Swamp Rats

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“Wrong Turns Write Life”

Umbrellas in hand, we ventured into the elements. From the smell up and down Canal Street, there was a lot of waking and baking going on. We had another great meal to kick start a waterlogged day that began with all things – a swamp tour!

We wondered if it was worth it. After all, it was chilly, and seeing a gator was highly unlikely. Still, truth be told, I was in it for the airboat ride. I had never been, and it was on my bucket list of things I wanted to do. I had to seize the moment.

Once wrapped in rain gear, we boarded an airboat. Our Cajun guide grumbled aloud about the lousy weather and the pressure to find us an alligator.

“No worries, man, we’re here more for the boat ride than wildlife.”

His cold face warmed with relief.

This guy seemed to have a screw loose, and before we knew it, we were stuck in the swamp!

He was trying to navigate places we probably shouldn’t be. You could tell by how long it took for him to resign himself to radio for help. I’m sure a bit of pride was at play. And jokes he’d later have to hear from his Cajun buddy.

Back in action, damn, that airboat could fly!

The tiny raindrops felt like hail pelting my face as we zoomed up and down swamp channels, sometimes creating paths where there weren’t any before.

I winked at my wife when we zipped past signs that read, “No Airboats” and “No Trespassing.”

When we stopped for stories, it was like this dude was an old drinking buddy with no filter. He told stories that were probably inappropriate for our PG-13 tagalongs but hey, this is New Orleans, right?

Whatever the case, he was a hoot, and we enjoyed the ride …every bit of it (minus the wet and cold and not seeing an alligator).

On our way back to the airboat shack we started from, our Cajun guide looked at me, smiled slightly and…

We left the waterway altogether!

Our airboat climbed onto dry land up a ridge and continued as if we were in a Star Wars land speeder. For the girls on the edge overlooking the ridge, you could see panic drowning their faces. Concern for the children rushed through their veins.

I just laughed the whole way. In part out of the adrenaline jolt out of the calm cold, and in part because I recognized one tip and I don’t even want to think about what could happen.

I’ll admit, I looked back once to make sure my light-as-a-feather son didn’t blow out. It’s not like we had seatbelts or anything to secure us.

We slowed to a stop and turned, and the front of the airboat dangled over the edge of the ridge for a moment. Then, we plunged,  submerging the floor, which quickly popped above water again. We had to quickly lift our feet to avoid the brief rush of water.

The guide looked at me on the sly and asked, “That is what you wanted, right?”

I laughed a reassuring “Yes.”

As we pulled in, our guide spoke loudly for the onlookers to hear as if this ride had been completely routine, “For your safety, please keep your hands and feet in the boat until it comes to a complete stop.”

I’m not sure if people around the dock realized why our guide’s professional-sounding safety advice produced so much laughter from our group. But we rolled out of there as if this was the ride of our lives, which was perplexing according to the expressions of those about to board.

I made sure to tip him generously for the memorable experience …and getting us back alive.

By Frank Rocco Satullo, The OhioTraveler, Your Tour Guide to Fun! 

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“Wrong Turns Write Life”

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