A joke without a punchline. A novel with an unresolved ending. The echo of your favorite song from the door of a club closing up for the night.
The end of the Great River Road was a let down.
When I started researching the Great River Road I couldn’t find much about it.
Much besides marketing.
Every state that touches the Mississippi River has some “Great River Road” content on the web. Then there is the parent Great River Road website.
I was looking for the stories of people who’d followed the road, done the tour, got the t-shirt, and blogged their way through it. That’s what I couldn’t find - and this last stretch of the Great River Road might just be the reason why.
Once you leave New Orleans heading south the river is obscured by the levee built to constrain it if it floods again.
The only glimpse of the Mississippi is from one bridge and from a side-street in Venice. Looking west should be Barataria Bay but it’s also contained behind a levee.
It’s a bit like being in a ditch that you can never see out of.
Hints of Towns
There are several towns on the map before getting to Venice.
Driving through them feels like you are always 3-4 streets away from main street but then not seeing anything more on the map. I kept expecting signs pointing me to better things off US-23 but there weren’t any.
Industry and Fishing
Oil refineries, coal staging, and other industrial complexes dot the landscape to Venice.
House-wise we saw a few upscale homes but mostly they were smaller houses and mobile homes. Some were on blocks, some on stilts, and many still sitting on the ground.
Fishing looks popular in the area with most houses having boats parked alongside (the area offers salt, brackish, and fresh water fishing).
The area had an odd, empty feeling.
We didn’t see people by the houses or fishing boats. Orange groves looked ripe for picking but with no visible efforts being made. Parking lots were full of cars but with no one moving between them.
I forgot to grab my good camera for this drive. It didn’t really matter.
There was nothing “nice/scenic” enough to photograph at nor was there much “decayed/damaged” enough to be visually interesting.
The few photos I have from below are mostly because I felt like I needed something to capture the experience.
Our biggest disappointment with the end of the Great River Road is that somewhere, between building websites, creating logos and signs, printing maps, finding partners, and establishing interpretive centers someone forgot to give the road an obvious end point.
No photo opportunity.
No logbook to sign saying “We drove the whole thing!”
No place to break out a picnic and celebrate the end of a 2400 mile, 7 week, 10 state journey.
We weren’t even sure where US-23 formally ended. We drove until it just sort of petered out in a gravel parking lot with some signs for private businesses.
So we just turned around and drove out.