Red and Black and Green – Day 12

Day 12 — April 12, 2003 — Saturday

Red and Black…and Green

We slept later than usual today as we have just 80 miles or so to our next stop, New Orleans.   Sunny and 70 degrees with a blue sky with light cirrus clouds.  After two days of cool weather and the top up, we looked forward to getting the top down and soaking some rays.


When Boz checked us out of the hotel, she asked directions to Highway 90, and the desk clerk said, “Well, you turn right out of the parking lot.”  It seems we were on 90.  Hey, it was late when we checked in, and we were pooped.  The clerk asked where we were headed, and when Boz said New Orleans, he said “You don’t want to take 90; it will take you three hours to get there on 90, while it will be just an hour or so on the Interstate.”  Bozzie just smiled.


Since we didn’t get to Biloxi in time to hit the casinos last night, we stopped at Copa Casino.  The Copa is about as far removed as you can get from the glamour and glitter of Vegas; they tried to hide the acres of Dole Pineapple and Chiquita Banana trucks on the land either side of the entrance drive, but didn’t succeed.


Just inside the door, we came to a security station where we met Mary and Mary, two nice security ladies.  We stopped to introduce ourselves and chat.  We joked that we were going to be big winners and would be needing an armed escort to our car.  The uniformed Mary with a gun strapped to her hip assured us in the most serious of tones that she would do so.  She said she had done it just once before.  A 28-year-old man won $10,000 playing the slots, and he asked for a security escort to his pickup truck.  (Ah the contrasts from big cities to smaller towns!)  We told the Marys that we were going to place one big bet, and that was it.  We then walked straight to the roulette wheel.


Now for a little history.  In 1977, Boz and I took a six-week driving trip around Europe.  We had big plans to finance part of our trip costs with gambling success in Monaco.  We set aside a little money, and walked into the very snooty casino there, and we went to a roulette table and put all of our money (probably just $250 or so) on red.  It came up black, and they took our money.  We went back to our little green Ford Fiesta and felt devastated.  We planned to win and then let it ride and win again and live happily ever after.  The truth is that we had spent a lot more than we had planned, and we could have really used some cash.  We didn’t have much money, and thinking back, we have no idea how we could afford the time or the money for the trip.  Back to the Ford Fiesta…we sat there and discussed whether we should take our last $250 and go back in and put it on red.  We finally decided that Bozzie would go back in and do just that.  She returned  in a few seconds.  It came up GREEN!  Losing was bad enough, but there’s only one GREEN spot and tons of red and black spots on a roulette wheel, and we hit GREEN.  The next day, we learned how you can get a cash advance on a MasterCard.  We swore off gambling, though every time we hit an area with a casino, we bet on red, and we always lose.


So, there we were at the $1.00 roulette wheel in Biloxi, Mississippi.  Barbara thought I was going to make a BIG bet on red as I had commented that it would be nice to win enough money to pay for our travel expenses thus far.  I hate to lose money, so I just tossed $100 on the table and asked for a $100 chip.  Onto red it went.  The $1 betters at the table were stunned to see such a big bet.  I told the folks seated at the table that they’d be wise to put their money on black.  No one laughed or took my advice.  Lisa the roulette lady gave the wheel a mighty spin, and we were really happy gamblers when the little white ball found a home in a red slot.  We grabbed our winnings, and went straight to the cashier where we got two $100 bills.  We stopped to say goodbye to the Marys and to let them know we had won but wouldn’t really need the armed guard escort to the car.  It’s so nice to leave a casino as winners!  From the time we headed to the roulette wheel to the time we left was probably no more than three minutes, so we figure that’s a mighty good “hourly wage.”  We may never gamble again…at least not until we hit Vegas and Atlantic City or a bingo parlor somewhere along the way.


When we reached Pass Christian, Mississippi, we were blown away by the miles of gorgeous old southern colonial-style homes along the highway facing the beach and Gulf.  There’s a lot of old money in Pass Christian!


