Driving into Mississipi, you first drive on a long bridge over Lake Pontchartrain to the North Shore. From there, it’s a short drive through more bayous to the state next to Louisiana. I had read the beaches on this part of the Gulf Coast were spectacular and I would certainly agree.
As we arrived in the suburb of Long Beach, just west of Gulfport and Biloxi, we found a long stretch of powder white sand. Of course we stopped and walked on the beach for a while. The parking is accessible and free. You walk down the seawall, which is actually steps to the beach. How great is that? Across the road, facing the Gulf, there are dozens of stately estates in a plantation style. Several of them were for sale and we wondered what something like that would go for.
On the beach, Leon found a perfect shell which had clearly been moving on the sand quite a bit, judging from its trail. It turned out to be a hermit crab which we took back to the water. We put it on its shell and watched it come out and position itself until it could flip over and crawl away deeper into the water.
The beach was very quiet and I wondered when the tourists arrived. Maybe next week during March Break? We drove further east into Biloxi which is just a bunch of casinos with big names like the Golden Nugget or the Hard Rock Casino. It was like Las Vegas but on a nice beach. Gambling was legalized in 1990 in Mississippi. The revenues from these large casinos have helped to rebuild Biloxi following Hurricane Katrina.
From Biloxi, we continued along the Gulf shores till we got to Alabama, which is just a little strip of Gulf front property. We stayed at Dauphin Island, a campground on the beach, right beside Fort Gaines.
The island has a very important bird sanctuary. I read it is the 4th largest in the US. And we happened to be there during the most important migratory period. We did spot some Osprey, starlings and an eagle holding either a large branch or a snake. But we are not very experienced birders so we opted to visit the nearby fort which was important during the American Civil War. Now the fort has had many owners and uses over the years. And as forts go, it is one of two on either side of the bay which would have been built to stop ships from coming into Mobile Bay. We did not visit the fort on the other side. Sometimes we just run out of time. But this fort had been built by the US government and then used by the rebels during the Civil War and finally taken by the Union forces as the war ended. It also served as a coastal defense site during WW2, but only the Coast Guard defended it, not the Coastal Artillery. Again, go to Leon’s website and see if I have my facts straight.
On Saturday, we were fortunate in that they happened to be doing re-enactments, not of the Civil War, but of WW2. Leon always finds interesting things to talk about with these guys. I enjoy looking at the costumes. In this case, I read some of the letters written by soldiers during the Civil War. I find it so interesting to imagine myself in those times. The teacher in me also finds the evolution of the language to be interesting.
By the way, to get to the fort, we walked along the beach. It was very windy and my legs got sandblasted, but it’s all good.
Here’s another unusual sighting: I was in the Walmart buying a few groceries when I spotted a bag of frozen crawfish, all ready to warm and eat. I almost bought it and then I noticed it was imported from Egypt. Really? Why would they do that when crawfish are one of the biggest local seafood? I don’t get it.
The last part of the trip into Florida was a quick drive through Mobile. Now, I pronounce it wrong. I would say it like something that hangs over a child’s crib – mo-bile. But the name was from the early aboriginals in the area, the Mauvilla tribe. So say it like Maubille. Kinda like the end of the work automobile. Anyway, for a city of only 150K or so, it has some pretty striking tall buildings. And there is a park dedicated to the decommissioned USS Alabama, which we could see from the interstate, yet another long bridge/causeway. Gotta love that shoreline!