Tony Turns 30 – Day 2
September 9, 2017
Saturday morning had dawned long before we got up but we still made it to St James Cheese Co in time for brunch. A Croque Madame and a Bloody Mary made everything brighter and then we headed home and dug out the swimsuits before heading to Mid City to rent a Kayak.
We got there just in time to get the last Tandem Kayak and when the lady making us sign the waiver asked if we were kayaking in the canal, I said yes and grinned sheepishly at Tony. I wasn’t about to let on where we were really going.
We strapped the kayak down, threw the life vests in the back seat and drove an hour to Shell Beach in St Bernard Parish where we launched our kayak.
From the boat launch, you could see Fort Proctor way off in the distance, roughly a mile away. I had done my research and we certainly weren’t the first people to visit the ruins since it had become accessible only by water, but it definitely is off the beaten path.
We paddled out of the way of a shrimp boat and I began filming the adventure on my new iPhone, which I had strapped to my arm with a hair tie that I had looped through the case. My plan was to keep the kayak upright and the phone out of the murky water. The iPhone seven is supposed to be waterproof but if I lost hold of it over the side of the boat I didn’t really see it being recoverable.
We paddled easily enough through the gulf outlet canal and then we were on Lake Borgne. It was fairly windy and took a little effort getting across but the fort was in plain sight and spurred us on.
The fort is surrounded by a rocky reef that used to be some kind of a small wall. We paddled up to it, climbed out and lifted the kayak over, then donned our shoes before getting back in the kayak and paddling into the fort.
A pool of mossy water lilies floated outside the entrance and we passed into the fort between two brick pillars that, over time, have lost some of their bricks near the base. The inside of the fort felt eerie and slightly muggy. Shrubbery grew strongly in the wet environment and the floor is broken up into large chunks that stick out the water. The water had risen high enough you have to jump from rock to rock or chance whatever is in several feet of murky water below.
The few accounts I’d found of people who’d made this trip had warned about snakes and a raccoon so we explored cautiously. We found a tiny snake on the first level which Tony promptly began poking at with an oar and was promptly scolded. He grinned like he was about eight years old and abandoned his pestering. Tony climbed up to what’s left of the second level and we spotted the infamous raccoon crouched over her baby!
We cautiously took some photo’s of the mama and baby and then left them alone. We climbed around for a while, avoiding the rusted beams and crumbling footholds and enjoyed the sun coming through the open building. Eventually, we scrambled back down, climbed into the kayak and paddled back out. We stopped for some goofy photos on the reef, where Tony posed as Captain Morgan before hoisting the kayak back over and heading for the canal.
The wind had picked up and the trip back through the waters was a little scary, the waves started rolling larger and larger and at one point we were both paddling hard and not making any headway while waves of water came up and over the sides of the kayak.
We dug our paddles in and finally got to the canal where the wind couldn’t reach. We paddled back to the boat launch, happy to be out of the water and spent a good minute looking for Tony’s sunglasses which we eventually found hiding under a ratchet strap. We secured the boat, tossed our wet things in the back and booked it back to New Orleans to get the kayak returned on time.
We were a little late and the gracious people let us return the kayak anyways which I was very grateful for, not knowing where we would keep a wet kayak all night without it being stolen.
Then to the grocery store we went where we bought ingredients for Tony’s dinner of choice – Salt Crusted Grilled Ribeye and Bacon Zucchini Skillet and some snickers bars to ward off the pre-dinner hunger.
We made it home, showered and cooked dinner which turned out wonderfully and went right down with some IPA’s. I then skittered off to the kitchen to work on the birthday cake. I’ve never been much of a baker, not having the patience for it and I felt my determination melting away with the frosting as I poked and prodded at the three layers trying to get it to stop leaning to the side. It leaned determinedly despite my efforts so I stuck it in the fridge to be bothered with tomorrow.
We then poured another glass of wine and snuggled up for some Netflix, both agreeing that this was one of the best days we’d spent in New Orleans so far.
To Be Continued…