Saturday, March 2, 2019

March 2019, Finally A Blog Update

It has been awhile since an update from Eas-on Down The Road.  We are still here in "blog-land", just not posting as much due to being busy with everyday living activities.  When we usually arrive in North Carolina, we tend to spend our time with family and complete annual medical appointments rather than sight-see and explore the region.  We spend our winters in Florida, were our motorhome gets all of the attention for important maintenance items, any needed repairs and/or upgrades. Usually, when we leave Florida after those 3 months, we go back to North Carolina to spend a little more time with my family before we get back into our traveling and exploring routines.  My blog has always been about sharing with family and friends the interesting places we see while we travel rather than a diary or blog about our everyday activities.  That's why I just don't blog much when we are completing life's necessities, those important details that allow us to enjoy our travels the rest of the year.  Bare with us, if we don't blog much during December, January-April as those months are spent keeping ourselves and the motorhome up and running smooth.

Here is a very brief update from the past 3 months.

I enjoyed a nice lunch at the North Carolina Museum of Art with fellow retired art educators.

We celebrated Christmas with my family.  Little Boy has been very good so he received a gift from Santa too.

Arriving to Florida, the issues/repairs with our motorhome get addressed.  Ronnie needed some rare assistance with an on-going AquaHot problem (that's our hot water/heat).  He has been very successful at troubleshooting and solving questions but this one had him stumped. A certified AquaHot mobile technician confirmed Ronnie's suspected diagnosis and with parts on hand, solved that annoyingly deceptive electrical matter.
Next: caulking, caulking and more caulking..the entire motorhome. Ronnie is now in the middle of a big project, he is recaulking all of the its fiberglass seams.  On an older coach like ours, it is important to keep the moisture out.  The Florida weather this winter has been very cooperative for this type of project: sunny, warm and dry.

Strawberries!  We are eating our fill of fresh Florida strawberries.

In between all of the maintenence jobs, we still find time for fun. We enjoy good times with our friends from Iowa,Virginia & Pennsylvania.

We look forward to getting back out on the road, enjoying our traveling lifestyle but annual maintenance and repairs are expected and needed.  It is part of the full-time RVing style of living we have chosen.  Soon, I"ll be back to posting more about our travels as we continue to on Eas-on Down The Road.

More Later..

Friday, November 30, 2018

"We'll Clean This Mess Up"

The title for this blog is the headline from the Mississippi Sun Herald's front page, September 3, 2005.  The quoted comment was made by then President George Bush, promising federal aid to rebuild the Mississippi Gulf Coast and help its residents rebound and restore from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. I do not know the final monetary amount provided by the federal government but the number mentioned in this newspaper's article was an initial first installment 10.5 billion dollars.  Looking at photographs from the destructive storm and now driving through the towns along the coastline, visiting shops, restaurants and campgrounds, to see the immense recovery it is nothing short of miraculous what these people have accomplished in 13 years.  Now, I am sure there are irrecoverable things we cannot see.  There are elements that will never recover such as the personal tragedies of the people. However as a tourist, the onlooker-visitor that we are, it appeared to us as we are "outside, looking in", that the Mississippi Gulf Coast is working its way back.

Yes, they did and still somewhat that mess up.

Fall has arrived on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

This is a beautiful stretch of white sand beach along Highway 90 west bound between Gulfport and Bay St. Louis.

Many of the old live oaks that line Hwy 90 are showing regrowth and resilience after the rage of wind and salt water from Hurricane Katrina.

Our destination is the Waveland Ground Zero Hurricane Museum. Housed in this old school building built in 1927, it too has been restored after the storm's destruction. The Museum's purpose is to represent the resilience of Waveland and its Gulf Coast residents as they rebuild and rise up from the catastrophe.  It displays photographs, mementos and personal stories of the storm from Waveland as well as the surrounding community's rebuilding process. The exhibits were quite interesting and it is all an inspirational testimony to see how the people have survived despite this unbelievable adversity.  The Receptionist/Curator was also informative about many of the items and photographs there.

There are two markers in front of the building, one to mark the return of the community from Hurricane Camille and the new sign dedicating the volunteer efforts for Hurricane Katrina.

This is the repaired building now.  The next photo is from the Museum's collection of what the building looked like immediately after Hurricane Katrina.  This was the only building left on this street as well as the only public building left after Hurricane Katrina.

