When we first got here the weather was beautiful, but dark, gray clouds soon covered the sky and the air grew so thick with humidity it was hard to breathe. The weather service announced tornado warnings by county, but we had just arrived and weren't sure which county we were in. Tornado warnings don't bother me nearly as much when we're at home, since there's always a basement to hide in, but in a motor home - there you are. We got some heavy rain, and the wind ripped an awning off of a neighbor's rig. But the severe storms and tornados went north and the media is full of sad news about loss of life and property just a bit further north.
Our bike ride along the beach made it more and more clear to us that this area is also far from recovered from the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina. Rows of pilings show where fishing piers used to be. Huge moorings reveal the spots where the casino boats docked before the storm tossed them inland. Weeds and grass are growing through asphalt and concrete that gives an indication of the buildings that used to be here. On a beautiful day like today, the impulse to rebuild in this beautiful spot is strong, but this coast is very vulnerable. There are no barrier islands or bays. Even on nice days a steady wind blows the powdery sand across the highway and workers have to clean off the pavement regularly. It made us think of the snow removal teams at home.
We came to Biloxi to attend the crawfish festival, specifically the cooking competition. The bad weather delayed this event a day, but 1,000 folks joined us in slurping and sucking these succulent creatures out of their shells. The competition included 23 teams and we got ballots which allowed us to vote for the best crawfish recipe. Some of the teams added so much red pepper mix (called swamp dust) to the water that my lips and tongue went up in flames. Others used more subtle seasonings, adding citrus fruit or herbs or vegetables to the boiling water. We did out best, but only tasted about a third of the team offerings. It took us over an hour to get the delicious morsels out of the shells. The locals worked somewhat faster.
Sorely in need of a thorough shower and lots of cold water to drink, we wandered around the festival grounds, watching the younger generation twirl around on carnival rides and the less younger generation perched on lawn chairs, enjoying a rock band performance from the festival stage. Vendors sold everything you can imagine with a Confederate flag on it and T shirts with some extraordinarily foul sayings.
Biloxi was having fun today, but its prognosis seems uncertain.