Fun in the Upper Gulf Coast
As we left Texas for our East Coast adventure our plan was to leisurely explore the Gulf Coast as we went along. Over the last couple of years we have found that big cities and tourist areas are not really our thing. We would much prefer smaller towns with interesting areas to explore. And there is the issue that many of the higher end RV Resorts are full, pushing us off the coast just a bit. But there is plenty to see. This will be a longer blog that will cover Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Let's start in the Bayou Country!
Louisiana Bayou Country
It was hard to get the song "Amos Moses" by Jerry Reed out of my head in this area. The area around New Iberia, LA has a LOT of swampland. If you look on Google Earth it seems like forest but don't be fooled. Those are trees standing in water. And alligators.
This was the last video with the Mavic Pro drone. As I was landing the delicate camera gimbal system finally gave out. Researching a repair I could spend $250 for a new camera for the existing drone or just buy a new drone. I opted for new and was glad I did. More news on the new drone in the next post.
There is a strange phenomenon that created multiple "Islands" in the area. They are actually the protruded tops of salt domes. Avery Island and Jefferson Island are key examples of the 5 islands in the area. We had plans to see the Tabasco Factory on Avery Island, but due to Covid they were shut down. So we went to Jefferson Island instead and found a great little restaurant and a very interesting back story.
Salt was quite the cherished commodity during the Civil War, so these Islands were heavily defended. But there are considerable oil and gas deposits as well under the area. In 1980 Texaco accidentally drilled in to the salt dome with disastrous consequences. Neighboring Lake Peigneur collapsed into the salt mine on Jefferson Island. The lake formed a whirlpool which sucked a wide variety of items into the mine, and the area was flooded with water from the Delcambre Canal, which normally flowed in the opposite direction. As the salt mine filled with water, it forced air out, forming impressive geysers which towered over the area for several days until the water pressure was equalized. Jefferson Island now sports a lake and the salt dome is used to hold natural gas deposits. In the picture below there is the chimney from a beautiful home that was destroyed in the accident.
It is rumored that Jean LaFitte the famous pirate had buried considerable treasure on Jefferson Island under some giant live oak trees. While the treasure was never found, the area was purchased by a famous actor (in his day anyway) Joseph Jefferson in 1869. He built a summer home that was ultimately named after him. A unique spot in front of the home was under a live oak tree where then President Grover Cleveland would take afternoon naps during his visits.
While in town we were interviewed by the local newspaper, the New Iberian Daily. They were curious why the area ended up on our destination list. Our adventure includes all types of destinations and New Iberia had its own special charm. By land or by air, couple travels light across the country. | People | iberianet.com
Bay St. Louis
Our next stop was in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. We had fun but ended up not taking a lot of pictures. The beaches were really nice white sand and there was a great bike trail along the beach. The downtown area was on the water and was a lot of fun on the weekends.
Looking at a map of the area the name Pass Christian stands out. The town of Pass Christian was in the path of two of the most intense hurricanes ever to hit the United States-- Hurricane Camille on August 17, 1969, and Hurricane Katrina on August 29, 2005. Each hurricane caused the near total destruction of the city. Then the area was hit again by Hurricane Zeta in 2020. Evidence of the storm is everywhere and it is clear most of the houses on the waterfront are new or were destroyed. In my fly over it is still possible to see boats that were washed ashore and are abandoned for now.
Keep those hurricanes in mind when you see the next images. One is of Cat Island. Can anyone imagine anything remaining on that island after a severe hurricane? But there are houses there.
In the distance was Ship Island. Fort Massachusetts is a fort on West Ship Island. It was built following the War of 1812, with brick walls during 1859-1866, and remained in use until 1903. This fort has held up under the worst weather imaginable. Guess they really built them well back then.
Our next stop was the Mobile Bay area of Alabama. We stayed at Bay Palms RV Resort on the west side of the bay, then moved to Sugar Sands RV Resort a few day later near Gulf Shores.
One of our first stops was a little fishing village called Bayou La Batre. If this area sounds familiar it is another reference to Forrest Gump who started his BubbaGump seafood company there. OK, the scenes were not really shot there. But it is still famous for it.
Perhaps one of the most famous real things to happen in the area was the Battle of Mobile Bay during the Civil War. This is the battle where Admiral Farragut proclaimed "Damn the Torpedoes, full speed ahead". Understand that torpedoes in those days were actually mines, but they were just as deadly.
Mobile was one of the last strongholds for the South at the end of the war. The Union held the bay, but could not take Mobile itself. After the fall of Nashville in the winter of 1865 General Grant ordered Mobile captured using forces on land and sea. Standing in their way were 3 strategic Confederate held forts, Ft. Morgan on the point to the East, Ft. Powell near Cedar Point to the North and Ft. Gaines on Dauphin Island.
As the attack progressed the outmanned and outgunned Confederates facing certain defeat began to abandon and destroy or surrender their forts. At long last Mobile fell to the Union troops. A view of Ft. Gaines below.
And on the East side, Ft. Morgan.
And we can't end this blog without showing some pictures of the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola. Oh wait, we could not get in. Turns out a shooting by a Saudi flight student in December 2019 caused the museum to be closed to anyone without a DOD ID. Good thinkin! Keeping those pesky American Citizens out should make everything safe. Grrrrrrr....
Our next move takes us to the Florida Panhandle where we find the Forgotten and Hidden Coasts of Florida.