We had taken a very short road trip to Ocean Springs, Mississippi with a couple of other friends a few years ago. We went to visit our friend from college, James. Since we had such limited time there on our previous visit, we didn’t realize what a gem this small town on the Gulf Coast is. James showed us great hospitality once again and let us park our trailer in his driveway for a week. This turned out to be one of our busiest weeks yet. His house is located very close to the coast, right on a bayou.
We arrived on Sunday with a little bit of daylight left. We did our best to try and back the trailer into a spot next to the house that was out of the way and seemed to be level. Unfortunately, the combination of trees, bushes, and my less than stellar trailer maneuvering we couldn’t get it into that spot. James even climbed on the roof to do some tree pruning while we tried to back it in there. Next, I tried to line it up on a parking pad right in front of the house, but was having even more trouble straightening it in the grass. We also discovered that it would be way off level in the spot. Even more troubling, we found that one of the trailer tires had gone completely flat during this process. The valve stem on that tire was broken! The whole thing turned into a mess, and after nearly two hours, we weren’t even close to being set up. Finally, James suggested that we just leave it in the driveway, and that’s what we did. We kind of capitalized his parking area, and appreciate that he spent the whole week without his normal parking spot for his truck.
As we finally finished getting set up, some of James’ friends started to show up for their weekly potluck dinner tradition. He had boiled some shrimp and sausage, a perfect meal for our first night on the Gulf Coast. We were also more than ready to enjoy a couple drinks after that disaster trying to get the trailer parked. Everyone brought some great food and were very charming company.
We had taken the day off of work on Monday to extend the long Thanksgiving weekend. James had taken the day off as well and we were going to try and get out on his friend’s boat, but unfortunately it was still in the shop. It was disappointing, but we knew we’d find something else to do with our time off. James and I started the day by trying to figure out how we’d jack the trailer up to try and get all of the wheels off at once. Steff and I had decided that after our recent blow out and this broken valve stem, we wanted to get a new set of tires for some peace of mind. It would end up being a little expensive, but we had no idea what these tires had been through before we bought our used RV. After some experimenting we decided that since the tire shop was so close I’d just filled up the flat and drive it there. With that settled, we made plans to go to Mobile, AL.
In Mobile, we went to the U.S.S. Alabama Battleship Memorial Park. What a great choice it was! All three of us enjoyed exploring the World War II Battleship. James was definitely the right person to experience it with since he works at a local shipyard. He had some interesting insight and pointed out many things that I wouldn’t have noticed otherwise. We have been on a number of museum ships on our journey, but this one was the largest, and had so many areas open to explore.
They have some very interesting self guided tours laid out, so you can get the most of the experience while on board. Without some direction you could easily get lost on this ship that is nearly 700 feet long. Some of the highlights were seeing her huge sixteen inch guns, and the engine room down a few decks into the ship. We only wish we had gotten there earlier because they were closing before we saw the whole thing! The park also has a submarine and an aircraft hangar full of military aircraft. If you ever plan to visit this park, reserve a full day, you will need it.
We ended our day in Mobile by heading to Dauphin Street, a small historic district. We didn’t do any exploring but stopped at the OK Bicycle Shop for drinks and a bite to eat. It was an interesting place, that actually does sell bikes. Their menu includes Mexican food, and sushi.
Tuesday, we were all back to work during the day. The evening took us down to the historic district of Ocean Springs for dinner at Murky Waters BBQ. Jeff, who was also at dinner on Sunday joined us. It was our first glimpse into just how much there is to see and do in this town. Our way in revealed just how many restaurants, bars and shops there are. After dinner James and Jeff took us to one of their favorite hangouts, The Government Street Grocery, for a drink.
Wednesday was another work day, but by the evening we were starting to get a feel for how busy James stays. We started out the evening with sushi at Chef Scotts. You wouldn’t expect such a variety of food for a town of this size, but this was just one of the many ethnic restaurant choices you have in Ocean Springs. After the quick bite to eat we once again headed back to The Government Street Grocery, where we met some more of James’ friends. I definitely see why it is such a popular hangout, it has a very laid back atmosphere. From there we rode along to go to the airport to pick up James’ friend Joe.
Thursday, I woke up early to get the RV to the tire shop. I took my computer and worked from the Krispy Kreme right next door, while Steff stayed back and worked from James’ house. After a couple hours we had all new tires on the trailer. Hopefully we will avoid tire trouble for the rest of our journey. We decided that we were due for a quieter night in, so we planned to make dinner for our host. Steffanie and I went out and got everything I needed to make a lasagna. It is something I love to make when we have someone to share it with, because it is so much food. Joe came over too, with a bottle of wine, and we had another great evening. It also allowed us to recharge for what would end up being a very busy weekend as well.
James found out that his friend Stig’s boat was out of the shop and ready for a shakedown. So he took a half day from work on Friday. I followed suit and planned to join him on a short boat ride. Unfortunately, Steffanie couldn’t get the afternoon off, so she stayed back and finished work. We made a quick stop on the way out to get some sandwiches from the Greenhouse on Porter, since neither of us had a chance to eat lunch yet. I was looking forward to a leisurely cruise while I ate my sandwich. After picking up Stig and his boat we got down to the harbor and had the boat in the water pretty quickly. We cleared the no wake zone, and it was full throttle from there on a 45 minute trip out to an island. The seas were a little rough for the size boat we were on and we bounded from wave to wave. It was fun, but turned out to be a little bit more of a literal shakedown than I had expected. About half way out, James asked me to go up front to make sure our lunch was secure. It is fortunate I did because the paper bag had slipped out and was flapping in the wind. I got the sandwiches stowed and did my best to hold on as we rode the rest of the way out to Horn Island, a part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore.
We docked on the island and broke out the well deserved sandwich. We didn’t spend much time since Stig had to be back, but it is a beautiful spot that James calls his favorite place on earth. The ride back was a little calmer, and took less than 20 minutes.
That evening James was ready to go out much earlier than we were so we planned to meet up with him later on. Steff and I took a short nap, then went out to dinner at a BBQ place called the Shed in Ocean Springs. It is a fairly popular restaurant and the owners family were even the subjects of a TV show. In my opinion, the food didn’t really live up to the hype, but the place has a pretty cool atmosphere. Later, we met up with James at the Government Street Grocery once again. This time there was some live music, and we stayed out until it was about closing time.
On Saturday, we all slept in a bit to recover from out late night, but when we did finally get going we went out for some lunch just down the road. Da Bayou is an interesting spot built out of shipping containers and, as you guessed, right on the bayou. We ate some burgers, drank Bloody Marys and enjoyed the views. Deciding we were all due for some more rest after that meal, we went back and took a nap. We needed to get recharged for another night out.
Later, James found out that there was a Christmas boat parade in Biloxi. We headed over and found a spot on the shore just in time to see all of the boats decked out with Christmas lights sailing by. It was a nice unexpected event that we got to take in, capped off with a fireworks show at the end.
After the boat parade ended, we made our way back to Ocean Springs for some dinner at an Italian restaurant, Salvetti’s. We finished the night at a bar called Mosaic, where a band was playing. We found a great spot sitting around a fire on their patio, and enjoyed the music with a drink in hand. Steff and I called it a night early so we could shower and get some rest before we headed out for New Orleans the next morning.
We are extremely grateful to James for being such an amazing host, and introducing us to so many people throughout the week. It was a very busy week , but we enjoyed every moment. We barely even scratched the surface of everything there is to do in the area. We would certainly go back, and would recommend anyone thinking of a trip to the gulf coast should definitely consider stopping or staying in Ocean Springs.