Just a few miles further down the road, we saw some of the poorest areas that we have seen yet.  What a stark contrast from the mansions just a few miles away.


Literally out in the middle of nowhere, a massive alligator (maybe 100-feet tall) loomed on the horizon.  It appears to be a sign for a casino, but there is no casino.  We’ll try to find out the story behind this.


Unfortunately, there was neither a sign to announce that we had reached Louisiana nor a sign to officially announce that we had reached New Orleans.  I guess that’s one of the few disadvantages of taking the road less traveled.  I knew we were in Louisiana when I saw a 504 area code on a sign for a swamp tour place on a bayou.  I stopped to take some pictures; it was like something out of a movie, though my photos don’t do it justice.


As we rolled on, we passed a really interesting area with mile after mile of houses built on stilts.  That’s to try to keep the water from getting in the houses when the area floods.  This was a lower income area as well.  It’s the first place on the trip that was dirty, though it also appeared to be garbage day, and I’m sure that affected our perception.


The scenery in this area is definitely interesting to see – low, swampy areas, flat with a lot of reed-like trees and shrubs.  There were some cool-looking old bridges as well as some pretty bays and intriguing bayous and rivers.


When we reached New Orleans, it appeared to be a rough part of town.  It’s the first place we’ve been where I felt vulnerable when we pulled up to a red light with cars on either side of us.  I would have felt safer if the top had been up and the windows had been closed.  I was relieved to hit I-10 so we could follow the directions to the hotel.


When we pulled up at the beautiful, old Fairmont Hotel and walked in, we were immediately struck by the contrast between the old, seen-better-days of the Biloxi Holiday Inn and the old, fabulously maintained Fairmont in New Orleans.


We wanted to tour New Orleans rather than just walk around The Quarter (I refuse to call it The French Quarter).  Unfortunately, the only tours appear to be in vans or on foot around The Quarter.  So, we hoofed it over to Bourbon Street on our own.  Up and down the streets we went.  We aren’t really into drinking, so we felt out of place.  The streets were packed with people.  There was massive drinking going on already, and it was just noonish.  We stopped at Papa Joe’s for a muffaletta sandwich.  Then we went up and down the streets some more.  We did enjoy seeing the street performer statues – quite a contrast between them and the painted cement statues that we saw all across Florida.  Our favorite was the sock monkey.


There must have been a hundred psychics scattered all about The Quarter – palm readers, tarot card readers, you name it.  We enjoyed looking in the Rodrique Studio; he’s the artist who paints a blue dog in all of his pieces.  We also walked through the antique gallery area of town.  It has been a number of years since we have been to New Orleans, and it does look better now than it did a number of years ago when we saw one T-shirt shop and sex show after another.  Today, we saw mainly bars, restaurants, and shops.  The architecture is fabulous, and if there hadn’t been so many people, I would have loved to take more pictures of the buildings and architectural elements.  Again, the contrast between beautiful, quiet Savannah and New Orleans is significant.  Similar architecture, but world’s apart.  It is great to see that The Quarter has tight controls on development that protects the old and keeps the new out or hidden.


By 4 o’clock, truth be told, we were both bored.  So we went back to the room and took a nap.  We ordered room service (disappointing pecan pie that tasted like something bought in the frozen section at Piggly Wiggly) and watched TV.


The Fairmont only has CNN – no Fox News, so we saw distorted reports on the Iraqi War.  The contrast between Fox News and CNN and various newspapers continues to amaze us.  Prior to the Iraqi War, we assumed we were seeing impartial news reports, but we now realize that the TV networks and newspapers are very partisan in their coverage.  I guess we’ve been mighty naïve.  Our country is far from perfect, just like us, but we are mighty proud to be Americans, and we enthusiastically support our President and our troops!


So, New Orleans hasn’t been that much fun.  Perhaps it’s because we had two very long days without much rest.  Perhaps it’s because we are seeing what all the tourists see, and we prefer the road less traveled.  Perhaps it’s colored just a little bit by being in a place called The French Quarter now that we feel France is an enemy of the US.  (Boycott France.)


