We have finally returned from our vacation and are trying to settle back into our daily lives. I washed my last load of clothes that we brought back with us just a little bit ago. My next task is to go through and pick up everything that we dropped along the way when we came in. I have also been trying to go through and arrange my pictures so that when I got the opportunity I could post them.
Our trip down was fairly uneventful. We started out running 45 minutes later than we wanted to. Our first snag was stopping for coffee after 45 minutes just past the Tennessee line. Hubby and I both managed to land about 3 hours of sleep before getting up to start getting ready. We moved pretty swiftly through the rest of that area, Missouri bootheel, Northeast Arkansas. When we made it to West Memphis, Hubby just had to drive by Graceland and let the kids see the house of Elvis and the Lisa Marie, so that added a bit to our drive time. Not far into the state of Mississippi, we got hung up in a traffic accident. All lanes of traffic were closed so that a life flight could land to pick up a patient and leave again. We managed to come up at the very end on only sat about 20 minutes before our lanes got to move again. Unfortunately for the other side, we measured a three mile line of traffic from our stopping point to the end of traffic. We made the trip through Jackson without any problems, enjoying the sights (I love St. Dominic's Hospital) and laughing about street names (such as Fortification St.) We finally stopped at Hubby's step-dad's house for the day on Saturday about two. We left interstates to drive down two-lane country roads to find his home. The kids had a blast going for rides on his four-wheeler and fishing in his pond before finally crashing for the night.
Saturday morning we got up and prepared to make the drive to Biloxi. Hubby had brought his GPS to make sure we didn't have any problems getting to where we had to be. What he didn't expect was for that little computer to take us on a country drive. We were already in what felt like the middle of nowhere when it took us farther. We left two-lane country roads for chat rock roads that eventually gave way to gravel. Small gravel. Wide enough for one vehicle gravel. The kids were stumped that there were such a thing as gravel roads. I hadn't realized that they had never seen one before since Kentucky made a decision when the kids were little that all gravel roads were at the very least covered with chat rock. I couldn't believe it when we came across a sign that simple stated "Cattle Crossing." I have never in my life seen a cattle crossing sign and hated that my camera was in the trunk, having not anticipated the need to take a photo while taking the drive down. We finally made it to Biloxi about 2pm, just as a thunderstorm was about to start. We wasted a bit of time driving around while waiting for check in time for our hotel and waiting the rest of it out after we checked in. Again, I was mad at myself that my camera was still in the trunk as we made the drive through Gulfport, Biloxi and Ocean Springs. Finally we got to walk across the street to the beach.Some of those pictures are from Sunday afternoon and night and others from Monday morning. By the time we got to the beach on Sunday afternoon, the tide had already gone out for the night so the kids got to walk a good ways out before coming up to any really considerable amount of water. They spent a good bit of time looking for sand crabs, jelly fish, sting rays and fish. We did find three different baby sting rays that got left behind by the tide and died and then found a baby jelly fish that washed up the next morning with the tide. They were really excited by the whole thing.
I was really stunned by the amount of damage that we found from Katrina when we got to Biloxi. I think it was more of the amount of time since Katrina has passed and how much damage that they are still trying to recover from. The street our hotel was on was actually called Beach Street and is normally a four lane highway. It is currently a two lane highway as most of it is undergoing repaving. We also saw a lot of damage that I didn't get pictures of (camera was still in the darned trunk!). When we finally left Biloxi, our intentions were to visit a friend in Baton Rouge (who unfortunately had to go to work before we arrived so we missed him) so Hubby decided he would swing by New Orleans on our way up to Baton Rouge to see the damage left behind as well as how much had been cleaned up compared to Biloxi. In order to get to New Orleans from Biloxi we had to cross Lake Pontchartrain, a bridge that I had already mentioned I wasn't interested in crossing. When we changed our route through New Orleans, I had forgotten you had to cross that lake. We did not take the Causeway bridge across (thank goodness!) but took one of the smaller bridges across that had received damage from Katrina. We were about halfway across the bridge when Hubby mentioned to me where we were. So I took pictures of course. The first picture is of the bridge where the railing is still intact but workers have put up concrete barriers to be safe. The second picture is of the bridge where the railing was destroyed and had the barriers up. The third picture is of what I called a bridge band-aid, where it seems they rebuilt a section of the bridge that had been pretty damaged. I fussed at Hubby more than once about taking me across a bridge that had a band-aid on it. He's not going to live this one down.
