May 12, 2007, 11:40 pm
....a couple days rest .... post Jazz Fest ..... in Ocean Springs, Mississippi (east of Biloxi) was much needed and a quiet "retreat".
Ocean Springs is a beautiful town on the Gulf Coast avoiding the tourist hotspots. It is featured in the 100 Best Small Art Towns in America and I can attest to that. I stayed at Martin Lake Resort. The lake was beautiful.
Some think legalized gambling on the Mississippi Gulf Coast is a mixed blessing to the coast generating visitor $$$'s but some thoughts are.....at the expense of..... turning charming old towns into some tacky tourist lures. I loved Biloxi and Gulfport, the regions 2 largest cities. As an outsider, I was surprised at the devastation to the areas from Katrina but.....they are busy at work.....as is New Orleans. The coast itself is absolutely beautiful....with its white sand beaches, tidal reefs and alligator swamps .... My feelings were quite bifurcated as I drove along the 26-mile stretch of beach from Biloxi to Gulfport......looking at the exquisite beach areas.....and also seeing gas stations (former) with the "tall" Shell Gas Station signs high up with only a structure.......no building......the tall "Waffle House" sign with no waffle house......beautiful homes comparable to my area of 17 Mile Drive in Carmel....Monterey....,CA.....many, just shells....but they are busy at work.
Mobile, Alabama was only about 50 miles from Biloxi, so I took a day trip. The contrast between the beach town with a somewhat carnival atmosphere, the beautiful resorts, especially Dauphin Island, a bird refuge and very appealing
& Mobile (downtown) with ancient buildings shaded by the giant Spanish moss-draped oaks. The flowers in beautiful bloom...guess they were azaleas, magnolias....spectacular! Such history .... and I'm so fortunate to be finding out more about it than I ever learned in history classes in school. Mobile (as New Orleans) has served under so many flags....France, England, Spain .... and the Confederacy....such a roller coaster history.
and then.......................more history......for this student of travel.......
As I headed for Monroe, LA, I went north through Jackson .... also with so much history. I remember hearing of Vicksburg but didn't know why....other than Civil War stuff. There was no way I could pass through this historical town without exploring. I had time to do one tour but will go back for more. I was in awe of the Mississippi River, the bridge, the rolling hills, the historical landmarks, the beautiful churches, the unique shops, restaurants, CatFish Row Art Park, Casinos, and most of all the incredible 1830-1870 Period Homes.
I also discovered how significantly African Americans have, and are now, contributing to the City's infrastructure: its neighborhoods, schools, churches, governmental facilities and social organizations. I haven't heard the media discuss that.....or am I missing something!?? I love this town and even the dockside gaming industry seems quite apart from the town and, to me, there is nothing tacky about it.
I have now arrived at Shiloh RV & Travel Resort in Monroe. I am not surprised at how well-managed it is. You can see Anne's footprints all over the park......from the humor of the brochure to the picnic table set-up outside my door. I'm right by the lake and it's beautiful. If I can't find out where the Blue's Festival is tomorrow, I think I'll go fishing.
Laissez les bon temps rouler.......
(Let the good times roll)