Biloxi and Pascagoula, MS and Mobile and Fairhope, Alabama

June 7, 2008

 

Saturday morning I had bfast and hung out all morning with my new best friends.  They were headed to Jefferson Davis’ presidential library [in Biloxi].

 

I stopped at Beau Rivage, with is a fancy casino in Biloxi.  When I lived in Houston, I saw ads for Beau Rivage all the time.  So, I thought I would check it out. 

 

It is really nice.  I was hungry so thought I would check out the buffet. I thought it was $12, which I didn’t think was too bad, so I thought I would stay.  However, there were several lines, and I was trying to figure out which line to stand in, and more importantly, how long to wait.  I usually don’t wait for food.  I tried to ask someone who worked there, but she was busy, so I asked this guy who was in the front of one of the lines.

 

He asked if I was paying for the lunch or was it a comp.  I said paying.  He looked at me like I was crazy and said “you are paying cash for lunch?”  Well, not cash-cash…visa.  “You don’t want to do that” and took out a comp ticket and gave it to the woman working.  Not only did he give me a free lunch, but he also told me to go in front of him [and the line].  So…that worked out nicely!

 

I then decided to give Beau Rivage a buck, since I had a free lunch and all.  So, I found the non smoking penny slots.  And I lost this money faster than thisfast.  Not once did I win any credits. 

 

I stopped in Pascagoula.  The 2 block downtown was deserted, except for an older man with a mic who was preaching.  Now…who’s he preaching to??  I went to the library, where it was cool to read up on what I was going to do in Mobile.  While I was there I decided to use the computer, which there were several available.  However, I needed to show my driver’s license and proof that I lived at that address – utility bill.  Ahem.

 

I stopped at the AL tourist office and this really nice little old lady helped me.  She told me the best way into Mobile since it seems the tunnel is backed up [thus I 10 is backed up].

 

Kevin and Sylvia had told me that I needed to check out Fairhope, which is around Mobile Bay.  So, the tourist woman booked me a room there…on the water.

 

I got into Mobile, and parked in the visitor center lot.  There is a fort right there.  But the one guard who guards the fort didn’t show up for work, so it was closed.  Then I was going to take the trolley around town, but was told that the trolley guy didn’t feel like working that day…he really doesn’t like working the weekends.

 

So, I decided I had had my fill of Mobile and head to Fairhope. 

 

It was 96’.  I must say that driving with the sun beating down on me has already gotten old.  I can’t wait to get up north.

 

Fairhope is nice and quaint.  Nice downtown area, no chains.  Lots of flowers, cycling trails, beaches, duck pond.  There are benches for people to sit all along the water, and they were filled with people enjoying the sunset.  There is a pier that goes out a ¼ mile into Mobile Bay.  LOTS of activity at nite on the pier… people fishing, or just strolling.  Near the pier is a huge fountain, surrounded by a rose garden.  And people all around.  Very nice.

 

Oh…when I was at the laundry mat, I was talking to the woman who was the attendant.  We started talking about how expensive [from her point of view] it is to live in Fairhope.  I commented that isn’t Mobile less expensive?  “Some places yes, some no.  But they will drag you out of your own car while you are stopped at a street light.”  And just shook her head as though no way is she living there.

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New Orleans, LA and Bay St Louis and Biloxi, Mississippi

June 6, 2008

 

On Friday morning I headed into New Orleans.  It was 8.30 am and 92’.  And of course humid.

 

My main goal of the day was to go to the D Day Museum in New Orleans.  Actually, they have re-named it the National World War II Museum.  I will write this up later, since it will take me a little time, and I want to get this out.

 

After the Museum, I headed east along I-10 then onto hiway 90, to go along the coast of MS and view the hurricane damage. 

 

I must say, that coming into and out of New Orleans, I drove over more bridges than I ever have.  I guess it is all swamp, so the interstate is up over the swamp and officially a bridge.  I guess that is what they would be called.  No matter what, it’s quite some infrastructure they had to build.  East of New Orleans toward Slidell they are building new roads/bridges [apparently to replace existing ones] and it was quite an impressive sight with hundreds of …can’t think of what they are called besides “legs”…in place for as far as I could see.  It just went on and on and on.

 

Just after this, I-10 is called the Stephen Ambrose Memorial Highway.

 

I stopped in Bay St Louis, MS.  I pulled over so I could check the water out.  It was what most people would consider way too warm, but I thought it was just right.  So, I put my bathing suit on and went it.  I then got my low lawn chair and rosemary triscuits [sp?] out and sat under a huge old tree that took a pounding and just watched the world go by while eating my triscuits.

 

Along the water, about half the houses have been fixed back up.  Same for their little downtown area.  I saw one house, which was, let’s say, 10 blocks from the water…so no water view.  It was a big house and zero has been done to it – it needs to be demolished. For sale for $395k.

 

Then I drove along 90 towards Biloxi.  I saw one corner lot across the road from 90 [unobstructive view of the water], for sale for $595k.

