Louisiana brown pelican

Grand Isle Louisiana

A one hundred mile journey to find Grand Isle Louisiana unexpectedly exposed me to a whole new part of the country. I simply though it would be fun to see the Gulf of Mexico, so I headed south.

The farther south I traveled on Louisiana Highway 1, the trees gradually disappeared, replaced with wetland grasses. The bayous and rivers morphed into large bodies of water. The vast Louisiana swamp fell below the water with thousands of little islands emerging.

elevated roadways extending to Grand Isle Louisiana
A series of elevated roadways and higher bridges connect the mainland and the Grand Isle barrier island in Louisiana.

Even the highway changed. The only route to Grand Isle Louisiana became the Gateway to the Gulf Expressway – a 19-mile elevated toll road.

I continued across a large expanse of water and drove onto the only inhabited barrier island in Louisiana. An island where all the houses are built on pilings.

Fishing boats, and many other types of ships pass by Grand Isle Louisiana
Fishing boats, and many other types of ships pass by Grand Isle Louisiana as they make their way into the navigable Intracoastal Waterway along the Gulf.

Each house is raised about fifteen to twenty feet above the ground as a defense against flooding from storm surges. Imagine an entire community of elevated houses! Even the businesses were elevated.

Half-Price Camping

houses built elevated from storm surge along Louisiana coast
The entire community of Grand Isle Louisiana consists elevated, stilt, piling/pier houses as a defense against the rising water levels associated with hurricanes and other powerful storms.

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Pelicans fighting the breeze rolling off the Gulf in search of fish in the waters below. The brown pelican is the state bird of Louisiana and they put on quite a show diving to push that long beak into the water and snag a fish.

Bell 407 helicopter operated by PHI Air Medical along the Louisiana coast and Gulf of Mexico.
Bell 407 helicopter operated by PHI Air Medical along the Louisiana coast and the oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.

The oil and gas industry is a visible foundation of Grand Isle Louisiana. The Gulf of Mexico is also speckled with drilling platforms. Pipes, pumping stations and all sorts of supporting equipment is the norm.

Grand Isle School built on pilings elevated from potential storm surge.
Grand Isle School built on pilings elevated from potential storm surge. The ground level below the school is used for parking.

Another norm is the steady stream of boats. Boats for fishing, for transporting people and equipment to the oil platforms in the Gulf, and transporting cargo further inland.

storm surge sensors deployed at Grand Isle Louisiana
USGS hydrographers deploy water-level sensors along the coast to monitor the magnitude and timing of storm surge.

As I walked along the beach – my original destination – I looked across the Gulf of Mexico from the narrow barrier island of Grand Isle Louisiana.

Offshore platforms that support the submerged oil and gas wells in the Gulf of Mexico visible from the Louisiana coastline.
Offshore platforms that support the submerged oil and gas wells in the Gulf of Mexico visible from the Louisiana coastline.

I reflected on the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” I started simply in search of the Gulf, and I was even more intrigued with the fascinating part of Louisiana I discovered along my journey.

RVing Revealed

Please connect, ask questions and leave comments: