Morgan City to Sulphur/Lake Charles

First, I forgot to tell you one of the most important reasons for including Morgan City in our travels. The main theme of this trip is the Mississippi River delta, its history, both geological and cultural, and the engineering works that now control its future. We visited Old River Control, built to prevent the Atchafalaya from stealing All The Water to become the next ‘Mississippi River’. We didn’t visit the Morganza Spillway 30 miles downstream, which, if fully opened in an extreme flood, would flood the entire Atchafalaya Basin as a last-ditch defence of New Orleans. Morgan City is an island in the basin, completely surrounded by levees that might not be high enough or strong enough to resist that flood. I talked briefly with some residents about what they remembered of 2011, when the Morganza Spillway was last opened: they remember being scared, but nothing bad happened; the flood was not that extreme. They know their homes and jobs are always under threat, but because nothing bad has happened to them, they assume the chances of it ever happening are negligible. 

We made our way from Morgan City to Lake Charles and Sulphur via Cypremort Point and Avery Island. Cypremort Point is one of the very few places with public road access to the Gulf Coast, and the descriptions I’d read of it vary widely, so I thought we should check it out and give a definitive TripAdvisor review 🙂 

The shelter design puzzled me, as the roof is so high that rain would be blown sideways into the shelter; A. pointed out that they’re probably intended as sun-shelters, not storm-shelters. He’s spent more time in hot climates than I have!

It looks like a decent place from a distance, but the reviewer from Florida was right: it’s awfully muddy. The beach sand is a thin strip that looks as though it was brought in by truck to fulfil modern expectations. Above it is silt and clay full of clam shells, which I think was the floor of the salt marsh or low island in the salt marsh that has been grassed over to create a lawn of sorts. Below it is very murky brown water.

 

Note that I am not paddling in that

The fishermen in the fishing areas looked very happy, and it’s clear that many people have enjoyed barbecues here, but there was no reason for us to do more than walk to the far end of the beach and back.

Avery Island was also a bit of a disappointment. In this area as in the Fens of England, ‘isle’ or ‘island’ refers to slightly higher ground; here the islands are usually salt domes, and Avery Island is no exception. It’s of interest because the Tabasco Sauce factory is here and salt from the dome is used in the sauce. There is a road tour of the landscaped gardens that surround the McIlhenny home, and a factory tour that consists of a film about the history and manufacture of the sauce followed by a walk past windows looking into the bottling plant. And then you’re directed to the large well-stocked shop and café. Huh.

 
A. walking across dry swamp, part of the’Marsh Trail’ in the Avery Island gardens. 

And then we continued to Sulphur, just west of Lake Charles.

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About sarahw

A zoologist who draws, a spinner who weaves, a person who thinks.
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