They call me ‘The Gator Wrangler’…

Or, GW for short.

Okay, maybe it’s just Clay who calls me the Gator Wrangler, but the name has grown on me.

Tuesday morning, Mom, Clay, and I headed over to the reserve, about a two hour drive towards the Gulf of Mexico. Once there, we took a ride on his boat, searching for alligators. We stopped at one of the cement bridge-like structures off to the side of the marsh, and got out of the boat. There was a family, and a couple older gentlemen, hunting for crabs, and they greeted us. The family was on their way out, and the woman told us she was leaving the crab lines in the water, and we were welcome to them. It was basically a long stretch of rope, with a hunk of chicken meat tied to the end.

By this time, Clay had figured out that it might be worth the effort to do a little shrimping, so he went and fetched his net, and started throwing it in, then sorting out the shrimp from the catch. After a little while, I saw the rope with the chicken go taut, and so I bent down to pull on it and see what was on the other end. As soon as I bent down and picked it up, I saw the alligator, thrashing around with the chicken in his throat.

So… I started pulling harder on the rope (I don’t know, seemed like the right idea at the time) and the gator was flipping himself over and fighting to keep the meat.

Needless to say, I won this gator-wrangling fight.

After that, he slunk off to pout in the shade. He was pretty pissed. But as Clay put it, “wouldn’t you be upset if someone ripped a hunk of meat out of your stomach after you put it in?”
After that, everything appeared relatively blasé.

We (and I say ‘we’ because it makes me feel more involved) caught about five pounds of shrimp, then purchased about five pounds more. Clay also picked up some live crabs in the town of XXXX, which has basically become a ghost town ever since Hurricane Rita. We drove through a large part of the area that had been devastated by Rita, and it was unbelievable to believe that entire houses, even towns, had been completely destroyed. There were some houses that even the foundation had been vanquished, and there was literally nothing to mark a place where someone had lived, had celebrated, had raised their children and watered their gardens. It’s much easier to understand the devastation the hurricanes can bring when you’re right there, in the land that they affect. Back home, there is nothing that touches us the way these storms ravage the South. It’s almost impossible to imagine losing everything in such a way.

Tonight, a large group of people came to the house, and we all ate the Seafood Gumbo that Corey made last night. I’ve never had gumbo before… it’s different, that’s for sure! There were like crab bones sticking out and such, but it was cool to know that we were eating the shrimp Clay caught the other day.

There’s more to say than I can possibly convey. And words seem like such a waste of time- unless I’m using them to convey something more profound than itinerary information.

Cool news: Bought a new camera – a Canon Powershot G9 – it’s amazing. There really are not words for it.

More cool news: Off to New Orleans on Monday.

Mas cool news: Today I booked my flight to London in September.

Yeah, that’s right.

I have a one-way ticket to Europe. 🙂

En Route to Eunice, LA

So I woke up around 7 AM, unable to attempt any more car-sleeping. WAY over-rated. I’ve done some car-sleeping during my Worcester State days when I was in Worcester from 8 AM to midnight, but that was in a cooler climate with the whole backseat available to me. The humid Mississippi evening and the front seat of my car offers little comfort. My legs are still sore from attempting to stretch out.

Needless to say, Panda found it hilarious.

And I apologized to her for all the times I’ve left her in the car during this trip.

My next stop was Waffle House, where I had a delicious, and gigantic breakfast, at 7 in the morning. I felt like a specimen, however, since I think all the locals were watching me. This conspiracy was verified when I went to leave, and a couple of the older men yelled out goodbye to me. Haha.

Magellan informed me that there was a petting zoo / safari extravaganza place nearby in Folsom, Louisiana, which thrilled me to no end, and by 9 o’clock I was waiting in line to get on the wagons and feed the animals, hahaha. I promise, my dorkiness has no limits.

Regardless, it was amazing and I had so much fun. I sort of attached myself to some older couple and their great-grandkids, hahahhah, cuz I’m cool like that, but they were good about it. The man even gave me a dollar so I could buy a water bottle, since it was ridiculously hot there, even so early in the morning. But the little 2-year-old boy, Jeremy, was amazingly adorable, and I enjoyed watching him squeal with delight every time a camel or deer or giraffe took some of his feed (not that I didn’t squeal or anything…) Okay, I might have squealed when the camel stuck his head right in the wagon and stole my feed cup! Hahaha (and yes, Joshua, I lied to you – I thought it was the giraffe but the proof is in the pictures). But then one of the french-speaking guys there jumped up and became my instant hero and retrieved my feed cup from the bugger’s mouth! 🙂

After that, I continued over to Eunice, LA, where I am now, with Cori and Clay. They have been extremely kind and welcoming, even though I’ve been totally lame and basically slept for the past day or so… in a vain attempt to recover my from my ridiculous driving and walmart-sleeping antics!