Thursday, March 31, 2016

Biloxi, MS

From Mobile, we moved west to Biloxi, MS, for a short stop in the IP Casino parking lot. It's a huge parking lot, so why did this other guy pull in 3 feet from Phil's rig??? Just weird...

Of course I had to visit the Biloxi Lighthouse. It's only open from 9:00 to 9:45 AM, but I was there waiting for the first tour.

Climbing up the stairs, there are markers showing how high the storm surge was on each hurricane. Of course, Hurricane Katrina was the highest, requiring a huge restoration.

The tour guide at the top (not in the photo) was entertaining. The lighthouse has a rather small 6th order Fresnel lens.

We got a good view of the sandy beach, added here in the 1950s.

And WAAAAY out in the distance over the water is Fort Massachusetts. I would have loved to visit it.

We also visited Beauvoir, home of Jefferson Davis, the only President of the Confederate States.

We had a very good tour.

Unfortunately, Beauvoir was very damaged by Hurricane Katrina. It has since been restored.

But a lot of the contents were damaged and are beyond repair.

There was another cute lighthouse down the way, but it wasn't open for climbing.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Moving On to Mobile

The big attraction here is the battleship USS Alabama. Commissioned in 1942, she earned 9 Battle Stars and shot down 22 enemy airplanes during World War II.

The self-guided tour is very extensive, and divided into 3 parts. We went up on deck first to see the big guns.

I thought that was as high as you could go, but I was wrong. You can go up several more decks.

If you are really daring, you can climb into some other areas.

This guy didn't do much talking -

I guess he was too busy remembering what all these buttons are for...

Looks like they were getting ready for lunch, but we weren't invited.

Outside on the grounds were lots of airplanes from the era.

This one was huge!

You can also tour the submarine USS Drum, right next door.

And I got to drive!

Also on the grounds were these Canada Geese. I've never seen one that light before.

We also went to the Cathedral-Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. Construction of the present cathedral was begun in 1835, and added to over the years.

The big attraction here is the stained glass windows, which portray the story of the role of Mary in the life of Jesus.

The detail is just incredible.

We also went to historic Fort Conde, which is a replica built in 1976, so not very interesting to me.

And last but not least, we celebrated my birthday here with a spaghetti dinner made by my birthday-twin, Brian. Actually, he's much younger that me - several hours at least!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Panhandling in Florida

After Tallahassee, I began heading west (Yay!) through the Florida Panhandle. The first stop was Panama City. The beaches here are just beautiful - pristine white sand.

The gulls are pretty aggressive, though.

But the shells and starfish are just great.

In some places, the shells cover the sand totally.

We visited St. Andrews State Park, where there is an old Turpentine Still, something I had never heard of.

From there I moved on to Pensacola. The best attraction for me was Fort Pickens. It was a normal shaped fort until 1899, when an explosion in the gunpowder magazine blew out the northwest corner.

Here you can see the upside down arch under the arch, which creates a super-strong support.

You can wander all through the fort.

Nearby across the Bay is the Pensacola Lighthouse -

And another fort - Fort Barrancas.

We also went to the National Naval Aviation Museum - a great place with FREE admission.

I saw a Nixon impersonator on his final presidential helicopter ride.

The real Nixon was already inside.

Thursday, March 10, 2016


After lighthouses and forts, state capitols are my 3rd favorite thing. Florida has a cute old capitol, shown here, but the new capitol is a skyscraper behind it.

We toured the old capitol, which has a beautiful stained glass dome.

The House of Representatives, with a painting of George Washington in the front.

The Governor's private office -

And next door, a really old typewriter.

Of course, they had a gift shop. This is not a political statement, but someday...

We also went to Mission San Luis, one of more than 100 missions established in Spanish Florida between 1560 and 1690.

Of course, this is a reconstruction, but still pretty impressive.

All throughout the park were appropriately-dressed reenactors.

There was a friary/kitchen -

Where the friar himself showed us around.

Out in back is a blacksmith forge.

And the reconstructed fort. Oooooh! A fort!

The original fort was burned by the Spanish and the Indians so the British could not get it.

The last thing we saw was the church.

Once Indians rendered obedience to the King of Spain and accepted Christianity, they were considered legal subjects of the Spanish Crown.

I was a little distracted by the ferns growing on the tree limbs - just beautiful!