We had barely gotten into N.O. when a pretty nice little storm hit. I did get a few pictures of some damage left, but from what we saw, they still had their fair share but not as much left as Biloxi.This was my first time in N.O. and I had to take pictures. I love the old buildings that are down there. And Hubby couldn't take me down there and not take me down Burbon street.
We chose not to go see the French Quarter (though I would've loved to). It was just a wet, icky day, was lightening, and we knew we had places to be so we just kind of ran through quickly. I would love the opportunity to go back to see the sites and take pictures while I'm there.
We finally made it to Hubby's grandmothers house in Natchez Mississippi around four on Monday. Hubby spent a good part of the week doing odd things for them like putting a seal around a door and replacing a water heater that went out while we were there. He also made a few trips to the store for various odds and ends, one of which was for sandwich stuffs for the kids to eat lunch. Belle made this particular trip with him and found packages of ribs in the coolers at the local Piggly Wiggly. After finding out from Hubby that she was actually looking at ribs, she kept peering at the package while he walked on down the aisle. She came running up to him and informed him, "Daddy, those ribs are pigs ribs!" I thought I had shared that with her at some point. Oops. On Friday, Hubby's aunt watched the kids so that Hubby and I could go out and take some pictures. Hubby and I lived here for the first year after we were married and I loved that it is a historical community. I say community because it is really too big to be a town but not big enough to be a city. They have a lot of antebellum homes (I really, really want one) as well as beautiful old buildings and churches. I love that some of the older homes still have old brick retaining walls as well as brick sidewalks. Natchez is located on the Mississippi River. In at least one of the pictures, while looking at the bridge over the river you will see Mississippi on the left side of the picture and Louisiana on the right side. The river photos without the bridge is the opposite of that. We took the kids to see fireworks on the 4th of July and sat up against the fence overlooking the bluff of the Mississippi. By the time we left on Saturday morning I was ready to be home to sleep in my own bed. We had to make three different stops on our way out of town before we could get going good. Along the way we stopped by old military Jefferson College and got a couple of photos. I love the old big oak trees that you have no trouble finding in the area. I couldn't find one I liked in Natchez that had swamp moss on it but found this one just as we entered the grounds to the college. The trip home usually takes us around 8-8 1/2 hours. Because we had to make our stops and we kept hearing "I need a bathroom" it actually took us twelve. Hearing "Are we in Kentucky yet?" is almost as bad as "Are we there yet?" The kids were excited as I pointed out the sign as we rolled back into Kentucky. That sign is located forty minutes from our driveway. It was a sight for sore eyes especially since it was already 11pm. We also knew that we had three little surprises waiting for us when we got there.We were afraid Sophie was going to have puppies before we returned (but I was hoping they'd hold out for when we got back). Unfortunately they had other plans. My neighbor called me Sunday morning to let me know that she found these three and that everyone was doing fine. The top one is a little boy (and already claimed by my neighbors mom) and the bottom two are girls. We will not be keeping either of the girls and I'm hoping finding a home for them will not be hard since they should only weigh around ten pounds based on mom and dad.
The only other happening that has gone on is that my flower was ready to burst open today.I have had this violet for three years now and this is the first bloom I've had since I bought it. I noticed the week before we left that it had buds on it (and if you look you can see at least one more in the picture) and I think there is actually about 6 on it now. I'm excited that I finally got it to bloom and haven't killed it. Yet.
I also returned home with around ten new books to read and found an author that I've become hooked on. I picked up Mortal Fear by Greg Iles while at Hubby's grandmothers house and could not put it down. I didn't get to finish it but it is on my list to get soon. Those are just something else to keep me busy over the next few weeks. I'll have to get them added to my book list soon.
Hopefully over the next couple of days things will settle down. The kids are still trying to adjust to being home, mostly by asking for things they got while at Memaws but don't normally get on a routine basis here. Like Cokes. And lots and lots of candy. And watching tv with no end in sight. I'm ready for this adjustment period to be over but I'm glad to be home.