I’d read about this little beach town/artist community, and knew I was interested, even before a mountain biker I met the other day recommended it to me. The first place I stopped when I rolled into town, however, was not an art sight.
Thus begins a new chapter: I’m going to be visiting a series of civil rights monuments in the next weeks, I think. I was glad to see this, even if the park was just pocket-sized.
Then I did a partial art walk, guided by a handout from the visitor’s center, and poked my head in a few shops.
“Wise One,” Madeline Wiener, 2009
“Crow and the Pitcher,” Vicki Banks, 2013
“Bust III, Strobe Series,” William Ludwig
“Woman with Scarf XXXXII,” William Ludwig
“Woman with Scarf XXXXVIII,” William Ludwig
thrown in for my old dog Ritchey
I bought some beautiful postcards, but otherwise enjoyed the free version of Ocean Springs.
Moving right along, I visited Whole Foods in Mobile…
(I missed the Welcome-to-Alabama sign, y’all. The trials of travelin’ alone [Hops does not count in this instance because he doesn’t use cameras].)
When we arrived in the national forest, my left knee looked like a cantaloupe. This is the formerly good knee that has been plaguing me for some months now. I did some nursing it: ibuprofen, ice, and intermittent walks with Hops (he LIVES for a walk in the woods). It’s clear that moving around is good for it, and sitting behind Foxy’s wheel is not. Meanwhile, I was parked at a mountain bike trailhead, watching all the locals come and go, congregate and share beers and talk shit… it was pretty torturous, and made me nostalgic for a community of mtbers to which I used to belong.
We also saw a beautiful bat! just lying trailside – I was afraid it was dead, but it wasn’t; I was afraid it was hurt, but as I examined it and tried to figure out how I might could help, it eventually grew tired of me and just rolled over and flew away. This was a special treat.
Lacking any other place to be immediately, and having found a lovely, free place to camp and cook my meals, I’ve stayed. Tonight, the second evening, I felt good enough about the knee to take a short ride; and it was fine. The worst day on a bike beats the best day off one, and I am grateful for every pedal stroke I get to make. Tomorrow, knee permitting, I’ll make a few more.
I have a confession to make: I thought Mississippi might be just a state I was passing through. I stopped at the Welcome Center at the state line, and learned that Jim Henson was from Mississippi, and saw this lunar lander
and thought, huh, okay. I kept driving. I had not expected that the Mississippi Gulf Coast would so steal my heart. Turns out I spent six hours covering what could have been a straight shot of 87 miles, so enchanted was I. I spent a good bit of that time up and down between Bay St. Louis (where I found a 10-mile running race in progress) and Gulfport-Biloxi, enjoying as well the towns of Pass Christian and Long Beach. I see now that I didn’t take enough pictures. Hops and I walked on beaches and watched birds; we stopped at a bookstore (the very nice independent Pass Christian Books, which are not, you understand, Christian books) and two college campuses, and had a fine lunch of raw oysters, assorted fried things, and Dixie beer. [I was horrified to see the enormous and celebrated grandeur of Beauvoir, the Jefferson Davis home.] The fog was so thick it was like driving or walking in a cloud. Sometimes, a cloud that smelled of seafood. I would love to spend a little more time on this part of the coast.
But there was nowhere to sleep. So we drove just a bit north into the De Soto National Forest of pine trees, where we set up for the night at a mountain bike trailhead. I owe Mississippi an apology for underestimating its loveliness.
home for the night, De Soto National Forest
Foxy, Hops, and a great blue heron (at right)
easily the largest great blue heron I’ve seen, like four feet tall