Our observation of the day has been that of contrast.  Big cities and small towns.  Rich and poor.  Clean and dirty.  Sophisticated and naïve.  Old and new.  Bad and good.  Common and unusual.  Live and dead.  Drinkers and non-drinkers.  $1 and $100.  Losing and winning.  Convention and unconventional.  Tired and rested.  Cool and warm.  Oceans and swamps.  Loud and quiet.  Expected and unexpected.  Quirky and “normal.”  Back roads and interstate.  Mansions and shacks.  Pickup trucks and limousines.  Haves and have nots.  Happy and unhappy.  Drunk and sober.  Tourists and locals.  International destination and roadside attraction.  Homes on stilts and on dry land.  Savannah and New Orleans.  Fox and CNN.  Republicans and Democrats.  Left and right.  White and black.  Red and black and green.  We’re seeing it all.  We’re all different.



We’re leaving the Holiday Inn which would rank as the worst hotel that we’ve stayed in. The Ramada Inn ranks as worst hotel, but we need to tell Cathy Denton to stay away from Holiday Inns, they’re just nasty. 30777 63 degrees We’re getting away at 10:15am because we got in around midnight last night. We needed a little rest; I wasn’t able to update the website so I’ll try to do that tonight.

Gulf Port has a cute little Easter display all along the median to the road as you drive along 90.

We feel sorry for Mississippi and Alabama, we didn’t do that much in them and they are states that deserve more than they get.

We’re stopping at the Copa Casino for a little gambling. The entrance is past acres and acres of Dole pineapple trucks.

We had a great time at the Copa Casino where we walked in and they had a security guard who checks things as people come in. Both ladies were named Mary, and we took their picture. We told them a little bit about the trip, they thought it was cool and said they would check the website. We told them we were probably going to need a police escort because we were planning to win big. Mary the security guard lady said she had done that. They had had a big winner there, a young 28-year old won $10,000 with 3 coins. That was a pretty big victory for here so he asked for a police escort to his pick-up truck so she went out and made sure he was safe taking his money out to his truck. We told them we were going to place 1 bet; we walked straight to the roulette wheel, bought $100 worth of chips, Barbara regrets we didn’t buy $1000 worth. I placed the $100 chip on red, it came up red, we won $100 bucks, cashed it with Laura the roulette wheel operator, and we walked over to the cashier, Judy, and she proudly presented us with $200 for our 2 chips. We walked out, took a photo, and now we’re on the road. The total elapsed time from leaving the entrance ladies to the casino to cashing out was probably 3 minutes. It’s clearly the best hourly wage we’ve ever earned. 10:43 30779 67 degrees

It turns out we were wrong about the entrance going by the Dole plant. It goes by the Dole on one side and the Chiquita banana on the other side. They’ve got this big ugly hedge that tries to block off your view of the acres and acres of trucks with fruit painted on the side of them.

We just took a picture of a souvenir shop built beside a 72 foot tugboat that washed ashore during hurricane Camille.

Long Beach 30781 10:55am

Pass Christian Mississippi 30787 11:04am

As we enter Pass Christian, we’re seeing really huge gorgeous homes back up on a little hill setting back about 200-300 feet from the beach. There’s nothing between them and the sand but the highway. There’s a surprising number of big trees still standing; you can imagine there must have been many thousands torn up in hurricanes over the years.

By the way, it’s another really pretty day today—blue skies, sunshine, wispy cirrus clouds and 72 degrees

We’ve gone mile after mile now seeing gorgeous southern colonial style white houses mainly with white picket fences. When Barbara was at the Holiday Inn checking out and asking directions how to get to Hwy 90, they said pull out of the parking lot, turn right (we were on Hwy 90). They asked where we were going, and she said New Orleans. They said we didn’t want to go on Hwy 90 because it would take us a couple hours longer to get there. She just smiled and walked out.

The stretch of homes along the beach Pass Christian were the prettiest set of homes as either of us can ever recall seeing in one little stretch of road at one time.

