New Orleans Day Two 7.27.2021: “We take photos as a return ticket to a moment otherwise gone” – Katie Thurmes

Day two provided not only adventure, but enlightenment.

The hotel hooked us up with a swamp tour that they highly recommended (and trusted) and since my travelling companion had no complaints about partaking in the experience I signed us up. They provided a bus that picked us up directly in front of the hotel and took us about a half hour or so outside of New Orleans. We talked a lot on the trip out there, but I do remember making a mental note that I seen a Shoney’s right off the highway. I haven’t seen a Shoney’s in years. Go figure.

Because of my physical limitations and risk of injury we opted for a slow and steady pontoon boat tour instead of an air boat. I figured it was better safe than sorry because who wants to spend their vacation going to a hospital? Yeah, don’t sign me up for that.

I always expected swamp areas to be dirty and disgusting, but I learned that isn’t always true. Are there gators? Absolutely. And a lot of them. But overall it is actually quite pretty – and peaceful. The gators themselves are actually little sweethearts. Did you know they love marshmellows? Who would have thunk it? They aren’t particularly bad for them either, but from what we were told if they eat too many of them they get the bad side effect of gas…haha, me too little slithering one, me too.

We were all given the opportunity to hold a little gator – as you can see in the photo. You would think this little one is a wee little baby, right? Nope….it is almost two years old. For some reason I always thought gators got big really fast, but that isn’t actually the case. Some of the larger gators I got to photograph are estimated to be 8-12yrs old. They were either unbothered by their human visitors, or just used to them in general…I did keep telling them “friend not food”. What can I say? I’m a dork.

That evening we were supposed to take a steamboat jazz cruise down the river, but as we were standing in line they modified the cruise. We were originally supposed to set sail on Monday 7.26, but a few weeks back they cancelled all Monday cruises so I switched it to 7.27. Then they, at the last minute, changed it to a “dockside only” event so we opted for a refund. As much as I would have loved to see inside the boat, I did not spend $180 to sit dockside and it wasn’t what I had in mind.

We sat on the dock for a while and met some of the locals, and it was in that moment I realized how deprived I am at home of feeling like I am accepted. Please don’t misunderstand me. I am a corn fed raised and bred Hoosier through and through. However, with that said…I don’t LOOK how people think I should look. Back at home, when people see a shaved head on a woman they usually have one of the follow reactions: 1.) I’m sick and I lost my hair via treatments (not entirely inaccurate at times since some of my medications do come with hair loss associations), 2.) That I am a lesbian, 3.) That I am a “freak”. I have quite literally lost count of how many times someone has told me they love my look, my vibe, personality, or style. I can talk to people here. They hear me. They see me. They accept me. And while part of me misses home, I know a little piece of me is going to miss New Orleans.

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