'225': Our secret Saint-Tropez
Every year, Condé Nast and National Geographic Traveler put together their lists of the nation's best beaches. Every year, Baton Rouge beach lovers eagerly turn to see if their beloved Gulf Coast strands have made the cut. And for almost 40 years, Margie Belk has breathed a sigh of relief each time she sees they haven't. "We never wanted to encourage people. We always wanted to keep it for ourselves," she says, laughing. Belk's secret? She knows that some of the finest beaches anywhere are right under our collective noses. These gorgeous respites belong to the shores of the Mississippi River. Belk, who has auctioned several guided river trips for church fundraisers, likes to say her kids "grew up on the river." She has a lot of proof to back it up. A photo of her granddaughter crawling on a local sand bar was published in Parade magazine, and her home is filled with river maps and memorabilia. Belk and her husband, Jim, cruised thousands of miles on the river before his death in 1997. At 82, she still loves to swim in the Mighty Mississippi. Read the full story by Steven Babcock in the current issue of 225 here.
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