You know those moments in life when you’re looking at something that is so normal and yet spectacular? That is how I remember sunsets on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. If the timing was right and I was driving or riding west along Highway 90, I would watch as the neon colored sun slowly lowered across land and water. It’s those types of memories that paint my picture of where I’m from, but it is a slightly different reality I return to when I visit.
Some people ask why our beaches don’t have the clear blue water you’ll find further east in Alabama and Florida – and the simple answer is our barrier islands don’t allow the tides to clear out all of the silt. Maybe that’s why the Mississippi Gulf Coast has always had to have that extra something to attract people to it.
There are still white sand beaches to stroll on and majestic-looking live oak trees (some of which are centuries old) with Spanish moss hanging and swinging in the gulf breeze. Gamblers of all ages still make their way to casinos stretching along the coast to try and hit the jackpot, without as much glitz and glamour as Vegas or Atlantic City. You can always find your favorite Cajun, Creole, Southern, and Seafood cooking calling your name at places like Mary Mahoneys, the White Cap, Vrazels, Lil Rays, and Catfish Charlies. You can have it all from fine dining to po boys.
If you want history and art, there is also something for you. Beauvoir was the last home of Jefferson Davis (President of the Confederacy). He lived out his final years there, although he was never granted his US citizenry back. Pirate Jean Lafitte frequented the area and laid low on the barrier islands when the law was searching for him and before he helped win the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812. Artist Walter Anderson painted canvases, rooms, and boats in wonderful designs. George Ohr was nicknamed the Mad Potter of Biloxi and his works gained popularity after his death.
I also think people are attracted by the resiliency of the people there. Female hurricanes haven’t always been kind to the coast. Hurricane Camille tore Ship Island into two halves before smashing the shore, Hurricane Elena left a hole in the roof of my parent’s house, and Hurricane Katrina did her worst in her path of destruction. Driving along Highway 90 today will still give you a great sunset, but not all of the houses, hotels, and businesses have returned to their former locations.
It’s a slow process, but the coast won’t stop calling visitors to its shores. So whether it’s Gulfport, Biloxi, Ocean Springs, Long Beach or Pass Christian, you’ll have a great day on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.