Enjoy episode 4 of our travels. We toured an alligator farm outside of New Orleans and had a blast! We spent most of the day there and T. Mike Kliebert let Aubrey hold all of his animals. She is convinced “her people” are in Louisiana and I am just happy I was able to get her out of there without (1) her leaving me for a guy in the swamp or (2) her trying to sneak another animal aboard Miss Lone Star!
This next episode was day 4 of our travels and you can already see the relief in my eyes, as the boat captain. I was a little more confident but still giddy like a kid (or Quagmire from Family Guy- giggidy giggidy). We came through the dreaded city of Intercostal City, LA and into Houma. It was nice in its own way but it was hot as the Sahara. We met some cool kids and had fun at the city marina, by our lonesome- but it was time to go.
The Intercostal was unremarkable until Morgan City, LA- where it got beautiful. We saw bald eagles, bogs, swamps and tall trees. The ICW came together with a river and it was big. We mooted on towards New Orleans and I hoped, against hope, that we could get through the locks and make it to our marina by night-fall. We did and it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Up and down by 12-15 feet and through the Mississippi was something I will remember forever. It had a 20 knot current and was over its banks by 50 feet on that day. It was massive and scary but we made it down the lock to the marina, where we resided for 4 days. We explored, rode the trolly cars and went to an alligator farm in Hammond. It was still hot but we didn’t care and the French Quarter was much more tolerable with Onyx leading us.
This is a true account of our travels.
All of you know how addicted my lovely wife Aubrey is to catching animals so we had to find the absolute best alligator farm in New Orleans to indulge her. We did just that and found a place outside of New Orleans called Kliebert’s in Hammond, LA. We are so glad we made the drive because the experience was made our entire trip, even if we don’t do anything else.
The marina hof so many animals that you would never expect to see at an alligator farm. The farm is the longest running in Louisiana and possibly the USA. It is nice and clean and all of the people are so friendly. The cost is so low, something like $48 for 4 of us after my military discount. It was worth five times as much as that, easily.
The Marina had a loaner truck that we borrowed to make the 1 hour drive to Hammond, LA. We stopped in town and ate the best Po Boy catfish sandwiches we will likely ever eat. We ate at Noon and I am still full at 10P, probably because I ordered an additional one after the first was so good! We made it to the farm just in time for the tour.
Harvey Kliebert founded Kliebert’s Alligator Farm in 1957 and it is now run by his Grandson, T Mike. We took the tour and that was really cool but it was the extra (many hours extra) time that T Mike spent with us that made the visit so worth while. Aubrey got her fill T Mike is a regular on Swamp People and several other shows. This is his life and he loves it.
We saw big gators, small gators, nutria, crocodiles, snakes, alligator turtles, fox, macaw, chickens and all sorts of farm animals. Bianca made light work of catching her own chicken when the tour started and kept it throughout (including in the shop at the end). Blake rode and kissed a few gators and played with T Mike’s puppy. Aubrey held EVERYTHING! The trip was for her and she took full advantage of it. We saw “Crush” a 1200 lb 15 foot gator and watched him eat. That was cool!
I got to hold and learn about all of the animals and I loved every minute of it. Aubrey and I liked it so much that we will likely be back in September for an alligator hunt with T Mike for her birthday. I’ve got an idea for a gator skin seat cover for my Harley and I know just the guy to help me get it! I can’t say enough about the warm hospitality of T Mike and all of the people. We felt like family and we spent something like 5 hours there. I barely got Aubrey to leave but she got in the truck just as we were pulling away. She must love me..
We left early in the morning and in better order than the prior morning, which delighted me. I was happy to say goodbye to Intercostal City! We untied and went one dock over to Shell Morgan Landing to top off with gas, which was good because we’d ran the generator for 30 hours since our last fill up. We made much better fuel usage coming in because I dropped the engine RPM’s to 3050.
We filed up with 120.8 gallons and only paid $2.80. I was told that this was the cheapest gas on the ICW and I believe it. It should be noted that the owner of the fuel station has two tie up spots that he allows cruisers to hook up to anytime. He closed the station the prior day because his Dad passed on and didn’t let us know when we called to let him know we’d be stopping in. The hook ups are 30 amp and there is water at the station. Really nice guy, by the way.
We motored on down the line and quickly passed through the Bayou Beef Lock, which was easy. We floated through with no problems and no time ups. We radioed ahead to open the pontoon bridge after the lock and that was cool. We made Morgan City in what felt like little time at all. The ICW gets really big here. We made a turn north to fill up just up the river, which held a current of about 3 knots. Gas was $3.07 and I didn’t really need it but I thought it better to be on the safe side of the river. They raised a rail road bridge so we could enter and that was interesting to watch.
We headed east on the ICW and things got somewhat prettier. We were really happy to pull into one of our favorite marinas at City Park in Houma, LA. There are only two spots but they are really accommodating. You call ahead the the harbor master and he met us there in a couple shakes. We tied up along their dock, which is a short 1/2 mile walk into town. There are 50 and 30 amp hook ups, water and even a pump out. The cost was only $25. The best part was a nice dock and a huge park under the shaded bridges right next to the boat. The kids loved it.
We walked into town to eat and get some ice. It was blistering hot at about 100 that felt like 120. Onyx the dog was happy to find a air conditioned spot where we dined on bacon fried Mac N Cheese and some sort of completely delicious french fries with chicken, blue cheese and a special sauce. The kids had fun letting off some steam in the AC. The ice half melted not eh walk back but it cooled down our cooler just the same.
