A wild welcome to New Orleans

It’s mating season at the New Orleans Audubon Zoo, as we and too many children so unfortunately discovered during our visit Monday, Aug. 14.

A pair of particularly frisky baboons and hump happy otters either had parents shielded their children’s eyes or pointing and laughing.

I felt sorry for all the parents who would inevitably find themselves explaining the birds, the bees and the baboons, a little earlier than they’d hoped. At least the otters looked like they were just cuddling.

With temperatures hovering at just under 100 degrees Fahrenheit, many of the animals were chilling out seeking relief from the thick Louisiana heat.

Malayan Sun Bears played in the water, while the tigers and leopards dozed in the shade.

An Amur Leopard relaxes along the rocky walls of its exhibit.
An Orangutan chills out in his club house at the Audubon Zoo Monday.
A Tiger relaxes along his pool in the high heat Monday. Temperatures in New Orleans soared to nearly 100 degrees Fahrenheit by noon.

Having arrived in New Orleans at just past noon, we had four hours to kill before we could check into our hotel downtown.

This left us with plenty of time to meander through the exhibit and take in the sights and sounds.

I have always delighted in zoos, and, exhibitionist baboons and otters aside, today was no different.

Niecie, who had booked the tickets online, before we left even seemed to be enjoying herself as well as we wondered about the many strange and magical creates on display.

A gaggle of flamingos play at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans.
Two pelicans hang out together near the New Orleans Bayou exhibit at the Audubon Zoo Monday.
A Whooping Crain survey’s its enclosure.

In particular, she wanted to get up-close and personal with an alligator. I’m not sure why she was so fascinated by these prehistoric death machines from my worst nightmares, but before long we were staring at the gaping jaws of a duck weed covered gator.

An alligator slinks below a thick layer of duck weed in the Bayou exhibit at the Audubon Zoo Monday.
Niecie found the strange white alligators of the Louisiana Bayous particularly strange.

It wasn’t just the gators. Niecie seemed to delight in the entire reptile and amphibian exhibit. Perhaps she enjoyed the air conditioning that offered us a momentary escape from the heat.

A frog chills out on a branch in the reptile exhibit at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans.
A Rhinoceros Viper surveys zoo visitors from his exhibit.
Amazon Tree Boa rests in his perch in the reptile exhibit at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans.

The night before somewhere in Mississippi

Our campsite along the water’s edge left us a little concerned for our safety after the heavy rains we’d driven through that day.

The sun was shining when we arrived at the zoo, a far cry from the downpour we’d received the night before as we pulled into Lefleur’s Bluff State Park just outside Jackson, Mississippi.

The rain was coming down so hard when we came off the exit we crashed through a puddle of water several inches deep much to Niecie’s surprise.

We’d expected rain. We hadn’t expected the heavens to open up on us.

Upon arriving, we discovered our campsite was just yards from a rain engorged river. A few more inches of rain and we could find the water filling out tent in the middle of the night.

It was warm, in the high 80s, and the air clung to us like an inescapable blanket. Sleep wouldn’t come easily tonight.

Due to the heavy rains and high heat we erected an auxiliary rain fly so we could keep the tent cool during the night.

With the light fading, we hoped for the best and set to work setting up the tent. With heavy rain was forecast for the rest of the night, and so I erected an additional rain fly using one of the 8×10-foot tarps Niecie had picked up before the trip.

The tarp allowed us to shield both entrances of the tent from the onslaught of rain still to come and allow air to flow freely to and from the tent as we tried to get what little rest we could.

I know now why they call them the dog days of summer.

As I pounded the last stake in the ground by the light of my headlamp — Thanks mom for the headlamps by the way they’re great — Niecie was finishing up dinner.

Niecie’s sausage spaghetti was a welcome surprise after a long day on the road.

Niecie’s one-pot sausage spaghetti was just what we needed after a long day on the road. After a warm meal on an even warmer day, we settled into our tent where we attempted to find sleep.

Unfamiliar with the choking humidity, the best I could manage was short naps 15-20 minutes at a time. Niecie, a child of Georgia, rejoiced in the familiar heat and heaviness of the air and slept soundly through the night.

Sun shone through the tents thin mesh windows as Niecie and I stirring from our sleep.

While she wondered off to the shower I was confronted by the sheer beauty of the riverside camp.

When the sun rose over the rain swept park its beauty was revealed to us just in time for us to say goodbye.

More to come

Check back tomorrow to learn more about our trip to The Big Easy.

Further Reading

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  • Have you ever been the Audubon Zoo? What did you think?
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7 Comments Add yours

  1. What a nice time you guys seemed to have. I understand about not getting much sleep in the high humidity and heat, but, something I have done in the past is use the daytime to take short naps along the way, as well. Of course, my passengers usually get upset, but, hey, a little adventure is always needed, right?
    I liked your tent set-up. We always tent camp, so, we understand how the extra tarps can help with airflow and with wet weather. We have a tarp under the tent, as you did and a tarp on top, to keep out water. I will admit, I like how you used a rope in the center to “peak” the tarp, ours generally just sits on the frame. I may have to see if I can try the rope trick on my next outing.
    Can’t wait to see the rest.

    1. tobiasmann says:

      Thanks Dennis. The extra tarps were entirely Niecie’s idea. She is normally the one trying to add something useful and I’m the one fighting for minimalism. Normally this means we meet somewhere in between. Tarps are pretty small so I didn’t mind.

      Dennis… I hope you don’t mean you’re taking naps from behind the wheel? Please tell me you’re just snoring from the passenger seat.

      We hope you and you’re family is having a fantastic summer too. – Tobias

  2. You two are doing great out there. What an adventure to be on. Be safe.

    1. tobiasmann says:

      Thanks, we try our best to make our stay anywhere a safe one. Sometimes that means cleaning out spiders nests and warding off pesky raccoons who want to be your dinner buddies. You guys are on a far more amazing journey yourselves. I’m looking forward to your next stop! Be safe you guys.

      1. The critters are everywhere, lol. Yes, safe is always first priority.

  3. Phenomenal photographs!!!!! What a terrific adventure. Kudos to the two of you for taking time to explore!

    1. tobiasmann says:

      We’ve got more photos coming soon! There is never enough time to explore!

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