|The Chronicles of
© 2008 Gail Hunter
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|Next: Over the bayous, and along the Emerald Coast
East to Mexico Beach on the Forgotten Coast
If you care to read about our 2006 auto trip from Burlington, VT to visit
New Orleans and return via Florida's Big Bend and Venice, click here.
Some trucks are more outstanding than others. This one
was certainly an eye catcher; sleek, shiny black, and very
long. The art work was fetching - the face on the cab with
streamers. This one wasn't noisy.
The company's business is installing big scale sound
systems. They have the "big scale" down to perfection.
We saw oil refineries,
ports with barges ready to be filled
We drove across the
16 mile Henderson
bridge over the
We made it.
We exited I-10 in Covington, then
took US 90 east to Mandeville and
the Fontainbleau State Park. The
brick columns at the entrance hint at
the impressive tree-bordered drive
into the park.
The park is on the site of an old
sugar plantation. They have left
the ruins of the old mill which make
a focal point for the whole area.
The brick visitor's center is directly
Standing sentinel is a once-majestic live oak tree -
stripped of its leaves by Hurricane Katrina, it is
unable to revive. However, in the photo above right,
you can see how many are making the successful
effort to sprout anew. Right - our campground,
complete with hanging moss, paved roads, and no
one but us and two other campers. The park just
We had one neighbor just
in front of us.
His giant fire-ring was a
very welcome sight.
We came via Mandeville in order to visit Trubee and Peggy's daughter (my cousin once
removed?) Sue Dericks, her husband John and their kids, Tom and Rob, who is away at
Louisiana Southeastern University.
Sue, who has been a Realtor in Mandeville for several years now, was the perfect
person to show us the town. She drove us along the waterfront, pointing out which
houses had been rebuilt since Katrina and which were new from ground up. Needless to
say, the new ones, as well as the substantially rebuilt ones are on piers or breakaway
foundations so the living area is at least 14' above sea level. I believe this is the present
building code nationally now; if not by law, at least by insurance companies. That was
true in CT when we built our house on the Pine Creek in 1986.
The historic section of town is rife with charm; stunning
examples of Old South architecture, from columned porches
to neat little Carpenter Gothics. The town is so protective of
their precious trees - they have an ordinance prohibiting
cutting the live oaks...even this low branch, so low they have
a yellow traffic sign warning of its height.
Louisiana is famous for its oysters, so Sue and John made
sure we had the best.
Once a chef at Commander's in New Orleans, Roy Grillot
opened his Oyster Bar in Mandeville. Here he is,
bringing us a few dozen of his specialty: barbequed
oysters fresh from the flames, swimming in butter,
seasonings and topped with cheese.
Sue and John's son Tom, joined us for a "Howdy" along with his
friend Phil, a co-player on the Mandeville High School football team.
Kind of looks like they might be able to block a few runs, don't they?
I guess Sue wanted us to experience more of the REAL
Louisiana, so although we suggested taking her to one of
our favorites from 2006, L'Etoile in Covington, she took us to
Rip's on the Lake. It was a great choice and we were also
glad to avoid the road construction in progress on Rt. 190.
Rip's had been a rip-roaring road house before Katrina.
What rose from the ashes is a joy to behold. Perched high
on pilings, with a casual night-time gathering spot below, it
an elegant waterfront restaurant boasting a scrumptious
menu...hard to choose, but I had soft shell crabs, my favorite.
We have pared the "pack up" down to under two hours; less if we just spend a night or
two in one place. Once orderly, we're ready to roll.
And roll we did, on Thursday, November 6th. I could swear I saw a sign saying we were entering the
Eastern Time Zone, so I changed my watch. Cor didn't see one, so he didn't. We finally agreed to
be guided by our stomachs, which thankfully were in sync.
We entered Mississippi and exited it just as fast, suddenly realizing we were approaching Mobile
Bay where I caught a glancing shot of The Alabama. The last time (and first) we had seen it was in
2006. A friend had told Cor he had seen his name on a placard honoring the crew. Cor had never
been on The Alabama, or so he thought, so we went to check it out. After much wandering above
and below deck, we finally found the wall. Indeed, there was C. P. Hunter - but not Corlliss P. Mystery
Mobile, AL has some magnificent new
high rise office buildings: light and airy,
they fairly float above the river.
Here's a quick peek at The Alabama,
It is berthed in its own memorial park,
reached by another highway. Link to it.
Incidental views: Two opposing banks of clouds. At first, I
only saw the ones on the right, looking just like a formation
of super jets. Then, the heftier ones on the left came into
view - ready to stop the jets in their tracks. I tried to imagine
what sort of winds created this weird show
How's bayou? At last, we reached the
expanses of water coming from deep up the
rivers, spreading out over the lowlands, and
finally expanding east and west to meet the
Gulf of Mexico.
Tyndall Air Force Base - A warm welcome to Florida. Sonic booms were
all around us! I swept the camera from right to left as they zapped by, but
I was never quick enough to catch a shot of one. Oh, sure, I have a few
black dots in the sky, but nothing that looks like a fighter jet. Moving along
the base, we passed miles of wire fence. Periodic signs proclaimed:
Warning! Unexploded ordnance! (UXO) Very effective.