Editor’s note: Whitney Mackman brings us to a far corner of the bayou in this next post. Enjoy.
Blind River Chapel Paddle
Nestled along the bank of the Blind River and accessible only by boat, Our Lady of Blind River Chapel welcomes all visitors. Built in 1983 by Martha Deroche, the daughter of a Cajun faith healer, this chapel is definitely an experience. Dated and typical pictures of Jesus in various scenes adorn every inch of wall space and numerous religious statues line the foot of the altar. The altar is a spectacular statue of the Virgin Mary housed in a huge, hollowed Cypress trunk – complimented by the simple Cypress pews and the flicker of candlelight.
This was not a religious pilgrimage by any means, and please don’t think you must be Catholic to visit this chapel. No matter what you believe, Deroche “welcomes and offers her prayers and blessing to all who come.” Regardless, visiting a place a community volunteered to build out of love, faith, and friendship is kind of spiritual in its own way.
If that is not enough, the chapel is rumored to have performed miracles and there is a giant text Bible with PICTURES (!!), which is worth the trip if you’ve never seen one.
This paddle is possible from the St. James Parish Boat Launch just off the 61 and the Blind River crossing. From there, the trip is approximately ten miles roundtrip. If you want a shorter, four-mile trip, there is a “secret” (to anyone without googlemaps maybe) and somewhat ridiculous launch off the I-10 where it crosses the Blind River. I put in under the I-10 after chatting with some animated locals. We were the only kayaks in sight, dwarfed by the huge Cypress trees and passing motorboats. I didn’t see much wildlife besides a baby alligator next to the Chapel and some jumping fish, but it was getting stormy out. The fishing camps and hurricane damage along the banks provided enough intrigue and sometimes the trees and lily pads hinted of autumn.
More info on Blind River Chapel: http://www.cajunimages.com/Pages/blind%20river%20chapel.htm
A. Our Lady of Blind River Chapel
B. St. James Parish Boat Launch