Gulf Coast Weekend

The college tours continued again last weekend although I didn’t go.  My wife and our older son headed towards sites in Ohio and Pennsylvania.  The younger guy and I flew down to the Gulf Coast of Louisiana and Mississippi to visit with family instead.  He didn’t get to go on the great road trip over the holidays last year so I wanted to spend some time with him.  Actually, he didn’t want to go on the road trip because he doesn’t like long rides.  That’s why we took a plane to New Orleans for this quick trip.

The National WWII Museum

World War II Combat Uniforms

My son had only one thing on his list.  He wanted to visit the National World War II Museum in New Orleans (map).  That seemed like a completely reasonable request so we drove about an hour from the family homestead during the first morning of our visit and checked it out.

We’re a bit spoiled because we get to go to the Smithsonian museums anytime we want to back in DC.  Sometimes we’re a little underwhelmed when we visit museums elsewhere.  That didn’t seem to be an issue here, however.  The World War II museum kept the highest levels of quality.  I’d never been there before and I left considerably impressed.  I’ll have to go back again  on the next trip and catch what I missed.

INFINITY Science Center

The First Stage of a Saturn V Rocket

On the other hand, we’d been to the INFINITY Science Center at NASA Stennis (map) several times over the years.  It’s been an old favorite of ours along the Mississippi Gulf Coast ever since we started going down there.  I even wrote a page about it several years ago although it’s considerably out of date now.

The facility continues to change and evolve.  It used to be located on the actual NASA base and visitors could drive right up to it.  They stopped that after 9-11.  NASA replaced it with a brand new center relocated directly outside of the base adjacent to Interstate 10.  People toured the science center and then got onto buses to ride onto the base and view various rocket testing platforms.

Unfortunately we learned that as of July 2019, NASA discontinued the bus tours due to budget cuts.  Hopefully those will return someday because they were always a highlight.

Capturing A New Parish

I’ve Visited the Colored-In Parishes

Like many trips recently, I used my home base as an opportunity to add to my county counting map.  Oftentimes I’ll get up before dawn, before anyone else even awakens, and drive an hour-our-so to see what I can reach.  Usually I can get home before anyone notices I’ve left.

I could have taken a couple of different directions this time, and for whatever reason I decided to head somewhat northwest.   That brought me to Washington Parish, Louisiana.  It’s found at the northeast corner of Louisiana’s eastern protrusion.

My entire time in Washington Parish lasted about five minutes, just long enough to cross the border on Rt. 26 and turn around at the town of Bogalusa (map).  I saw nothing particularly remarkable along the way other than a lot of rural countryside.  It grew strangely foggy that Sunday morning as I crossed the Pearl River into Louisiana, and I felt relieved to flip back into Mississippi and return to sunshine.  My total captures continued to creep ever closer towards a nice round 1,500, although very slowly, now standing at 1,498.

Chandeleur Island Brewing Company

The Array of Choices

Additionally, and as expected, I stopped at a local brewery.  Some of my family joined me there too.  We met at Chandeleur Island Brewing Company in Gulfport, Mississippi (map).   The name came from a barrier island chain at the easternmost extreme of Louisiana (map).  It seemed pretty typical of small breweries in general, although quite remarkable for this area of the country.  Typically one doesn’t find a lot of beverage diversity around here.

The one other memorable moment happened when my son managed to get bitten by a lesser siren salamander.  These creatures can grow to a couple of feet long, and the one that bit him looked to be about that size, and as thick as a garden hose.  They don’t normally bite people, but then again, people don’t normally try to pick them up either.  My frantic Internet search confirmed that they are not venomous and sometimes they’re kept as pets.  Knowing that, I felt pretty safe letting him disinfected the bite without taking him to Urgent Care.  He survived just fine and promised to not do it again.  He said it was the most memorable part of the trip.