This paddle was as advertised – a well-organized, very good time with very good food and very good people. Day 1 began with unloading our boats at the put-in, where I met up with Frank Ohrt and Ann Andrisek. This was at a nice boat ramp in Donaldsonville, where we took care of registration and received a breakfast bag, after which we drove to the take-out, where an air conditioned commercial coach (not a school bus) was waiting to take us back. On the shuttle ride, we were given a preview of the day’s paddle and an interesting plug for the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program (BTNEP). This was repeated each day of the trip, so just imagine that happening every morning.
With all of the preliminaries out of the way, each paddler was assisted into the water by two volunteers, who stabilized the boat on a huge heavy tarp of some kind to prevent you from getting muddy or wet or slipping while getting into the boat, and then pushed you the rest of the way into the bayou. I think this was BTNEP’s method of assuring the number of life jackets matched the number of paddlers. We got underway on a beautiful wide bayou and paddled several miles through the lush, new, spring green vegetation. In the last mile or so before our lunch stop, there was violent damage to the trees and vegetation and structures from an EF2 tornado that had followed the bayou a few weeks before. We paddled a little over 10 miles before stopping for lunch in the back yard of the Guillots (facing the bayou). The entire trip was true flatwater (no perceptible current), so some people were really feeling the burn at the lunch break (see photos).
The afternoon was similar in scenery and peacefulness, and ended at the Madewood Plantation, where we had dinner, took showers and set up camp.
The next day dawned very promising, but the forecast was worse than ominous for thunderstorms, so we drove to our destination point for our officially-declared layover day. Within an hour, the forecast diagnosis was confirmed with dramatic, pounding thundershowers and high winds. Many would have died.
We set up chairs and tables under a huge pavilion with a metal roof and had breakfast and visited in small groups between the rounds of torrential pounding until lunch. After lunch we viewed a pretty extensive display and demonstration of early American weapons and tools, and a demonstration of the flint knapping process that made those tools and weapons possible. The flint knapping demonstration took what looked like an ordinary rock all the way to a finished arrowhead. Then more visiting around another delicious dinner, after which the weather cleared up and we set up for the night. Frank decided to set his original plan in motion and left us at this point to do some birding on his way home.
Fast forward through registration, shuttle, estuary indoctrination, breakfast and put-in for another pleasant morning of paddling for about 8 miles before lunch, then a great lunch of pulled pork sandwiches, homemade sweet potato chips, coleslaw and bread pudding in the Dufrene’s back yard (facing the bayou). Then back on the water for another 7 miles with a wind feature that caused some to exercise more than others. After another delicious dinner, we enjoyed / suffered through a Native American dance program and set up camp for the night (or did it the other way around).
The next morning dawned beautiful, and we went through the routine, got on the water for the last 5.5 miles, ending at Lockport right across from the namesake of the town – the dismantled historic locks. We had a great lunch sponsored by the City of Lockport, with entertainment, a speech by the mayor, and goodbyes. But we weren’t quite finished yet. The Wooden Boat Museum opened especially for us. The directions from the park were especially entertaining – “. . . see that pink building over there on the corner – the one with the sign that says Wooden Boat Museum? That’s not it. Go across the street behind it and there you will find the boat museum.” I wish I had a recorder running for the timing of that one! Well done!
So then we went our separate ways, each with new memories of people and places and food and weather and accents and improvisations and sights.
Kent and Ann: 37.8 miles