Tuesday, February 23, 2010

VENICE, PILOT TOWN

http://neworleanspodcasting.com/JimJailletandMaryMatzek.shtml

Yesterday, Jim and I heard from Craig Kraemer, the guy who interviewed us for his podcast. If you are interested you can click the link above and hear our interview. You press the "plug" to get it to play.

Several months ago we watched a video of Charles Kuralt, a long time television personality, who traveled around the U.S. in his motor home and visited a number of out-of-the-way places. One of those was Pilot Town. Since we were kind of in the vicinity, we decided to attempt to visit Pilot Town. It is the furthest point south in the State of Louisiana, on a small Island only accessible by boat . On the way, we stopped at Fort Jackson, now closed after being badly damaged by Katrina.

We were able to hike around the grounds and watch the boats churn up the Mississippi. The Fort was strategically located during sailing ship days on a big bend in the river that gave it an advantage when the ships would have to lag looking for a new wind to make it around the bend.

Much has been said about the horrible damage done to large population centers like New Orleans, Shreveport, and Biloxi, and rightly so. As we drove through Plaquemines Parrish, the devastation was horrible for miles and miles. Many, many foundations with nothing on them. Blasted buildings, row upon row of temporary modular housing sitting on blocks, piles of debris including rolled together cars and trucks. Boats rotting in fields, and huge storage containers on empty lots. One property had a beautiful blown up picture on a small billboard of what their once gorgeous house looked like. Mailboxes still stand by the edge of the road with nothing behind the driveways but trees. In one tract, huge trees drowned by standing salt water, lay dead with huge tangled root balls in he air. It was sad to see.

We reached Venice late afternoon and found a friendly cop who told us to contact Mike Bally out at Cypress Cove to help find us a boat ride out to Pilot Town. Mike was a very friendly, helpful guy and gave us a couple leads that produced no results-yet. We are hoping for better luck today.

In the meantime, we sit at this beautiful resort. Mike allowed us to plug in and here we spent yesterday afternoon and evening walking around this beautiful resort, and harbor, watching the pelicans play.

This old drake was hanging around and then joined by a blond. I know nothing of pelicans and which is male or female, but that's the way it looked to me.

While out and about I talked to a young guy and asked him about a boat ride. He told me his name was Ryan Buras , a river pilot. "I'd take you myself if I wasn't headed for home," he said, which is Covington. He is 35 years old, was raised in Pilot Town had a house there that was moved off its foundations and deposited in a swamp by Katrina. He now uses his property as a camp, as many pilots who suffered the same fate do. Few of them live there anymore, he told me. He is what is known as a Crescent Pilot, he guides boats in and out of New Orelans. Other pilots work up the Mississippi or their tributaries. To be a pilot you have to have a relative who was a pilot. His grandfather and uncle qualified him. The Pilots's Association building was destroyed by Katrina and they rebuilt in Venice. He hardly ever goes back anymore. The only people who go there are duck hunters and fishermen. His last teacher was an avid duck hunter and if the ducks were in and the wind right, she'd cancel school for the day and go hunting. He knew no other life as a kid, nature, hunting and fishing. He recognized that it was unique to live in a place only accessible by boat.

For information about Pilot Town, click the following url:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pilottown,_Louisiana

No comments: