Friday, May 25, 2007


Saturday morning, I checked out of my Fort Walton Beach hotel at daybreak, figuring if I wanted to see Seaside and still make it back to New Orleans to catch my 3PM flight, I better move fast. I had never heard of Destin until a few years ago, although apparently everyone else had. Fishing charters filled up the channel and skyscrapers filled up the beaches. But what I really wanted to see were the much touted new-urbanist villages farther east. Which were downright cute - once the ad revenue starts coming in on my blogs, I suspect I may have to buy a place down here. It helps that the weather has been very pleasant - not as hot and much less muggy than earlier in the week.

Seaside was a very pleasant place to wade in the Gulf, wander around the town (more pictures, more commentary), and start to wonder if I had actually left enough time to drive the 300 miles back to New Orleans before my plane left. I made it - returned the car and arrived at the airport exactly one hour before the flight. 900 miles, more than 500 pictures, probably 40 road ends and beach accesses, and about 48 hours. $58 car rental (plus two tanks of gas). Not bad.

Bay St. Louis

Pretty much dead center of Katrina's landfall. Nice little town that was clearly still picking up the pieces. The woman making iced coffee at the Mockingbird Cafe reported that the building had lost its roof during the storm - modest damage compared to much of the rest of the area. I didn't appreciate how severe the damage had been until I checked out the Katrina section at Bay Books and saw pictures of what things had looked like before and just after the storm.

I happened to arrive for the grand re-opening of the Bay St. Louis bridge - big event around here and clear proof that Mississippi politicians are just as long winded as those from other places. They talked and talked, first on one side of the bridge then on the other, and then the parade began. It gave me a couple hours to explore the area.

postscript: May 29 NY Times article

Gulf Coast

The conference ended Thursday and I headed back to the airport to pick up a car for my 48-hour rally to Florida. My last trip between Pensacola and New Orleans was in 1971, and we probably took I-10 the whole way, so the beaches, bayous, and of course, Katrina, were all new to me. I'm about a week behind - this blog is only rarely live - and between catching up with work, fixing the bed that D broke (I think he was trying to tackle it), and shuttling him to the Washington Open, I plan to spend time this weekend posting pictures to both this blog and to Gravel Beach. As usual, it is sometimes a bit arbitrary which pictures go on this page and which go on that page. But expect far too many pictures of post-Katrina coastlines and white sand beaches!

New Orleans

The hotels are filled with tourists and conferences. The French Quarter looks as I remember it from three years ago. But the rest of the city is still suffering, as excursions to the Lower Ninth Ward and to the districts up along the lake demonstrated. I guess this was an appropriate location for a conference on coastal geology and engineering! More pictures (many depressing) of New Orleans at Gravel Beach.

I ran along the river a couple times, though even at 7:00 AM it was pretty muggy for my Seattle temperment. I enjoyed some good dinners and pleasant walks through the French Quarter. M wouldn't have appreciated the heat (good thing it was only May) but she would have enjoyed the city - we'll have to come back together some time. In January.