Driving along scenic byway LA66 we encountered this sign. Should we be worried? Or is it just a sign like there are many in the USA, warning for all sorts of dangers and mishaps, just to not be sued for not warning.......
In reality the sign is miles before you come to Angola State Penitentiary.
In the swamps of Louisiana you may encounter alligators, they are usually not very dangerous. They will flee if they hear you coming. Except when it is a mother with young.
They defend their young fierceless. So watch out!
And if you ever have to hold an alligator make sure his head is not too close to your face. (personal experience by Gonnie, see swamp tour travlogue)
The alligators are to be respected. Even small ones can cause severe injury. They can grow to be as large as 14 to 18 feet in length. Alligators alternate between the water and the banks, as a means of regulating their body temperature, and are most active during the warmer months. Lying perfectly still, it is easy to mistake one for a log, until it is too late.
If anyone says they can tell you where you got your shoes, don’t fall for it. They'll say "Well you have them right here in New Orleans," and then pester you for money.
Unless you have a penchance for printed material, don't take anything that anyone on the street gives you. For example: you are innocently walking down the street and some guy hands you a rose, a book, a hat. Your natural instinct is to take it. If you do initially accept this item, just drop it at their feet and walk away. If you don't, they will refuse to take it back and will pester you for money.
Everyone in New Orleans will pester you for money.
Be careful walking around any lawn areas in Louisiana. Certainly don't walk around barefooted. Fire Ants are a big problem in LA (well not just in this State). Their mounds look like just a clump of earth and not necessarily big. The ants are tiny but with one hell of a bit that can itch for up to 2 weeks. You sure don't want to disturb them. If you do get bitten, a cortisone cream will help, but really what I found really helpful (found it on a website), is running hot water (as hot as you can take it) over the bite for a few minutes. The histamine from the ant bite will apparently rise to the surface of the bite and get washed away. It sure helps with the itch and when it starts to itch again, just repeat. The itch will eventually disappear.
If you look on your road atlas and think you might want to drive down Louisiana Highway 580. DON'T!! It is a terrible road, narrow and very rough. Avoid at all costs there are other better roads nearby.
The rules for the Cane River is that it is illegal to operate a watercraft unless you have completed a boating safety course which is certified by either the Board of Commissioners of the Cane River Waterway District or the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, the Coast Guard Auxiliary or the State of Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission. Fines can be levied at $50 to $150.
Bathrooms in the French Quarter are often hard to find (especially during Mardi Gras). During the day, try you can try Jackson Brewery and the Riverwalk. Around Bourbon Street is is particularly difficult unless you are at a restaurant or bar there. If you go into one of these, most will insist that restrooms are only for customers. You can try the larger hotels in the area and look like a guest. You will usually find bathrooms somewhere on the ground level.
If you're fishing anywhere in south Louisiana, you might attract more to your bait than fish. This gator and his friends seemed to be attracted to the cork, or anything moving in the water. Yikes! They especially like labrador retrievers for lunch, so be careful taking your dog for a swim. Even around in the bayou around our neighborhood, in the northern part of the state, there have been several occasions where gators have made a meal out of pets.
Streets in the French Quarter especially a quite narrow and a lot are one way. Pedestrians also walk down the middle of streets especially at night when it gets crowded. Parking meters operate from 8.00am to 6.00pm with usually only a maximum of 2 hours. Parking limits are policed regularly so don’t overstay your time. Car parks can very be very expensive in and around the city. Really if you drive into New Orleans, you are better to leave your car parked and just travel around by foot or by the trams.
When walking around the French Quarter,let yourself be guided by your insticts,particularly at night.If a street looks dark and deserted,don't venture down it.Stay where it is well lit and well populated.Decatur,chartres,royal and Bourbon St fit that category,When you go beyond those streets,you are entering residential areas which are more isolated and conducive to crime.Cemetaries are a big tourist attraction.There are many options.However the one to avoid is just on the outskirts of the French Quarter.The St.Louis cemetaries are located next to a project and many tourists have been targetted there.It may be close,but it is not worth the risk.Instead you can take the cemetaries bus on canal st. for $1.25.It runs every 15 min.
For those,who will be visiting for Mardi Gras,there are huge parades down Canal St.You will be squashed with mobs of people.Beads,doubllons and other trinkets are thrown from the floats.If you catch it in the air,there usually is no problem,but if it hits the ground,don't try to pick it up.It may only be a decorative piece of plastic,but people will knock you over,step on you or whatever it takes to gain that trinket,when under the influence of alcohol and mardi gras madness.If you want a more civilized view take the streetcar up St.Charles(between Louisiana aND nAPOLEON aVES.See the parades surrounded by oak trees.The only thing to bear in mind is that there is no public transportation during parades,so get to where you want to be before the parade and accept the fact that you're going to be stuck there until its over.
My last warning is about the weather.Summer is hurricane season.The hotel rates go down and you'll have no difficulty getting into the best resaurants... but it is hot and rainy.The humidity is terrible.New Orleans has not been hit by a major hurricane since Betsy,but you never know.
Bourbon Street looks like a safe place during the day. However, at night (specially around Mardi Gras time) it is packed with pick pockets and thiefs... guard your belongings carefully and keep your eyes and other senses open.
THE HUMIDITY IS.... UNBEARABLE... at least at first. Seriously, one thing I hated there was the climate... too hot in Summer and ... in winter it was... weird, from 85 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit in like one day!
You've never experienced weather like this! Hot and humid and steamy. You can get sick fast, too. I lost two cats in New Orleans in a matter of hours when one of them had a relapse of Feline Leukemia that had been in remission for over five years and infected the other. They were my children, and I lost them both in the twinkling of an eye. I love you and miss you, Shimi and Animal!!!
The cockroaches are pretty incredible too. I saw one as big as my size 10 Xtra large feet. You had to chase them out of the tub before you took a bath, and they squeezed under the gasket of the fridge and got into your food; YUCK!!!!!
My folks went in the spring and don't remember any of this. If the only 'time*' you can go is the summer, go anyway, but be prepared and be careful!
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