Today the coastline along the Mississippi Sound is a calmer, beauteous place. As a target to multiple hurricanes over the past two centuries, it hasn’t always been like that. We found a few places on our drive through Biloxi that testify to the tragedy in those moments as well as to the resilience of its residents and their works.
Whenever we meet new people and tell them about our annual road trips, we’ll talk partly about the famous attractions and the Very Important sights, but sooner or later we make a point of mentioning the expected “biggest ball of twine in Minnesota” sort of roadside whimsy and bafflement. Some places are more self-aware of their kitsch levels than others. Some places stop just short of posting “STOP HERE FOR PHOTO OP!” signs begging you to drop in and go wild. We’ve seen a few places that go all the way with full-on shameless billboards dozens of miles in advance. (Wall Drug, I’m looking in your direction.)
U.S. Route 90 through Biloxi runs near the Gulf of Mexico and features a pair of souvenir shops ready to sell you Mississippi memorabilia, provide all the beach gear you’ll need for your extended near-ocean stay, or just let you hang out with their marine life collections — all of it colorful, most of it inanimate.
One of the great things about vacation photos is you can refer to them whenever you’re in the midst of oppressive dreariness and remember a time when everything was better . I’m writing this in January at the end of a weekend whose temperatures plummeted by half within a 36-hour span and saw snow and ice cover our roads dangerously enough to warrant at least sixty-six police runs to handle traffic accidents this morning. Worse still, it wasn’t enough to blanket all the greenery and make everything look like a Christmas postcard. Slick and ugly snowfall is the worst.
Thanks to the magic of blogging, tonight we’re traveling back to that bygone era of July 2015, on a quiet Sunday morning when my wife and I ran amok on a brightly burning beach that was the dehydrating yet delightful opposite of the chilly here-and-now.
Day Five took us beyond New Orleans and into the southeastern tip of Mississippi, where we found a few different must-sees on our road-trip checklist. We’d hoped to see something distinctly in Mississippi after our disappointing nonstop Day Two drive; genuine Gulf of Mexico water; a true Southern beach; and an authentic Southern mansion or plantation, whichever was available.
We found all of that and more in the coastal city of Biloxi. Our first stop along the way was at the mansion called Beauvoir, whose property from 1877 to 1889 was the home of Jefferson Davis, President of the erstwhile Confederate States of America.
Yes, there’s a gift shop.