Great River Road 35 - End of GRR, Venice, LA

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.

Little Coverage

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.

What River?

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).

Empty Feeling

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.

Photography

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.

Biggest Disappointment

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 sign.

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.

No satisfaction.

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.

Is the end of the GRR where 23 pulls away from the River, or where it meets Jump Basin Road?

Is the end of the GRR where 23 pulls away from the River, or where it meets Jump Basin Road?

A rare view of the Mississippi River

A rare view of the Mississippi River

A tug moving equipment on the Mississippi River

A tug moving equipment on the Mississippi River

Visiting the Fort Jackson ruin

Visiting the Fort Jackson ruin

Tanker heading back to towards the Gulf

Tanker heading back to towards the Gulf

Miranda at Fort Jackson

Miranda at Fort Jackson

A quick family photo to mark the end of this journey

A quick family photo to mark the end of this journey

Fort Jackson

We did stop at the Fort Jackson Welcome Center on the way back.

They were putting the final touches on the building - still in recovery from Hurricanes Katrina and Isaac.

We had a great conversation with a local official, hearing some of the history of the area, some of the frustrations in rebuilding, and some of the political issues at play.

We heard him talk about finding the willpower and resolve to rebuild in an area likely to be hit by hurricanes in the future.

The Fort itself?

There was talk of it re-opening soon as well. We went to see it.

Maybe they know more about old forts than we do.

We see serious structural damage, water damage and…what is destined to be the ruin of an old fort rather than a tourable facility.

Total Crossings

In our exploration of the Great River Road we crossed the Mississippi River 53 times.

So, Uh, That’s It Then?

We’ve finished the Great River Road. We’ll wrap up the blog series with a final post covering the highlights, low-lights, and thoughts about the experience.

Disappointing Ending

Have you ever been disappointed by the end of something?

4 Comments Great River Road 35 - End of GRR, Venice, LA

  1. Picture of Steve BoggsSteve BoggsNovember 25, 2015

      We full time.  We pick a theme for each summer.  For the last two summers, our theme has been the second half of the Oregon Trail and then the first half of the Oregon Trail.  My wife’s ancestors came over on the Oregon Trail and my ancestors (Sioux and Cheyenne) shot at them.
      Next summer, our theme is the Mississippi River.  We look periodically at your blog and have found some interesting places we might not have found otherwise.  Thank you.
      We hope you will leave your blog up so that we may periodically refer to it.
      Thanks, again.
    —Steve

  2. Picture of Michael BoyinkMichael BoyinkNovember 25, 2015

    Thanks for the comment Steve!

    I can’t promise 100% that these posts will remain forever, but if we were going to pull them from the site we’d probably bundle them up in a PDF that you could download.

  3. Picture of Donna DicksDonna DicksFebruary 17, 2017

    Vet excited about driving the GRR this June/July.  Disappointed to hear there is no real end to the GRR. 
    Thanks for the information.

  4. Picture of Michael BoyinkMichael BoyinkFebruary 17, 2017

    Hey Donna - yea, honestly you could dip your toes in the water in New Orleans and call it a day. The trip south of there is hardly with it, with few views of the river and no obvious end point.

    We just left NOLA, and found a ferry that would make a good addition to the GRR trip. It’s here- not suitable for large RVs, but only costs $1. We otherwise didn’t find a ferry on the whole GRR.

    Just down the road is St. Bernard State Park which is a nice state park.

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