Day 45 – Pass Christian


Yesterday I left the nice sandy beach of the Ocean Springs Yacht Club, where my canoe’s stay was sponsored by Judi and Ken Altman who are members there. As I geared up the boat, my phone rang. It was my friend, Maria Christianson, from home. So wonderful to hear her voice! We basically chatted about the kids , her son is also a freshmen in high school, and the goings on of the summer for the whole length of the bridge from Ocean Springs to Biloxi and a little bit beyond.

I hadn’t really remembered much of that paddle from Biloxi to Bay St. Louis back in 2009, except the wind and chop and my miserably handling boat which I didn’t realize was loaded with water. The damage was still apparent from Hurricane Katrina. I do remember it had been pretty barren looking. Certainly not like it is now with some of the towns having real harbor areas.  I remember Pass Christian just having nothing, nothing at all, and now they have a gorgeous harbor and they just broke ground for a new hotel.

Since I’m paddling along the mainland I’ve been missing the beauty of the barrier islands. My current hosts, Dita and Peter McCarthy, have a bunch of photos of Mississippi’s barrier islands on their wall. I’m really missing a lot by not going out there. Some of the islands are inhabited, but most of them seem pretty wild. I’d love to come back for a barrier island paddle and just camp there with the family. You could actually make a neat little trip of paddling from Pascagoula out to the islands, camp there for a couple of days, and then paddle the stretch back to Pass Christian, especially once the hotel gets built. That would be a perfect trip for October or early spring.

While I paddled toward Gulfport and Pass Christian, dolphins broke the glassy surface and mullet hurled themselves in the air, some more gracefully than others. Every now and then a different kind of fish would leap out in a perfect arc, as if to show the haphazardly leaping mullet how it’s done. Further off in the distance I even saw some dolphins leaping in arcs and close to me a baby lifted his head and pectoral fins out so he was sort of standing in the water, close to his mother. It was nice to have such a distracting spectacle to watch rather than the hulking mass of Gulfport to stare at for the couple of hours it took me to paddle up to it.

It is funny how perspective shifts on the water, especially when you are a low craft like a canoe. Big things that you think are next to another big thing turn into big things that are behind other things, like the massive LNG tanks in Pascagoula and the Chevron plant. You’d swear as you paddle up to these that maybe the gas tanks are on an island out to the side of the Chevron plant, but in reality they are the second thing you pass on that stretch of land.

Being on the water makes me more aware of clouds and weather patterns, as being able to figure out how and from where storms develop directly impacts my safety. Yesterday I watched clouds form over the Gulf from the start of the day. They moved inland but never got to the “threatening and concerning” stage. But I watched them and wondered.

Soon I’ll be back at the yacht club where I met some wonderful folks at dinner-Kathy and Allen, whose last names I’ve forgotten, and Jim and Gayla. Jim and Gayla had just gotten back from a camping trip with a seriously cool little tag along camper. I definitely want to look into that-it even had solar panels for the refrigerator and lights! I have so got to check that out.

The rooster is crowing and it’s time to leave yet another wonderful couple’s wonderful home. I can’t believe this trip is nearing its end. I’ll be in Slidell tonight with a couple I met last year during the New York to Chicago leg of this trip, in Presque Isle, MI, at a wonderful bed and breakfast, the North Bay Bed & Breakfast run by Neil and Carla Dietlin. We had s’mores and enjoyed a wonderful time with our hosts, and had exchanged information. From the archives-

Time to get ready to hit the water-and the Rigolets!


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