Getting ready for another great adventure

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I usually write about antiques or history but, this week I want to change the topic of the article. I have been asked about what you might call “are you crazy?” excursions that I have taken over the years. So, I thought I would briefly tell you a little about my excursions and let you answer the question, “Am I crazy?”

My first excursion was years ago. I wanted to pirogue down the Tangipahoa River, so I started at Percy Quinn State Park in Mississippi. The Tangipahoa River starts at the park and runs all the way to Lake Pontchartrain. I started at sunrise one summer morning and put my pirogue into the river and paddled for four nights and five days. I ended in Hammond and must admit that this was quite an adventure, camping on the side of the riverbank and paddling down a quiet and sometimes very shallow and winding river. This was a memorable adventure that really took your breath away.

My next adventure would be years later, when I would walk across the Manchac swamp. I first hired a pilot to fly me over the Manchac swamp. I wanted to get an idea of the swamp and also take a compass reading. After preparing myself and my gear and checking the weather for the next couple days, I was ready. I was dropped off on the Tangipahoa River and started walking into the deep murky swamp. It would take me two days and one night to make the crossing across the swamp. The swamp was almost always waist deep in water and no high land in sight. At night, I found a place with two trees close enough to hang my hammock. I would have to get this in place before nightfall so I could cover it with the mosquito netting to keep from being eaten up by the mosquitos. At night the swamp was pitch dark, and all you could hear were the sounds of the wildlife and reptiles that enjoy the peace and tranquility of their habitat. While crossing the swamp I saw 37 cottonmouths and 18 alligators more than 8 feet in length, along with lots of other bird and reptiles. I walked out of the swamp and ended this trip in Ponchatoula. This was a very hard trip but one that I truly enjoyed.

Just so you know, these adventures were before cell phones, and I had no GPS equipment. I had to rely on my compass to guide me through the swamp, and no wrong turns were allowed. I don’t think anyone would have hiked the swamp to find me or my remains.

Several weeks ago, my wife and I took our trip to Alaska and Canada. We departed on our journey from Seattle, where Mt. Rainier is located. Since first seeing this awesome mountain, I have been fascinated with it, and now I have another adventure in mind. Seated next to me on the plane on our trip home was a man from New York that had just climbed Mt. Rainier. After talking with him and gaining important information from him, I have decided that this is my next adventure. After returning home, my wife learned that she has a friend from Ponchatoula who lives in Seattle, and her husband also wants to climb the mountain. We have started plans to make a trip next September so I can climb Mt. Rainier. In order to complete this climb, I must train by walking two hours a day with all the gear for two months. So wish me luck as I prepare for another great adventure.

For more information on the Louisiana Treasures Museum located on Highway 22 West of Ponchatoula, contact Wayne Norwood at 225-294-8352.

Wayne Norwood is a lieutenant with the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Department and owner and operator of the Louisiana Treasures Museum.