Playing a Round of Gulf

The Gulf Coast has taken more than its share of beatings, Katrina was no doubt one of the worst. We were intimately acquainted with the destruction she caused in New Orleans from our daughter’s, 23, ill-fated attempt to attend Tulane University. But the worst of the storm’s fury was felt on Mississippi’s shores.

The damage was still evident as we drove along the coast toward Biloxi. Massive broken pilings that…CONTINUE READING >>

The
Gulf Coast has taken more than its share of beatings, Katrina
was no doubt one of the worst. We were intimately
acquainted with the destruction she caused in New Orleans from
our daughter’s ill-fated
attempt to attend Tulane University
. But the worst

of the
storm’s fury was felt on Mississippi’s shores.

The
damage was still evident as we drove along the coast toward
Biloxi. Massive broken pilings that once held extravagantly
themed casinos housed on barges,
stand like lonely skeletal dinosaurs on the water’s edge.

Most of the casinos have been rebuilt on shore now. But plenty
of open lots scattered along the beach road now sit empty. These
were prime real estate occupied by grand oceanfront homes and
flashy tourist attractions prior to Katrina.

There was a fair amount of “remember when The Treasure Bay
was there” or “I think that was where the hotel we stayed
at used to be” conversations while we walked along the beach
our first evening.

From
some of the devastation, lemons were made into lemonade
in a most unusual way. In 2007, chainsaw artist Dayton Scoggins
carved egrets, seagulls, pelicans and dolphins out of the
stumps of broken trees left behind by the storm. A few years
later another artist, Marlin Miller, was inspired by these
original carvings and added over a dozen more. Now twenty
“Katrina Sculptures” stand in the median of Beach
Boulevard.

Just up the boulevard
from the sculptures is the
Biloxi Small Craft Harbor.

That’s
where we found The Sailfish, billed as a “Living Marine
Adventure Cruise.” While it may not be a genuine shrimp
boat, it is
a fun and educational way to spend an afternoon. The fact that
it is not a commercial fishing vessel allows them to do a little
unregulated fishing closer into shore. And it

gave us tourists
a first hand look at just what comes up out of the sea when the
nets are pulled in.

The
crew of The Sunfish, Captains Brandy and Mike Moore —
along with Steve Cason the shrimper / singer / songwriter
— love their work and it shows. The cruise kicked off
with a few songs from Steve before casting off. Captain
Brandy expertly guided the vessel out of the cramped harbor
while Captain Mike, gave the obligatory safety talk /
bathroom instructions, then switched hats from sailor
to tour guide. We got the scoop on the history of this
part of the gulf as well as a full
briefing on just how the shrimping industry works around these
parts.

Once
we were sufficiently filled in, and away from shore, it
was time to do a little shrimpin’. The nets are weighted
so they will sink, then let out a few hundred feet behind
the boat and simply drug along for awhile. At this point
there was nothing to
do but wait and enjoy a beautiful day at sea.

As
the nets were drawn back in, the ever present squawking
seagulls and patiently waiting pelicans let us know that
our catch was successful. Mike and Steve slowly pulled the
nets aboard, being careful not
to tangle them, and removed the various critters for our observation
as they went along.

The
Sunfish is equipped with an aquarium on the stern, near
the rigging. Steve and Mike tossed in crabs, squid, jellyfish,
trout, sardines, pufferfish — and of course shrimp —
so we could see them swim about rather than flop around
on the deck.

The
remaining catch was turned loose for the seagulls to have
at. The gulls were more than ready for a seafood dinner
— and fought valiantly for the goods.

Hmmm, seafood dinner sounded pretty good. Captain Mike kindly
pointed us in the right direction.

Just
across Beach Boulevard from the harbor, Mary Mahoney’s Old
French House Restaurant is a must on any visit to the Mississippi
Gulf Coast. This Biloxi tradition has been serving incredible
Creole dishes since 1964, when
Bob and Mary Mahoney converted the oldest house in town into this
remarkable restaurant. The building dates back to 1737 and our
walk around the courtyard

was an historical journey in and of
itself.

Changing
out of the old boat duds is a good idea though, because
Mary’s is definitely a few cuts above the typical “come
as you are” beachside eatery. We didn’t plan ahead
for this, (What? Plan ahead? Us?) and since it was only
four in the
afternoon when we got off the boat, we decided to order a few
appetizers and take them to the beach.

The
shrimp remoulade featured huge shrimp, right out of the
water, with a perfect French-style remoulade sauce on a
bed of greens.

Like crab? When Mary Mahoney’s makes a crab cake, they make
a CRAB cake. Not a crab flavored cake, but a cake made out
of crab. Yeah, baby.

Then there’s the Shrimp & Crab Au Gratin. Words failed
us, we just shut up and ate. Had a bit of a gull-like battle.

Growling stomachs held at bay for a bit, we decided to use this
beautiful spring evening for a drive into New Orleans to see how
The Big Easy had come along since Katrina.

David &
Veronica, GypsyNester.com



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4 thoughts on “Playing a Round of Gulf”

  1. I want some fresh crabs and oysters right now. I guess I'll have to sneak out one night and get some and hope that the government doesn't catch me. It is a shame how the media is blowing this way out of proportion. I have been from Ocean Springs to Orange Beach and the beaches and water are beautiful. I found a handfull of tarballs, but they looked to be couple of years old. There have always been tar balls and oily mud in the MS sound.

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