Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Biloxi, Mississippi to Inver Grove Heights-February 1-6, 2009

We last left you on our final night in Carrabelle, Florida, prepared to travel to Biloxi, Mississippi. That night, we treated ourselves to one last meal of fresh seafood.

We had everything all ready for an early start. We rose just as the sun was rising out on the bay at HoHum.

We watched it come up, climbed into the truck and started on our way.

By early afternoon, we were in our new spot at Majestic Oaks RV Resort

in Biloxi, Mississippi.

Majestic Oaks is a brand new park, newly built post Katrina. It was a very nice place with top notch facilities, but we missed the friendliness of the people in our Florida parks. People were either visiting the casinos or working in Biloxi, so it was a different environment. However, it was a very comfortable, secure resort!

We were glad we experienced this coastal region, one of the hardest hit areas during Hurricane Katrina

and much of what we saw was quite disheartening, to say the least. Although much work has been done, the destruction of Katrina is still very evident. Many buildings remain in their ruined state.

This is "The White House" an historic landmark hotel situated right on the gulf drive in Biloxi. I read an article in the paper this week stating that 2/3 of the federal funds allocated for reconstruction in the area destroyed by Katrina remain unspent, tied up in bureaucratic stupidity. That, combined with the state of the economy presents a very unfortunate situation.

There are bright spots on the horizon, however. There are brand new casinos

and beautiful new Baptist churches. What more could you want to revive a community?

And another bright spot, a chain saw artist has almost completed a project turning some of the ruined oak trees along the gulf drive into sculptures. This is his last piece, still a work in progress.

The NBC nightly news did a feature on this project and aired it while we were in Biloxi. I especially liked this sculpture of a seahorse.

We crossed over the new bridge connecting Biloxi to Ocean Springs. We remembered seeing news footage of the old bridge in ruins after the hurricane. One can still see the remnants of the old bridge in the bay. The new one is very beautiful.

Our visits to regions always focus, as you may notice, on the

We crossed the new bridge on our way to Gulf Shores National Seashore, where all the facilities have been rebuilt. We did a walk out along Davis Bayou that enters into the bay.

And along a saltwater marsh.

We did some hiking along a trail that leads through magnolia trees canopies. Although many of the trees were destroyed, there are beautiful old ones still remaining. I would love to see Mississippi, the "Magnolia State" when they are in bloom!

We also drove north a few miles to the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge.
The Mississippi sandhill crane is an endangered species, as opposed to the species we saw all over Venice, Florida. Although we did not see any of these birds

on our hike that day,

we did see flocks of bluebirds

in the area surrounding the marsh.

We are glad we experienced the Biloxi area. We will come back someday and stay longer.

We decided to cut our trip short by a few days and head back to Minnesota. The furnace in our camper did not work properly and those last nights were cold.

We looked at the weather forecast between Mississippi and Minnesota and saw

so we winterized the camper and turned north.

We drove the first day through Mississippi, Tennesse and Arkansas to the bootheel of Missouri,

to the small town of Caruthersville, where we stayed at a casino campground on the Mississippi River. You can see the smokestacks of the river boat casino in the background of this picture. We never unhooked the camper from the truck, as we were just "passing through" and not staying long!

It was a very cold night in Caruthersville. This area had been hit by a terrible ice storm the prior week. An inch thick blanket of ice had caused terrible damage which was very evident along the highway as we drove from Memphis to Missouri. There were hundreds of "cherry picker" trucks as electrical contractors from all over were working to restore power to the region. It is a good thing we didn't have to find a hotel room.

We were up at dawn and headed north. One last night in Cedar Falls, Iowa

(in a warm hotel, thank you very much) and a late morning stop at our camper dealer to drop off the camper for a furnace repair and we were

early Friday afternoon.

When the truck stopped in our garage, the odometer showed we had driven EXACTLY 5,000 miles since we left on New Year's Eve!

We traveled through twelve states on our trip.

As we drove up Interstate 35 that last day, we both agreed we have the

Even if we did miss the kids

very much, we are starting to dream of our first "post winter" trip. Where will it be?

We'll keep you posted!!!