St. Francisville, LA – December 7, 2012
I stare at maps and aerial photos. I search for reports and call friends for advice. No one knows for sure how I should get through New Orleans to the Gulf. It’s not something people think about. There are no well-used routes, no clear and certain paths, not for a kayak.
I recognize names on the map, the French Quarter, the Lower Ninth Ward, names next to a thousand blue lines. Ditches, canals, bayous, and rivers litter the the map, these blue lines of water that may not even exist.
I look at Lake Pontchartrain and think of portaging there to avoid the barge traffic in New Orleans. Five miles on a road isn’t too bad, I lie to myself. But what road and then what, then I’m on a brackish lake on the backside of a city. I may not love the Mississippi, not in New Orleans with a thousand barges and salt water ships, but there is comfort in the familiar.
I go back and look again, look at the same names, the same blue lines, trying to untangle the mess of roads, neighborhoods, canals, lakes and rivers, trying to find my path through them all, trying to force certainty on an uncertain world.