Saturday, March 15, 2014

All Weeks Should Be This Fun . . .

This has been and exciting week. Exciting weeks seem to go by quickly. We found a nice RV Park in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi and the weather basically cooperated. We are on the gulf coast about 50 miles east from downtown New Orleans. The beaches along the ocean here are spectacular. The towns on the Mississippi beaches within 40 miles of us are Biloxi, Gulfport, Long Beach, Bay St. Louis, and Waveland.

 It didn’t dawn on me at first as the area along the coast was nice, and new, but it finally registered - this area was devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. They have made a nice recovery but remnants of the catastrophe are still everywhere. Not all the structures along through the beach cities have been rebuilt. Our RV Park is about 6 miles from the ocean. I spoke to a manager in Wal-Mart over in Gulfport earlier in the week and she told me she lives 12 miles from the ocean and the ocean’s surge got to within 1-1/2 miles of her house. Our RV Park must have been under water. I have a different appreciation of this tragedy having gotten to see the area first hand. Obviously many lives were changed.

Silver Slipper Casino

We checked into the Bay Hide Away RV Park here in Bay St. Louis last Monday afternoon around 3 P.M. after driving the 370 miles from Livingston, Texas. We started at 7:30 A.M. but were obstructed the first 70 miles out of Livingston with 500 foot visibility in fog. Not really much traffic but once again I needed to go slower driving the 14 ton coach. It was quite scenic driving along through the bayou areas and cities like Lake Charles, Baton Rouge, and Lafayette on a busier than normal Interstate-10. Yes, that is the same Interstate-10 that starts at the beach in Santa Monica, California and terminates in Jacksonville, Florida.

We no more than got comfortably settled in our space before the owner/manager showed up to invite us to go to a B-B-Q restaurant over in Gulfport with a group from the park. She said to leave about 5:00 P.M. and everyone would meet at the restaurant. It ended up that about 25 showed for dinner. After a long travel day it was a hoot meeting our new neighbors. The restaurant, named “Murky Waters” did serve a very decent brisket and ribs. If you should ever get to the area you should look it up. “Murky Water”, maybe something to do with Katrina. I didn’t ask.

It was a little drippy out on Tuesday. We did administrative things, read our books, and basically didn’t venture out other than to get a little exercise walking around the RV Park. Eventually we drove 6 miles down to the beach in Waveland and went to the dinner buffet at the Silver Slipper Casino. This casino is right on the beach and I’m sure it had plenty of damage in Katrina. Nice casino and a wonderful buffet. Exquisite buffet in presentation and quality of items. We had all seven, or maybe it was eleven, courses, and we didn’t lose any weight there!

Wednesday we got rolling early (8:30 A.M.) and took the 40 mile drive east along the beach cities of Bay St. Louis, Gulfport, and Biloxi. In Los Angeles this would be like driving on Pacific Coast Highway from Palos Verdes to San Clemente except here there is light traffic and you are never more than 50 yards from the white sands and water in the Gulf of Mexico. The waters on this day were bathtub smooth on this morning, but the wind started to blow about 20 M.P.H. in the afternoon and the waters got choppy to rough.
Beau Rivage Casino, Biloxi, MS

From Beau Rivage Parking Garage

We basically drove the 40 miles just taking in the sights for possible stops on our return trip. The easterly morning drive ended in the parking lot at the Beau Rivage Hotel and Casino in Biloxi. Again, it is virtually right on the beach. We went in for a look-see and while the casino/hotel is part of MGM we found it reminded us most of the Bellagio in Las Vegas. A definite “grandness” about the place. High ceilings in the check-in area like the atrium at Bellagio.

Passing east through Biloxi in the morning we noted a point of interest. The fenced estate and presidential library of Jefferson Davis. If you don’t remember your history, Jefferson Davis (1808 – 1889) finished high school at 16 and graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, NY at age 19. He fought with distinguished service as a colonel in the Mexican-American War in 1846. He was a congressman and senator and appointed Secretary of War (Secretary of Defense) by President Franklin Pierce. Obviously a man of honor and a believer in state’s rights, he resigned from the senate in January 1861 and returned to Mississippi where he was unanimously voted President of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War (1861 -1865). Things didn’t go so well from there. Captured at the end of the war, he was accused of treason, he was a man without a country, and imprisoned for two years pending an indictment that never came, so, he was released. President Jimmy Carter had his citizenship reinstated in 1979. Wiki is a short, detailed, and interesting read of this man’s gallant life.

Today the estate, named “Beauvoir” encompasses the large house, two cottages, a presidential library, and a cemetery of approximately 800 graves of confederate soldiers and their wives. The property sustained substantial damage by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. I will post a picture of the front of the house. The Gulf of Mexico is about 150 yards across the street from the front of the house. During Hurricane Katrina the water surged ashore and rose into the house about two feet above the top stairs you see in the picture below, and it didn’t recede for three days. Over the next three years $5 million was put into restoration. This is a wonderful exhibit.
Home of Jefferson Davis (1808 - 1889)

Rear of house from Presidential Library

Presidential Library

Tomb of the Unknown Confederate Soldier

The next morning saw us take the one hour drive across Lake Pontchartrain on Interstate-10 to get to the Canal Street off-ramp of the French Quarter in New Orleans. Parking is an issue in this area but there was plenty of public parking within easy walking distance of everything we came to see. We parked near Harrah’s Casino. We walked a loop of a couple miles during our excursion from the river to the Café Du Monde, to Bourbon Street for lunch and back to the car. The narrow one-way streets became more crowded with people as the day progressed. Many bars and restaurants filled with live music for tourist to soak up. It was midnight at noon!

Friday was a relaxing day. We took a walk around the RV Park. Temperature was around 65 with an overcast sky. We went to the Silver Slipper Casino for the lunch buffet. That is a great buffet!

Today, Saturday, has been a relaxing work day around the coach. We never left the park. Janet was reading her Debbie Macomber book, and I’m reading an interesting book entitled “Power Beyond Reason – The Collapse of Lyndon Johnson”. It has confirmed my dislike for that sick character. How do these quacks get into positions that represent high integrity?

It appears that we will have a downpour here tomorrow, Sunday, so I’m going to get the coach ready to move 120 miles to Alabama. The move is on Monday morning. This was a wonderful week and we hope you are enjoying our ramblings.

At Cafe Beignet
The Mighty Mississippi

                      Yáll stay in touch now!
                      Dave & Janet

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