Any description of travel through the Gulf Coast states requires commentary on the physical state of said locales.
The coastal edges of Texas exhibit damage left behind from Ike’s rampage. Galveston Island continues to reel from the blow it suffered. Many of the signs are subtle ones.
For example, the small businesses that remain boarded up and unsafe, the large Victorian homes in the historical district spray-painted with warnings to stay out because of unsafe conditions, the house on stilts that stares out to sea with its tattered and disintegrating American flag that persists in waving all tell stories worth hearing.
These are far more telling than the large hotel at the north east and of the sea wall that’s undergoing extensive renovation and stability. These tell of personal struggles of the smaller less obvious sufferer. These tell a story of their own of pressures brought to bear that may break the bearer of that stress.
After all, Ike blasted across the island in September, 2008. Two-plus years later, some owners of the businesses and homes requiring less to repair are still either unable to get back on their feet, or perhaps have given up on that dream of renovation.
Everyone should remember Katrina and its destruction. Evidence of the lasting changes stand for witnessing today. Small affected towns work with tireless determination to rebuild communities. The state has what appear to be major projects of infrastructure rebuilding to do, as well.
The report we received from residents of New Orleans tells of progress with rebuilding efforts but leaves behind much distressing news of crime rates rising to rates above acceptability. No current authority measures seem to curb these rising rates—according to some who live there.
Those amenities most taken for granted, such as parking spaces, have come to a point of competitive prices to provide safe parking for the car owner. $28-30 per day/night is a common rate for secured parking per car. With a shrunken job market adding continuing stress, The Big Easy may need the distraction of February’s Mardi Gras this year.
During our drive along the gulf shore only one mention was made about the Gulf Oil Spill. We were cautioned by locals about going to certain areas because of the spill. Travel to those areas was discouraged. However, Jo found only one small blob of crude on the beach and that was at Pass Christian, Mississippi.
A small plantation reproduction greeted us at the Mississippi state line. I’ve been to many visitors’ centers but never one more entertaining, informative, and impressive as this one.
The grounds sprouted colonnaded pavilions for picnics. The main building had more than adequate visitor appeal with a fire burning in the fireplace and rocking chairs waiting to be used. Of course, the elaborate Mardi Gras costumes with capes, headdresses and crowns on display didn’t hurt the eye, either.
The coastline, however, tugged at the heartstrings, showing less completed reconstruction from storm and oil than Louisiana.
This impression remained along Hwy. 90 that skirts the shoreline.Pristine white beaches lure the beachcomber to stretch legs and vision. Believe it or not, periodically a few yards from the highway out on the sand, a large concrete square squatted—alone and looking out of place. In the center of the square is a manhole cover.
These, it was explained, are clean-out drains for the huge purge water pipes that remove storm water from those areas below sea level. The incongruity of their appearance confused this visitor for certain.
Gulfport crews work to build new sections of sea wall and boardwalk along the highway. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such white sand beaches. They almost blind the unprotected eyes when the sun’s out. Unfortunately for us, only oyster shells dotted that brilliant expanse.
The boardwalk on the Gulf side runs from Biloxi to Ocean Springs. Eyes scanning the beach and water to the right miss the antebellum homes on the other. They don’t see the empty lots that have only foundations left. The sculptures carved on the standing remains of snapped-off palms and live oaks recede unnoticed by many, which is a pity.
Stationed life-saving shallow boats wait for use along areas of beach. Sand fences try to contain the blowing white powder, but sometimes only manage to diffuse the sweep of sand toward the opposite side of the road.
At Pass Christian on Market St. a shrimping fleet dries its nets, the boats wait for their next wave rum. Just south of Ocean Springs is Gulf Islands National Wildlife Refuge. The forests border the road in pine, palms, cypress, hickory, and heavy underbrush.
None of that shoreline appeared affected by the oil spill, but we didn’t take the time to wade out into the bordering vegetation.
Though we saw all of these reminders of destructions and rebuilding, we did have a marvelous adventure throughout the Gulf States. The differences between regions that share so much titillate the mind and demands clarification of those differences.
Bayous run from Texas to Florida. Cattle anchor both ends of that corridor. Rice fields share the land with alligators while pride of heritage flies on flagpoles throughout–from Goliad to the heart of the Confederacy, from military monuments to battleship masts.
For all the peculiarities of individual states, the south shares too much similarity to every come apart for long. Any visitor who spends time along that highway system will come away with an appreciation of that solidarity.
When you make your visit there, or if you already live there, take the time to look for all those things that make the South itself. You might be surprised at the things you find.
Until next time, a bientot,
Much of our trip so far has been flying by the seat of our pants, as much because of weather as anything else. That comes with the joy of winter travel, regardless of area of the country.
Would we take this step again and jumped on this roller coaster of an adventure? Yep, we’re gluttons for punishment. Tackling occurring bugs as they arise keeps us hopping, and working around obstacles keeps us on our toes. Isn’t that what keeps a person young, if not in body than in mind?
We made it from Safford, Az, across New Mexico on I-10 to Las Cruces, and then to El Paso, TX. We did take one detour to Hatch, New Mexico for roasted chilis. We moved on from El Paso to Monahan, TX for a break. We left Monahan (wasn’t that Quincy’s friend?) and made our way east along the I-20.
And yes, we’re moving right along. There’s a reason for all this quick dash and slap ground. Have you looked at the California weather lately? We’ve got that huge storm front coming behind us pushing us to move east as quickly as possible. Of course, it also has to do with the fact that we’re having a hard time finding acceptable campground accommodations. I’ve explained all of that on the update for the Calliope blog today. I have yet to post on any of the blogs or the website today. I’ll do that when I leave here.
