Last night we did something I’ve wanted to do every time we’ve ported out of NOLA – we stayed up late enough, outside, to see where the river meets the ocean at land’s end.
It was cool. We set sail around 4:30 pm from port, and around midnight on the mark, we sailed past the last itty bitty piece of land, drifting smoothly out into the ocean. The mouth of the river opened up, and released us into the bluer waters of the Gulf.
The trip takes so long because the Mississippi is curvy, winding back upon itself over and over again, bringing passengers back close to NOLA a couple of times, as the crow flies anyway. It’s like if the river were to be diverted straight across, one could make the trip in about 1/3 of the time it actually takes to make it on the meandering path as it exists.
Small lights guide the way, and large vessels are assisted, of course, by pilots who know the river’s nooks, crannies, and channels like the backs of their hands.
The ship had gained speed as it approached the mouth. One could tell we were approaching the mouth, as the land got further and further away, swampy in its existence. The lights, red and green, signaling each side of the channel. We passed another Carnival ship, headed into port, with me saddened just a bit that we, too, will be doing that in 7 days. I hate debarkation day. It’s worse than the day after Christmas was when I was a child. It means back to work, back to school, back to the crap that is everyday life.
The boat slowed down, noticeably from our rear balcony seats with a front-row view of the mouth. The pilot boat, chasing, gained her cargo as the pilot himself leapt back on board just before the pilot boat sped away into the night, leaving 3,000 people on our ship on our own, headed out into the open sea.