Grand Isle, Louisiana

While in Louisiana visiting my friends, I had the treat of camping right by the Gulf of Mexico at Grand Isle State Park.

The ocean is so amazing, and I took a lot of pictures out at the beach and around camp – here’s the gallery from our camping trip. The link will open in a new window, since I haven’t put navigational stuff on that gallery’s pages just yet.

Here’s what I wrote while still in Louisiana (while it was all fresh in my mind!):

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Tuesday morning we headed out to Grand Isle, and camped two nights at the State Park there. What a wonderful place! The busy season is over, so we pretty much had the entire beach to ourselves. There’s a constant breeze there to cool you; I wish I could bottle the smell of the air at that beach, so fresh.

We didn’t camp right on the beach, but were just over on the other side of a sand dune from it. There is a section of beach where people can drive out and primitive camp right at the water’s edge, though. Howie and I would like to do that sometime.

Lisa said the state parks in Louisiana used to be in terrible shape, but their current governor, Mike Foster, has put a lot of money into the parks and really turned things around.

Imagine my delight when we struck up a conversation with a neighboring couple from Missouri and I heard that they’d lived in Pataskala, Ohio for many years. They moved away in 1968, so they’d probably not recognize it now. I just love camping and meeting people from all over the US.

Also at the campground, we met Steve Blevins, a retiree who tours air shows with the cockpit of a retired F4 fighter jet painted in the colors of the Blue Angels. He takes pictures of people seated in the plane. Check out his site for all the details (and let him know where you found him).

We met Steve when he was out walking his little Yorkie, Montana, and struck up a conversation. What an interesting man! An airline employee for many years, he travelled extensively and has so many neat stories to tell. For one thing, he pointed out that the constellations you see in the Southern Hemisphere are different than what we see in the Northern Hemisphere; it’s not something I’d ever pondered, but it makes sense!

He ended up inviting us over to the plane and used our cameras to take pictures of Lisa, Sally and me in the plane. I’ll have pictures of our Blue Angels experience up in my gallery soon.

There were so many complicated instruments in there, and Steve took time to explain many of them to us. It’s obvious he loves what he does and takes great pride in the plane, rightly so. My friend’s daughter was thrilled when he gave her a little toy replica of an F4 jet.

We spent a lot of time at the beach, walking the shore and wading out to the sand bars. Lisa grew up in this area and has much knowledge about the wildlife of the bayous, swamps and shorelines. She pointed out many things I might have missed. One of the neatest things we saw was a big moon jellyfish that had washed ashore. We touched the top of it and found it somewhat slimy, and a curious combination of squishy and firm. The only thing I can liken it to would be very firm Jell-O with a little water on it.

Wednesday night, we gigged for flounder. A flounder is a flat fish with both eyes and its mouth situated on one side of its body. It lies at the surface of the sand, just wriggled down far enough to camoflage its edges, and waits for prey to swim by.

Gigging is interesting – You walk the shallow waters of the sandbars, lantern in one hand and gig in the other. A gig is a pole with a pointed end (imagine a broomstick with a nail pointing out the end, though there are fancy ones that resemble ski poles). You walk and watch for the outline of the flounder in the sand. When you see one, you spear it.

The water was really murky Wednesday night, though, so we couldn’t see well enough to find any fish. We did, however, find one lone flounder washed ashore (makes me think of “One Tin Soldier” – boy that brings back memories). The fish had a hole through it, so evidently it had been gigged, but escaped to die in the ocean.

Wonder if salt water stings a fish’s wounds like it does ours.

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