Trip Down South

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It was a spring weekend of may 08. Our family took a trip down south. My dad was born in Raceland, LA and raised south of there in a city called Lockport. The Bayou’s surround the city with locks to allow the water to flow and for flood control. It has been a long time since we have been back there, but it was a family reunion that got us to go.
The drive was only two days and it was great to see all the sights. The route we went took us through Kansas City and St. Louis then we went straight south. When we got into Louisiana my dad decided to keep a secret about the way we were going to go. We got off the major highway and started down some two-lane roads going through some pretty run down towns. I saw a sign that said toll bridge and he turned that way. The toll bridge that we went over was Lake Pontchartrain causeway, which was built in the mid 50’s and is 23.87 miles long. As soon as we got on the bridge and over the lake I figured out why my dad kept it a secret. Because my mom, little brother, and my little sister were freaking out. Depending on whom you ask and where you do your research. This bridge is the longest bridge over water in the world.
First we went to New Orleans and saw the superdome, where the saints play. Drove through the French quarter (downtown district) it didn’t look like Hurricane Katrina damaged any of this. Then it was time to go further south to Lockport.
When we got there, we went to my great aunt’s house. We were greeted with open arms and kisses (yuck). After meeting a good portion of the family my dad took us around town and showed us where he grew up and the things he did. One of the things he showed us was a park right next to the Bayou. It was really nice and newly refurbished. Across the water is a ship building company. They mostly build barges and tug boats. When my dad was young, grandma would send him with all the other kids to the park with pails and buckets on the days when the ships would slide in, the water would rise over the banks, loading the banks with fish, crawfish, lobsters, crabs and even a gator or two. It was like an Easter egg hunt, fill your pails and buckets as fast as you can. Before all the other kids in the neighborhood filled. Then you go back to grandma’s house so she could boil them for a huge picnic.
Lockport is a very small city with many restaurants with very good food. My dad’s uncle owned a restaurant; they served some of the best-fried chicken I have ever tasted. Speaking of food, on the trip down my dad and I kept teasing my sister about how the burger joints don’t use cow for ground beef, they use gator meat instead. We went to a Taco Bell in New Orleans and she refused to eat because she thought that it was gator not cow. We finally told her the truth, she was so mad her face was brick red with anger we thought she was going to explode; she was eight at the time.
Back to Lockport, there is a field around the corner of my aunt’s where they grow sugar cane. When the crop is fully grown my dad would go and cut down a stalk. Talk about a pixie stick on steroids, what a rush! During the visit there would be tugs going up and down the bayou. Blowing their horns and waving. The people were so friendly, we also saw a few gator tails on the banks but they took off quickly from the noise. Seeing a full size gator was something I really wanted to see and maybe even touch. More and more family members were showing up and meeting at my Aunt’s house. It was starting to get late and dinner was on the stove. We ate jambalaya, chicken gumbo, shrimp, and some great big crawfish about as big as a computer mouse, which were starring me in the eyes, I couldn’t eat one, it was too weird. As it got dark we all sat around and listened to stories about my dad and his cousins and how much trouble they got into, I heard a story about how they went down to the Bayou at night and tried to catch a gator and almost got bit. That really excited my older brother and me. We asked for a flashlight and started walking towards the big park that my dad showed us earlier that day. Under the bridge is a place where mommy gators would lay their eggs. So that’s where we were off to, on the way we looked into a dumpster, I grabbed a wooden bat and Johnny grabbed a 2x4, for self-defense. People were starring at us the whole way wondering what we were up to. We got to the bank and very slowly started walking it, I was scared out of my mind, and I heard a hissing noise ahead of a splash and then us! Johnny shinned the light just in time to see the tail. My heart was pounding so hard it hurt. The bridge was just ahead, our approach got slower and slower. Hitting the ground and poking bushes as we moved. Finally our destination, Johnny was shinning the light everywhere, hissing noises filled the air. My legs were trembling with fear, I looked into the nest and there it was NOTHING! I can’t believe this. Then I remembered the hissing we weren’t done yet, as we turned around there it was about twenty feet away a gator hissing and mad. We were frozen, surprised, stunned and yet scared; we didn’t know what to do. It looked like it was going to charge us. It was about four feet in length with its mouth the size of a backhoe bucket with the same size teeth. It opened wide and without thinking or hesitation we booked it. A split second later we could hear the claws of the gator pounding on the asphalt so fast we thought she was going to catch up and eat us. But we made it back to my Aunt’s house and got through the front door then dead bolted it. We walked into the living room gasping for air and my dad says
“ What’s wrong and where are my eggs?”





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