Brown Sugar Beach to Unbearable Heat

Brown Sugar Beach to Unbearable Heat
Route 10 Bridge going over Atchafalaya National Wildlife Refuge

Once we left Mississippi, there was still more humidity in the air. The drive to Rutherford Beach in Creole, Louisiana consisted of the longest bridge over water in North America with scenic, marshy views. On Route 10, after Baton Rouge, you have to cross the marshes created from the enormous amounts of water that flow in the Mississippi River. These waters carry enormous, unthinkable amounts of sediment. We didn’t understand just how much flows through this river until we were at the beaches. While driving over the bridge, you can see the humidity in the air as it only allowed you to see a certain distance. As the heat got into the 90s, we couldn’t wait to get to our destination.

Rutherford Beach in Creole, Louisiana as we arrived at sunset

As the sun was setting, we experienced the beautiful change in colors from different perspectives as we approached the beach. We wanted to arrive before dark to allow us time to find a camping spot. It was perfection as we arrived with just enough daylight to find our home for the next couple of days.

As darkness fell, we sat on a blanket in the sand and listened to the waves. As we looked out into the Gulf and noticed stationary blinking lights in the distance. After looking at them for quite some time, we confirmed on google maps, you could see these giant oil rigs from the shore. They were quite hard to take a picture of.

Pelicans flying over the brown sugar waters of Rutherford Beach

We went to bed thinking about these oil rigs and woke up to the Gulf in our front yard. Now, we were able to see the beach and it’s water in the daylight. We were both very surprised as to how brown the water was. You couldn’t see more than an inch into the water. So much, that the fish would bite your legs without fear of being captured because they know you can’t see them. We didn’t stay in the water very long, but it felt wonderful. When we got out, you could see the sediment in the shower water as it rinsed off.

We found the reason for the brown-colored water is rooted in geology, wind, and tides. The sands of the beaches west of the Mississippi River come from the US heartland, containing dark-colored mineral grain, charcoal, and other organic matter from the muddy Mississippi. In addition, the storms in the area stir the sediment, making it more visible in the water. In contrast to Florida’s “white sugar-like sand”, the sands of Texas and Louisiana are closer to “brown sugar.”

Beautiful wildflowers covering the sands of Rutherford

We had a wonderful time at Rutherford Beach and learned to not judge a beach by it’s water…or it’s oil rigs. These brown sugar beaches are not as populated with tourist attractions so there was no development; only untouched, raw nature. We were amazed to find beautiful wildflowers growing in the sand and many squadrons of pelicans hunting for their daily meals of fish in the water.

Camping on the beach is often over glorified. Sand gets in everything and there was a thick coat of salt everywhere. A hard wash was required to get it off and we did start to see some rusting which now requires attention. We won’t be camping directly on the beach hereafter.

The pool at Rayford Crossing was 92F – It still worked to cool you down

Once the winds and sands had enough of us, we packed our stuff and marched towards Texas. Cruising along in nearly 98F humid heart when our truck started to overheat. Our refrigerator went next as the camper started to rise to 96F inside. Our goal was to make it to the middle of Sam Houston National Forest but the heat put us down in Houston itself. We found a nice campground to address all our issues. We were both glad to find such a peaceful and beautiful place to stay at Rayford Crossing. With our truck fixed by Rusty’s Garage, who did an excellent job in addressing the sensor issues AND getting us on the road in time, we trudged on North towards less humid areas. Houston was extremely humid and only a slight bit less than Louisiana.

As we drove, you could feel the transition from the humid coast to the dry desert and only being half way. North of Houston was the largest farm fields Caroline and I had yet seen. Just miles of endless corn in perfect little rows. As we approached our destination, the land started to look more like desert than forest, but our campground provided a nice little oasis of trees from the heat. We now sit here in Hillsboro, Texas as the heat wave up to 104F comes through.

Some tough flower existing in the 100F here in Hillsboro, Texas

Our next stop will be leaving toward Colorado where we go through the desert and into the mountains. As we sit, hoping the heat wave flies by for a cooler driving session. Look out for a video of drone footage of all of these places as I’ve gathered a lot of footage yet unreleased. You can follow our YouTube channel or check back on our website as we will be posting when that video is up. Stay safe in the heat and drink more water!

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  1. I read an a bscure text that the shell fish and diet make the difference in the change of sand collor from white and sugary east of the missippi and west the shell fish and the filtration diet produces brown and sugary sands but I cannot verify that study elsewhere!

    1. After doing some more research, this is the result I got:

      Sand color is influenced by several factors, including the geological history of the region, the source of the sand, and the local ecosystem. This is the difference between the white, sugary sands of the Florida Gulf Coast and the brown sands found in regions like Louisiana.

      **Florida’s Gulf Coast**: The iconic white sand beaches of Florida’s Gulf Coast, particularly in the Panhandle region, are primarily composed of nearly pure quartz (silica) sand. This sand originates from the weathering and erosion of the Appalachian Mountains over millions of years. The quartz is transported by rivers, including the ancient Apalachicola or its predecessors, into the Gulf of Mexico. The fine, powdery texture and white color are due to the quartz’s high purity and the natural weathering process, which removes impurities and polishes the grains. Closer to Clearwater, Florida, you’ll find more shell content in the sand creating a thicker and harder composition.

      **Louisiana and West of the Mississippi**: The sand in coastal Louisiana and areas west of the Mississippi River often originates from different sources, primarily the sediment carried by the Mississippi River itself. This sediment is rich in finer particles, including silt and clay, mixed with sand. The material comes from a much larger and more varied drainage basin that includes parts of the Rockies and other North American regions. The brown color of the sand in these areas can be attributed to the presence of these finer particles and organic matter carried along by the river. The organic content, including decomposed plant material, contributes to the darker coloration.

      While shellfish and other marine organisms can influence sand composition and color, their impact is more significant in areas with extensive coral reefs or shellfish populations, where broken-down shells and coral can accumulate to form beaches. In the case of the Gulf Coast east of the Mississippi, the contribution of shellfish to the sand composition is relatively minor compared to the geological processes mentioned. In Louisiana and westward, the influence of shellfish and their diets on sand color is also limited compared to the dominant effect of riverine sediments.

      This is at least what my research came up with.

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