Avery Island, Louisiana – May 2019 – Jungle Gardens

With Avery Island’s location in southern Louisiana the main agricultural business is sugar cane.



With the year round warm, wet weather it is the perfect climate for nature to grow. In the late 1800s the son of the founder of Tabasco sauce, Edward Avery McIlhenny, created the botanical gardens known as Jungle Gardens.



The gardens cover 170 acres of Avery Island.



There isn’t a large number of different plants, flowers and trees, but the gardens are well laid out, and immaculately kept up.



As with most of Louisiana, water is always nearby.



Including this nice pond, with a warning sign to not feed the alligators (which seems like anyone would know that).



We did NOT feed this alligator.



The turtles were safely out of harms way.



A few buildings remain from the early days of Tabasco pepper growing.




This drive is appropriately named Wisteria Lane, as you make your way under the Wisteria arch.



The highlight however is Bird City. In 1895 Edward raised eight egrets in captivity, releasing them in the fall for their migration. The next year they returned with more egrets.

Ever since then thousands of egrets return to Avery Island in the spring and reside there until late summer.

When we arrived for the Tabasco tour we were one of the few who opted to purchase combination tickets for the factory tour and the gardens. It was money well spent!








Moss Point, Mississippi – May 2019 – Gulf Coast Gator Ranch

The Gulf Coast Gator Ranch is located in the swamps of southern Mississippi, near the town of Moss Point. They specialize in raising alligators for commercial use, but they also retrieve ‘nuisance’ alligators from golf courses, etc.



Their ranch is surrounded by a levee and fence to keep the wild alligators away from their alligators. Because their gators get lots to eat they grow to impressive sizes.



They lurk about in the ponds and nearby grasses.



You can buy ‘gator chow’ and throw them over the fence to the gators.



They are everywhere!



Some just hang out on land enjoying the warm Mississippi sun.



Our host, and boat captain – Captain ‘Frog’ – brought out a baby alligator for us to hold.



It was time for part 2 of our morning – an airboat ride!



Just outside their ranch we found this guy keeping an eye on us.



Fortunately he was just hanging around for a snack as well – marshmallows.



As we headed out into the swamp we passed by even more gators.



The black waters of the bayous were beautiful. Captain Frog was very knowledgeable about the plants and flowers of the swamp, and the traditional uses, as he grew up in the swamps of Louisiana. He had the perfect Louisiana accent to go with it.



We would ride for a while then stop and check out the wildlife and surroundings.



At times Captain Frog would pick up speed as we went sailing through the grasses with ease.



There is an amazing amount of beauty in the swamp.



This might look like a pile of brush, but it is an alligator nest, where the female gators place their eggs.



For good measure we passed a couple more gators on the way back to the dock.



It was great to ride along with Captain Frog – we learned about the swamp, saw lots of gators, and had a good time blasting around in the air boat.

Gulf Coast Gator Ranch is a highly recommended stop if you are in the area.