By Bob Ciminel
July 23, 2006
I was not disappointed by the absence of change. We older folks don't like change, which is why most of us are conservative - at least those of us not receiving a Social Security check. However, I was disappointed to learn that Fabacher's Restaurant, located along the levee in St. Rose, LA, had closed. Fabacher's served the best bread pudding in the world, and I haven't eaten bread pudding since we moved away in 1994.
The La Branche Wetlands, a seven-mile-wide strip of canals, bayous, cypress trees, and wildlife on the southwestern side of Lake Pontchartrain above New Orleans, bisected by I-310, are just as beautiful as ever and even more so with that big Cajun Moon shining through the Spanish moss. There are some sights your eyes behold that are not expressible in words, and a full moon illuminating the Labranche Wetlands is one of them. And that is why we have music and art to express the emotions we can't put into words. But I am not a musician or an artist so I best leave well enough alone. Suffice to say the sight left me speechless.
However, as I crossed over to the west bank of the Mississippi on the beautiful Hale Boggs Bridge, something I did twice a day for about six years, it's easy to see why the riverbank between Baton Rouge and New Orleans is called Chemical Alley. Chemical plants and refineries are scattered along both sides of the river as far as you can see from your vantage point 350 feet above the river. At night, the uninitiated might mistake the plants for cities because they look like urban sprawl and are larger than the towns located between them.
In front and to my left is a huge chemical plant where they make a popular herbicide. To my right is another complex that specializes in antifreeze. Behind me and to my left is a grain elevator that ships millions of tons of corn and wheat from the American Heartland to foreign nations. To my right is one of the largest gasoline refineries in the United States. Interestingly, the price of gasoline at a convenience store just outside the refinery's gate is higher than it is out of state. When I asked the owner why his gasoline was so expensive, he said, "Transportation costs." I let it go at that, but as I thought about it I realized that he buys his gas from a distributor who has to truck it in from who knows where, probably Chicago!
But the point of this article is humidity, and south Louisiana enjoys copious amounts of water vapor in its air. Don't let the term "subtropical climate" fool you, that's based on south Louisiana's location vis-à-vis the equator, there are only two weeks out of the year when sweat will actually evaporate from your skin instead of dripping down into your skivvies. Our air conditioner ran 27/7, not to keep us cool but to dehumidify the house. The place was paradise for mold spores!
The absolutely worst time to
be in south Louisiana is October. While most people in the contiguous
United States are enjoying Friday night football in the crisp,
cool, dry air of autumn, we would sit in an outdoor stadium with
the air temperature at 72 degrees Fahrenheit, the humidity at
99 percent, and not enough breeze to disturb a feather. It was
miserable! The only thing that made it bearable was that big,
bright Cajun Moon shining through the Spanish moss.
He assumes informed readers will be able to tell the difference. Bob lives in Roswell, Georgia, and works for the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations. He is also a conductor on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway.
Contact Bob at firstname.lastname@example.org