Here's a map update of our travels so far. The red line is where we have been, starting from Orlando Florida, and the black dots are the places we stopped along the way. So far we've been through the states of Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi. Next we head on to Louisiana, Texas and New Mexico.
Today turned out to be a really good day. This morning we decided to take the self-guided walking tour of Biloxi's historic district. However, when we got to the street where the Visitors Centre is supposed to be (containing the maps we needed and the start point of the tour) we discovered it had been completely blown away by hurricane Katrina. It took us some time to locate the new temporary visitor centre. The walking tour took about an hour. Luckily it was a really pleasant day. Taking the walk really opened our eyes to the devastation that hurricane Katrina caused, as many of the old listed buildings were destroyed or just not there any more.
The tour started in the Biloxi Green, a patch of greenery that once housed the visitors centre. Here stood a memorial to the people who lost their lives in 2005 when hurricane Katrina hit the coast of Mississippi. The memorial is made of bits of possessions found in the buildings that were totally destroyed. The wall of the monument is exactly 12 ft high, to represent that the flooding in Biloxi Green reached 12 ft deep during the height of the storm. We took a photo standing next to it to help show how deep that really is.
The tour took us round the quiet old streets that were once the heart of this city. The buildings that remained were Victorian, as well as Creole.
At the end of the tour we stumbled across the huge Hard Rock Casino and Hotel. Dan couldn't resist going inside for a peek. Although children weren't allowed in the casino, we could see right into it and walk along the edge. The noise from the lines of hundreds of fruit machines was horrific. I'd go totally mad if I had to work there. The machines were lined with so many people, mostly extremely overweight I noticed, staring like zombies and filling slots with coins. It was a disturbing sight really. So many people, who looked as if they sat there every day of their lives, totally transfixed by a machine. Once we passed the casino, still inside the Hard Rock hotel, we discovered the best all you can eat restaurant on the planet! Had it been the evening we wouldn't have been able to afford to eat there, but it was still serving the lunch menu, and we were starving. For a cost of only 6 pounds per adult, and 3 pounds for the big kids (Barney was free) we were treated to the finest buffet in the land! A meat carvery, an asian and chinese section, proper huge shrimp, an Italian and pizza section, plus a huge bakery. I just don't know how they afford to make the food and pay the staff for that amount of money. Even the drinks were included. We all had a plate of chinese food to start, followed by meat from the carvery with potatoes and wedges, plus loads of shrimp and then deserts. We could hardly walk by the end of it. Barney ate his own weight in shrimp, and Annabelle suddenly went off of shrimp once she found out what it looked like unpeeled! I had to laugh at Barney who thought he was actually killing the shrimp himself to eat it. He sat with a plate of them, and a knife, and said to each one "I'm sorry, it's time to die now" before cutting off their heads and passing them to me to peel! Each time he picked one up he said "poor fella!" before stuffing them into his mouth. That boy really does like his shrimp!
After our mammoth feeding frenzy we headed to Gulport were I had discovered the most amazing discovery centre for children. Usually admission to the centre is $7 per person, whether adult or child (which, I have to say is good value now that I've been there), but on a Friday evening between 5-8pm admission is free, due to a local business who have sponsored for this to happen. Well, happy days! I love free stuff. This place was something similar to the play section of W5 in Belfast. My kids had the most amazing time there for three hours, and it didn't cost me a cent! It was packed with exciting things for kids, and Dan & I spent most of the time wondering why there was nothing like this when we were kids. Outside were some great tree houses, and inside were all sorts of things from climbing areas, to shrimping boats, to dressing up areas, a Mexican cafe, and a Winn-Dixie supermarket. We headed back to the RV at 8pm with three shattered kids, and two shattered but happy parents. And none of us were hungry!
Tomorrow we are moving on to another part of Mississippi (not sure where yet) before driving into Louisiana where we will be staying right in the heart of the French Quarter. as well as visiting the Mississippi River, touring a big sugar cane Mansion, and driving through the Bayou's.