Much of the enjoyment that comes from a cruise like this is meeting interesting people. That said, if there’s a passenger on the American Queen under the age of 50, he or she has escaped my notice. Most come from the U.S., of course, but there does seem to be quite a few non-Americans. So far, we’ve met a couple from Sydney, both ethnic Chinese; and a couple from Switzerland. He and his wife appear to be in their late 40s and I’ll make book that they’re the youngest passengers on board, probably by 8 or 10 years.
We had arranged for a private guide to take us around on the one full day we were in Baton Rouge. He took us on a 45-minute drive to Lake Martin which is surrounded by a 900-acre swamp where we spent two hours creeping around in a flat bottom boat.
Two surprises: how quiet it was and there were no mosquitos. Not one. The trees exude some kind of chemical the mosquitos don’t like.
We saw our first alligator before we actually entered the swamp. Best guess for a ‘gator count over the two hours: 25 or 30, ranging in size from 18 inches to 10 or 11 feet.
Lots of exotic birds. This is a white ibis, but there were great blue herons, anhingas, ducks, and a pair of roseate spoonbills that sailed overhead. To say it was a memorable experience would be a big understatement.
Different topic: there is debris floating in this great river, tree branches and even tree trunks, some I’ve seen as much as a foot in diameter. Not a lot, but it can damage the paddleboards that propel this big boat. They’re ordinary 2″ x 10″ planks that anyone can buy at Home Depot. While we were stopped here in Baton Rouge, the crew replaced a half dozen of them. It does give you pause . . . but just a little.
Tomorrow morning the American Queen arrives in New Orleans and our cruise is over.