March 29, 2013

Along the Gulf Coast

“Embrace the detours.”  Kevin Charbonneau

Carol writes:  Before we knew it, as we headed south and east, the Colorado winter scene was being replaced with sure signs of spring—blooming dogwoods, redbud trees, azaleas, and daffodils.  Even bundling up in our sleeping bags in the RV at night was no longer necessary! 

Our first stop along the Gulf Coast was in Bay St. Louis where we spent the day with Mike Harris, our Mississippi hiking buddy.  We had a wonderful laughter-filled breakfast with the breakfast bunch at Grammy’s Donuts.  These guys and gals sure know how to start a relaxing day!  I remember from our early married years in Slidell, Louisiana, that in the Deep South it can take all morning just to say “hello”… and that is a good thing. 

Breakfast was followed by Mass at Our Lady of the Gulf Catholic Church, where Mike serves as a deacon.  The extra Mass that morning was in honor of the feast day of St. Joseph (March 19th).  It was a very special occasion for us to attend a Mass in which Mike served as deacon.  After Mass we gathered at “St. Joseph’s Altar” which was set up inside the church community center.  There we enjoyed a spaghetti lunch with a special emphasis on traditional desserts and treats that are associated with their unique St. Joseph’s Day celebration.  I was once again reminded how important it is to preserve the wonderful culture and traditions that are alive and well on the Gulf Coast. 

It was amazing to see the completely restored Our Lady of the Gulf church and community center.  The last time we attended Mass at Our Lady of the Gulf in November 2005, it was held in the storm-ravaged community center with nothing but big holes in the walls where large windows had been blown out during Hurricane Katrina.  The church had also been ruined by Katrina, and I remember we couldn’t even walk inside for fear the buckled, water-damaged floor would give way.  Now all has been rebuilt.  I sense even stronger community bonds, brute determination and heartiness of spirit in our Lady of the Gulf parish.
Lovely restored Our Lady of the Gulf Catholic Church
View of the Gulf of Mexico from Our Lady of the Gulf
Procession to St. Joseph's Altar

Many of the large old trees destroyed by Katrina in Bay St. Louis have been turned into amazing carvings
The Three Amigos
We rounded out a full day with a walk around the trendy tourist shops in downtown Bay St. Louis, then a final shared dinner with Mike and his wife, Mary.
The next day we had one more stop before reaching our daughter’s home in Destin, Florida, and that was to have lunch with an ole Naval Academy buddy of Al’s in lovely Gulf Breeze.  We had a delicious seafood meal and a great time catching up with Jim and Anne Hooper.
These reunions with dear friends make us feel like our relaxing journey has really begun.  Our plan is to spend a few days of quality time with our daughter before heading up to Marietta, Georgia, for new RV tires and one more visit with another classmate of Al’s.  Looks like our visit here in Destin will be a little longer than we had planned because we have to wait for our “green card” (mandatory proof of insurance card) to be mailed from Germany a third time, due to typos!  Ugh!  We are trying hard to “embrace the detours.”
“There ain’t no journey what don’t change you some.”  David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas






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