Tuesday, December 11, 2012

DAY 110- Lighthouses & Confederate Presidents…

I woke up to a wall of fog looking out my hotel window in Gulfport, MS which is a small town about 10 miles west of Biloxi.  Yesterday I had seen a couple of lighthouses along the beach when I was driving.  One of them I had seen a tour sign next to it.  I called the number for the local tourist information and checked to see if they would be open for the day; the brochure said weather permitting.  I couldn’t see anything pass the fog.  I went down for the continental breakfast and knew I was in the Deep South by the offered hot biscuits and gravy and the packages of instant grits.
Photo- The view from inside the Biloxi,MS Lighthouse.

An hour later the fog cleared up somewhat and I took off to the lighthouse.  I arrived right at 9AM when the lighthouse opened.  I went to the middle island of highway 90 where it’s located to learn I needed to go all the way across the street to purchase a ticket.  I waited for the light and walked to a large southern plantation looking house that was the tourist center for Biloxi.  I walked to the front desk inside the door.  Hun, you need to go to the gift shop down the hall to your right.  I purchased the ticket for the lighthouse and walked back to the middle island; feeling like I had just jumped through some hoops.
Photos- Inside the Lighthouse Upstairs the lamp
and downstairs... the waterlines from Hurricanes past.

The gal at the bottom looked at my ticket and said to go ahead and head up.  There’s a low section watch you head at the top of the stairs and then there’s a ladder.  As I walked in there were waterline markers from past hurricanes on the inside brick; the tallest one being about 20 feet up from Hurricane Katrina.  I walked around and around up the metal grid stairs; you could see through the grid to the bottom floor of the lighthouse.  I told myself not to look down (me being just a bit afraid of heights); though it was hard because I had to see where the stairs were.  I came to a small landing with a low overhead clearance and a ladder.  Just a little bit more, I told myself to breathe.
Photo- The outside of the Biloxi, MS Lighthouse.

I got to the top and Wow!  What a view it was.  The husband of the gal who checked my receipt was up on top.  He welcomed me and he apologized for the extra walk across the street.  I started to ask him a couple of questions about the lighthouse and he enthusiastically told me all kinds of information about the lighthouse.  It’s 60 ft. tall and one of two of the original lighthouses along the Gulf Coast that is still active.  I guess this same lighthouse is featured on the Mississippi license plate too. He went on to explain about how after the hurricanes someone always climbs in the still standing lighthouse and hung a flag from the railing of the lighthouse.  It was like a sign that says it’s still here and we can recover.  It was a wonderful thought.
Photo- A statue of Jeffereson Davis.

Next I wondered down the street to Beauvoir which means good view in French and was the last home of Jefferson Davis.  He was the first and only Confederate President of the US.  They have made a museum of the home and are currently rebuilding the Jefferson Davis Presidential Library a second time.  Hurricane Katrina wiped it out.  She also did a number on the main house and other buildings on the property.  But when you consider the beach is right across the street; it’s amazing that more damage wasn’t done.  It is a National Historic Landmark that is privately owned and maintained by the Mississippi Division of the United Sons of Confederate Veterans.
Photos- The Main house where Jefferson lived and the view from the porch which led to its name...

At current, the gift shop and tour center is in a couple of linked up trailers on the property.  I walked in and found out I was about 6 minutes until the next tour of the main house.  I paid my discounted AAA entrance fee and started to walk over to the main house’s front doors where the house tour started.  I was the only one on the porch.  A short while later a woman came out and asked if I was the only one; I told her that it appeared to be so.  We started the tour.

The house was originally built by a Mr. Brown who had more money than what he knew what to do with wanted to show it off.  He built this house as a second home on the beach.  It was meant as a vacation home but he rather over built and made it sturdy which was a good thing because it survived pretty well against Katrina.  The woman pointed out different things inside the house that had to be refurbished or restored or located after Katrina. Hurricane Katrina had taken part of the roof and most of the furniture had been scattered around the area by her winds.
Photo- The main foyer/hallway area of the house.

My tour guide told me that the home had changed ownership from Mr. Brown who passed away to a wealthy single woman who was somehow related to Jefferson Davis’ wife.  That’s how he came to become familiar with the home and was asked to be a guest a couple of times.  Then he came to be a tenant and he paid rent to stay in one of the other houses on the property.  The wealthy woman passed away leaving it to him.  Warning- THIS is the shortened version of the tale.  These southerns love to tell their tales.  Jefferson Davis wrote his memoirs in this house and stayed here till the end of his life.  He is buried somewhere on the property.
Photo- The parlour where a painting of Mr. Brown, the original owner, hangs over the fireplace.

They had tried to bring the house back to what it would have looked like in the year 1890. It was a lovely interior with painted walls that looked more like wall paper but were not.  A great deal of the woodwork was cypress wood; the pullout French doors and wooden floors.  There was a center foyer hall area that went through to a back door and then there were four large rooms off of that.  Two of the rooms were used as bedrooms; another was used as a parlor, and another as a den.  The tour guide showed me the large covered back porch that was semi-enclosed by trellis where there were two additional wings where there were two more bedrooms on one side and two dining rooms on the other side.  One of the dining rooms was for the adults and was larger while the other was quite a bit smaller and was for the children.
Photo- The large back porch area that has two wings off of it;
one with bedrooms and another with dining rooms.

The house tour was over but she pointed out the way out to the Civil War Cemetery in the back of the property.  She also pointed out an area there was a rose garden and said that Katrina didn’t like it so she ripped it out.  She went on to say that they keep on promising to replant it but they move a little slow on something’s in Mississippi.  She also teased me about a friendly alligator out by the bridge I would walk over to get to the cemetery.  She said they did feed him on a regular basis.  I guess this is some of that Mississippi humor.
Photo- The cemetery in the back of the property of Beauvoir.

I walked out through what would have been a rose garden and over a bridge to the cemetery in the rear of the property.  There was also a front gate back there that Katrina didn’t like that they laid to rest to.  It was an interesting cemetery to visit among large trees with Spanish moss hanging.  Some of the graves just had the names with the position they held in the army; while others had the years of birth and death with a statement of how old they were when they passed.  I found that interesting that they put how old they were when they passed.  It was like the math was already done for you which I found a bit amusing.  I wandered back to trailers and bought a couple of postcards.
Photo- The Jefferson Davis Presidential Library still being rebuilt
with the area where the rose garden was at one time. Now it's just
a field area with a sun dial in the middle of it. 

Next I drove further along the shoreline to another lighthouse.  This one was more for looks and I had been told by the other guy at the top of the lighthouse that Hancock Bank was instrumental in having this one rebuilt.  Part of the reason they did that he said was that it is Hancock’s symbol for their bank.  This lighthouse was in a park area with a marina on the beach in front of it.  I walked around the area and took some pictures.

Photo- The now non-active lighthouse that's used for the Hankock Bank symbol.

Then, I was on down the road to Mobile, AL.  I drove along the interstate and crossed the state line.  Yeah, another state I had never been in!  Shortly after that I saw a rest stop sign with a Welcome Center.  I was hoping for something like the experience I had in Mississippi.  Nope!  This Welcome Center was closed but they did have free state road maps and Sweet Home Alabama brochures of the state.  I used the rest room and continued on down the road. I hit Mobile just as rush hour traffic was getting into full swing and there was an accident just off of the exit I had to take to get to my hotel.  Oh joy!  I opted to stay put for the night after that.  I was staying at a Drury Inn which advertises including everything.  They have a kick back social hour from 5:30-7PM where they serve food and three free drinks.  I also managed to catch up on laundry too.

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