Finishing out the New Orleans highlights finds us in the swamps of the Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and Preserve. You can cruise the swamps in an airboat or swamp boat. We opted for the swamp boat and had the Jean Lafitte driver pick us up near our hotel. The swamp was a good 30 minutes from the French Quarter so unless you’ve rented a car, opt for the transportation.
If you watched the 11th season of Top Chef, the Jean Lafitte Swamp Tour was the site of the first elimination challenge. The chefs set up in the boat boarding area and there really weren’t buildings/cooking facilities anywhere around.
Cap’n Dave was our tour guide and boat captain. To be honest, I was worried the whole thing was veering toward Disney Jungle Cruise territory when we started out, but Cap’n Dave grew on me and he knew a lot about the swamps, wildlife, hunting, and cooking alligator.
He seemed to enjoy checking out the watery paths as much as we did. He certainly loved bringing out his little alligator at the end of the tour for everyone to hold if they wished. I passed.
We saw alligators – lots of gators – plus turtles, herons, and an owl’s nest. This was one of my favorite adventures on our trip.
While in New Orleans, we stayed at The Cornstalk Hotel. It’s a converted house named for its iron corncob fence. The original owner had the fence built to make his Iowan wife feel less homesick.
The hotel felt like staying in someone’s home with a friendly staff and a well-stocked bowl of Blow Pops. Drawbacks of the place were the small bathrooms (tall people need to duck) and the thinness of the walls. If your room is off the porch, prepare to hear every detail of conversations as other guests enjoy themselves.
Advantages were the staff, the furnishings, and the central location on Royal. You can make up your mind whether the ever present busker across the street is an advantage or disadvantage.
The hotel is supposedly haunted. A couple of ghost tours would stop across the street every night. We experienced nothing to my great disappointment. Given the chandelier medallions in both our rooms, I was pretty sure something would happen. Maybe I’ve just seen The Haunting too many times.
Here’s an obligatory shot of me with a cannon at the Cabildo. I can’t explain it, but my family photo albums have several shots of little me and cannons. Not understanding the fascination little me had with the big guns has not stopped me from perpetuating the cannon photos..