Lake Pontchartrain Circuit

On April 1, 2010 · 2 Comments

We continue to tour along the Gulf, including a couple of day trips into Louisiana from our base on the Mississippi Coast. I’ve developed from those odysseys what I think is a great itinerary for any beer-loving aficionados of geographic oddities who need to entertain the kids. I’ll admit that it’s a very small demographic so perhaps only the readers of the Twelve Mile Circle will be able to appreciate this in its proper context. Anyone choosing to replicate the circuit can, of course, add or subtract destinations to suit one’s tastes.

View Larger Map

The day starts at the Global Wildlife Center near Folsom, Louisiana. Drill in on the map and you’ll notice that the closest named-place is actually "Cranky Corner" which amuses me to no end, but I suppose that wouldn’t look so good in their promotional material.

They loaded everyone onto modified wagons pulled by a tractor for an hour-and-a-half ride through a Louisiana version of the African plains, while herds of animals followed along in hopes of handouts and a quick meal. The kids loved it, and I have to admit that I enjoyed it as well.

From here it’s an easy jaunt to Abita Springs, home of the Abita Brewery. With proper timing, one can eat lunch at their brewpub in the quaint downtown area of Abita Springs, and then head over to the actual brewery a mile further along the road for a 2:00 tour.

I’ve been wanting to drive across the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, supposedly the world’s longest continuous bridge over water, for ages. In fact I whined about it during my last visit to the area a couple of years ago. This time I drove it, all 24 miles (38 kilometres) straight across the lake from Mandeville on the north shore to Metarie on the outskirts of New Orleans. It’s surprisingly less boring than one would imagine. Sure, it’s incredibly straight, but there are a number of elevation changes that allow ships to pass beneath it. Those add some some hilly variety to the drive.

New Orleans is defined by the Mississippi River. I’ve been here many time so I didn’t stop to tour around the city. Certainly most "normal" tourists would want to include some time here during this itinerary. No, I had more important things to do. I wanted to take a ride on the Belle Chasse ferry.

Belle Chasse ferry

The two portions of Plaquemines Parish split by the Mississippi River have no natural land route between them. The nearest bridge is all the way up in New Orleans, and that can become horribly inconvenient given the traffic of the city. The natural solution is a short ride across on a ferry lasting all of about five minutes. Loading and unloading actually took much longer than the ride itself. This was also my first visit to Plaquemines Parish so score one more on my County Counting list.

I’ll focus on some of the sites in Mississippi in my next post.

On April 1, 2010 · 2 Comments

2 Responses to “Lake Pontchartrain Circuit”

  1. FS says:

    So…why don’t they build a bridge there?

    • It’s extremely rural on the other side of the river. Maybe they’ve decided to use the river as a barrier — if there was a bridge across then this area would quickly become yet another New Orleans suburb.

      Thought of one other possible reason: this is a major shipping channel so the bridge would have to be constructed high enough to let freighters pass beneath it, which would be extremely expensive. I guess they could try a drawbridge but it would be going up-and-down all day long.

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