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December 2010:


 

December 8, 2010:                [Odometer 242136]                Today was a straight travel day. We got up in the morning, hitched up the OddEssay, dumped the waste tanks, and headed south. We were not sure where we would land but Julie had a list of possible campgrounds. We finally settled on "Bay Hide Away" in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi based on a compromise of price, location, and services. We made it in by 2:30 in the afternoon and will settle here for at least a month, maybe four. It is really cold at night here right now, but the entire East Coast seems to be this way. At least it still gets up into the 50's or 60's during the day and Saturday it is supposed to get to 70. The sun is very warm, even when the air is cool.


 

December 9, 2010:                We drove to Gulfport, Mississippi for some necessary shopping. On the way back, we traveled along the Gulf of Mexico and got our first good view of it. We had our first glimpse yesterday coming over one of the bridges leading here, but it was more swamp and marsh than water. This was the Gulf in all its sunshine glory.


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We were properly impressed by the white sand beaches. For the locals, however, it is a problem because the sand keeps blowing across the highway. They are working to find ways to restrain it. Good Luck on that!

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Many of the houses in Mississippi, and I assume elsewhere in the South, are built up on stilts to allow cooling air to flow below them. While this is a useful building technique to help cool the houses in hot weather, it is not really all that helpful when the nights get below freezing as they have been doing.

 

When we think about Hurricane Katrina, everyone tends to concentrate on the damage done to New Orleans, but it had a much wider impact than that. Everywhere along our drive we saw abandoned property for sale, whole shopping centers empty and under reconstruction or abandoned, trees broken off or greatly distorted so they now lean away from the Gulf, roads needing rebuilding, and much more. They have been rebuilding ever since the hurricane, but there is still tons to do. We went looking for a laundromat because Julie could not get the clothes washed in Natchez. Three of the laundromats listed on the Internet are no longer in business. We finally did find one, and today I heard of a second, but there are many, many businesses, both large and small, that are no more. If you want to get a good picture of what it was like in this area right after Katrina, I found the following web site: http://www.vastormphoto.com/afterkatrinapg1.htm Waveland is adjacent to Bay Saint Louis to the East and the two towns share many businesses.

 

December 10, 2010:              We are finally all set up and ready to live and relax for awhile. I am not putting up the awning yet because we want all the sunshine we can get. It is also supposed to get very windy on Saturday night and Sunday.


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We used the Christmas tablecloth in honor of the season and even got some firewood.

 

December 15, 2010:              Today we went to Old Bay St. Louis to find a little store called CJ's Meat Market. The town itself was hurt by Katrina like everything else around here, but there has been a lot of work done on reviving the buildings including some work by the historical society on the old railroad station. The streets are very narrow and the town itself can only be described as quaint. We fell in love with it immediately.


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If you ever get a chance to go to CJ's, don't miss it. She makes most of the different types of sausages and luncheon meat she sells, makes homemade pies and keeps them frozen, has all sorts of oriental cooking ingredients (that would have automatically gotten me hooked), and even makes homemade chips. She told me she had grown up in the heart of Cajun country and that they would basically cook anything they found.


As you would expect from a small town meat market, their prices are a little higher that what you find in a large chain, but the meat quality is absolutely top notch and they will cut it or alter it any way you'd like.


I will definitely be going back. For one thing, she makes her own alligator sausage and also sells alligator meat. I have to try both of them.

 

December 16, 2010:              Happy anniversary to me! Sixteen years clean of Cancer!

 

Today Julie took the dogs to a local groomer to have the dogs washed and then she groomed them while I worked on projects. Did I mention that the temperature was in the mid seventies with hot, bright sunshine. Yeah, I know it's going to cool back down to the sixties and fifties, but there's none of that cold white stuff to shovel. (By the way, it doesn't show in the picture above, but I'm wearing shorts.)


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Aren't we pretty? We look like Schnauzers again.

