That Nolia Clap: Day 4
After finishing up at Six Flags, it was westward ho, back to New Orleans proper. The Port Pontchartrain Light was sort of along the way & it was early, so I decided to stop in for a visit.
Although many of you probably skip over my lighthouse histories, this one is actually interesting. Built in 1855, Port Pontchartrain was only active until 1929. It became inactive as areas of Lake Pontchartrain were filled in with soil & the light moved inland. It would then be surrounded by an amusement park from 1939 to 1983; interestingly captured in the 3rd picture down on this website. After the Pontchartrain Beach Amusement Park closed, the University of New Orleans took over the land and started developing the surrounding area around the lighthouse.
Now, in researching Louisiana lighthouses prior to this trip, I realized that there weren't many accessible (because many are in swamps) and that many have vanished (because of hurricanes, swampy soil & demolition by neglect). Even though Port Pontchartrain Light still stands, I wasn't particularly enamored with visiting it either, because I read another web page's account of visiting the area and having a security guard yell at him for being in the surrounding grasslands, due to the presence of five water moccasins! (a poisonous snake).
Thankfully when I pulled up for my visit; all of the grass had been trimmed down to a small area around the lighthouse! Adios water moccasins!
There was still a security guard present, but I stalled and waited for him to leave because I'm anti-social - which worked out in my favour as he hollered at me to get off the grass when he returned!
Oh well, I got my picture. Have a nice day homeslice!
Returning to the hotel, GW was feeling better; so we departed east on U.S. Route 90.
The route traversed some low lying marshes & we were both impressed with the fancy houses on stilts.
For about 15 minutes of driving, most of the Gulf of Mexico-side houses were on stilts.
There were also some ruined houses and structures along the road.
Abandoned house somewhere near Michoud, LA : "You loot, will shoot, Terry"
Continuing along this route, we collided with Fort Pike.
Originally started in 1819, Fort Pike was constructed to protect against the British. It served as a staging area for the Floridian Seminole Wars in the 1830s and the Mexican War in the 1840s. It was captured in 1861 by the South during the Civil War & recaptured by Union Forces in 1862, when they took New Orleans. It was from Fort Pike that many former slaves learned how to use heavy artillery and participate in key battles that crushed the Southern Confederates.
It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.
The interior of the fort was fetching with its brick arches and curving halls.
There were also period mannequins placed inside which startled GW & I, then startled another family (they were tucked in a corner and sort of creepy/lifelike).
Fort Pike was already suffering masonry problems before Katrina submerged it in 2005. Katrina destroyed the State Park's outbuildings, but thankfully not the fort itself. It would not be until mid-2008 that Fort Pike would reopen; then Hurricane Gustav submerged the park again in September 2008.
It would reopen in 2009 and seemed to be in alright condition during our visit. Then again, as you see in the above pictures, there is large cracks in the masonry & the location isn't exactly a hub of tourist activity. I guess such is the battle with preserving and selling any boring historic places...
Leaving Fort Pike, and only 16km(10mi) up the road, we entered Pearlington, MS.
Yes, yes! State #35 - Mississippi - It's Like Coming Home - The Magnolia State.
Now you know the 2nd reason why I rented a car - the proximity to Mississippi (1st reason was Six Flags).
We continued on Old U.S. Route 90 instead of the parallel Interstate-10...and I'm GLAD we did - an immaculate white sandy beach extended for miles & miles of pure beauty.
I'm not even a beach person & we still had to pull over so I could roll up the pants & wade in the Gulf of Mexico.
We were only the 3rd group of people we saw using the beach during the entire 20 miles of driving; but while it may have scared the southerners, 70 degrees in March was completely fine with me!
Mississippi's second largest city, Gulfport (pop.:71,237), was just ahead.
It was incredible how much the rebuild was still in full effect here; 5 years after Katrina. We noticed plenty of people repairing mansions, working on new construction and painting buildings.
I can't help but stop in large cities, but it didn't hurt that Gulfport had a Chic-Fil-A!
Chic-Fil-A is a rad fast food chicken place in the South of the U.S., but the Chic-Fil-A in Gulfport was terrible...it was infinitely better when I had it in Maryland. Gulfport actually toned down my enthusiasm about Chic-Fil-A....
I knew I should have tried the Whataburger across the street!
...there was also the World's Largest Wooden Rocking Chair nearby! Replaced in 2008 after termites ate the old one!
The internet told me that there would be a basset hound to greet me...and although the chair was alright, I was sour that I didn't get to see this Dedeaux Clan Furniture basset hound!
We were also blocked by a train in Gulfport for about 10 minutes. For such a crumby experience, I don't really think of Gulfport in a negative light...
