Tromping around the Louisiana Swamp

treesknees2On our road trip we made a stop in New Orleans. We had a great time eating oyster po’ boys, seeing live music and exploring the beautiful city, all the standard tourist fare. But perhaps the highlight was our trip to the swamp. We spent a fine muggy afternoon escaping the bustle to get a taste of the natural landscape surrounding the famous city.

Little-known Jean Lafitte National Preserve lies about a half hour’s drive from the French Quarter but is like another other world. Boardwalked trails lead you through the swamp where Spanish moss hangs from old cypress trees, bugs flitter about and alligators lurk in the vegetation.

You can venture off trails through the mud if you dare. We stuck to the trails and you can see much of the park this way. The ranger told us to watch out for wild pigs off trail as they will charge you.

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On our little stroll along the bayou we saw these amazing color changing lizards. At first I thought I was going crazy. I kept seeing these bright green lizards and then they would disappear and be replaced by brown lizards.

They were everywhere, jumping from leaf to leaf, climbing the trees, fighting each other on the branches. Then all of a sudden I saw them change. It happened almost instantaneously. Turns out these guys are the green anoles and they turn brown when cold or stressed.

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Walking around a little more we ran into this snake. He was just hanging out on a stick, minding his own business.

A little later we even saw a small alligator but unfortunately my camera battery died right before the sighting. Back in the parking lot we talked to another group who had seen a huge alligator with her babies a little further down the trail.

If you are in New Orleans and have a car, definitely don’t miss this National Park. It’s even free to visit!

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