Mini Gras

We’re planning on seeing a bit of the Mardi Gras festivities today in Biloxi, MS based on a suggestion from a couple we met back in Ocala, Florida. They had been coming for about 10 years so we figured it had to be half decent. Since the parade was scheduled for the afternoon so we had some time to kill in the morning.

We headed into town to get a new bulb for our side marker light on the van which had blown. As we drove in we stumbled upon the parade route with people already hunkering down for the parade. So we fixed the fixed the light and asked if we could stay parked in the Autozone parking lot for the parade – they were planning on closing early and said they didn’t mind. Most other stores were going to close too.

By lunch we had a full parking lot and people lined up all along the road. They started to close the road down and block entrances. We made a bit of lunch and hung out for a bit. It was nice not having to freeze outside like some other folks.

In the meantime we had a large family group next to us, which had a couple of teenagers hanging about going in and out of their car. I started to get concerned every time they opened their door because I didn’t want a repeat of yesterday’s scratch incident. Ultimately they were fairly careful and nothing happened, which is good. The one thing that did start getting to me though is the fact that they began leaning on the hood our van. Their truck is right there next to us and they decide it’s appropriate to lean on someone else’s property? Who raised you?  I would never touch someones car, let alone lean on it. Eventually they did realise we were inside but it still didn’t stop them. Fairly innocuous I know, but I can’t help but ask why our van and not their own?

The parade started an hour late, or so we thought – we soon realised we had crossed a timezone somewhere. Not a big deal, we’re just off an hour. Better to be early than late though. Once the beads started to fly, it all became very serious. We had some very grumpy seniors to contend with. I stepped in the wrong spot for a second and got told by a group that they have been waiting all morning and to “get out of their space” which they seem to have claimed. Funny thing was, I saw them arrive, we were really there ‘first’ if you want to be technical. I also had some very egar folks yank beads right out of my hands if I wasn’t holding on tight enough. They would then squirrel them away in their bag, not even putting them on. It was all rather strange behaviour from adults over a couple coulourful beads.

Personally, if there was a doubt as to who caught it first, I would have given it to the other person anyway. Or even if I caught too many I would just share them – why not? It’s all in good fun.

Eventually we were donned with our first sets of beads – a good accomplishment for us newbies.

The parade was pretty good – but according to some others we spoke to, it was fairly small-time and nothing close to the caliber of floats in New Orleans…

It wasn’t in our original plan but since we’re not that far off we may as well go all the way and see the real thing. Go big or Go home right?  So after everyone cleared out we hit the road again.

Along the way we drove through Long Beach which was a really great (long) open stretch of beach. I enjoyed how pure the area was, there was very little housing and condominium development, no real large buildings, just beach, and a few local businesses & restaurants along the way. How it should be, just one person’s opinion.

As we looked closer, we began to realise why – the more we looked, the more we saw evidence of Hurricane Katrina’s wrath. Foundations without houses, newly built houses on stilts, overgrown paved areas. It really makes you stop and take a second to think how devastated this area must have been.

But where there is destruction, this community finds beauty. Throughout the area there are several trees which have been carved. They are spectacular.

By the end of the day we were transported to another planet (ok maybe just another state) – We’re now officially in Louisiana, via Lunar Lander.

 Ocean Springs, MS to Slidell, LA

Today’s track – 70 miles | 113 kms
Tomorrow’s plan – make it to New Orleans, LA