Alligators + Airboats in Mississippi
We found a very MISSISSIPPI style stopover just over the state line at an alligator ranch with airboat tours. A huge alligator sign welcomes you to the parking lot, and the hum of the air boats can be heard off in the distance.
After checking in, we walked through the "alligator retirement home," to toss a few gator treats over the fence. Holy smokes, there were some absolutely massive gators in there. Even with the fence, it was so intimidating being so close to them. One particularly huge gator lunged out of the water to snap at another right below our feet on the boardwalk, and my eyes were probably as huge as hubcaps.
Our fan boat captain, affectionately referred to as "Frog," was born and raised in Louisiana and had the cajun accent to match. The fan boat we were on was much bigger than I imagined with three rows of seating, plus the captain's chair perched up higher in the back.
I really can't put into words just how much fun the ride was. It's amazing how easily it just skipped over the grassy islands in the swamp. We hit a larger island and it created a sweet jump too! Frog took us on donuts and turns all around the swamp. Poor Harper was absolutely terrified. We didn't know it was going to be such a thrill ride, so we had no chance to warn her what was coming. The rest of us had a blast! Although the water came splashing over the side of the boat, we survived without getting soaked. 100% MUST DO!
On our way out to the swamp, Frog took the time to explain the cypress forest history to us, as well explain the effects of hurricanes on the area, particularly Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Essentially hurricane waters flooded inland and penetrated the bark of the old cypress trees, eventually killing them. New cypress are beginning to grow in their place, but as the shorelines disappear, salt water is replacing the fresh water swamps. This will make it unsuitable for cypress growth, so essentially the old big cypress trees are a thing of the past.
With quite a bit of adrenaline running through our veins, we hopped in the truck and continued making our way across Mississippi and into Louisiana. We crossed the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, just as the sun went down. The colors dancing across the sky were so pretty reflecting across the water.
This was the first travel day since our very first of this trip (October 1st) that we drove past sunset, but it felt great to get some mileage checked off the list as we made our way towards Texas!