Tag Archives: vacations

Biloxi Vacation

Getting our feet wet...

Getting our feet wet…

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…).

Fillin' my bucket...

Fillin’ my bucket…

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.

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Fort Massachusetts

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.”

A Three Hour Tour…

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Brooke and I went on a float trip over the last few days… Sunday to Tuesday seemed like the best time to do it, as we’d be avoiding all the crowds, and it wouldn’t be in the dead center of the week, which would just disrupt all kinds of other things. We went down to Jacks Fork River, near Eminence, MO for a 24 mi, 2-night trip.

The weather was absolutely perfect. The high was supposed to be in the upper-80s or lower-90s, but it never felt like it really got above 85 F while we were along the river. The sun was out the whole time, it never rained, there was a distinct lack of humidity, and there were no mosquitoes (although, there were plenty of other flies and gnats…not as big a deal, though). I’ve posted some pictures up on Picasa if you want to check them out.

We got started Sunday afternoon and floated for a few hours, then spent most of the day floating on Monday (around 9:00 am to 4:00 pm). On Tuesday morning, it only took us 45 min or so to get to our final destination, indicating that we’d gone 23 of the 24 miles by the end of Monday…which pretty much rocked. It got us back to St. Louis in plenty of time for Brooke to grab a shower and relax before heading off to teach her ACT Prep class.

As you’ll see in the photos, we had quite a bit of fun taking pictures with the new camera. (Note: we were quite careful with it…taking it along in a water-proof container and only taking it out on shore…never whilst in the boat) We got to toy with the shutter and aperture settings, which are things I’d never really experimented with. The ability to take as many pictures as you want on an 8 GB card makes it easy to toy around and see what you can make happen. We took, like, 50 pictures of the fire on Monday night while messing around with those settings (I’ve only posted a few of those, though).

Anyway, it was an excellent trip and we’ll probably need to do it again! Likely not this year, but who knows…

Trip down to Hot Springs

That’s a picture from I-55 in northern Arkansas. Terrible place. Seriously. Their Department of Transportation has got to be the most inept in the nation. See the clear skies?! It snowed the DAY BEFORE and there was ice all over the place. It took us over an hour to go 15-20 miles toward Memphis.

There are more pics…feel free to check those out, of course

Either way, that was on the way down to Hot Springs, AR. Brooke decided she wanted to go on a little trip, just to get away for a little bit. It’s a relatively easy drive (minus the aforementioned DOT from Arkansas), and a place neither of us had ever been to.

Anyway, it was a pretty good trip! Brooke made reservations at Hilltop Manor, a bed-and-breakfast right by the national park. The weather was pretty awesome, for the most part, so we spent Monday walking around the town, went up to the top of the mountain and went up in the observation tower, then walked along Bath House Row (and toured an old bath house maintained by the National Park Service), and otherwise chilled for the rest of the day in front of a fire place, reading and gaming (on the DS, of course :-) ).

The trip back was less eventful than the one down, so that was a big plus. In any event, I’m glad to be back and catch up on all the TV shows we didn’t get to last week. And, maybe even get some science done tomorrow…