Friday, August 29, 2014
Photo credit: 
Growing up in Lake Charles, some of my favorite outdoor memories as a child were along the Creole Nature Trail All-American Road with my family.  In the winter, we duck hunted, ate gumbo and popped fireworks on the beach at Johnson’s Bayou.  But in the summer, we fished, frogged, swam in the Gulf of Mexico and crabbed along the side of the road. 

Dad would always bait the crab lines with melt or turkey necks.  We’d tie the end of the string to either the dock where we were crabbing or on a stick we jabbed in the ground and throw the bait in the water.  When the line went tight, my brother and I would race to see who would pull up the crab and who would handle the dip net.  

Generally, we took turns but I really liked to pull them in.  I’d slowly pull up the string, bit by bit until you could see the crab through the top of the water. Then, my brother would stick the dip net down under the crab and pick it up quickly. 

Once we had a few dozen in the vintage aluminum tub, we’d bring them home and get the burner and pot out for a crab boil.  While Dad got the water boiling and added the butter and spices, the kids would line the patio table with newspapers.  We’d sit outside and share stories for hours while we peeled and ate the delicious Louisiana blue crab.

If you have always wanted to learn to crab, check out this video.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Ben Welch shows us a clutch of alligator eggs.
Photo by Deb Thompson.
On a recent marshland tour with Airboats and Alligators, I had the opportunity to hold my first alligator! 

I was a tad bit apprehensive holding a baby alligator!
Photo by Deb Thompson.
On the airboat ride, owner Ben Welch taught me the difference between a man-made canal that the pipeline industry uses and a natural bayou through the coastal marshes.  

After we had the wind blown in our faces, we ventured to his back yard to the alligator pond.  We had the opportunity to see alligator eggs that would be hatching in late August.

I learned that Rockefeller State Wildlife Refuge in Grand Chenier, La. was instrumental in saving the American Alligator from extinction years ago. When the eggs are taken from the nests to put in incubators, which helps most of them survive, the farmers use the same natural vegetation where they found the eggs to keep the moisture content perfect. 

The sex of the offspring is determined by the temperature in the nest.  Temperatures of 86˚ F or lower produces a clutch of females, while those of 93 ˚ F or higher produces entirely males.

For more information on Airboat Rides on the Creole NatureTrail All-American Road, click here.
Saturday, August 23, 2014
Stop by the Welcome Center for Louisiana souvenirs,
1205 N. Lakeshore Drive, Lake Charles

Summer is a hot travel season here in Southwest Louisiana.  It’s the time of year for leisure travelers and weekend warriors to explore the beaches on the Gulf of Mexico, see the alligators along the Creole Nature Trail and hit up the casinos and live concerts.  

When visitors are looking for something authentic from Lake Charles to bring home with them, there are a few spots around the area they can shop for souvenirs.

Cottage Shops located on Alamo St.

  1. The Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau gift shop has Louisiana art, Mardi Gras regalia, Lake Charles t-shirts, post cards, Cajun Ben’s Alligator Heads and Necklaces, magnets, cookbooks, Tabasco Jelly Beans, home decor and more.
  2. LeBleu’s Landing in Sulphur sells hot sauces, Louisiana culinary gift items, children’s toys, books, aprons and other authentic Southwest Louisiana items.
  3. The Cottage Shops Cultural District offers assorted boutiques offering Louisiana art, jewelry, coffee and local souvenirs, as well.
  4. The Southwest Louisiana Boudin Trail brochure features several locations who ship frozen boudin across the country.

For other Louisiana products and culinary ingredients, check out this video