Brooke wanted to go on a little vacation this year, but wanted to go a bit early in the summer to avoid being far away from home when she’s closer to her due date. She was also thinking this would be a good time to take Meg to “see the ocean” and experience a beach, as we likely won’t be going very far next year with a newborn.
Thus, she looked into a few options and we decided to head down toward Biloxi, MS, a place neither of us had been to before, but close to the ocean (or “gulf,” technically). This was a relatively short trip, as we spent two days driving, and two full days actually at our destination.
We got up last week on Wednesday morning relatively early, leaving just after 6:00 am. We expected a 9+ hr drive, based on Google Maps, most of which would be a straight shot down I-55 towards New Orleans, cutting off on US-49 at Jackson, MS. Unfortunately, Google didn’t understand that US-49 is filled with small towns and stoplights, so our 9+ hr trip became an 11 hr trip…grrrr… Meg stayed entertained for most of the trip, with an assortment of books, stickers, and movies, and thankfully was able to sleep for a few hours that afternoon. In total, the trip down really wasn’t all that bad, despite the traffic lights.
Technically, we stayed in Ocean Springs, which sits northeast of Biloxi. Our hotel was maybe 10-15 min from the nearest public beach, so we checked it out Wednesday night. After a long day in the car, though, we grabbed a bite to eat at a local restaurant and headed back to the hotel to go to sleep (even I was asleep by 9:30…).
The next day, we drove to Gulfport, where we boarded a ferry to Ship Island, part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore. After an hour (and a brief dolphin sighting), we crossed the island to the Gulf of Mexico side, where Meg played in the sand for 4 hours. The high was in the low 80s that day and, while it was quite comfortable out on the beach in a swimsuit, it wasn’t quite warm enough to get into the water. Then again, as Meg can’t swim yet, we probably wouldn’t have been out there much, anyway. Still, she had a good time dipping her toes in and letting the waves chase her.
There was also a Civil War-era structure, Fort Massachusetts, to see. It’s amazing that building has survived so many hurricanes. There were displays of pictures showing how buried everything got during Hurricane Katrina, suggesting it was quite an undertaking to restore it yet again. Still, it was an interesting bit of history to see while on the island.
After we were done at the beach, we went back to the hotel for a few hours. Meg fell asleep in the car on the way back, and then fell asleep again on her bed once we got back to the hotel. Once we finally convinced her to get up, we went to a good seafood restaurant in Gulfport and filled up on plenty of fried fish. Pretty sure I ate enough to never eat again.
The next day was rainy, so we didn’t do all that much. We still took some time, between showers, to hit the other portion of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, closer to the bayous. This was your typical national park visitor center-type exhibit, complete with a video describing the history of the area, and some child-friendly activities. The bayous were cool to see, but we didn’t observe much wildlife. We had a good time getting Meg to help us search for alligators, though.
By Saturday, it was time to leave. As we weren’t about to try and take US-49 again, we looked at the alternative route to I-55 by way of I-10…and as that route takes us right by New Orleans, we opted to stop in for breakfast at Café du Monde for beignets, and Central Grocery for muffulettas. I was just in New Orleans for the annual Society of Neuroscience meeting in 2012, but Brooke hadn’t been there since our honeymoon back in 2005 (pre-Katrina). As expected, everything was wonderful!
The rest of the ride home was mostly uneventful, though the amount of time in the car and the constant proximity with her parents had finally worn on Meg. This was a looooooooong 11 hr drive home…but, we survived. :-)
It was a good trip overall! A nice little excursion for a few days, seeing new places and having new experiences. Though Meg likely won’t remember this particular trip, we can at least point to the seashells in her fish bowl and say “you found those down in Mississippi when you were three.”