Trip OverviewMiMi and I decided to go paddling in Bayou St. John. We had never paddled there before, and we were curious about the recovery of the area. It was not the best day for a flat water paddle. There was a lot of wind and it was very cold. Anyone who lives in Southern Louisiana knows that there are about three or four days a year when it gets bone chilling cold. That day was one of those days. Regardless, we drove toward City Park.
We picked our launch site. (MiMi was later told by other kayakers several better places to launch, so we'll leave out our location except to say that it involved launching our boats off of a grassy slope onto a cement canal at almost a 90 degree angle.)
We paddled flat water on a cold windy day but we were not unprepared. Mimi graciously brought enough gear for both of us. She loaned me her new neoprene jacket; she hadn't even worn it. I gratefully struggled to get into it. I finally did get the jacket on. However,it was too small and the neoprene neckline choked me. It was so tight I had trouble just pulling the neck open to breathe. MiMi laughed at me and came over to help. Together we pulled the jacket off of me; but not without ripping off the skin that attaches my upper lip to the top of my mouth. I felt a warm gush and saw the look on MiMi's face. I immediatley put my hand to my face. When I removed it my hand was covered in blood. MiMi stopped laughing and asked me if I wanted to go on. My lip was stinging. "Of course," I said, "as soon as the bleeding stops." But it didn't, so we went on anyway.
After we launched from our notorious canal side, we paddled into the wind under the numerous bridges. Some houses, mostly the ones closest to City Park, were repaired and were occupied. Others were covered in blue tarps and still bore spray paint markings made by search and resuce teams. One house noted: Some ducks have returned to the water-ASPCA.
The wind whipped us diagonally along the canal. Eventually we reached the island. The fountain was not running but all the homes we saw were damage free. It was at the island that I decided I was too tired and the wind was too hard to go on, so MiMi and I paddled around and back to our launch site. Another kayaker passed us on the water. He told us he paddled here often and people were starting to come back.
I felt wimpy by the time we made it back. I pulled up to the cement, wobbled out, and pulled my boat up on the grassy embankment. MiMi,unfortunatley, pulled up to the cement and fell into the water. This time I laughed at her as she called me over to help. Together, we got her and her boat out and back onto the street.
After we loaded the boats onto the vehical, a lady living in the house we parked in front of, came outside to ask us about our trip. MiMi, good naturedly, was going to make a joke about having personal contact with the water when the New Orleanian quipped she already saw MiMi's unfortuante event. We all had a good laugh.
Directions:It is located in the middle of New Orleans, near City Park and Lake Pontchartrain, and can be found on any New Orleans map.
- Skill Level: Beginner
- Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)