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Nothing like a reward of playing ball after a harrowing day at the beauty parlor. It's hard to see, but they both have a tennis ball in their mouths.

 

December 24, 2010:              There has not really been a whole lot of newsworthy happenings since my last entry, but a few things have happened. On Monday, my trusty camera that I have carried with me everywhere for the last five years decided it had done enough work and died having taken somewhere around 7500 photographs, many of them work related. It did give us a good (?) excuse to go out and buy a DSLR camera with a long zoom lens. This is something we have been talking about getting for those long distance nature shots we have not been able to take with our small cameras.

 

Other than meeting some new people (other snow birds of course) there is not much to add. We are getting ready for Christmas but it is really going to be different for both of us since we are so far from our families. The things we will not miss are the cold and snow which are also a long way from us. While we do get some freezing weather at night, it is typically fairly pleasant to downright warm during the day, although sometimes the breeze makes it feel cool. We have had mostly sunny days and the sun is always warm. What a difference seeing sunshine in the winter.

 

We wish everyone a Merry Christmas!

 

This afternoon we went to Long Beach and Diamond Head to do some shopping which gave me a chance to try out the new camera (Julie was kind enough to drive so I could play).


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The bridge across part of the Gulf of Mexico on US 90 on our way East.

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Nature says it all.

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One of the many young palm trees in this area. When the 30 foot surge from Katrina put this area under water, the salt in the water killed most if not all of the palm trees. We have not seen any larger palm trees so far.

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One of the sculptures we have seen made by carving what was left of broken trees. We were told an artist from Florida had done these carvings. I guess it is a way to turn the destruction into beauty.

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I only got part of this new house under construction because we were turning a corner, but it shows the stilts being used on most of the new construction. It is my understanding the homeowners cannot get flood insurance unless the house is up eleven feet on stilts.


 

December 25, 2010:              This morning we awoke to heavy rain, cool temperatures (upper 40's), and brisk winds. Gee, it almost feels like Christmas back home. I gave Julie a handmade walking staff created from a stick I found at a logging site at the Tenn-Tom Dam and a cover for her camera. She gave me a to-be-worked-on needlepoint chess board and a soon-to-be-finished new pair of slippers. Of course, we gave each other the new camera. I also got to talk with both Monica and Phillip today. I could not seem to catch up with Daryl.


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Note the turkey wings on the "mostly boned" turkey. Some people leave the legs. It may also be spelled Turduchen.


Our Turducken weighed in at 14.75 lbs. Needless to say, we have a few leftovers.

For dinner we purchased a Turducken. This seems to be a specialty indigenous to this part of the south. For those who do not know, they put a boned chicken inside a boned duck inside a mostly boned turkey and add either a Cajun sausage or crawfish stuffing between each of the meat layers. Ours had a crawfish stuffing. We had ordered one online from the "Turducken King," but, when we still had not seen a credit card charge by Wednesday, we e-mailed and called them several times. They finally answered the phone about 5:00 Thursday night and we were told that the order must have "Fallen through the cracks." What really happened was I ordered it on December 9th for shipment this week which irritated the person I talked to who wanted to ship it immediately so he conveniently lost the order. Fortunately, there are other sources. Julie called Rouse's market in Diamond Head (a local chain in this part of the world known for their excellent meats) and ordered a Turducken which they had ready for us by 3:00 yesterday. Thank you Bayou Boys (the chain's name for their butchers). Also, thank you Jeaux for the use of your oven.

 

December 31, 2010:              Tonight they are having a get together because "it's 12:00 somewhere." It has been storming today and the idiots to the East of us have been shooting off fireworks all afternoon which has JoJo terrorized so we will probably stay home with the dogs. We hope everyone has a great New Year! We will start a new page tomorrow, but there probably will not be much content until we start traveling again in April on our way North for the summer.

 

[POSTSCRIPT 1/1/11 - The idiots to the East of us were not only shooting off fireworks, but also firearms. One of the trailers got a bullet through the roof. Obviously some people have never heard of gravity.]