driving the gulf coast

It’s officially the dead of winter! With snow and ice everywhere, the two of us have been discussing vacation plans for 2011. My latest obsession is a desert drive from Las Vegas to Palm Springs. I love how hitting the open road allows you to see your final destination through a more gradual perspective. And with that, I realized I forgot to share a few “from the car window” shots of Florida, Alabama and Mississippi, as we made our way to Louisiana.

First up: We headed onto the outermost sandy spit (I think it’s the Gulf Islands National Seashore) before approaching Pensacola, Florida.

Often this white granular sand looked exactly like snow, as it did in these dunes.

We stopped in a deserted parking lot to stretch our legs.

A day later (not long after leaving Magnolia Springs) we found ourselves along Mobile Bay in Alabama.

I’m not sure if we’re in Mississippi yet, if not we are close! We’ll pull off in Ocean Springs and then drive the Mississippi coast before hooking back up with the highway to New Orleans.

After lunch, we saw how the Mississippi coast was dramatically altered by Katrina.
Even driving 30 mph in unfamiliar surroundings, it’s not hard to spot a Frank Gehry building. The Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art opened in Biloxi just after our visit. If you want to catch a glimpse of Katrina’s destruction, take a look at this photo of the museum campus. The hurricane pushed a casino barge right onto the construction site! Before this trip I thought Biloxi was just a place to gamble, but these very casinos are contributing generously to the re-construction of this cultural institution.

While intermittent re-built homes face the water, there are still quite a few empty stretches, bare house foundations and oddly-shaped trees. Since this was my first time in Mississippi, it was impossible to truly grasp the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina. Our pressing agenda didn’t afford us time to stop and explore, but I’m still glad we took the time to skip the interstate and see the Mississippi coast for ourselves. Besides the museum, I would have liked to stop in at Beauvoir, the Jefferson Davis home and Presidential Library.

What a beautiful autumn day on the beach.

We made one last stop to stretch out and found ourselves in a fishing boat harbor.

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  1. Pearl: It still is a beautiful area, but must be greatly changed from what you remember. I can understand your reluctance to go back. It’s good to see life returning around the empty patches! Hope these photos brought back some fond memories for you.

  2. I lived in Gulport (US90 & Courthouse about 1/2 block from the beach) when Hurricane Katrina went through. I haven’t been back but once to meet with the FEMA inspector. These pics made me long for it again, even though I wasn’t born there. I’ve wanted to go back but don’t want to see how it’s changed & not rebilt since Katrina. I only lived there for about 4 years but it felt like home. That’s saying something since I was born & raies in W Va.

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