My friends have a crisis, with a great plan (IMO) to get through it. Help them with the American Dream! I did!
I was VERY impressed with Chick-fil-a! We went through the drive-through, and the sandwich I got looked EXACTLY like the picture on the menu! How many restaurants can say that? Robby’s sandwich did, too. And they were FRESH and they were DELICIOUS!
This trip has been so nice and relaxing! Even though it was only two days, it has seemed like a longer vacation because it has been so restful!
We left Friday morning about 3:30am. I had about 4 hours sleep before we left. The children all went immediately to sleep in the car, even the baby. We woke them up about halfway there to eat something, and they all went back to sleep when they finished. I stayed awake, navigating and reading/playing online until about 30 minutes from destination, when I napped a little.
About 10:30am, Robby got out at the pharmacy. It looked like they had some stuff around the immediate area, so we got out and put the baby in the stroller and took a walk. Turned out there wasn’t really anything interesting in walking distance, so we went back to the car and drove around a little. We followed signs to “City Park” only to find that it was a *baseball* park and not a playground-type park.
Now, we have been to Ocean Springs before, but it was a different pharmacy, and I didn’t know *where* it was. That one had been in a little “downtown” area with ALL KINDS of stuff in walking distance.
Anyway, we drove on south until we got to the Gulf (only a few blocks) and knew we couldn’t be far from where we’d been before, as the area was very familiar, but still didn’t know *where*. So we parked and played in the sand a bit (I didn’t let the children in the water past their ankles at that time, because I didn’t know how long Robby would be and didn’t want to have to take time to change). John Luke immediately ran to the water, when we got out, but as soon as the (cold!) water hit his little feet, he STOPPED… and then backed up (giggle).
He LOVED the beach and the sand, though!
We played there for half an hour or so, and then decided to go see what else we could find. We drove back up to the pharmacy and got the car. Before we went anywhere else, we went into a clothing store across the street and got Bob a pair of denim shorts (knee-length) that he desperately needed. Then we got back in the car and went past the pharmacy and turned east. We decided to look for a restaurant with a playplace, as it was getting on toward lunchtime. There wasn’t anything for a ways, and it looked very sparse ‘coming up’, so we turned around and headed back the other way. Just about then, Robby called and said it was a hardware problem, and would I go to Wal*Mart and get a new router. Asked where W*M was and he said she said it was “just up on the left” and I misunderstood which direction, and ended up at a ‘dead-end’ where the bridge to Biloxi was down (still rebuilding after Katrina) and called him back – found out it was the other way – and went allllll the way back lol to past where we’d BEEN when he called the first time.
The older 2 kids went in to find it, with my extra cell and debit card, while I was nursing the baby in the car. Bob called after a few minutes and said, “They don’t have any self-checkouts here!” (He can use my card at a self-checkout because he knows the PIN, but not at a regular checkout because the cashier will KNOW it isn’t his, y’know?) so I got the little boys out (I keep using that, but Tim really isn’t a “little” anymore, at age 10) and we went in to pay for the router.
Then we took it to Robby and went to the McDonald’s we’d seen that had a big indoor playplace. We got some lunch and the children played for a few minutes. We’d just about finished eating when Robby called saying he was almost done, so we packed up and headed back to the pharmacy.
Robby called a couple minutes after we’d gotten back and asked where we were… I said, “Outside.” He said, “Great!” and came out and we went to get him something to eat. By then it was nearly 3pm (check in time at the hotel) so we headed to the hotel.
The lady who owns (or manages) the pharmacy had arranged for our room with her credit card. The hotel said we had to have her card to check in, which made no sense to me. If I want to pay for someone to stay, and I go there WITH my card to arrange it, why would they need my card AGAIN to check in? Weird.
Anyway, they let us go up to the room, and the lady in question agreed to come back and present her card, for us.. around 6pm. So we got into our swimming clothes and headed for the beach!
We played in the Gulf and on the sand for an hour and a half, approximately. John Luke LOVED it, it was so cute! Once he got in the water he really enjoyed it, and it was a blast! It wasn’t particularly deep – we had to go out a LONG way before we even got up to our waists!
Nate hadn’t eaten his burger from lunch, so while we were changing to get into the car (there was a portajohn there), he threw it to the seagulls. Well. Chaos ensued lol It was so fun to watch ’em! Some kids walking by dropped a dead crab near where we were, so they threw THAT to the gulls, too and watched ’em fight over it.
Finally we were all in dry clothes (though still sticky from the salt water and had bits of sand stuck!) and we went back to the hotel to shower and meet the lady. We showered and bathed… I was in first so while Robby went downstairs to handle making sure we were checked in properly and the kids were bathing, I got online!