 

It looks like 75% the area along the coast has been rebuilt.  And when they rebuild, they are building the big, fancy homes and condos.  So, it is the 2 extremes…fancy vs nothing done yet.  The trees def look weather beaten, but unsure if that is due to the hurricanes vs constant, daily pounding by the wind.  The trees all seem “short”…probably 30’ tall.  I don’t know my trees, so can’t tell you what kind they are.  They are also planting a lot of palm trees along 90.

 

There seems to be a Waffle House every 2 miles.

 

I decided to stay in Biloxi, in a hotel on the water.  At dusk I went out to the beach.  There was only one other woman there.  It’s Friday nite, finding a room was tough, and NO ONE is on the beach.  So, I went over to ask her …what’s the deal?  Am I missing something?

 

She was wondering the same thing.  We got to talking and really hit it off.  Her name is Sylvia, and her hubby Kevin, and daughters Caroline and Laura were in the water.  I look out, and about 200m out, there is a man walking with water up to mid calf.  And there are 2 little heads coming out of the water.  They are walking in, and he looks like a giant walking on water.  I asked her what in the world is he standing on.  She said he’s not, the water is that shallow.  Then how old – and tall – are your daughters?  Come to find out, there were on boogey boards lying down, which is why I could only see their heads.  When they stood, they too looked like they were walking on water.

 

So, we all hit is off and I spent the evening talking and hanging out with them.  They were very delightful. 

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Port Arthur, Texas

May 30, 2008

 

I am leaving Houston and will be making my way to Baltimore.  I plan on exploring Louisiana and Mississippi on the way.  My only constraint is that I need to be in Baltimore by June 11th, so I can fly out of BWI on June 12th to go to my niece’s wedding celebration.

 

I started off later than expected yesterday, and planned on spending the nite in Port Arthur, home of Janis Joplin.  With apologies to anyone with family and friends in Port Arthur, but ahhh, I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.  You know how there is a section of town that you don’t want to stop in?  Well, the whole town seemed like that.  

 

Pretty much, the downtown area is abandoned, except for gov’t buildings, which seemed new or newly refurbished.  It was 5.30 and not a car in sight. I could have stopped in the middle of the street and left my car to look around.

 

They have received money somehow since there seems to be a new performing arts center, a new multi purpose building, and as I mentioned above, the gov’t/city buildings look new.

 

I needed directions and decided on a certain gas station to ask.  Inside there was an older woman, younger woman and an older man scratching off Lotto tickets.  I asked how to get to 82 and there was a conference amongst them and the younger woman started rattling off directions a mile a minute…talking so fast and with an accent, I couldn’t understand a word she said except Valero this and Valero that.  And then there was more discussion between them cuz they decided that I would get lost that way.  I did manage to understand and they actually got me where I needed to go.  I am going along hiway 82 which hugs the coast/Gulf of Mexico.

 

Port Arthur goes on my worst cities list, right next to Manchester, NH.

 

So….being in the oil and gas business, especially production offshore [Gulf of Mexico], I have heard for years of various places where the gas/oil hit the beach.  So, I drove along this 2 lane road near the coast and went by places like Johnson’s Bayou, Sabine Pass, Holly Beach… and saw all these plants, compressor stations…that I have heard of for years.  I had a nerdy blast!

 

It seemed the only people on this road was myself and guys in big white trucks [going to/from work].  There are just 2 lanes coming up out of the bayou/water.  There is NOTHING along this highway.  Nothing, besides oil/gas infrastructure.  No gas stations, no bait and tackle, no 7/11’s, no grocery stores…nothing.  Now and again there would be housing, which means it was either trailers/trailer park or these really expensive, huge houses built up on 15’+ stilts.  Johnson’s Bayou had a school, and a health clinic.  That’s it.  Nothing was at Holly Beach.  I was so glad that I stopped to get gas before Port Arthur, cuz without a doubt, I would have run out of gas.  I drove for 2 hours in this area, which they call Cameron.  I would have kept thinking there has got to be a gas station sooner or later.  Yes…in Lake Charles!  I didn’t see anyone on any of the beaches, no one anywhere [except the white trucks].  Pretty much deserted.

 

The area smelled like how a new shower curtain smells.

 

In the middle of all these plants/refineries….is a pelican sanctuary.

 

At times I thought it was raining, but it was really just bugs splatting on my windshield.  

 

I saw a sign that mentioned “ferry”, I turned the bend…and the road stops.  So, the ferry took me over to Cameron.  The ferry lady told me…duh…that hurricane Rita took out everything.  That is why there are no stores/businesses.  She said it was pretty dumpy before Rita, so it was nice that Rita came and wiped everything out, but now they are rebuilding with expensive homes…which is quite the opposite of what was there before…so the whole feel of the place is slowly changing.

 

I then headed to Lake Charles to spend the nite. It was much later than I had planned…I checked into a hotel and it was 9.30 and I hadn’t eaten dinner yet.

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