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It's wise to bring a pair of binoculars on the eco tour because you never know what you might see. ©

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We got up close and personal with the baby egrets on the Grosse Savanne eco-tour. ©

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There's plenty of bird watching in Southwest Louisiana.

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Growing up in Lake Charles, I spent my younger years in duck blinds awaiting pink and purple sunrises, along the side of the Creole Nature Trail All-American Road pulling up blue crabs and aboard fishing boats reeling in redfish. Many of my early memories revolve around enjoying outdoor adventures in southwest Louisiana and helping my dad cook our day’s bounty. It was a great way to grow up, and my husband and I have always agreed that it is more important for our children to play outside than with video games. 

A few weeks ago, we took our two-year-old, both of our fathers, my grandfather and my brother-in-law from Texas on a Grosse Savanne Eco-tour. It was nesting season, so hundreds of egrets, cormorants and roseate spoonbills filled the rookeries. Words really can’t describe the experience, but let’s just say it was very educational for my son, Banks (Who am I kidding? Me, too!), to get to see the baby blue eggs in the nests alongside the tiny hatchlings with their fuzzy hair sticking up over the nests. Bank got to see the “mama birds” feed their babies, and my grandfather and other family members enjoyed the trip just as much. 

Not only did the professional guides at Grosse Savanne Eco-tour treat us to an unforgettable experience in the freshwater marsh, but we also learned about their fertile rice fields and the ducks and geese that feed there during fall migration. Banks even got to pet a few of the thoroughbred horses, baby goats and a pig in the barn.

After the tour concluded we downloaded the free Creole Nature Trail Ranger tour guide app and headed south toward the Gulf coast on the Creole Nature Trail. We spotted alligators along the 3-mile Pintail Wildlife Drive and then headed toward the beach so Banks could get his feet wet and collect a few seashells.

These outdoor experiences were memorable bonding times and valuable lessons for us all. There’s something special about traveling off the beaten path and even getting a bit dirty in the field. 

Now we are debating our next family outing—either crabbing or fishing. There is enough time this summer for both! 

Author: Megan Hartman
Posted: Tue, 07/01/2014