If New Orleans is an aging beauty queen drunk on the fumes of her glorious past, Plaquemines Parish, to the southeast, is plain old sloshed — not to mention saturated, striated, slivered and surrounded by water. And no wonder: The peninsula that comprises most of the parish was born many years ago, when the Mississippi River shifted, creating a sliver of land melding into its extensive wetlands.
Even on the peninsula itself, things aren’t so solid, not with the Mississippi chugging down its middle at approximately the equivalent of 166 semitrailers of water a second, and the Gulf — flat, blue-brown and dotted with oil rigs — on both its eastern and western flanks. Route 23, the main road in and out, gets you just past Venice, the peninsula’s last town. Go a bit farther on Tidewater Road and you come to the sign that tells you that you have reached the “Gateway to the Gulf,” or “the southernmost point in Louisiana.”