ENGLEWOOD — The road trip reached its southernmost point in Englewood, Florida, where we stayed a few days with family. Exploring the Gulf Coast from the mouth of the Mississippi to the northern border of the Everglades gave us a chance to see a part of the country that’s quite different from our Colorado mountain home.
And for Summit County readers who have been around a while, we met someone you might remember — Louisiana native Andy Cook was cleaning a nice haul of yellowfin tuna at the Venice marina when we rolled up for a seafood dinner. Cook owned and operated Ma’s Po Boy restaurant on Park Avenue in Breckenridge for a couple of years in the min-1990s, until Vail Resorts bought the property.
We arrived in Venice (that’s Venice, Louisiana) just a couple of days after a new oil slick was reported just offshore, threatening a national wildlife refuge in Breton Sound.The spill was observed by the Gulf Monitoring Consortium, a coalition of environmental groups that have joined forces to track environmental concerns in the gulf, and aerial photography from SkyTruth clearly showed the oil slick trailing away from a drilling platform.
The sky was buzzing with helicopters apparently flying around to try and locate the source (which should have been clear from the photos), but cleanup workers we spoke with at the motel said they had spent all day searching the waters without finding any oil.
Since then, federal officials have said said the oil is “cleaned up” although no cleanup action was actually performed. The monitoring group says better federal monitoring is needed to track spills and respond quickly.
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the cleanup and containment effort involved 140 responders, 43 vessels and the deployment of more than 15,000 feet of booms to try and protect nearby shoreline, including the wildlife refuge.
The oil may have weathered and dispersed naturally before any reached shore, but judging by the ‘Wild West’ vibe that seems to dominate activity in the area, it’s hard to tell if that’s true. The streets in the area are named after oil companies and other industrial conglomerates — Halliburton Road, Chevron Road — and at a casual glance, well … it looks like an industrial wasteland.
Venice is near the end of a narrow spit of land that is formed by the Mississippi as it dumps billions of tons of silt into the sea. much of the area is below sea level, protected by levees. but wherever there is a break in the earthen dams, the water pours across the road.
From Venice we headed north again, the only direction you can go, but not before sampling some roadside boiled crawfish for only $2.99 a pound.