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An Eco Boat Tour with Taking Off Hot Air Balloon Company and Boat Tours

Posted by on July 9, 2014

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The boat slipped away from the dock into the muddy water of the creek silently, with only the sound of warbling birds and chirping insects to accompany the start of a coastal ecology tour with Taking Off Hot Air Balloon Company and Boat Tours.

Although this company offers hot air balloon tours of the Gulf coast, we were here for one of their boat tours; specifically the 2-hour tour of the Magnolia River, Fish River, Weeks Bay and part of Mobile Bay.

From the website: You will see some magnificent homes from the water that you would never get to see otherwise. You will also see the mail boxes on everyone’s piers. We are one of the last places in America to receive year-round mail by boat. Magnolia River is one of the most beautiful in the state and is only the 5th in the state to be designated an “Outstanding Alabama Water”, the states highest environmental designation. The town is so proud to have one of our most important natural resources protected. The river is very important to the whole community.  We can pick you up at several locations including Big Daddy’s or Jesse’s.  Plan your trip so that you can have lunch before or after your cruise! 

We opted to meet our tour guide at their private dock and were a little taken aback when we arrived at the address to find a church, day care center, and absolutely no sign of any water, dock, or any sort of boat. Luckily, someone finally appeared and opened a gate to what looked like a farmer’s field but ended up leading us back a country lane to what indeed turned out to be a dock and body of water. We boarded, plunked ourselves down onto some pretty comfy bean bags, and set out on our adventure.

Heading out on our adventure.

Heading out on our adventure.

Pulling away from the dock.

Pulling away from the dock.

Heading up the creek.

Heading up the creek.

 Trees and thick green undergrowth covered the banks of the creek as we pulled away from the dock.

Thick foliage along the bank.

Thick foliage along the bank.

Almost immediately we began to see evidence of the flood that had raced through the area recently. The Gulf coast region received a huge amount of rain in a very short time and flooding occurred all along the waterways we traversed.

Downed trees from the heavy rains.

Downed trees from the heavy rains.

We pulled out into Fish Creek where the water was perfectly still in the sunlight. All the waterways were somewhat muddy from heavy rains and flooding, but they were still beautiful.

Quiet water.

Quiet water.

From Fish Creek, we headed into the Magnolia River.

Sign for Magnolia River

We were really amazed at the absolutely gorgeous homes that lined the river.

Beautiful home along the river.

Beautiful home along the river.

Another fabulous home.

Another fabulous home.

Some had boathouses that were just as fancy as the houses.

Pretty, screened-in boathouse.

Pretty, screened-in boathouse.

We passed what looked like a replica of a phone booth from England. No idea why or how.

Yep. No idea about this.

Yep. No idea about this.

One of the most interesting things about the river is that it is one of the last places to have mail delivered by water. We saw plenty of kitschy mailboxes along the way.

Pelican mailbox.

Pelican mailbox.

U. S. mail stop!

U. S. mail stop!

There was evidence of flood damage along here as well. One house with a lovely, green grass front yard had been covered with several feet of white sand washed in by the floodwaters.

A new and unwelcome front yard.

A new and unwelcome front yard.

One house had pretty extensive flood damage that was obvious from the water.

Flood damaged house.

Flood damaged house.

We didn’t see a lot of wildlife on this trip although that is always a possibility but we did see some nesting Osprey. After problems with the birds nesting on telephone poles, special nesting poles were built for the birds.

Osprey nest.

Osprey nest.

We also saw some in the trees.

Osprey perched in a tree.

Osprey perched in a tree.

 From the river, we headed out to Weeks Bay, which is a small estuary with about 3 square miles of brackish water ringed with marsh, forests, and bog habitats. The Weeks Bay Reserve includes over 6,000 acres of wetlands and waterbottoms which provide a diverse habitat for a variety of wildlife.

Heading to Weeks Bay.

Heading to Weeks Bay.

We were really surprised at the size of Weeks Bay and the number of boats in the area. Several eagles were circling around and we got close enough to get a few photos. We were amazed at how huge they were.

Huge eagle perched in a tree.

He’s hard to see – middle tree, high up on the right.

From Weeks Bay, we took a little jaunt out into Mobile Bay where we could see the peninsula with Fort Morgan on the tip and catch a glimpse of the area where we were staying. Then we headed back to the dock with the late afternoon sun making a path of light across the bay.

Heading back.

Heading back.

It was a great way to spend an afternoon and see some of the sights from the water. You can check out their website for the other tours they offer. I found a video about the mail delivery by water that you might enjoy as well. Check it out, then call to arrange your own tour!

 

 

Full disclosure: Our tour was provided by Taking Off Hot Air Balloon Company but as always, we will share our honest opinions about any travel experiences we have.

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4 Responses to An Eco Boat Tour with Taking Off Hot Air Balloon Company and Boat Tours

  1. Irene S. Levine

    Boat tours are great for giving you a different perspective—especially if you enjoy photography. Thanks for sharing these great pictures~
    Irene S. Levine recently posted..Win a trip for two to Italy (contest ends 7/12/14)

  2. Patti

    We’ve only passed through Alabama – oh, I take that back we stayed one night on Orange beach – so we haven’t seen much of the state. We’ll have to go back one day and take a closer look. Looks as if you enjoyed the boat tour.
    Patti recently posted..Perspective ~

  3. Suzanne Stavert

    I am so happy to read this post! What beautiful photos. The world looks so different from the water. Love the Osprey!
    Suzanne Stavert recently posted..Don’t worry about your children leaving for college, they’ll be fine!

  4. Cathy Sweeney

    I feel like I was right along with you for the boat ride. I love that fancy boathouse — and the even fancier houses. Nice life along the water there.
    Cathy Sweeney recently posted..One for the Road: My 5 Day Nova Scotia Road Trip

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