These beautiful handmade quilted wall hangings were made by Solveig Wells.  The Curator told us the artist collected scraps of fabric recovered from her home's wreckage and fabric remnants salvaged from the community's debris to create these geometric wall hangings.  They're evidence one can make something beautiful from the shredded fragments left by the storm.

This torn and tattered US flag somehow survived the storm.  It was found still on the flagpole in the debris of Waveland's Library.

Here, Ronnie is standing in the vestibule area of the Museum.  The hurricane's water level here was about 25 feet with huge waves on top of all that water!

These three photographs, from several on display in the Museum, made an impression on us.  Note the one on the left.  It is an 18ft Carolina Skiff boat on the roof of someones home.. that's even up on stilts.  What a tremendous force of nature must it have been to wash or blow that heavy boat up that high.

It is sad to think of all the immense, old-styled mansion homes that once lined the coastal highway that were literally washed away in the storm.  This photograph from the Museum's collection shows what happened to this beautiful three story mansion. Note: before and after the storm below.

Displayed front pages of the Sun Herald's September 5, 2005 publication.

As we drove by this stately group of old live oak trees, we realized that the empty property most likely held one of those 'old south-styled mansions".  It appears the owners only chose to rebuild back a small version of what was once was a stately home.

We saw a lot of rebuilding and new construction.  Most of the new homes now rest on stilts that are at least 20 feet high.

As the Mississippi Gulf Coast communities continue to regroup and promote regrowth, someone had the unique idea to create art from the huge old oak trees that did not live after the storm.  Click this link to see some of the creative carvings made from the dead trees in the Bilioxi area.
Hurricane Katrina Tree Sculptures
This particular carving from one of the dead live oaks is the The Angel Tree of Bay St. Louis.  It stands impressive along the shoreline in town.  This old tree once saved from being cut down, saved the lives of three people and a small dog during Hurricane Katrina.  They all clung to that tree as the storm surge washed around them.  Unfortunately the tree did not survive the salt water so the owners of the tree had this inspirational sculpture made from it and placed the carved tree in this prominent spot. It got our attention.

Now this huge dignified live oak survived Hurricane Katrina's winds and storm surge of salt water.  Look closely down to the end of the street, that is how close it is to the ocean.

Bay St. Louis is on the rebound from the hurricane.  We spent a few days here in July of 2005.  We recalled the artist community and town lined with art galleries and restaurants.

More rebuilding and reconstruction.

This is the new Waveland Beach Comfort Station now under construction.  There were so many places where we saw renewal of the beautiful Mississippi Gulf Coast region that we fondly remember.  Everything looked new and fresh yet the old regal live oak trees made the rejuvenated landscape look very natural and serene.  Welcome back!

Thanksgiving Day 2018, the Biloxi shrimp boats are in port.

The Biloxi Lighthouse and newly built Biloxi Visitor Center.

Ronnie enjoying a chilly but sunny Thanksgiving Day along the white sand beach in Biloxi, Mississippi.

Just a quick comment about the delicious food of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  We have really enjoyed some outstanding fresh seafood most notably shrimp.  We also found tasty Greek and Mexican food restaurants in Biloxi.  Discovering some incredible food deals in the casinos, we did manage to save a little money too.  Many of the casinos we visited offered discounted buffets, some costing us nothing or only a few dollars each. They'll do anything to get you inside to play their gambling machines.

  Quality Poultry and Seafood
 Desporte & Sons Seafood
 Mr. Greek Mediterranean
 El Milagro Mexican Grill
Beau Rivage Casino, Biloxi
Red Pearl Casino, Biloxi
Hard Rock Cafe Casino, Biloxi
Island View Casino,Gulfport
Silver Slipper Casino, Waveland

Unfortunately the motorhome's steps quit working a while back.  "Don't ya hate when that happens." This was a good stop to get a new motor shipped.  Here, Ronnie makes the needed repair.

