Wednesday, February 10, 2016

I do declare… “There is a Great Big Rocking Chair!”

We enjoy the weird and wacky sights across America.  

Just outside Biloxi, Mississippi is the Dedeaux Clan Giant Rocking Chair.  The sign beside the chair claims this is the World’s Largest Rocking Chair—not quite sure how they know that.  I mean really, the WHOLE world???

Regardless of whether it is the World’s largest, it is certainly the largest Rocking Chair I have ever seen.  We could not resist a quick photo op.  We also never miss an opportunity to document the places we have taken the jeep.


Monday, February 8, 2016

The Welcoming Friendship Tree in Long Beach, Mississippi

We started our day enjoying lunch at the Pirates CoveRestaurant in Pass-Christian, Mississippi.  We were able to eat here twice during our stay in the area.  Both times George and I shared a Shrimp Po-Boy.  Po-Boy sandwiches in the south are famous.  The reality is they are a Submarine Sandwich any place else.  But in the south you put mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato; pickle and meat on a deli roll and call it a Po-Boy.  If you get a Roast Beef Po-Boy it will probably be “fully dressed” and come with gravy on it.  We try to eat as much seafood as we can while we are in the area because it is so fresh; so we eat Seafood Po-Boy’s when we get one.  Pirates Cove is a local favorite and so the place is generally packed.  After eating, and loving, every bite of our sandwich we moved on.

We wanted to see the “Famous Friendship Tree”.   All of the brochures listed this as a one of the top attractions in the area.  We put the Friendship Tree into our GPS.  The GPS took us directly to a big Live Oak tree with a deck and viewing area surrounding it.  We took pictures, but were frustrated by how average this “great” tree seemed.  We marked it off as an “Oh, well” sight and left.  As we were leaving the campus of Southern Mississippi, I saw a great Oak tree and said: “Now THAT should be the Friendship Tree!”.  We decided to stop and take pictures of this marvelous specimen of a tree.  As we walk up we see a sign that says:  “I am called the Friendship Oak.”  Really!?  I guess the other tree was the pretend tree and we were now standing at the REAL Friendship Tree.
We were happy to have accidently tripped over the real tree; because it was fabulous.  The tree promises that “those who enter the shadow of the tree together will remain friends through all their lifetime”.  We met 2 new “friends” under the tree; they graciously offered to take our picture.  I guess we will be bound together for our lifetime.  (Quite the promise.)  It was fun being here with our travel buddies, Tom and Sandy.
This grand oak tree is over 500 years old. The Friendship Oak dates back to 1487. It was a sapling at the time that Christopher Columbus discovered the New World.  As of August 2011 the Mississippi Forestry Commission measured the tree.  It has been measured at over 59 feet high.  The circumference of the massive trunk is almost 20 feet with foliage that spreads over 155 feet.  The average length of the limbs is 60-66 feet from the trunk.  The tree forms almost 16,000 feet of glorious shade and shelter.  The roots, that are the foundation of this tree, go out more than 150 feet.

It is hard to explain this tree.  The structure is interesting and quizzical with the rising and dropping limbs. Standing under the tree I felt a sense of quiet and peace.  The massiveness of it makes one feel safe and protected—knowing it had survived some of very powerful hurricanes.  My imagination makes me wonder who else has stood under this tree taking a break from the sun under the shelter of the massive outstretched limbs.  How many had declared their never-ending love under the shadow of the tree?  I am sure there have been interesting and heart-warming stories that took place under this massive tree.


Monday, February 1, 2016

Air Boat Ride through the Swamp/Marsh lands of Louisiana

I have never had, nor do I plan to have, a bucket list. But one thing that I have always wanted to do is take an air boat ride through a swamp.  Today was the day.  

I had done the research, so we knew that the big alligators were still hibernating.  They likely will not come up until April or May when it is warmer.

The younger, smaller alligators will appear on warm days throughout the year.  The forecast today is sunny and above 70 degrees.  So we made our reservations, headed out and hoped for the best.  We were not disappointed. 

As a side note:  I really enjoy being NEAR water.  I like looking at it, I love listening to it, and I love watching other people in it.  My line in the sand:  if something lives in the water and uses the water for a toilet; I am not very interested in getting in that water.  I also want water that is clear; I want to see if a wild animal is going to eat me or pull me under to my death.  OK, that is a little dramatic.  But the point is, this air boat ride is clear outside my comfort zone!  Nonetheless, I bravely stepped onto the boat eager to start our adventure.

There were 10 of us on the air boat.  Our pilot/guide had spent his entire life in this area, fishing and touring this swamp.  After some initial instructions and information we head out into the swamp.  We were given ear muffs for protection from the loud air motor on the boat.  He stopped periodically to point out special sights or give us information about the area.
We saw quite a few turtles sunning themselves on logs. 

We saw so many birds.  The swamp has a feeling a rugged wilderness.  Somehow the delicate birds seem almost out of place.

We were thrilled to see multiple alligators.  Several of the alligators were slowly swimming along the banks. There was one alligator about 4 feet long sunning on a wrecked boat.  Another 4 to 5 foot alligator was resting on the banks.  This one was so still it almost looked like a statue.
We pulled into a small pool area and the pilot brought a small alligator forward for each of us to hold.  It was only about one foot long, but it was thrilling to be able to hold an alligator.  After everyone had a chance to hold the little guy, we moved to finish our trip.

We enjoyed seeing the various swamp animals.  It was very interesting getting so close to the giant cypress trees growing in the swamp.  I will never get tired of seeing the Spanish Moss dripping from the trees like decorations.  As a side note: we learned that Spanish Moss is not moss at all; but is actually directly related to the Pineapple.  Who Knew?! 



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