Gulf Coast Outing


 The first thing I do in the morning is to check the temperatures where my family lives.  I had a good laugh, this has to be a big mistake, there is no way it was 122F in Mesa, Arizona, early this morning.  About an hour later it was corrected. 

It was freezing here over night, but once the sun came out it warmed up a bit and we decided to go out for a drive.  We found the park in Biloxi where there is the memorial for Hurricane Katrina.  In the park there is also another sculpture made from a tree that did not survive after Katrina.  A few feet from that sculpture is the memorial.

On Monday, August 29, 2005 Hurricane Katrina, the worst national disaster in United States History, struck the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  Now, almost six years later, there are still signs of the damage it did.  The memorial stands 12 feet tall, about the height of the water during the storm surge. 
At the Katrina Memorial is included a glass case.  This case contains a sculptural collage of found items donated by locals.  These items where collected, and the stories behind each item recorded as part of the Memorial construction.  Additional items that were donated but not used in the glass memorial case are buried in a time capsule on the site.
This small lighthouse is Biloxi’s signature landmark and one of the most photographed sites on the Gulf Coast.  Constructed of cast iron, it was built in 1848.

While in the parking lot to see the lighthouse, we found this man and his van.  We talked with him for a while.  He says he is traveling around promoting awareness for male breast cancer.  That may be true, but I suspect he was probably just trying to support himself.  He let us write our names on his van and take his picture, so we gave him some money.
Just a few yards from the lighthouse and the man with the van is a sign telling about how this was the location for a big civil rights “wade-in” on the beach in 1960 demanding equal access to the public beach by both black and white people. 

All of the Mississippi Gulf Shore was also hit hard by that big oil spill last summer.  You can still see teams of people patrolling the beach looking for tar balls.  But the beaches are open to the public and they do appear to be clean. 

The Friendship Oak Tree

Further along the coast we stopped to visit a landmark tree that survived hurricane Katrina.  This historic 500-year-old tree dates back to 1487. 
 “Those who enter my shadow are supposed to remain friends through all their lifetime no matter where fate may take them in after years.”
There is a big equestrian center near here.  We learned the “Gulf Coast Winter Classics”, Professional equestrian competition was in town and was free admission, so we thought we’d go see it.  This was huge…there were at least eight big horse barn (tents), and maybe ten arenas where horses were being ridden, warming up, or competing.  One thing I learned is that this really is not a good spectator sport.  But we walked around and saw what we could.

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