Of Tar balls and Heat

Now that I’ve just about caught up from being on vacation, I can write about my experiences.

We traveled to Gulfport, MS. That’s all the way down south to the Gulf of Mexico.

Right there where BP’s tar balls were coming ashore.

No, I didn’t see any. In fact, what I saw were pristine, sandy beaches, with brand-new palm trees, piers, roadways, and new construction.

The Coast has come a long way from the state it was in five years ago after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the place.

Oh, sure, there’s much to be done — like getting the residents back, getting the businesses back, getting the hope and joy and spirit of fun back.

But, fellow travelers, don’t expect to see slime all over the beaches.

It ain’t there.

Don’t expect to find a wealth of homes and businesses sprouting up waterside, either.

The Mississippi Coast used to boast fabulous antebellum homes with sprawling lawns, profuse flowers, immense live oaks, and splendid views of the water. Home after home lined Highway 90, from the eastern state line to the west.

No more.

Katrina took care of that.

The owners of such “mansions” either moved farther inland or abandoned the area entirely.

What’s there now pales in comparison.

“Homes on stilts” or “hurricane-proof” structures are the wave of the present, thanks to more stringent construction laws.

Which were needed.

But it’s still sad to see.

Many of the restaurants and other businesses, too, relocated, meaning you have to work a bit harder and drive a bit farther to find your favorite places. But, as I was told, there’s no recession on the Coast when it comes to food — everybody, it seems, is eating out and enjoying it!

What I wasn’t prepared for was the heat and humidity.

You expect July to be hot. It’s hot in Central Illinois; it’s hot out East; shoot, it’s hot in Russia!

But this was beastly heat, the kind that sucks the energy right out of you, the kind that’s flat-out dangerous to be in.

So I stayed inside. With the air conditioning. And felt sorry for those who had to be out in the heat.