I have this love of taking the road less traveled…checking out places that the average tourist doesn’t visit. In Louisiana, those roads usually end up in a swamp, against the Mississippi or at the Gulf of Mexico. Louisiana State Highway 23 manages to provide all three end points…
This is the Venice Marina and Restaurant in Venice Louisiana. Starting in Houma, we’d circled up to the south shore of the Mississippi just across from New Orleans and then we headed on down LA Rte. 23 to the last town (and place to have lunch) on the Mississippi before it empties into the Gulf.
It was just about 10 days before Christmas so the Venice Marina Restaurant was cheerfully festooned with holiday decorations. Appropriately, the restaurant has a ‘fishing camp’ look to it. The actual name of the restaurant is CrawGator’s Bar and Grill.
Our friends Big Dude and his better half Beverly, (http://bigdudesramblings.blogspot.com/), had visited this restaurant at one point and knowing that we were heading down to New Orleans, he’d asked if we were planning to make this drive to Venice. Mission completed!
It was a little too brisk to eat outside on the deck but I imagine that it and the restaurant would be packed in season. Venice, with the surrounding waters, is a major sport fishing destination and the waitress told us that this place really rocks in season!
For more about sport fishing and visiting Venice Louisiana, just go to http://www.venicemarina.com/.
Venice also serves as a port for the trawlers and fishing boats of those who fish to provide seafood for us landlubbers…
Note: All the buildings down at the south end of the Mississippi Delta are built up on stilts or pilings. The land is just above sea level and this is Hurricane country!
Standing on the deck of the Marina and looking back to the west…all you can see is more water, Cyprus trees, swamp and some oil related structures on the horizon. At this point, the actual land area is no more than 200 or 300 yards across...
Venice is an unincorporated community and census-designated place in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana. As of the 2010 census, its population was 202. The ‘town’ is 77 miles south of New Orleans on the west bank of the Mississippi River. Venice was almost completely destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Since then, significant rebuilding, reopening, and reoccupation has taken place. Fortunately the high bridge leading to Venice was not destroyed during the hurricane.
There were lots of birds around…enjoying the plentiful food offered by the swamp and adjoining waters and catching some rays. This brown pelican posed nicely and patiently for Laurie. It is just one of eight species of pelicans and it is the State Bird of Louisiana.
We didn’t know what to expect re: the quality of the food at this ‘end of the road’ restaurant. Laurie ordered a Margarita Daiquiri and I ordered a Miller Lite to go with these appetizers. (She loved her Daiquiri!)
Dawn wanted to have some Mozzarella Sticks so we ordered a small portion of those ($6.50) plus an order of the Alligator Kickers…stuffed alligator bites. ($7.00) The mozzarella sticks were just fine and we really liked the alligator bites!
Dawn Marie ordered a cheeseburger on Texas toast. ($7.00) It was pretty good…juicy and flavorful.
I ordered the Fried Fish Basket. ($13.00) Wow! It was huge, the breading was very good and the fish was excellent! The French fries were good too! I was a very happy traveler…
Laurie also went with a seafood option. She ordered the Grilled Shrimp Salad. ($13.00) The shrimp were fresh and plump and this dinner salad was very satisfying!
Sometimes, restaurants in locations like this just pump out mediocre food because they can…with no competition. Not in this case. Overall we were very pleased with the quality of the food at CrawGator’s Bar and Grill (aka. the Venice Marina Restaurant). Service was friendly and the food we ordered was not only satisfying but very good indeed.
This restaurant is located at 237 Sports Marina Road in Venice Louisiana. To see the menu for CrawGator’s Bar and Grill, just go to http://www.venicemarina.com/crawgators.html.
If you miss your turn and drive on past the Venice Marina on LA Rte. 23, you won’t go too much further. This sign confronts you just a little past Sports Marina Road… Both the road and the dry land end here!
There were plenty of birds all around us in the swampland. We saw several anhinga’s in the water and then there was this one up in a Cyprus tree.
The anhinga is sometimes called snakebird, darter, American darter, or water turkey. The word anhinga comes from the Brazilian Tupi language and means devil bird or snake bird. It is a cormorant-like bird with an average body length of 33 inches and a wingspan of 46 inches. When swimming the reason for the name ‘snakebird’ is apparent. Only the neck appears above water and the bird looks like a snake ready to strike. The anhinga hunts by spearing fish and other small prey with its sharp, slender beak.
The road along the end of Highway 23 is lined with Cyprus swamps. Even in the winter, there is a stark beauty and perhaps a hint of mystery to this place.
Laurie also spotted this osprey high in another tree… Given all of the lakes and rivers around us where we live in East Tennessee, we have osprey in our neighborhood…but you usually can’t get this close to them. I didn’t realize that ospreys can be found on all continents except Antarctica. However in South America the osprey occurs only as a non-breeding migrant.
As we left Venice and headed back up LA Rte. 23, I couldn’t resist having Laurie take another boat photo for me. The ‘Master Myles’ is a towing vessel that is 46 feet long that was built back in 1969.
I turned off the highway to check out a sign pointing to the Delta National Wildlife Refuge. As it turned out, there wasn’t much to see… It was just this sign and plaque looking across the water in the direction of the actual refuge. The refuge itself is only accessible by boat.
The Delta National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1935. Its 49,000 acres were formed by the deposition of sediment carried by the Mississippi River. This area combines the warmth of the Gulf and the wealth of the river. Its vegetation is the food source for a multitude of fish, waterfowl and animals. Delta is the winter home for hundreds of thousands of snow geese, coots and ducks.
That’s about it for now. Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them.
Thanks for stopping by for our drive to the end of the road!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave