Kayak-iti-yat Paddles Along Nola’s Bayou St. John

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Sara Howard, co-founder of Kayak-iti-yat

A snowy egret is watching us cagily from the banks of the Bayou St. John, strutting with his over sized yellow feet like a clown on parade.

Maybe he’s not used to seeing humans kayaking in his urban waterway, a sight that’s becoming increasingly common, thanks to Kayak-iti-yat, a fledgling touring business owned by local partners Sara Howard and Sonny Averett.

Founded last year, Kayak-iti-yat (a paddling riff on the local query, where y’at?) sheds new light on the city’s charming Mid-City neighborhood bounded by the historic canal, once a vibrant transportation waterway connecting to Lake Ponchartrain.  Sara and Sonny take turns leading the tours, which are geared mostly to novices, unless a wind whips chop into the usually placid canal.

Bits of history and lore are shouted into the breeze, historic homes are identified and a growing confluence of birds remarked upon, from great blue herons to beady eyed pelicans.   Special tours can include lunch at Liuzza’s at the Track (don’t even think about getting anything besides the barbecued shrimp po’boy) and admission to the racetrack during the season, a fun chance to see what happens there when Jazzfest isn’t the main event. If you’re feeling lucky, and since you’re in New Orleans, that’s a given, the night is still young, and anything can happen.

Paddling along Bayou St. John in Mid-City