Terrebonne and Lafourche Parishes, Louisiana

(Click here for more photographs.)

These two parishes are in southeast Louisiana, just west of New Orleans, along the Gulf of Mexico.  It’s an area of cypress swamps and fish filled marshes.  Cajun traditions stretch back centuries and crawfish reign supreme.

Along Bayou Lafourche

Bayou Lafourche is referred to as the longest main street in the world, a reference to the importance of this waterway to local commerce.  It still provides drinking water to approximately 300,000 Louisiana residents.  We took a driving tour along the bayou from the town of Thibodaux southeast down to the Gulf of Mexico and Grand Isle.  As you get south of the town of Lockport, the bayou gets wider and deeper and you begin to see fishing vessels and shrimp boats tied up along the banks.  Further south there are numerous ship building businesses.  As you get close to the gulf, the land spreads out in marshes with more water than land.  At the end of it all is Grand Isle, a barrier island with the Louisiana Highway 1 causeway as the only land access to or from the island.

On the bayou

We stayed in a small RV park in Gibson, LA, which is in Terrebonne Parish along Bayou Black.  We took a swamp tour from the Bayou Black Marina with Cajun Man’s Swamp Tours with Capt. Billy Gaston.  Capt. Gaston is the real deal, having been born and lived in Terrebonne Parish all his life.  He has fished, trapped and hunted all types of game in the swamp including alligators and caught the second largest snapping turtle recorded in the state at 137 pounds.  There are alligators that have become accustomed to his tour boat and will swim up alongside in order to get a raw chicken snack.  We also saw many of the bald eagles that nest in this area.  There is a wild beauty to the swamps especially the Spanish moss draped cypress trees.  Spanish moss is an air plant, it takes nothing from the tree on which it grows.  We were told that it was traditionally used as a stuffing for mattresses and other types of cushions.

You will notice the abundance of green plants floating on the surface of the bayou.  These are lily pad plants that have been dislodged from the swamps by recent rain storms.  This plant is not native to the swamps but was introduced and has become a major nuisance.  The state of Louisiana spends considerable sums to fight the plant since it clogs the waterways.

Next stop:  New Orleans, LA

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