Spring break at the gulf

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Our spring break started the middle of the month and ended just in time to avoid a possible mass of traffic that probably hasn't been seen in this area.

The trip was to the Gulf Coast in the Biloxi and Gulfport, Miss. -- areas where we've frequented before and seem to always have a good time.

The problem was that the part of our journey that took us south of Tunica was through some virtual downpours that had flooded the whole area. Fields were full of water and streams were overflowing. Part of the driving down U.S. 49 was with the flashers going to let other traffic know we were not going to drive any speed at all.

Part of that storm followed us to the Gulf, where it pushed out some agreeable weather and replaced conditions with a cooling trend that didn't permit complete enjoyment of the area.

Signed event

Having experienced the event before along the Beach Highway between the two communities, highway signs made it plain that things were going to jam up within a few days. The signs let people know that April 18 would begin Spring Break for area college campuses and those within driving range of the area, and they advised drivers to expect heavy traffic on that particular weekend.

This was verified by local residents and some friends in the area whom we visited for a couple of days -- each of which said the beach areas would be filled to capacity that weekend with young and old alike who would be attracted to the sea, salt and sunshine.

Fortunately, our reservations expired in three days, so we departed the strip on the morning that traffic was expected to increase considerably.

En route

The first noticeable change in things on the route, which we had traveled several times, was the closed gasoline stations and restaurants, whose owners have given up the ghost due to the economy and high gasoline prices. It was obvious to us that the traveling Americans were considerably fewer in number, which might be a reason for the government to look into fuel prices that cause a lack of travel by most families.

Closing of businesses on that level was obvious as you travel down the road. In my opinion, it would do much to help the economy if those facilities could afford to stay in operation.


Ever hear of this place?

It's in Mississippi, and boasts, with a sign on the water tower, of being the Catfish Capitol of the World. Seems to be that's a pretty broad stroke, but it could be possible with the number of ponds that are located on either side of town.

As luck would have it, there wasn't a mealtime on the clock in this passage, or we could have checked out the fare with their claim to fame.

Taylor's running

In the Gulf area, Gene Taylor is still running for Congress. We thought it was unique that this area was represented by this name. We were reminded of the days back when the late Gene Taylor represented our U.S. House district.

This lower state district's Taylor is also a Republican. Apparently, for this election, he has drawn some opposition.

Guided tour

Two days of our stay featured guided tours of the two communities courtesy of Mac and Mary Belle McGrath, who have wintered in the Gulfport area for a number of years. They and their dog Teddy are comfortable at the Seebee Base travel home park, along with several military retiree couples and families.

A luncheon with one of the couples was interesting to me, since he was a Navy captain during active duty days.

We didn't miss a thing in going up and down the coastal area that has become familiar to the McGraths.

There was some concern one day at lunchtime when we were told that we were going to the Blowfly Restaurant. That didn't sound very tasty to me, but we were assured the cuisine would be good. Located on some backwater to the gulf, we were warned that alligators frequent the area and had been seen in the proximity of the entrance.

My choice from the menu was She Crag Soup that I hadn't tasted since early days in Key West. Another area favorite was fried green tomato sandwich, which was Sue's choice.

There will be some more coming about this area at a later date.

May flowers

With May 1 being just around the corner, it's probably a good time to turn to the Almanac, which doesn't bode well for those still in the planting mood. The first part of the month has storm possibilities lingering, and there remains some cold weather that could come sweeping through the area.

The forecast says that any seed planted is likely to rot during this first part of the month.

There's some good news though; the best fishing days are May 3-5, 14, 22-23 and 31. Good days are May 17, 19 and 21.

Bob Mitchell is the former editor and publisher of the Cassville Democrat.