For the sake of safety, I chose a course that would overfly a spit of land between two massive lakes en route to the Gulf of Mexico. But looking down at the Louisiana wetlands as the ground slipped past a thousand feet below, I realized that “land” is a relative concept here. What looked solid on paper looked quite different from the air.
The green expanse was riddled with brown-water lakes, ponds, and potholes; and the “dry” land itself was a green sponge—light reflecting off diamonds of water in every crook, cranny and crack.
It was hard to say if the muddy water held more soil, or if the marshy land held more water.
The original plan was to fly up the shore between Houston and Lafayette, but the Texas Weather Gods had shredded those plans two weeks before when the race around Galveston Island was scrubbed. Instead of a short, leisurely cruise up the beach, Lisa and I had to fly for ten hours over dry land to get to Abbeville for the Race For Heros. But Lisa still had gulf water in her veins and in her mind’s eye, and wanted to see for herself what that great body of water looked like.
As it was only 30 miles away, our work for the day was done, and we had plenty of fuel, I pointed our nose south. Civilization dwindled and disappeared. Channels, canals, and waterways replaced roads. The flat marsh extended as far as the eye can see in all directions.
Finally, at the far end of the green expanse, a ribbon of yellow-white beach separated the edge of the continent from the sand-colored costal waters of the gulf, where crisp white breakers, like froth on a latte, lapped at the shore.
After a long flight it was time to relax. We did lazy “S” turns back and forth across the desolate beach at 700 feet, venturing out with nothing but air and water under our belly, then turning back again over the marsh, then once again out over the ocean, our plane an over-sized shorebird stretching her wings in the morning light.