New Orleans to Florida

Sadly, we had to say goodbye to Karen and New Orleans, heading east, again. In the rain, again. And to make matters worse, Sirius reprogrammed Channel 30 from the Classic Rock Countdown to St Patrick’s Day music. The luck of the Irish isn’t with us! We’re on hold knowing what the #1 Classic Rock Song until the green holiday is over.

We tried to swing by Cafe du Monde to try out their famous beignets, but the line was just terrible, and it was raining, so we wandered off to the Garden District to check out the 100-plus year old mansions and Lafayette Cemetery #1 (recommended by friends and locals — keep those suggestions coming!). New Orleans is famous for their above-ground cemeteries (a must since the city is below sea level and the water table is at ground level). These cemeteries are 100 to 200 years old and the stories seem so sad. People died young in the days before vaccines and antibiotics.

Afterwards we went in search of breakfast. Instead of beignets, we spiked our sugar levels at Sucre, where we had muffins and cafe au lait before driving through New Orleans and towards Florida. (Our apologies for no properly placed accent marks on these French words. Lisa can’t figure out how to add them in this program! Ray….?)

Lisa’s friend, Courtney, suggested that we drive along the Gulf Coast from Bay St Louis to Gulfport, Mississippi. Great suggestion — It is a BEAUTIFUL drive (what Jim calls a “green dot trip” — because the map designates the scenic routes with green dots). We had the white sand beaches of the Gulf of Mexico on the right and beautiful homes (mostly new) on the left. Why new, you ask? Because Hurricane Katrina wiped out over 90% of the homes in this area, with 238 dead. It’s sad to look at the old trees and green lawns and think of what used to be here only 15 years ago. It is making a comeback. They learned so many things since Katrina, including raising the homes up, and we mean UP! Most houses along the seashore are over 10 feet above ground.

One of the main strategies on this trip is to drive as close to the water as possible. That means we take little beach roads instead of highways. We’ve found some really great sights and funky little restaurants. We didn’t realize how Mississippi and Alabama just barely touch the Gulf — Louisiana and Florida hog most of the coastline! It’s the first time either of us have been to either of these states and it is much prettier than expected and the people so nice. And they all say, “Y’all”.

We try to figure out where we’re staying each night, which causes some problems because it is spring break where we’re traveling. Sometimes we end up in places we weren’t expecting. For example, tonight we’re in a little Days Inn in Navarre, FL. It’s just off a spit of land east of Pensacola. The sandy beaches look like sugar and we’re sure it’s more tropical when the clouds are gone. We’re told it will be sunnier next week. Who knows where will be then!

Sunset at Navarre Beach park

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