Hank – We woke up to blue Jays calling, doves cooing, and woodpeckers tapping. I went with a peanut butter sandwich and banana washed down with de-caf tea for breakfast. We stayed on a side road going through Gautier, which saved us from 11 miles of the main highway. When we saw the Luxury donut shop we had to stop there for a quick snack. We continued on side roads through Ocean Springs. The bridge crossing into Biloxi, MS had a separate bike/pedestrian path so that was pretty sweet.
Biloxi has changed a lot in the 30 years since I was here at Keesler AFB learning to be a computer programmer. There were no casinos let alone the huge ones that uglify the coastline now. The progress of man, I guess.
There are so many empty lots from Hurricane Katrina. Driveways lead to nothing. Grass-filled parking lots share no clue as to what people used to go there for. There are several markers show where historic buildings used to stand before Katrina.
We spotted Slap Ya Momma’s BBQ in Biloxi. You know we had to eat lunch there. I had the brisket and it was delicious.
Hwy 90 has no shoulder and is very busy for the 25 miles from Biloxi to Pass Christian. We rode next to the blinding white sand beaches on sidewalk and boardwalk nearly the entire way.
Along the way we ran into Hadrian and his wife and two children. They are from France. They lived in Mexico and are moving back to France. Since it’ll take two months for their household goods to make it there they decided to bike tour from Houston to Miami. Touring is difficult enough but hauling two young children in a trailer and dealing with all the issues that come with them, that takes some special people.
The bridge from Pass Christian to Bay St Louis also had a separate bike/pedestrian path. Nice. Instead of camping we decided to treat ourselves and get a hotel room. We picked up some wine, cheese, and crackers and had a relaxing evening after our 53 miles of saddle time.
Kathy – So after today’s ride I’m feeling much better about the state of Mississippi. We had some real nice roads with shoulders and a bike lane at times, other times we were back to no shoulder so we rode on the sidewalks and boardwalks along the Gulf if Mexico. The majority of our 53 miles was pretty nice traveling next to the water. The beautiful beaches were empty, I’m guessing because it was only 64 degrees. Our day varied from cloudy, to sunny, to foggy skies today.
I enjoyed seeing the large plantation homes along the Biloxi and Gulfport areas waterfront. There we not a lot of them now compared to my memories from the past. We lived in Biloxi, Mississippi for a few months while Hank was in training during the Air Force years. Then I returned when Hurricane Katrina hit the region 13 years ago. I volunteered on three different occasions to help during this disaster. Twice as a nurse (just after Katrina and then again two months later) and once to help rebuild homes (six months after Katrina). I spent about 2.5 months down here helping in the New Orleans area. This is when I met my great friend Diane from North Carolina (we spent time with them while in Savannah, Georgia). Diane is a nurse also and we spent all three volunteering trips together helping those in need.
Diane and I would get one day off a week from volunteering and would venture out in a any car we could manage to get. We traveled along the coastlines from New Orleans, Louisiana all the way to Biloxi, Mississippi (kind of what Hank and I are doing now, only on bikes). We saw so much of the destruction from Hurricane Katrina massive wrath during our days off and we helped anyone in need along the way.
Gauging from what we saw today, the entire area along the Mississippi coast line still has a long road to its economic recovery. You would think after 13 years there would be more progress, but unfortunately this is not what we witnessed today. It seems the main draw to the area now are the many casinos scattered about. The people of the Mississippi coast line and New Orleans will always have a special place in my heart. The were dealt a harsh blow with Hurricane Katrina and treated poorly in the aftermath. These southerners are some of the kindest people you could ever meet. If you ever get a chance come down to this area and see for yourself.
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