Gulf Coast Revisited: One Year Later

It was almost 10 months ago that I took what has become one of the most important trips I've ever taken. Just a weekend road trip down to the Gulf Coast of Alabama, I didn't know that it would become such an influential trip. While this is exactly what it did, the intentions were never to thrust me back into writing and traveling. The intentions, also, weren't politically motivated. After weeks of hearing reports on the news about the Gulf Coast oil rig disaster, I simply wanted to see things for myself. I wanted to talk to locals, interact with volunteers, and walk the beaches for myself; all the while, blogging and tweeting about what I was finding out.

Like all disasters, they eventually stop appearing in the headlines and ultimately stop appearing in the news at all, though the effects continue to live on. I hope this inspires even more wanderlust and travel; that it would remind us of the beautiful, yet fragile world we live in, empowering us to explore and take it all in to the fullest while we can.

Those were the words I penned last summer. It wasn't long after that when the headlines quickly began to thin out with reports from the Gulf Coast. Nonetheless, yesterday marked one year since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded off the Gulf Coast. Does the absence of media coverage over the last few months mean that things are returning to normal along the Gulf states? You'll probably hear mixed reports. However, the same questions that I went down there to answer 10 months ago are the same questions I have today. How have locals been affected by the disaster? Should people be traveling to the Gulf Coast? How is the local seafood? What are the long-term environmental effects?

I'm happy to announce that in a week I'll be returning to the Gulf Coast to get these and many more questions answered. This time, however, instead of just a couple days, I'll have over a week. I'll be spending a few days in New Orleans before heading east, spending time in Gulfport, Gulf Shores, Mobile, and Pensacola. Along the way I'll be taking photos and video, interviewing locals, and blogging/tweeting about what I'll be finding.

One of the best parts of last year's Gulf Coast trip was the support and encouragement from blog readers and followers on Twitter. It was overwhelming. This year, I'm asking for even more support. This trip is a result of the cancellation of another trip, therefore, the planning has just begun. Since I'll be in New Orleans in less than a week, there's a lot of work to do. Renting a car, booking accommodations, interviewing locals, going out on boats onto the Gulf waters, volunteering, and much more. While I have contacts that I'm already reaching out to you, I'm asking readers to provide any help and information they can. If you, or someone you know, can help facilitate any parts of my trip, just use my contact form to get in touch or email me at  spencer.spellman {at} gmail dot com.

Lastly, there are a couple different ways you can get involved. Maybe there are questions you have that you would like to be answered. If so, feel free to comment below or send me an email. I can't promise that it'll get answered, but I'll do my best as it relates to what I'll be doing. If you want to follow more closely on my trip, I'll be tweeting photos, videos, and information starting on May 2nd, using the hashtag #Gulf11.