We’ve seen some heartbreaking things on this trip. Really! So much is changing in places one doesn’t expect. We’ve learned so much as well.
We’re learning about our expectations of life as well as our understanding of how life works. We’re seeing the differences between people and places in a new way. All of that is culminating in our own changes in thought and philosophy.
We’ve had disappointments and delights along the way. And yes, Kate, we did have a desert bunny come to investigate our camp one night. I couldn’t see him, of course, even with bright moonlight, but Jo was kind enough to describe him and tell me what he was doing.
We listened to roadrunners laugh maniacally just before coyotes sounded off, gambil quail blather to each other in the scrub, and wild ducks make their way around desert lakes. It’s been sometimes peaceful and sometimes frustrating, but always different.
We’ll be moving on to Weatherford, TX today. We’re going to camp there for a few days before going to Ft. Worth to see friends. Then we’ll move down to Houston and camp around the Huntsville area where there’s plenty to do and people to see.
I hope to get online again in a few days.
Take care all and God bless. Knowing you’re all here as support has been such a blessing to us on this sojourn.
Desert tenting is different from that regular green grass variety. We managed to find a great state park campground in Safford, AZ which also holds a small lake with resident ducks and much bird life.
Facilities stand ready with showers, los banos, and grills. The intrepid camper, however, must have ready an instinct for safety. When in the desert, opportunities for disaster abound. Drink enough water. This is especially necessary for those on medications or for those who aren’t eating the same way as at home. The body requires ample amounts of water to stay healthy.
Mosquitos abound year-round near any body of water. Take repellent and use liberally.
Try not to breathe in lots of dust. That really isn’t healthy for anyone.
Always have a jacket/sweater ready for those late night jaunts to the los banos to flush out all of that water you’ve been drinking. Also, keep a flashlight handy.
Pitch your tent as close as possible to those los banos, too.
Shake out all shoes, clothing, blankets, sleeping bags, etc. before putting on or around your body. The insect life tends toward the venomous and love finding new quarters in nooks and crannies otherwise occupied by people. In the summer the same rule applies for those of the slithering persuasion.
That’s your crash course in desert tenting for now. It can be fun, though in the winter, the dark lasts far longer than the light hours and is really dark unless there’s a full moon.
Take lots of light sources for night-time activities. You’ll need them.
Take care, people. I hope to post again within a week–probably from Texas. I wish everyone a wonderful holiday season.
God bless. A bientot,
In “No Girls Allowed,” author Jayce O’Neal presents boys with a thoughtful and comprehensive devotional. This book of life lessons in 241 pages has something for all boys, regardless of personal circumstance.
Each two page lesson, with its two pages of puzzle and exercises, shows a relatable present-day situation. O’Neal explores a person’s possible choices of behavior based on that situation. He explains the consequences to each behavior in real terms. The language O’Neal uses pulls the reader in and engages the person’s own sense of right and wrong. In this way, boys are allowed the information they can use for future choices. They’re also shown how to make those choices.
These life lessons range from handling a bully situation, through making the right types of friends, to treating other people with respect and everything in between. This book can make an impact on lives. I’d recommend it for all boys from ages 8-14. It reads quickly and is easily understood. The puzzles are fun and useful. The quotes and Bible passages only reinforce O‘Neal‘s examples. Illustrator Arrolynn Weiderhold gives the graphics here a marvelous reveal. I give this work 5 gold stars.
For details on this book, go to: http://mediacenter.tyndale.com/1_products/details.asp?isbn=978-1-4143-3589-6
**I received this book free from the publisher, Tyndale Media Center. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03html: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements in Advertising.”
Norman Borlaug was a farmer’s son living in Iowa. He wonders about hungry people and if his father’s corn could feed them. That question takes him into a life’s work developing the grain to new heights. It also leads him to an employer named Henry Wallace.
The story moves backward through time from student to teacher and back to student. If goes from Norman back to Henry Wallace, back to George Carver who was a student of Henry’s father. From there it moves from George back to his adoptive father, Moses.
Andrews brings the thread of time and lineage to a tentative halt here. Tentative only because there is no real beginning to history.
The sense of history and hint of things not revealed encourages the reader to learn more about these people of the past. It presents the understanding that six degrees of separation operates in the most unusual places.
This wonderful book, illustrated by Philip Hurst, gives readers, pause for thought at the connectedness of ourselves with the world and how we impact it each day with our choices. I would definitely recommend this book for any reader.
**I received this ARC free from the publisher through BookSneeze.com http://BookSneeze.com book reviewers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03html: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements in Advertising.”
Max Lucado does it again. He’s brought such a simple thing as a child’s hands into the roll of man character and managed to bring an excitement to children at the same time.
The rhythm and pacing of this book puts a mental song into the reader’s head that’s hard to push aside when the pages end. The rhyme doesn’t need to be close to keep the reader turning the pages, either.
Children reading this book will fall in love with the illustrations provided by Gaby Hansen. The scenes sing their own melody that will delight everyone. Colorful and full of movement, the illustrations enliven the song-filled words to make this a marvelous reading experience.
For the read-aloud crowd, this story will enchant and provide a wonderful interactive time between parent and child. It has the potential for becoming a game played at bedtime or throughout the day while the child is using hands that have so much potential.
I will be recommending this book to all of my friends with small children. It packs tons of fun into a small package of delight. I give it five stars for play and influence.
For a preview of this book, go to: http://www.amazon.com/One-Hand-Two-Hands-Lucado/dp/1400316499/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1281478712&sr=1-1
**I received this book free from the publisher through BookSneeze.com http://BookSneeze.com book reviewers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03html: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements in Advertising.”