By the time Robby came back upstairs, it was 6:30, and we headed out to get something to eat. At this point it was obvious we weren’t going to make it to the museum (it looked fun, but time just didn’t allow (shrug)). We headed toward Biloxi. You would not believe how much destruction still exists from Katrina! We looked up restaurants on the GPS program, and saw there was a Ryan’s down the road apiece, so we headed toward it. It was along the coast road. I should have taken pictures. There was a little bit of new construction, but mostly it was empty foundations, stuff boarded up, stuff surrounded in scaffolding and plastic and construction equipment…
and when we got to where Ryan’s was supposed to be – there was nothing. No sign there had EVER been a restaurant (or any other building) there.
So we headed back toward where we’d seen an Outback Steakhouse sign. On the way back, we were driving along east, and suddenly the people in front of us were stopping at a little booth and there was a police car with lights and we were wondering “What is this? Are they checking cars or something?” then we saw the sign… We had accidentally stumbled into the air force base. We told them we got here accidentally and needed to turn around. They had no problem with that.
We got back to the main road and went around 3 of the 4 sides of a cloverleaf to get back on the highway headed east… only to realize that the restaurant we’d seen was farther NORTH at that area. Oops. So we got back to the exit where the hotel was, starting to be a little irritated (it was 8:30 by then and we hadn’t eaten dinner yet!), and turned around to head back.
When we got to Outback, it was 8:40, and they had a line OUT THE DOOR of people waiting to get in eek4 … but just across the parking lot, was a CiCi’s Pizza! We went there instead. Their water, though, was sulfur water (yuck!) so we didn’t drink much, but we did EAT!
There was a couple in the next booth who looked SO familiar! I could NOT figure out where I might have seen (or met) them. Finally I scooted over and leaned on the divider.
D: You look SO familiar! Have you ever been in northeast Alabama? Or northwest Tennessee?
(Woman was on the phone at this point) Man: Um. I don’t think so… where?
D: Scottsboro, Alabama. Near Huntsville?
Man: Nooooo…. we know ___ in Huntsville… but haven’t *been* there…
D: How about Fort Smith, Arkansas, maybe?
(Somewhere in here, Man’s phone rang and Woman hung up; we’d discussed Dad being pastor of Southgate Baptist Church and former pastor of Heritage…)
Woman: Where are you from?
D: Scottsboro, AL?
Woman: Hm. Have you ever been to church here? We have the ___ Church… (I forgot the name)
D: No… what are your names?
Man: ___ Rennick (I forget his first name… this name sounds very familiar, too, but I don’t know why)
Woman: ____ Rennick (I forgot her first name too)
D: That sounds familiar, too! I’m Dawn ___, my FIL is Ron ___.
Anyway, we never DID find any connection, but they were nice people. They commented on our family size, and asked if we hs, and told us they had 3 boys and a girl, and their girl was Rachel, too, and one of their boys was Nathan… all grown now. We told them how we’d slept in the car last time we were down there and they said if that ever happened again to call them and they would let us stay with them! It was neat!
Anyway. We left there, and guzzled spring water in the car giggle and headed back to the hotel. It was after 9pm and I was VERY ready for bed! We got back and got the kids ready for bed and Robby & I both got online for a few minutes … that’s when I read about a friend’s son being missing and saw no update, so I called her and updated my other friends. By then, the baby was being wiggly and trying to get off the bed, so I knew he was tired, so I put up the computer and we went to sleep. That was about 10pm.
They had new mattresses on the beds, and they felt SO nice, and we slept SO well!
This morning we woke about 8:30… rolled over and went back to sleep until 9 lol The hotel’s breakfast was only available until 10, so we got up. Rae & I went down first… I was SO impressed! They really did it up right! They had bagels and muffins, sweet rolls, fruit salad, oranges, coffee, hot chocolate, tea, biscuits – both plain and cinnamon-raisin, eggs, ham, and sausage (all three cooked round to fit the biscuits), orange & apple juice, yogurt, cereal and milk, oatmeal and grits. It was a feast! When I was finished, on my way back to the room, I told the lady who was ‘in charge’ of the breakfast that I know it’s her *job* but she does EXCELLENT with it! She gave me a hug and said she loves it.
We gathered all our stuff and checked out. Nate had bounced around and hadn’t eaten much (he is NOT a morning person and usually waits a couple hours after getting up before he eats) but he had to wait until lunch.
We stopped by Wal*Mart to get an inverter so Bob could play my laptop on the road. We had stopped at Big Lots but they didn’t have any.
We went on down the road to the east. When we got just outside Mobile, we stopped for gas and potty, and I called my friend in Mobile and caught her home, so we headed her way. After stopping for lunch at Arby’s, we went to my friend’s and spent about an hour with her (I got pictures!)… John Luke LOVED her 6mo baby! He got down on the blanket with her and hugged her, and just sat by her and petted her head. It was so sweet!! I got pics of that, too.
After leaving there, we headed north, stopping a couple times for the bathroom, and then food (Chick-fil-a*).
It *felt* like more than two days. And even though it was the same amount of time as last time we came down, two years ago – it didn’t seem nearly as *rushed* as that time. It was very pleasant and relaxing.
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