Our final destination this day was Biloxi, Mississippi; another 13km(20mi) up the road.
Pulling into Biloxi, I noticed a lighthouse and abruptly pulled off.
Since Mississippi has only a modest 13 lighthouses remaining (only 3 reachable by land); I barely skimmed over the Mississippi Lighthouse list before this trip, thinking we wouldn't be able to reach any...
Even though I never knew Broadwater Beach Lighthouse was here, I'm glad we came across it.
The area surrounding the lighthouse was epic. It used to be a marina, but Katrina washed away everything but the lighthouse. This meant that there were painted ruins around and a general relaxed atmosphere as people had pulled their cars up to the water & were listening to music while fishing.
It was definitely a very cool area & I'd love to go pick up some cold ones with my boy Steve, then do some fishing on some sunny afternoon...
The Mississippi lighthouse I was aware of, was the Biloxi Light.
Standing since 1848, it used to rest on the sandy shore, but now she's in the median of Old U.S. Route 90.
The light had recently received extensive renovations and boy was she shining. The Biloxi Light was one of the few things standing proudly after Katrina; when someone draped an American Flag over the lantern room guardrail as a symbol that Biloxi & America will prevail.
Driving into Biloxi, we roofed some parking garage for a view of the city.
Biloxi may look mediocre from this picture, but there was an okay old theatre just to my right. There was also an impressive casino and a large hospital building to my left - but neither were my style of building...
While in Mississippi, we thought it would be funny to check out some hockey. Hockey in Mississippi? That's bound to be good!
After a woman sold us some tickets at 1/2 price ($5 instead of $10), we were going on in to the home of the Mississippi Surge - the Mississippi Coast Coliseum!
-I think I was more excited about the arena itself, than I was for the hockey.
-The rink was very multi-purpose and not very hockey orientated. It reminded me of what I imagined the arenas to be like in many small market American cities. The type of place that hockey types call a dump & I absolutely love.
-I had a big, dumb, goofy smile on my face for much of the game because of my surroundings.
- GW quickly mentioned how he hates when non-hockey-watching-types yell "shoot it"...and then a power play came and about 20 people in our vicinity all started yelling "shoot it!"
- The arena was pretty empty, but at least that power play brought some noise...
- There were two teenagers, who reminded me of the meatheads in Varsity Blues, making a whole host of terrible jokes.
- There were also some die hard fans who impressed me with their knowledge of their first place Mississippi Surge. Just saying.
- I went for a walk up to the top row for a picture & noticed graffiti on the arena walls from a 1989 rock concert. Do they really defer maintenance of this place that bad?
- Woo patriotic zamboni!
- The game was very mediocre - it almost looked like shinny. GW commented this to me & wondered if these guys had no hope of going anywhere...why weren't they selling out? Why weren't they checking anyone? Why were there no fights?
We both agreed that it honestly looked like a shinny game.
- Lastly, I was sort of excited to see Matt Zultek - a guy who was originally drafted by the L.A. Kings with the 15th overall pick and then traded with Wayne Gretzky to St. Louis! ...and that's not all! He was never signed by L.A., so he was redrafted by the Boston Bruins in 1999 at 56th overall! He also scored the goal which won the Memorial Cup for all of Canadian Junior Hockey in 1999!
Unfortunately though, he looked putrid. He was slow, he had no heart and he looked like he could care less. I don't understand how he has steadily fell from league to league & continues playing. Maybe this game just didn't mean anything? Because if he was going to keep playing...why the hell not try?
At least the chili cheese dogs were rad!
Thumbs up Mississippi Coast Coliseum! Thumbs down Southern Professional Hockey League.
Well, okay, maybe a thumbs sideways for the SPHL - they give you a reason to visit obscure southern U.S. arenas...
Mississippi ended up losing the game 4-3 to the Louisiana Ice Gators.
Leaving Biloxi, we took the interstate because it was now dark. GW noticed a sign for Mobile, Alabama indicating only 60 miles. He asked why we weren't going to Alabama and I didn't really have a good answer for him...
...I figured that we wouldn't do much in Mobile & that it wouldn't really count.
Plus I sort of wanted to throw down a bunch of booze and really hit Bourbon Street...but again we took it easy.
Priority should have been given to seeing state #36.
Onto Day 5.
|New Orleans 2010|
Touristy Jazz, Algiers, My First Ever NBA Basketball Game.
Cemeteries & the World's Longest Bridge.
1 - Wikipedia - Matt Zultek
2 - Lighthouses of the U.S. - Louisiana
3 - Lighthouses of the U.S. - Mississippi
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