Thursday, December 17, 2015

I'm so glad we didn't skip Mississippi Davis Bayou Ocean Springs MS Nov 23-30

When we'd made our original plans we thought we'd get to New Orleans at Christmas and fly Richard out to spend it with us and then drive quickly back to FL to get him to school.  Alabama (AL) and Mississippi (MS) As our plans changed we did not stop to think about being able to stop in either AL or MS until we made plans to visit an old friend in FL and we needed to fill the time just before and through Thanksgiving.  During a web search I found Davis Bayou campground in the part of Gulf Islands National Seashore that is in MS. So I made reservations for 5 nights and then 3 nights at Ft Pickens which is part of the same GINS but in FL.

We left Bayou Segnette in the morning and headed east on I-10, first over New Orleans and then past names of towns familiar to us: Pass Christian, Gulfport and Biloxi until Ocean Springs where the CG is located.  A small campground, it is surrounded by trees and set in among the bayou so several sites (including ours) sloped in back down to the water.  But the area that is park is quite large and very nice with bike and hiking paths throughout leading to a boat ramp, Visitors Center and fishing pier, where sunsets were phenomenal.  The first night we rode over and made it just in time to catch the ranger, who'd just closed the center, and get maps and gate codes (for after dark.)  We then cycled the short distance to the pier and stood transfixed (well, I was also taking photos) as the sun, with not a cloud to be seen, turned the water, sky and dock various hues of orange, red, yellow, pink and deep purple.

The next morning on my very early walk with Phoenix I found a hat in the grass that I then found out belonged to our neighbors across the road and we ended up having a long wonderful chat during which they recommended the buffet lunch at the Boomtown Casino in Biloxi. We went 3 days later and for a combined total of $16 had a delicious buffet lunch.  My selections were all southern cooking: chicken and sausage jambalaya, red beans and rice, black eyed peas and ham, braised cabbage and a big bowl of unbelievable seafood gumbo-filled with tender seafood and okra.  Don had beef stroganoff and a selection of more traditionally northern dishes but both of us ate it all and had we not been full to the gills, would have returned for more.

The following day there were clouds in the sky so I wanted to get to the dock for sunset and when I did I was not disappointed.
While the first night the colors spanned the sky and water, this night looked like someone had been out with paintbrushes of different colors swiping them across the sky. 

the silhouette of the trees across the water had me enthralled

 As I rode away the moon was rising in the pink and lavender clouds of the evening and it was just beautiful. 

And just before I entered the campground the clouds over the bayou were on fire.

Davis Bayou and Ocean Springs are great for biking, as there is a trail that leads from the park around town, so biking to the market was easy.  (Of course laundry was another question but I got it done the day before Thanksgiving and then the day we left.) We both rode first to town to do grocery shopping (Don waited outside) and then Don opted to continue riding so I went back while he rode along the waterfront.  We would both do it another day after seeing the fantastic Walter Anderson Museum, recommended by a neighbor who is an artist and had just started full timing with her fiancĂ©.  This museum is seriously awesome!  First of all the guy was so prolific it is hard to believe.  There is a film that was a PBS documentary about him in the mid-70s that is well worth watching.  While he was later diagnosed with schizophrenia, even before then he did not walk the straight and narrow path and was known for rowing out to an island on the Gulf and staying for weeks where he would paint images in nature.  At home, he had a cottage where he frequently stayed, that until his death no-one knew had a room that was painted with images and murals from ceiling to floor.  He loved painting on walls so he painted the walls of the local Community Center for $1.  All of these things are on display (see photos) but so too is only a portion of the thousands of watercolor paintings he did on typewriter paper-as many as 3-4 a day.

Since there was the bayou we also knew we wanted to go kayaking.  We went together one day but the wind had kicked up a bit so I paddled around several small islands trying to get pictures of the birds while Don paddled way out and back.  At one point as I was sitting waiting for a grey heron to move so I could get a better shot I heard a wave behind me.  When I turned it noticed it was a very small and loud one but didn't really register until all of a sudden there was great splashing and as I glanced behind saw the bottom stirred up.  I will never know if it was an alligator-there are plenty n the waters, or a large fish but I skeedaddled. We went again the next day and I decided to fall into the water as I got in my kayak but wet is something one is sometimes so we paddled around the coves and estuaries for an hour seeing birds and an alligator who kept as watchful an eye on us as we did on him.  It was so lovely to sit quietly watching the birds and letting the sun shine on us.  The air was cool and it was quite a perfect day.

Later that day, while Don went biking I went to hike one of the shorter nature trails and on the way back stopped to watch a mother and baby turtle swimming around.  I don't know if she was giving him swimming lessons but it was quite a scene with him swimming around in front of her and waving his little feet.  She would duck under and nudge him with her nose and he'd repeat the behavior.  Quite funny and instructive.

On the third day we were there, the day before Thanksgiving, several people began arriving and two couples turned out to be camp hosts at Ft Pickens State Park which is on the western end of Pensacola Beach in the Gulf and part of the same Gulf Islands National Seashore as Davis Bayou AND where we were headed on Saturday. It turned out that the area, after being badly damaged by Hurricane Ivan in 2004, often gets covered with sands during any storm or high wind activity and that was the case now-they closed.  I changed our reservations to stay at Davis Bayou through the time we would have been there.  So we'd leave on Monday for Gulf Breeze FL to visit another of my childhood friends.

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