Gulf Coast Cruisin

Saying good-bye to family is never easy, but my heart and belly were full as I rolled out of my parents’ driveway and picked up U.S. Highway 90 for a scenic drive along the Gulf Coast.  For the most part, Hwy 90 has run a little over 1600 miles from Van Horn, TX to Jacksonville, FL since 1926.  As the main artery that leads from Houma to New Orleans, I’ve travelled sections of this road innumerable times, so I figured it would be a great way to avoid the interstate and take in some coastal scenery as I made my way to Daphne, AL for a homestay with friends from my Navy days.

Amazing beach scenery in Gulfport, MS and all along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

As I approached New Orleans, I spied the massiveness of the now expanded Huey P. Long bridge and immediately regretted not having set up the GoPro camera to capture this Mississippi River crossing.  Back when I was a new driver, this bridge was the true test of motorists’ skill and nerve.  With lanes just wide enough for vehicles common at the time of its 1935 opening, modern day vehicles barely had enough room to pass each other without scraping side mirrors.  It was not uncommon for traffic to crawl to the speed of the slowest 18-wheeler on the bridge since folks were afraid to pass.  In 2013, a widening project increased the cantilevered steel through-truss bridge to three 11-foot lanes in each direction, with both inside and outside shoulders, that flank double railroad tracks within the truss.  Truly a marvel of engineering, though it was hard to admire the steelwork with 35 mph gusts pushing me around at over 100 feet above the mighty Mississippi!  This bridge was one of half a dozen historic structures that would take me over waterways on my westbound route on Hwy. 90.   

1933 swing bridge over East Pearl River on Hwy. 90

As I worked my way past the Super Dome, and endured roads with potholes the size of lakes throughout New Orleans, I made my way to truly beautiful coastal towns and views.  Lake St. Catherine, LA to Bay St. Louis, MS to the sandy beaches of Gulfport and Biloxi, MS.  Surprisingly, Gulfport still has somewhat of a sleepy little beach town feel.   But with its huge casinos and commercial properties, Biloxi is nothing like the quaint little town I remember from my high school spring break trip.  No more small, private seashell necklace vendors and snow ball stands along the road.  The wind swept sand across the beaches and road in a fascinating swirling pattern – and sandblasted the side of me and my bike as I cruised along.  Thank goodness I now wear a full-face helmet or I would’ve had an ear full of sand! A small price to pay for the beautiful scenery.

Now, before you think my travels are all unicorns pooping rainbows, let me tell you about a frightening incident along the way.  As I was pulling away from the gas pumps somewhere in MS, I hit a bump in the parking lot and something felt and sounded wrong.  I pulled over and inspected the new Heim coupler I installed on my trailer hitch assembly back in LA.  Because I had encountered quite a few dilapidated railroad crossings on my way to LA, I had decided that I needed to explore hitch options with less slop, meaning less vertical and horizontal slack between the hitch ball and coupler.  I learned about the Heim coupler from a Two Wheels Big Life YouTube video (I’ve learned so much about motorcycle trailering through Rich and Chris’ entertaining and informative videos!).  As I visually inspected the hitch, the coupler was still securely mounted onto the post, but when I pulled up on the trailer tongue, the post lifted out of the hole on the receiver.  Somewhere along the crumbling and jolting roads, bridges and railroad tracks of LA and MS, I had lost the nut and lock washer on the underside that held the post into place.  One more large bump, and I would’ve been dragging the trailer down the road by the safety chains!  My mind raced back to the mental note I made to myself as I was installing the hitch that it needed to be snugged down with two wrenches before I left (instead of the one I did it with just to see how it mounted to the bike).  Yeah, that obviously didn’t happen and I had nobody to blame for this situation except for myself :-/   I quickly did an internet search for hardware retailers near me (yay for smart phones!) and found a Tractor Supply store not even a mile away!  I slowly and carefully made my way up the road to the store where I found what I needed.  I don’t carry wrenches that large in my tool kit, so the very kind store clerks loaned me a couple and assisted with the installation in the parking lot.  With the two of us wrenching down on the nut, and the copious amount of lock tight I put on the bolt, I had no further issues with the hitch for the rest of my journey 😊   

Shrimp boats in Pass Christian, MS. Had tasty shrimp tacos right next to where these boats were docked!

I rolled into Daphne, AL to my friends Brent and Genny’s home just in time for Genny to head out to a meeting and Brent and his son to take me out for a delicious seafood dinner at Felix’s Fish Camp in Spanish Fort, AL.  The place was packed, but we lucked out with a table in the live music area and enjoyed bounty from the sea while we reminisced about our Navy days back in Spain.  The next morning, I was able to spend some time catching up with Genny before continuing eastbound towards Pensacola.  One of the things I love the most about travelling is meeting up with old friends and nurturing decades-old bonds.  I truly enjoy hearing what paths their lives took after their military time to get them to where they are now.     

Authentic turtle soup! Served with sherry on the side and a boiled egg (crumbled in pic) at Felix’s Fish Camp. Tasted just like my PawPaw’s turle soup!
Early morning pic of Genny and I (forgot to get a pic of the three of us before Brent left for work). Somehow Genny looks ready for the day and I look like something the cat dragged in!
Mixed greens tossed with crumbled blue cheese, local Renfroe candied pecans, and brown suger-poached peaches drizzled with herb vinaigrette topped with grilled shrimp. Served dockside at The Fish House in Pensacola, FL.

I enjoyed one last seafood meal along the coast before turning north to Georgia and toward home in NC.  Next post: Georgia State Parks and lessons learned!

7 thoughts on “Gulf Coast Cruisin

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  1. Great description of a great ride! We love Gulfport/Biloxi, and stay at the Palace Casino when we visit Jimmy, Keisha and Rykar in Dothan. We need another trip sometime this summer. Ride safe and stay in touch.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great seeing you and catching up! I know Rowan was excited to meet you. Not very often Rowan refers to someone as a badass. 🙂 She is right – someone needs to write a book about your life.
    Will have to do it again soon. Have an awesome cross-country journey!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. LOL! Your kids are awesome, I really enjoyed meeting them and spending time with you and Genny 😀 And I don’t think I’m old enough to write a book yet, I need to collect a few more experiences 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great explanation of lessons learned. My old grandpa’s famous saying “always be sure it’s Good-n-tight”
    Glad hear your pre-ride inspections are back at the top of the list.
    Safe travels

    Liked by 2 people

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