We’re going over a long bridge, several miles as we leave Pass Christian.

Bay St. Louis—It’s historic and we’re currently looking for the history. 30796 11:20am

Barbara said Mississippi looks different than other places we’ve been.

Two new questions: What is a body of water called when there’s no sign on the bridge?, What does guaranteed payouts mean at a casino?

We just saw the Texas Motel here in Mississippi

30805 11:37am We’re at a giant sign of a alligator in the middle of nowhere.

This alligator sign out in the middle of nowhere with just a little building next to it, has got to be 100 feet tall at least.

We’re blazing down the highway at 30816 11:48am, and all of a sudden we see a sign that says “no through traffic.” So, we’re trying to figure out what’s shaking.

We’re on Hwy 607; we apparently missed turning off on 90.

30823 11:59 We just went through a herd of bugs, and now our windshield is covered with 40 or 50 bug smears. That was strange.

We’re passing over White’s Bayou 30830 12:06pm 76 degrees sunny, blue sky

Cowan Bayou 30831 12:07pm

30832 12:09pm We took a picture of a great classic looking old green bridge. Barbara said that reminds her of vacations as a child.

We believe we’re still in Mississippi; we’ve never seen a Louisiana sign. We keep over funky bridges over bayous.

We just took a real interesting bridge and a bunch of swamp pictures at the West Pearl River; they do swamp tours.

We’ve reached Rigolets 30841 12:26. Rigolets starts at a bridge, a long cement bridge, and then a steel trussell bridge. It appears to be mainly water, but I’m sure there’ll be some land here somewhere.

The Rigolets Bridge could easily win the narrowest bridge award.

Fort Pike, a state historic site—30842 12:27pm. We don’t know what state, but we’re there.

We appear to be on an island, there’s water to the left and water to the right; if not, we’re on one hell of a peninsula.

This is a major stilt home area. I don’t think there’s any homes built on the ground.

It’s trash day here; there’s lots of piles of trash out by the road. We think they’re intended to be picked up by a garbage man.

The folks along here have a pretty good sense of humor. There’s all kinds of things called “camps” which I assume are little, not very fancy homes along the beach that are maybe used part of the time and rented the other part. They have names like Camp Big Shot, Camp Can’t, etc.

The first place we’ve been where there’s a reasonable amount of litter on the highway, and it wouldn’t get the cleanliness award.

30849 12:36 We’re obviously going through little communities, but none of them have signs to indicate that.

We’re at another trussell bridge 30851—Chef Mentur 12:37pm

The other side of the bridge is distinctively more upscale than what we just passed through. What we just passed through was pretty low.

Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge area

There’s certainly not a lot to see driving along Hwy 90 from Pass Christian, Mississippi to the direction of New Orleans. It’s low lying, swampy, skinny trees; slum-like might be a better word to describe it. The homes are not very nice. I wish I’d taken a picture of one of those homes on stilts in the run down area of “camps.”

We’re still in the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge

There’s some places where you say to yourself “wow, I wonder what it would be like to live there,” and then there’s the other areas where you think “oooh, I’m glad I don’t live here!”

We’ve entered something that looks like a town; there’s several gas stations and restaurants. It doesn’t say what it is though. We’re discussing that the lesson for the day maybe something related to contrast because there’s such tremendous contrast between Pass Christian and down the road where it’s “Deliverance-like” when considering the quality of the homes and the people.

30864 12:57 We’re going through a part of New Orleans that is not very nice. It’s definitely the rough part of town.

We were never welcomed to Louisiana much less to New Orleans.

We took Highway 10 West when we hit it off Hwy 90. We’re in New Orleans 30868 1:05pm 76 degrees

New Orleans has, though it’s a big city it’s not too big, a big skyline.

As we reach our exit, which is clearly in the French Quarter area, Barbara said you can smell the food. And you can smell great food in the air.

We’ve arrived at the Fairmont Hotel 30873 1:19pm 75 degrees