On the advice of Jennifer W whose hometown is Mobile, we took a turn through the CBD on our way out, taking in Government and Dauphin Streets. Like many older cities, the historic facades lend character and charm to the streetscapes. In Mobile there is evidence of the French influence, with cafes and restaurants scattered in between the period homes and other buildings. There are, as mentioned in the preceding post, some impressive new buildings and these stand cheek by jowl with the old; but it does seem that architectural style has been required of the developers.
But it was remarkable that the CBD is tiny and the rush hour nonexistent. We enjoyed our breakfast with coffee (5/10) on the footpath and were not even remotely inconvenienced by the passing traffic. The pace of life in Mobile does seem slower.
Time to leave and we used the interstate to clear the suburbs and then we dropped off onto the 90, expecting to see views to the Gulf of Mexico. Nope. It was not there and we ran through many miles of the modern, utilitarian commercial design of shops and homes which are functional but not pleasing to the eye. Biloxi Mississippi was our interim destination and our intention to find a restaurant with a view.
Entry to Biloxi from the east is spectacular, with a new bridge that sweeps in an elegant curve before rising majestically to arch over the water. It seems that this replaced the last, inadequate bridge that was knocked about by Hurricane Katrina. A mile or so beyond that we came across McElroy's Seafood Restaurant, high on stilts looking over the shrimp harbour and out to sea. It transpired that the place had been there for forty years, but Katrina had destroyed it. Our guess is insurance had paid out on condition it was rebuilt on stilts thirty foot high! See the photo page. But although it is a new building, our waiter Cissy informed us our gumbo recipe was the same one used for the last forty years.it was pretty good. We didn't rush lunch, watching the boats coming and going, the pelicans diving on fish; and marvelling at the reasonable prices given the elevated views. In Melbourne we would have been charged an entry fee.
Once again we left air conditioned comfort and kitted up in the hot,humid noonday sun and soon were sprinting down the interstate with the cars and trucks. The trip across Mississippi was a little unusual as we did not spend a night in the state, and Louisiana beckoned. As we were laying down miles on the interstate the journey was unremarkable, except for the high number of folk who travel at high speeds with a cell phone to their ears. Not against the law, it would seem. Texting while driving is illegal.
At Denham Springs about 25 miles short of Zachary, our intended destination for the night, we stopped for a rest and randomly selected the Cactus Cafe. We were engaged by a friendly waitress who recommended the sizzling apple pie. Rich, tasty, sweet, good! And certainly not for diabetics. She also gave us a detailed run down on things to do and places to avoid in Baton Rouge. It apparently has the highest crime rate in the country. She scared us out of considering Port Allen as an alternative to Zachary, out of visiting the city of Baton Rouge and even calling on a police station, as they are enclosed in razor wire and people get murdered right outside. Welcome to Baton Rouge!!
I made sure to follow her advice in staying on the I10 and kept a weather eye open on the ride to Zachary. It didn't look too dodgy and I didn't feel at all unsafe. But we will not test her version of things and the city of Baton Rouge will only see my registration plate as we leave tomorrow.
So how will we get to take photos of the Mississippi? John is keen of course as he has never seen it, and I want to compare it to how I saw it in Iowa. Watch this space.
Pizza and a beer for dinner and once again our hosts were friendly and very polite. Brooke at the Japanese restaurant organized our beers and shared some stories about her life in Louisiana and a couple of tips on things to see. The Scenic Byway seems to be a winner. Thanks, Brooke!
Tomorrow it is once again Westward, ho!