. Shelby the Swamp Legend. He got his start on their show Ax Men, because he goes out and finds the sinker cypress logs. I guess he still does, but he’s such a HUGE character that History took the opportunity to feature him in his own outrageous show!

  7. Amazing website. Being a gal from the bayou it was fascinating and comforting as it transported me back home as I read the postings. I now live farther away from the bayou and it saddens me to know that I cannot show my kids the way I was raised. They will not experience the lifestyle that living off the bayou’s of Louisiana were really like. However this website will be able to give them some very enjoyable reading and learning as much as they can. Cannot wait to read more .

    1. Welcome back to the bayou, Tammy, and thanks so much for the compliment. It does my heart good to see that you can appreciate and related to some of the stories on the blog. And I’m so proud you will share it with your children as part of your heritage. Tell me, where did you grow up? Thanks again for landing here, and we welcome you as full-time reader now!! BW