The flotilla is an annual, bacchanalian celebration of summer, boats, the lake, and fun. Each year there is a pre-party, an after-party, and the flotilla itself is a gathering of boats and other watercraft outside the American Legion Post 14. There is a boat decorating contest, a poker run, and sometimes there is a decorated hat contest.
The theme this year was Pontoons 'n Paradise. The theme selected through a Facebook vote.
Threatening weather and overcast skies did little to scare away the boats, barges, jet skis, and land lubbers who all converged on Cross Lake yesterday. The clouds gave way to sun around noon and the rain held off until about 8:30 p.m. which was long enough for hundreds of people to come out to the lake.
Steve and I were invited to ride on our friend Jerry's boat. There were six of us on board and as we were pulling away from the pier, the Back When Band was getting the music cranked up, the food vendors were ready to sell boiled crawfish, meat pies, hamburgers, hot dogs, nachos, and sausage on a stick.
The first item of business was the poker run. We decided we'd all pool together and if anyone in the boat won, we'd split it up. So we got out the map of locations, plotted our strategy, and we were off.
On the way to our first stop, Jerry took us on a "tunnel drive" under the bridge:
Jerry let Donna navigate us to our first stop which was, of course, at the far end of the lake:
There were seven locations on the lake from which we had to gather our cards. The participating docks were also in competition for the best decoration. Since the poker run couldn't officially start until 1:00, we had time for sandwiches before our first card:
Then it was time to line up, drive by, and get our first card:
The wind was really kicking up all day yesterday with the advancing weather front which made it tricky to sit, hover, and navigate into some of the docks.
We liked this stop because the mannequins were cute and they had a great dog giving them a hand with the cards!
Everyone was really friendly and having a great time. Some of the stops offered leis, some jello shots, and at another you could buy margaritas for $1.00.
But who needed margaritas when we had wine!
Actually, strawberry Abita was my beverage of choice yesterday; unfortunately the bottles were the "pry off" caps and guess who failed to bring an opener? That meant that Steve spent part of his day whacking the tops off my beer on the rails of the boat and bruising his hand all to heck in the process. Now that's love!
Next card stop:
At this one, they were giving away toothbrushes!
And finally, our final stop:
This was the margarita stop and was located at The Cove, a popular lakeside bar. They also hosted an after-party.
To get there by boat you have to be very careful as the water is only about a foot deep there in some spots. It's very shallow there.
But, we made it and were off to turn in our hands! And no, we didn't win. They opened the envelopes, and it was King, King, King...(dramatic pause), six, ten, two. Bust. We lost to a full house. Dammit.
Then it was time to just drift among the throng at people watch.
This boat/derrick was giving away free hot dogs:
There was a sailboat:
Jerry hollered out to this guy: "Hey, he'd make a good gumbo!" He was kidding. I think.
Lots and lots of boats - most were anchored and tethered up next to each other. That's the American Legion waaayyy in the background.
This guy was a pretty good ways from the nearest boat and paddling as hard as he could to get back to his party. We asked if he needed any help; he had one of those free hot dogs but said he could use a beer:
...so we tossed him a beer (NOT with a pry-off cap!)
We found our friends and tried to pull up alongside and tie up with them but it was just too windy. After several attempts we decided it wasn't worth tearing up anybody's boat so we gave up.
I liked looking at all the boats:
By this time it was getting late in the day, about 4:30 or so, and with the front moving in, we didn't want to stay out too longer. With that many people on the lake, and not a whole lot of launch places, the lines to get off the lake can back up quickly.
We did decide to ride over to Bird Island since I'd never seen it. "This is a real National Geographic moment," Jerry said as we approached. So we all got out cameras.
Bird Island is a small island surrounded by cypress and other trees. You can hear the birds cawing and calling as you approach and it sounds like an Alfred Hitchcock movie.
Hundred of egrets on the nest and in the trees:
All the way around the island, egrets:
It was the most amazing thing I've ever seen...
I was wishing I'd taken the Canon Rebel out there so I could zoom in on the birds, but I didn't want to drop it in the lake, so it was the old Easy Share that took all these.
The clouds were starting to build in the north so we decided it was time to head in. I got a few more boat shots as we approached the American Legion pier:
This guy had it made:
Obviously, not many folks were worried about the weather just yet:
The band was still blasting music across the water and the revelry was in high gear:
But all good things must end, so we jumped off onto the pier and Jerry headed off to the launch to get the boat out of the water before the crowds.
It was close to 6:00 by this time and the Backbeat Boogie Band was gearing up in the Lounge for the after-party at the Legion.
I had a whale of a good time - I can't remember when I had so much fun! And I learned two important lessons: buy twist off caps for your beer (or take an opener) and I learned that simply buying sunscreen and leaving it in your boat-bag all day doesn't do much to prevent sunburn. It helps ever so much if you actually put it on!
Here's our ride under the bridge from earlier in the day:
And here is a found video of Bird Island:
Find more videos like this on The Ark
Last year's flotilla post is here.
The official Facebook page (with more photos) is here.
The Shreveport Times gallery of photos is here.
The SIGIS Take a Trip Series:
Take a Trip to the 2012 Natchitoches Christmas FestivalTake a Trip to the 2012 Defenders of Liberty Air Show at BAFB
Take a Trip to the 2012 Grand Cane Pioneer Day and Christmas Parade
Take a Trip to the 2012 Grand Cane Pioneer Day and Christmas Parade
Take a Springtime Trip to Second Hand Rose Antiques in Minden, LA
Take a Trip to Logansport, Louisiana
Take a Trip to the Lock and Dam on Red River
Take a Trip to the 2012 Barkus and Meoux Parade
Take a Christmas Shopping Trip to Second Hand Rose in Minden
Take a Trip to the Fourth Annual Barksdale AFB Oktoberfest
Take a Trip to Grand Cane's Fifth Annual Pioneer Trade Day
Take a Trip to the 2011 Highland Jazz & Blues Festival
Take an Autumn Trip to Jefferson, Texas
Take a Fall Trip to Second Hand Rose Antiques in Minden
Take a Trip to the 8th Air Force Museum at Barksdale Air Force Base
Take a Summertime Trip to Grand Cane
Take a Trip to Desoto Parish
Take a Summer Trip to Second Hand Rose Antiques in Minden
Take a Trip to Natchitoches and Melrose Plantation
Take a Trip to Ed Lester Farms and a Random Antique Stop
Take a Trip to the Norton Art Gallery and the Masters of Cuban Art Exhibit
Take a Trip to Natchitoches to See the Christmas Lights
Take a Trip to the Third Annual BAFB Oktoberfest
Take a Trip to Natchitoches and Oakland Plantation
Take a Trip to Jefferson, Texas
Oktoberfest at BAFB