One of the distinct downsides to living in the middle of a vast continent is the enormous distance between you and the sea. Growing up in the UK where no part of the island is more than 50 miles from some coastline, I naturally took it completely for granted and visited it far less than I could have.
Not any longer. It's no mistake that all our vacations are designed to encounter some shoreline somewhere and our recent trip to Louisiana was no different. Nonetheless, actually getting there was not trivial. The Louisiana coastline is one of the least developed I have ever encountered.
It's also pretty atypical compared to what I am used to. No cliffs, few beaches, no real sense of a sea/land border anywhere – the land and sea seem to blend into each other like the fingers of two hands clasped together.
Add to this the completely placid Gulf of Mexico sea, and you are not even really sure if that is what you are looking at. I tasted the water – even that seemed to have only a hint of salinity compared to the great oceans.
Nonetheless, the sea it was, complete with spray and salt wind, the cries of the seabirds, the ebb and swish of waves and a view looking out over endless water.It was warm and cloudy (as you can see from the photographs) day and evening was closing in. Thanks to the elliptical Louisiana roads and perverse lack of town markings and road signs, my map-guided journey had taken about an hour and a half for what should have been only a 45 minute trip.
Thus I arrived at Cypremort State Park flustered and not a little annoyed but, as ever, the sea worked its magic in moments. I found the most seaward point, a pavilion and walkways, parked the car and strolled out onto the decking.A couple were making love (in the 19th century sense of the word) – I noticed that they had arrived in separate cars; a clandestine affair? Certainly, they took pains to ignore me.
Not that I cared.
Luxuriating, I was. I felt my soul regenerating. A wonderful feeling.
I looked out to the opposite point, with houses and pavillions and felt glad to be just where I was. The couple left not long after, and I seemingly had the park to myself.
I walked the shoreline, watching the little waves roll in and the fading, diffuse sunlight reflecting off the puddles. The wind was steady – warm and heavy with moisture and my eyes watered involuntarily as I gazed into it. I felt my emotions being similarly extracted and entered one of these reveries where time seems to expand and the moment swells.I would stayed much longer if I could, but night falls quickly in Louisiana and I did not fancy driving back in the dark. So, reluctantly, I took my leave feeling very, very glad I had come.
I was also left with a growing sense that I was really not so far away. 700 miles is a full day's journey by car – but, nonetheless, it is only a day's journey. I find this thought very satisfying.