Spring Break 2012 on The Mississippi Gulf Coast

It’s taken me 55 years, but I have taken my first official Spring Break trip!  I may no longer be in college, but I spent time with four, smart and beautiful college women on a Spring Break trip.  DSH was along for the ride and, as expected, he got a lot of attention for being the lone man hanging out with five women.

College Spring Break trips usually involve going to The Beach.  I love going to The Beach.  I love the ocean.  I love seafood.  I actually think I was born in the wrong part of the country.  It is one of my goals to visit as many different beaches as possible in my lifetime.  This time we chose to visit the beaches of Mississippi.

It’s been nearly 7 years since Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast.  It’s been nearly 2 years since the BP oil spill caused extensive damage to marine and wildlife habitats and to the Gulf’s fishing and tourism industries.

Tree damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

The evidence of Hurricane Katrina is visible in the many empty lots, the newly built homes and businesses and the rows of orange construction fencing surrounding piles of rubble and large construction equipment.  But, The Gulf is back.

We had a lot of fun with our traveling companions.

They mostly did not complain about me taking pictures of them.

DSH enjoyed hanging out with them.  They all rented jet skis and had fun tooling around in the water.

We ate at local seafood restaurants every night.  Some were on the ocean and some were in the Back Bay area.

We visited Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, where DSH’s Daddy went to high school before enlisting in the service.  He finished his high school education, via correspondence course, after his WWII service.

We took a day to visit New Orleans which is just about an hour from where we were staying in Gulfport, Mississippi.

A trip to New Orleans has to include a carriage ride through The French Quarter with a stop for Hurricanes.  Our driver, John, was born and raised and lived his entire life in New Orleans.  Here is what we learned about how to pronounce New Orleans.  If you are from one side of the tracks you say New Or-le-ans.  If you are from the other side of the tracks you say New Or-leens.  If you are from out of town you say N’Awlins.

DSH and I spent our last day by taking a trip out to West Ship Island, one of the barrier islands that is about 12 miles off the coast.   After the requisite tour of Fort Massachusetts and a little history and flora and fauna lesson, we hit the beach.

How does The Gulf Coast of Mississippi compare to other beaches we have visited?  Well, the area is still rebuilding.  When my sister-in-law and her family visited a few years ago, the beaches were still dirty.  While the beaches are not quite as pristine as those we have visited in Florida and Georgia, they are working hard on them.  Many areas are very clean and the sand is the soft, white sand like you find in Florida.  Did you know that the origin of the sand along the Gulf Coast are the Appalachian Mountains?

The re-building continues, and the local Chambers of Commerce still have some work to do to bring the area’s customer service up to snuff.  The condo we rented was  priced comparably to others we have rented, but the amenities were lacking.  The local restaurant staff service was spotty – we got good service one night to be followed by lousy the next.

If you like casinos, then you are in luck because there seems to be one on every corner.  We did not visit a single one.  If you are looking for some late night activity, it is there, but you have to search for it.

All that being said, I believe that The Gulf is back, and it is worth a visit especially if you can squeeze in a day trip to New Orleans.

The favorite part of the trip, for us, was spending time with some great, smart young woman who will all be graduating soon.  If they are representative of our future, then we are in good hands.

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