Download a PDF of this article as it appeared in the Naples Daily News here.
…let us go on and win glory for ourselves…Illiad XII.322-328
Florida was enchanting to a young landscape architect fresh from LSU’s graduate school in 1979. One end of a magnet, and I the other, Florida drew me.
The people and culture of southern Louisiana would be missed. New Orleans Jazz Festivals, and Mardi Gras were fine, but the soul of Louisiana lies in the hearts of in Bayou Lafourche and by Vacherie and Dulac; in Bayou Gauche, Ponchatoula, Thibodaux, and Tangipahoa where generations of families bound to the land and water made a culture their own.
Here's a Google Maps link of the Atchafalaya Basin.
My treasured weekends in the Atchafalaya Basin fishing for catfish with ‘stink bait’ crafted carefully over a treble
hook cast into mixing brown water would be replaced by–what?
I wept uncontrollably leaving, alone, without shame, miles rolling by. Changes come to life, I knew. I loved it so. Tomorrow would be my career, I knew.
Southern Louisiana has arguably the richest culture in our sublimely lovely country. Unique to the world, Cajun lineage is well-known: a people vaulted, metaphorically, from huge kettles blackened by the Spanish and French and a bit of African. The first question on meeting new faces is always ‘who’s your family’? It’s a friendly inquisition, that’s all, a way to place you, somewhere on Bayou Teche or American Bayou or wax Bayou, ending sometimes with ‘I knew your daddy’, or ‘Your Mama kin to those folks in Plaquemines?’ Kind people, they value the family tree like English royalty of the 14th century. But friendlier.
Oh! Courtbouillon and etoufee and fais do do and lagniappe! Laissez les bon temps rouler! Newcomer, cherie? No
problem! You welcome dat! You hungry?
To Delray Beach
A direct route would follow Interstate 10/12, completed in 1975, then to I-75, already complete from the Florida-Georgia border to Naples, whence a lesser road prevailed. The American Automobile Association thought a super highway across the Everglades would be used only by Alligators, and hence the name alligator Alley.
My loaded Ford Pickup wasn't really interstate highway material. I started on Airline Highway or Highway 190, an inland route from Baton Rouge to the Pearl River, where it joins US90, then hugs the coast through Bay Saint Louis, Pascagoula, Mobile; Loxley, Seminole, and finally, Florida.