We were sitting in the park when some kids came up to see Onyx. She has so many fans. We sat there for hours talking to Jo Jo, Derek and KK. Great kids. Jo Jo, who was a very big boy became Blake’s personal bodyguard around the park and wounding’ let anyone mess with him. Derek told us (mainly Aubrey) everything about Back Ops and all the shows he was watching on TV. He wants to be a pro football player or a video game designer. Aubrey taught them all how to throw a fishing net. They all caught fish but we didn’t see any gators.
We spoke to about two dozen people in Houma and they were all delightful and fun to get to know. We thought we might stay an extra day but we opted for making New Orleans the next day so we said so long.
We set off a little late at 10:30AM but we got off just the same. The boat was clean and polished and we had plenty of fuel to make it. The day passed much faster than the previous ones. I called ahead and booked a slip in the Seabrook Marina on the Industrial Canal, just east of the lake.
We were zipping alone for the entire ride but things got really interesting as we got closer to New Orleans. There is apparently a spot, that no one can see on the map where a coonass lives in an RV on blocks just shy of the banks of the ICW. He is a mean coon ass and he looks like Popeye. I had my trusty video camera out as the scenes flew by then I heard a bunch of hollering and what I thought was a gun shot. Kind of hard to mistake, when you are me. I immediately slowed and moved the engines to idle. “What could be the matter,” I thought to myself.
I look over and see Popeye the coonass in metal jon-boat and he was holding his fist in the air. He was shaking it, intermittently with flipping me the bird. About 5 of his kin were scampering somewhere between the RV- clothes line and the skiff that was revving. It all seemed to be a mistake and strange, at the same time. These guys were mad and wanted to kick my ass, there was no mistake. It was comical at the same time.
I yelled, “sorry.” I assumed that I did something that pissed them off and they wanted to try to board Miss Lone Star like some old school river pirates (my assumption). Popeye replied, “get over here!” as he kept shaking that fist. His kin continued scampering to the boat but couldn’t get aboard because of my 3 foot wake that was overtaking the 12 foot boat. “I didn’t see your house or boat,” was my response. “Get overhear asshole,” was his response. “Fuck no,” was mine. I figured that it was time to figure some things out. Aubrey comes up an assesses the situation. She looks at me for the second time on this trip asking “should I get the guns?” with her eyes. I say not yet with mine. I continued idling alone to make sure there were no further houses or kin upstream.
The boat never pulled out, which was a good thing because in the midst of all of mine and Popeye’s exchanges one of his kin said he was going to kill me, thus expressing his intent to do me in. I figured, worst case would be that they would give chase as fast as a supped up 20 hp Mercury could run and possibly pull alongside me, if they used nitrous. If that were the case, they would’ve gotten a warning spray of 5.56 bullets (silenced) off their bow. I would assume that would be enough, but hell this is Louisiana who the fuck knows. I’m happy to report that they let us be and we kicked it back up to a smooth 26 knot cruising speed with no further incident.
I saw two bald eagles just outside of Houma and the trees are gorgeous. We passed the most beautiful swamps I’d seen thus far. Traffic was light and barges were easily passed. We didn’t see another pleasure vessels. We are the only pleasure vessel that has been on the ICW so far.
We made it to the Harvey Lock at 2PM. We got though in just less than an hour and I have to say that it was supremely impressive how we were transported up 5 feet before entering the Mississippi River! We exited and saw that the river was running about 50 feet over its banks with a 20 knot current. We watched as the biggest transportation ship You ever say booked it down the river going 25 knots. That river is so amazing in its strength. We made it to the Industrial Lock and waited for about 2 hours to pass though, down 5 feet this time.
We made it to our marina and it was really nice. We’ve travelled 370 miles so far. We got a long slip. They have a nice loaner truck to use for errands and great facilities. The laundry room is nice with new appliances and the showers are clean. The people are warm and friendly. I would definitely stay here again. We stayed 4 nights total and explored the city and the surrounding areas, as much as we could. Tomorrow we are off to Dauphin Island, Alabama.
Many of our readers have asked about details of our plans, departure dates, etc. I am always surprised at the amount of people who lead or are looking to lead the cruising or liveaboard lifestyle. We leave in two weeks and we are so excited!
Move The Boat!
I made arrangements with a boat transporter to pick up our boat at the marina ship yard where it is being repaired. I must have a lot of faith in God that he will see our boat through its last repairs. I am lucky to have met up with a lot of nice people who seem to understand that we have tight time constraints and must leave on a certain date! The boat will be placed on a lift and set it into the trailer. It will travel from Austin to Seabrook Boat Yard at the mouth of Galveston Bay. We had to contract separately with the yard to off load and launch our boat. We will stay a night and pick up our tender from a few harbors over. Our plan is to leave the next day towards Louisiana.
Cost: $2000 to transport and $410 to offload and launch in the water
Day 1,2– Galveston Bay to somewhere in Louisiana. Assuming the boat checks out mechanically we will cruise under full-power along the Gulf into Louisiana. Our boat loves to go 30 mph (and is most fuel-efficient) so we have a luxury most cruisers don’t have. We will try to make it to Houma, LA. I’m sure we can get there in a couple of days and it is 180 miles away but I think it is doable, depending on the vessel traffic once we enter the ICW. We have 150 miles of open water and I know we will make good time. 30 miles in the ICW with no bridges to open or locks to go through.
Aubrey really wants to check out Louisiana and I hear that Houma is a nice place so we might stay an extra day to check it out. Fuel will be a top priority. We can anchor in a few places or use a nice dock for about $9 per day.
Day 3– Houma to New Orleans. This leg of the trip is about 85 miles on the ICW. I don’t know what kind of time we will be able to make and there will be a lot to see so I am open to the possibility we make good time or not. There is a lock we must pass through below the city. Our boat doesn’t need a lot of clearance and it looks like we don’t have any low bridges to contend. Happy me. Continue reading