Sunday, October 23, 2005

Fort Bayou

Here's a trip I've been meaning to do for a while and finally got the chance. Did it today while the boat traffic is still almost nil and the weather is great. Not too exciting of a trip, but a good one to do. The tide helped me out but it was 9.3 miles. The best thing about this trip: now when I drive over the bridge and look down at the water and think, "I'd really rather be there than on my way to work," at least I can think of when I was out there in that very spot!

The tidal current was noticeable coming out of Bayou Talla. I realized that so far my kayaking is mostly focused on the world above, with the water as simply a transportation medium. The interaction with the water, while it varies in it's character depending on the location, is fairly predictable. I suppose that with whitewater kayaking the water in itself is an interaction, requiring attention and providing an adventure in addition to the above-the-surface world. So, then... does this double the experience... or split it in half?

One bit of excitement on this trip -- a mullet took a big jump towards me and almost landed in my lap. I was wondering how long it would be before one took a flying leap right at me. Man those things can jump. Wheee!

Friday, October 14, 2005

Water welcome

Here is a picture from this morning that shows how the water just came and took the houses away. Pilings, slabs, and shells of houses are all that remain along the water's edge.

On a rare day off today I had a chance to enjoy the water for a nice route around the bay and bayou. The temperature is so nice now. It's not crisp or cool yet, but the heat of summer seems to be gone. The trees are confused; they lost all their leaves during the hurricane and have grown new spring-like green leaves, yet others are brown and burnt looking still. The water seemed soft. That was my first thought. When the kayak glides through the water so easily and the paddle feels like it's pulling you through a cloud, it feels soft and inviting.

I went first up into the north side and saw some more of the houses that are gone and destroyed. Then across the bay and down the bayou. One boat was out in the bay and I believe it was the crab-pot man putting his crab-pots out.

The water was nice and I did not see debris except for over by the boat ramp. There were LOTS of fish and birds -- caught a fish jump on camera! OK, a fish splash.

The bayou in the middle is the nicest part - very natural and secluded. I'm sure the gators love this area but I have not seen any since the storm. There was a picture in the Mississippi Power newsletter of power crews working along the causeway. "A sheriff's deputy watches for alligators in Graveline Bay as crew members prepare to raise a Singing River EPA line flattened by Katrina." Guess they know how much the gators love this area. I wonder if the gators survived the storm?

Herons, egrets, rails... many kinds and many birds. I know the snowy ergets and the American egrets now. Snowy egrets have black beaks and yellow feet. American egrets have orange/yellow beaks and black feet. What a nice arrangement. Funny what an ugly voice they have, as pretty as they are to look at. Croak, croak, crooooooaaak.

I'll go out again this weekend, to look around with Mom and see that the bayou part of home has not changed and is taking care of itself.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Deer Island

Finally, a good pleasant return to the water. What a strange environment! I can imagine what it was like a few hundred years ago, before the coastline was built up, before the bridges, before the boat traffic. In a way we've been taken back to those times. Things are somewhat back to normal in the natural world -- the trees are regrowing, the crabs and fish and birds are doing all their normal things, the water is fine. I thought we would see all kinds of debris on Deer Island. There was some debris in the middle of the island in the swamp grass but not too much along the beaches. The east end restoration held up well. Salt water burned the pine trees to a crispy brown. They're just starting to show a few green needles.

Travelling up the tidal creek in the middle of the island took us to the beach connecting to the south side. The black biting flies were vicious! Again, not nearly as much debis as I expected. I suppose most of it just overwashed the island.

The trip was enjoyable; 4 of us went across, told storm stories, relayed information, discussed rebuilding issues along the coast. One kayaker is interested in forming a paddling club for weekend trips. I'd like to do that to discover new places, but most of the time I think I enjoy more exertion, more of an aerobic experience comapred to the average touring kayaker.

The pelicans seemed happy to be ruling the water with less encroachment from people. They were flying, swooping, preening, diving for fish. I thought this guy was aiming to poop on us, but he didn't.

Upon return to the mainland we went into the harbor, viewed all the boats that had been left up on land or on the houses. One house had 60 boats in the yard after the storm, but most of those have been cleared out. Final note on return was a reporter from a local newspaper doing a story on the effects of the storm on the ecotourism industry that has been growing in this area in recent years. As our kayak guide told her, the infrastructure of the ecotourism industry rebuilds itself.... so we're in good shape.

Had to share this also -- a picture taken from the dock this morning at my favorite kayak spot.