We came into
on Highway 110 and Boom! there was our hotel, the IP. How handy is that? We dropped off our stuff and headed out to see Biloxi , starting with the lighthouse and the beach, both of which were lovely. The lighthouse wasn’t open – it’s too hot in the afternoons this time of year, but we walked down to the water and checked to be certain there wasn’t any tar around. There wasn’t. Not a bit. Then we went to the Biloxi Welcome Center (which is in a really charming old house) where we picked up several brochures and bought a tee shirt. We don’t actually wear a lot of tee shirts, but it’s a nice way to contribute to the local economy and we feel an almost moral obligation to do that in most of the places we visit in Biloxi . Mississippi
The medians on Highway 90 – the highway that runs right along the beachfront for pretty much the entire coast and is an absolutely beautiful drive – used to be full of oak trees. Pre-Katrina, that is. Someone (many someones, I suppose) took the ones that Katrina killed and chain-sawed (and detailed) them into these beautiful sculptures. Some are really elaborate, others simple, but they’re all lovely and uplifting.
There is another place of historic proportions in
, and that is the restaurant, Mary Mahoney’s. Since we were only spending $48 a night for a room, we figured we could splurge on a nice dinner, and Mary’s is a splurge. We had gumbo – absolutely the best gumbo either of us had ever tasted, simply beyond belief – and then Marian went with fried oysters and I had an escargot entrée made with shrimp rather than snails, which is the way I prefer escargot. We literally ate ourselves sick. Biloxi
The posts pictured above are what remains of the President Casino. I'm sure that it had some beautiful views, and I understand that the “on the water” bit was to circumvent
’s gambling regulations, etc., but really – What were they thinking? Mississippi
Biloxi’s IP Resort turned out to be a really good hotel choice – and not just because of the price. The employees were nice and our room was lovely, with comfy beds, good linens, a very nice bathroom, and completely toenail-free carpets throughout. And, like everything else on the coast, it is relatively new, or at least newly refurbished. You’ll find very, very few dry goods of any sort on the coast that pre-date 2005. Also, and this was a surprise, they gave each of us a $10 casino tab, making our room, effectively, $38 a night. Now, we realize that $10 doesn’t exactly make us “whale” material, but that’s just what Marian and I had planned to spend gambling, so isn’t that a nice coincidence? Marian managed to parlay hers into $17+, and I cashed out with a dollar to spare before I lost everything, but we spent a pleasant half hour or so.
We took a look around the Beau Rivage, which is the biggest, glitziest casino and a little better located than IP, being right on the coast highway and therefore, the water, and it was very nice. I must say, some real name entertainers come to the coast. They don’t stay long – most of the shows are one-nighters – but they do come.
Everyone whose tastes we admire told us how wonderful Ocean Springs is, so we were real excited about seeing it. While it was nice – a cute little downtown – we weren’t overly impressed. To be fair, one reason may have been the heat. It was 600 degrees that day. Just miserable. Maybe if we had been able to stroll the streets we would have felt differently, but it just wasn’t strolling weather. We did find a row of cute stores with good air conditioners and we whiled away an hour or so.
There are so many artists on the coast! We saw beautiful things, and found some great “beach themed” things for the beach houses we don’t own, and many lovely items useful for the sort of entertaining we don’t do – so we had to put most of that stuff back. We did pick up quite a few pretty things, though. Sadly, I opted not to get the glass wine cooler I had my eye on, and I’m still regretting it. (I do drink wine. I could have actually used that. I don’t know what I was thinking. It must have been the heat.)We tried to visit the Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge just outside Ocean Springs, but we were told that we wouldn’t be able to actually see any cranes and it was waaaay too hot to be out and about with no payback. Also, in her effort to encourage us to see the place, the volunteer ranger told us we should be sure to take this little hike along the water and look for their resident alligator. “It’s huge!” she exclaimed. “Almost everyone sees him,” she went on, "it's like he knows people are there, so he pops up out of the water!" Okay….
I think most Mississippians know that there are shipyards in
(Marian -- I was driving on this trip-- as per normal -- and chose a wrong lane -- also, as per normal -- and put us on a 3 lane access road to the massive shipyard at the exact time when 1500+ workers were getting off work. The traffic was so heavy leaving the shipyard area that they have traffic lights controlling their departure and, quite frankly, if it were not for those traffic lights, our U turn wouldn't have been so quick...)
It was obvious from the get-go thatSpeaking of
Gulfport got hit a lot harder than in Katrina. As we drove down 90, the beach was gorgeous and oh so clean, and the inland side of the road was bare. Well, it wasn’t completely bare, of course, if you looked closely you could see the foundations of former homes, along with an occasional set of steps and a few really gnarly trees, but it appears that the beach, the highway, and the houses that lined 90 through Gulfport all blew away. Some houses have been rebuilt, but not many. It’s an absolutely gorgeous strip of real estate, and the beach, which is mostly new sand, is simply stunning. Nobody was on the beach. Nobody. It was clean – no oil – but there were no tourists. Biloxi
My research also indicated that the birds are endangered in the interior
is pretty impressive. We hadn’t expected a lot of nice old buildings, but there they were. While it must have been harmed by Katrina, it was not destroyed like the coastal area, although it’s only a few blocks inland. Neither Marian nor I knew much about the coast, but it appeared to us that Gulfport Gulfport was more upscale than . Biloxi
There’s an old restaurant in
called White Cap Seafood Restaurant. It’s been around since 1928 – not in its present building/location, of course. We picked it blind, using the tried and true “the parking lot looks full to me” method, but we had a really good meal (fish and shrimp) and a fabulous mango margarita. Mmmmm. Gulfport
We did visit the Antique Junction there and whiled away a good hour looking at art work, antiques, jewelry, etc. Nice place, wonderful owners.
There is a Wal-Mart on the coast highway (okay, it’s behind the highway a bit, but since nothing is right up on the highway at this time, it is “on the highway”). Now, perhaps I have missed something, but isn’t an ocean view kind of wasted on Wal-Mart? Seriously. We saw this time and time again on the coast. Ocean view lots – right on the water – tend to be prime real estate, yet we even saw a cemetery on Highway 90 in
! Not only did it seem a waste of a great view, but a really poor place to put anything underground. Surely they lose a few residents with every hurricane. Biloxi
Pass Christian has a beautiful marina, and a fun restaurant named Shaggy’s right there on the water, but the city was obviously destroyed in Katrina. As an interesting aside, Pass Christian actually does sit below sea level.
Alllllrrriiight!!! That’s for us. We found our place and it’s Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. Charming. Totally charming. Lots of old houses and buildings. Along the waterfront, there are many still-vacant lots, but many things made it through; not unscathed maybe, but they made it. We actually saw the remains of one ruined building that appeared to have been a bank – a bank with a water view. Anyway, we think it was a bank because amidst the rubble (the building itself didn’t make it) stood a giant vault. It was just standing there, all by itself.
was also the place where we saw our first oil booms. There’s a huge bridge that carries you (across St. Louis Bay) from Pass Christian to Bay St. Louis and that’s where the booms were. There was no oil though. St. Louis
Anyway, we visited a few antique stores – we love antique stores! – and then we had to turn toward home via highway 603. The route took us through Kiln, a nice rural area with lovely homes, and by Purvis, the RV capital of the world, apparently.