One of the photos shows Gulfport, or what was left of the town. When I drove to Florida this last spring, I had planned on staying in Biloxi, but it was Saturday night and most places were filled with gamblers. Instead, I ended up staying in Gulfport.
I had also planned on exploring a bit that night–checking out Long Beach and maybe the Lighthouse at Biloxi. However, it took so long to find a place, it was too late to explore. I found out that the Lighthouse is still there. Biloxi is gone, but the Lighthouse is still there. I have a chance still to see it, and the 450 year old Friendship Oak. It only lost a few branches. And I just found in a message board that Mary Mahoney’s, the oldest operating hotel in the States is still standing, too.
The next morning on my trip, I thought about stopping in Beauvoir, Confederate President Jefferson Davis final home. I decided against it, though, because I’d have to wait a few hours for it to open. I figured I would plan a trip down to the Gulf Coast specifically and catch all the places then when I had time to devote to each.
Instead, I stopped by a MacDonald’s and bought a breakfast biscuit (yes, I’m bad–but I love the MickeyD’s breakfast biscuits) from a wonderfully charming young black woman, and went to a rest area and watched the dawn over Mobile. The city of Mobile is still there, but Beauvoir is gone. All that’s left is a bit of floor, some frame, and a few bricks. There’s a note on the website about keeping people updated about the upcoming Hurricane Katrina. In the note that opens, it still has coverage of Camille. Why update a site that no longer has any meaning?
On the way down, I bypassed New Orleans — I didn’t want to deal with the traffic. I remember my first trip there several years ago. I was giving a day long tutorial at a conference, and went down by myself. I caught one of those shared ride vans from the airport, and during the trip, mentioned I hadn’t been in the city before. Before dropping me off at my hotel, the driver drove through the French Quarter and showed me places I needed to make sure to visit before going home. Then when he dropped me off at the hotel, he looked into my eyes, his dark brown and very intense, and warned that I was not to visit these places by myself at night. I said I wouldn’t.
The next day I spent teaching class, but I had several hours the next day before my plane took off and visited the French Quarter and the Saint Louis Cathedral. The Cathedral is the oldest in the country–built in 1720, before this country was even born. It also has a fascinating history. From Frommer’s:
The cathedral formed the center of the original settlement, and it is still the major landmark of the French Quarter. This is the third building to stand on this spot. A hurricane destroyed the first in 1722. On Good Friday 1788, the bells of its replacement were kept silent for religious reasons rather than ringing out the alarm for a fire — which eventually went out of control and burned down more than 850 buildings, including the cathedral itself.
I’m sorry and this is terrible, but I laughed out loud when I read about the bells kept quiet and the church burning. I’m sorry. I know I will burn in hell for my humor.
The building now standing was built in 1794, and though the outside is supposed to be ‘okay’ as Frommer’s would say, the church is not known for it’s outstanding interior. I had read this before going down, and so only visited the exterior. I tried to find photos of the interior tonight, but the web site doesn’t load. Of course it doesn’t. I don’t know what I was thinking.
I have a refigerator magnet from Bourban Street in the French Quarter from my trip. Me and my beloved refrigerator magnets. I picked up a couple in New Orleans, and this is the one I had given the roomie. When I sold all my stuff that was in storage in California a couple of years ago, my collection of magnets was in one of the boxes. I had hoped the person who bought it would send me the collection, but I imagine it ended up on eBay. My roomie has ‘loaned’ me his collection. Nice of him — gives me a little of my history back.
I think roomie was hoping that the nice, clean, new french doors would remain clean and pristine. No, no — dotted all over with magnets, now. Some wonderfully cheesy. One of my favorites is a little minerature mug of beer that sticks out. Another is Betty Boop and Route 66. Then there’s the painted shell from Florida, and the car from Wall Drug. Perfect.