America through the Windshield--Getting to Know the First Americans travel blog

We were in the Paul B. Johnson State Park, south of Hattiesburg, MS from December 1 through 23. We spent lots of time with family and friends. I worked several days with my uncle to create a 50th Wedding Anniversary scrapbook. We almost completed it; we had a really great time. It was my uncle’s first time to scrapbook. Believe it or not he was a “natural” with the tools.

Our preparations for Christmas were quite different this year. Of course we had a tree! It was not a tree like any we have ever had before; the full sized tree was just out our window at our neighbor’s RV. They had decorated a full size tree and anchored it to there RV with all the trappings of lights both indoors and out. We did have a rather small tree ; it was the smallest tree we have ever owned, a tiny brass ornament (a gift). We did have a few ribbon bows, gingerbread men, manger scenc, etc.

Our food preparations were very different this year since we were not baking hundreds of cookies; we mixed up the cookie doughs one day. The weather was perfect for watching movies and baking cookies—it took hours to bake each type of cookie. Our oven will only hold one cookie sheet (a stone slab—the regular cookie sheet was too long). We baked one type of cookie each day until they were all baked (3 or 4 recipes). And, then we packaged, mailed and shared them with family and friends. I think this is our “retirement Christmas tradition”

We had a lot of fun as we began researching my family trees. I got quite a bit from my mother’s family during our family Christmas luncheon. Later I found pictures and gathered information from two of my mother’s siblings. I then spent time visiting with one of my Grandmother Rainwater’s nieces and got lots of history, names, a few photos and connections. We also spent some time in the local library genealogy room and Greg did some on-line research. I learned that my father’s paternal grandfather and my mother’s paternal grandfather were both orphans. I had no idea; I’ve learned that one father died and that all of the children were unable to stay with their mom; however, we still need to continue our research to learn why my mother’s paternal grandfather was orphaned.

We took a day trip to the Gulf Coast and had the BEST po-boys we had ever eaten. The bread was baked locally and was buttery and crusty—mmm-m-m-m makes my mouth water just thinking about the oyster poboy that I had. It was just a little place in Long Beach, MS; I definitely want to go back again.

We drove for miles along the Gulf since this was our first time to see the Gulf since Katrina. WOW!! We were most saddened to see that even though Biloxi and Gulfport have casinos and hugh supporting hotels that are drawing tourists to the Gulf; they are still decimated from Katrina. There were very few homes rebuilt in the residential areas. Only a few waterfront homes had been rebuilt and even fewer small businesses. There were so many vacant lots. The remnants of buildings were completely erased except for the foundations where homes and businesses had been located. I guess the federal dollars were just not enough to bring the local businesses and residents back to the pre-Katrina status.

We were also close enough to go to New Orleans for a day trip. Our plan was to have brunch at The Court of Two Sisters (our favorite restaurant in the French Quarter). Boy were we disappointed when we got there and we could not get seated for 3 hours (we’ve never had to get reservations; I guess we’ve never gone there on a Sunday AM after a New Orleans Saints game the night before). No problem, we just headed over to Mother’s Restaurant, a short walk away across Canal Street. I think this one was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on the Food Channel. There was a 15 minute wait and then we ordered our seafood. It’s always good at this “dive”. After a few hours in the city and the French Quarter we were headed back to home sweet RV.

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