Friday, December 8, 2023

Marshes and the Gulf of Mexico

 Location: Intracoastal (ICW) Waterway Park; Hackberry, Louisiana

Today is day 3 of 3 and tomorrow is moving day. It is very overcast with high chances of rain today and tomorrow. Yesterday was the exploration day and it was much better, weather-wise. Exploration was easily accomplished by driving around in Freedom and stopping every now and then. As I said in my last post, most of the land south of the ICW is either marsh or swamp. Since I'm camped on the banks of the ICW, it doesn't take long to see the marshes. There are many different kinds of marshes, but since I don't know what they are, I'll just call anything south of me a marsh. That is until I get to the Gulf of Mexico which is only about 25 miles away. The conditions around here are ripe for lots of mosquitoes which will attack you in force when you get out of your vehicle. I found that I had about 1 minute to take pictures after rolling my window down before the skeeter scouts found me. I have some OFF in Freedom but I have never liked using it so I've mainly been roughing it, commando style. So far, so good. (Note: as I'm proofreading this post, the Parish is spraying the campground for skeeters. I'll see how effective they are tomorrow when I'm hitching up)

I think it will be easier to just post pictures with detailed captions.

Before I get into the pictures, if you like watching tow boats and barges while they work, this is the campground for you. There are at least a couple dozen that pass my campsite every day. I didn't think I would get his way, but I'm getting to be Ho-um about them. The lift bridge has only had to be raised once since I've been here and it was due to an oversized load that had both a tug boat and a tow boat. That may confuse people, but the main difference between the two boats is a tug boat pulls its load while a tow boat pushes its load. That's not always the case because I have see tug boats push ships around in port back in my Navy days. If I can post the video I took, you can see the difference. 

On with the pictures:

Location Map.

Two things in this picture. I couldn't tell as I went by but chances are those two people are crabbing and not fishing. The object in the background is an oil pump that is pumping oil out of the ground and directly into a pipeline. To the people that complain about pipelines, would you rather have a large storage tank set up near the pump with 18-wheelers coming daily to haul it to the refinery or what you see here. But it really isn't about the piplelines with them, is it? It's about doing away with ALL of the pumps and wells. (jumping off soapbox now).  

What the heck? That's an ocean going ship in the middle of the marsh!! Calm down Goza, it's not in the marsh. It's sailing on the Calcasieu Ship Channel which connects the Gulf of Mexico to Lake Charles, Louisiana. Lake Charles is the 11th largest seaport in the country and is 30 miles from the Gulf.  

The ship channel also allows these shrimp boats, and many more, to get into the Gulf of Mexico. Near the boats are places where you can buy the shrimp directly off the boats. Next time you're shopping for shrimp in the stores, look on the package to see where they are from. Way too many are from China and Indonesia. If it says "Gulf caught", you can bet they are generally real fresh. Someone slid that soapbox back under me. 

Long lonesome highway!! The marshes are a lot like the desert southwest or western Texas. And like the deserts, you either like them or hate them. I'm a little to the "hate" side of neutral on both. I can take 'em or leave 'em.

See that area in the distance on the left. In Louisiana, those are called "islands". They aren't real islands, but they are safe places in the "sea of marches". This island is call Hog Island.  

This the typical canal that runs alongside the roadway. Every now and then you get a bridge that crosses it to get to a recreation area. This type of canal has been cut throughout the marshes and swamps of Louisiana by the oil and gas industry to gain access to wells etc. Some people say the canals hurt the area because it allows storms an avenue to cause erosion and damage. Yep, that is probably true, but on a scale so small as to be acceptable when compared to the benefits the people get from the oil/gas industry. It's all a balance. Someone please hide this soapbox before I hurt myself.

Nothing controversial about this location. It is just a marker from the scenic trail that runs in this area. I thought it was a neat picture. There are lots of hiking trails around here.

With all of the canals in the marshes, there has to be a means to control some of the flow, which these weir-like structures provide. 

This is obviously the Gulf of Mexico. The two dots on the horizon are oil/gas offshore platforms. Those are what some people in the northeast part of the country don't want offshore of their states. They don't look that bad. They could use some lights for decoration though.
The black structure is a rip-rap (pile of rock) dike/jetty. They are used to create sand beaches. I remember this being discussed many years ago and lots of engineers gave their input. I was curious to see how they were doing. They definitely have created some beach and stopped erosion. So it was successful and the only question is was it successful enough to justify the cost. I'm out of the business, so I don't have the contacts anymore that could provide me honest data. Well, I guess I could, but I'm not interested enough to spend that much time. 

This is the state road that parallels the Gulf. You can get an idea how many of those rip-rap structures are out there. They go on for miles and miles. If I remember correctly, the state was concerned about the Gulf washing this road away but now the rip-rap has saved the day. Texas could have used them to save the road between High Island and Port Arthur which they abandoned many years ago because of beach erosion taking out the road. They are now battling the problem from High Island towards Galveston. 

Some beach created at a small beach house community.

These are residences in the small beach house community from the previous picture. I turned away from the Gulf to take this picture. I'll take the house on the right. Obviously, there aren't any zoning laws. 

This is the Cameron Ferry. It is one of three in the state. It crosses the Calcasieu River, which is also the Calcasieu Ship Channel. It isn't free like the ferries in Texas, but it is still very cheap. The cost is $1.00 per vehicle if you're going west-bound and free if you're going east-bound. 

This "snakey" bridge goes over the ICW to the east of where I'm camped. If you're wondering why it has such curves, it is because the old lift bridge was to the right of the new bridge and traffic had to be maintained on the old road while the new bridge was built. 

That's the "snaky" bridge to the left where the boat has sunk. It looks like it has been there for a while. Freedom is sitting on the old road that used to cross the ICW.

Great view of the area while crossing the "snaky" bridge.

How is this for serendipity? While checking out the underside of the "snaky" bridge, this sail boat came motoring up the ICW. I didn't see anyone onboard so I guess it could have been a ghost boat, but I'm not close enough to New Orleans for that so they must have been steering from inside. Probably inside to get away from the skeeters.

This is the only time the lift bridge has been lifted since I've been here. This is the load that was pulled and pushed. I'll try to embed the video after this picture. Fingers crossed.

Blogger put the video at the bottom of the post. I ain't gonna try to move it. 

From my campsite, the sun sets under the bridge as I'm looking out my door. The sunsets haven't been great, but on this evening, the clouds made up for it with their own show.

Tomorrow is moving day and I'll be heading east to a State Park just south of Abbeville. It should be a nice easy tow with a Walmart stop on the way. 

Ya'll take care of each other. Maybe I'll Cya down the road.  


  1. Excellent reporting. Lots of old memories from the 1950s banging around in my head tonight. Thank you.

    1. I'm glad I could bring up some Silent Echoes for you Barney.

  2. Great blog with some amazing photos. I didn't know anything about this area. Vern, Boise Id.

    1. Hello Vern. I like the name since my official front name is Vernie. Also Idaho is a very pretty state. Be safe out there.

  3. Great post! Funny thing about soapboxes, everybody's got one! It's what makes this a great country. Keep'em coming!

    1. Thanks John. Just seeing what I can see while the seeing is good.