This wraps up 2018 and our travels of this year.  We plan to spend the month of November at my Mom's in North Carolina where we will complete the annual medical exams and enjoy the Christmas Holidays with her, family and friends.  We plan to spend the winter 2019 in Florida, on our rented RV lot at Deer Creek RV Park in Davenport.  Thanks to all the people who happened to stop by and read my blog throughout the year.  I appreciate it.  This November marked our six year anniversary of being full-time RVers.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

More Later in the year 2019.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Rediscovering Biloxi

The month of November finds us in Biloxi, Mississippi.  We last visited this area in July 2005.  We spent maybe a week or so here enjoying some great seafood and exploring the white sand coastline.  We recalled the casinos that once lined the beach front and how much we enjoyed them, the coast campgrounds we stayed and especially the stately old antebellum homes that were on Hwy 90.  Unfortunately on August 26, 2005 Hurricane Katrina hit this region with monumental force.  It has been interesting yet sad to see photographs of the massive destruction of the city and coastline after the hurricane hit, then compared with the redevelopment & new construction of Biloxi and the surrounding regions.  We certainly appreciate what Biloxi has done to bounce back from that disaster. To see some striking and unbelievable photographs of Biloxi before and after Hurricane Katrina, click on this website

From the front lawn of the newly built Biloxi Visitor Center,
I made this photograph of the Biloxi Lighthouse.  This lighthouse was erected in 1848 from cast-iron and bricks.   From when it was built in 1848 until 1936 it was civilian run by mostly women, notably Maria Younghans. She was the lighthouse keeper for 53 years.  Amazingly this lighthouse survived Katrina's storm surge and winds with some damage. It was repaired, restored and reopened in 2010 to for public tours.

This info sign in the side yard of the new Biloxi Visitor Center describes the hurricane surge water marks for Hurricanes Camille in 1962 (blue) and Katrina in 2005 (red).  Ronnie is standing beside the pole for reference.  That's 22 feet (with reported waves of 34 ft) for Katrina and 19 feet depth of mean sea level for Camille. 

The interior of the new two-story Biloxi Visitor Center was beautiful with it's spacious art galleries, museum, theater, gift gallery and visitor information desk.  I found these wonderful stained glass windows mounted on an interior wall.  Inquiring about them with the Center's Receptionist, she tells me they are from the Robinson-Maloney-Dantzler House, an antebellum home built in 1849 by a wealthy English cotton  planter.  The neo-classical home was destroyed during Hurricane Katrina and the new Biloxi Visitor Center was built on the vacant property.  She went on to state that the entire building was destroyed but these six windows were found in the wreckage unbroken.

Our home base for the month, Majestic Oaks RV Campground is very comfortable with great WiFi, cable TV, paved sites and roads.

Their entrance and clubhouse greets you with those stately old live oak trees but their campground has open sites with clear sky views (and no acorns).

Just a quick note about Majestic Oaks.  During our stay, the RV park has provided community get-togethers with pizza lunches, biscuit breakfasts and a wonderful Thanksgiving lunch.  We've never seen this before!

We discovered the quaint, artsy town of Ocean Springs, Mississippi just a few miles east of Biloxi.  This is a view from the town's Front Beach Drive looking across Biloxi Bay and the Hwy 90 Bridge.  

Driving around Ocean Springs, we travel under canopies of huge live oak trees.  Their downtown area lined with shops, restaurants and topped with the branches of these wonderful old trees.

We really enjoyed the Peter Anderson Art Festival held annually the first weekend in November.  It  took us most of day to peruse all 450 vendors!

At the base of the new Hwy 90 Bridge we found this incredible tile mosaic mural.  The plaque states it's The Biloxi Bay Bridge Mosaic created as part of the rebuilding process of Bilixi after Katrina.  Dedicated in 2009, it is the effort of several collaborating artists with lead Elizabeth Veglia heading up the endeavor.  I found the mural just amazing with its detail and color.

Ronnie and I also happened upon the Ocean Springs' water front dock. There we saw fishermen selling fresh shrimp and fish. 

Looking at the map, we notice
Gulf Islands National Seashore on the outskirts of Ocean Springs.   We take a quick drive through the wooded Davis Bayou Area and find it reminds us of North Carolina's Croatan National Forest in Cedar Point.  We did take time for a stroll down this marked nature trail.

You can see the Biloxi Bay Fishing Pier from the new Hwy 90 Bridge.  You can drive your vehicle on the pier as it goes out into Biloxi Bay for a half mile or so.  What a great place to see what fish folks are catching, view the water and catch a nice sunset.

We have seen several colorful sunsets, this one as we traveled west on Hwy 90, the Biloxi Beach Road.

What have we discovered in Biloxi? Some great casino deals on food, some tasty seafood, Mexican and Greek restaurants, interesting breweries, peaceful Gulf of Mexico water views and some really nice folks.
More Later on what else we may find..