When visiting a new place you see it with fresh eyes. But when you go with a photographer you see EVERYTHING in a new light. My host, Howard, is an amateur photographer. So while visiting Biloxi he was happy to have massive opportunities to photograph. His wife, Lan, said she enjoyed the two weeks I have been here because we have visited more places than she has in the two years they have lived here.
What have we seen in Biloxi Mississippi? Let’s start with the Biloxi visitor center and lighthouse. To tour the lighthouse you have to be there by 9 am. They only do one tour a day. I thought that was strange, and asked why and the lady explained that it was too hot to go up later in the day. ‘Pppphhhh.’ I thought. ‘How bad can it be?’
It was boiling. The lighthouse is cast iron, and has no a/c.
The Biloxi lighthouse has markers that show you how high the standing water of past hurricanes were.
After we visited the lighthouse we went and explored the visitor center. We had arrived at 8:30 to make sure to have a place in the tour group and had just caught the ending of the swearing in of the new mayor of Biloxi. Thank you new mayor for the doughnuts!
The inside of the visitor center surprised me. I thought it would only have coupons and brochures for attractions but it had a small museum and showcased some beautiful driftwood art by Marlin Miller. It also has a video of how Hurricane Katrina effected Biloxi, but I prefer the video at the Seafood and Maritime Museum.
The Hurricane Katrina video at the Seafood and Maritime Museum is horrifying. Before I visited the Biloxi area I thought Hurricane Katrina had mostly affected the New Orleans area. But watching the video shows how this area was directly devastated by Hurricane Katrina. You can even still see the effects, if you know how to look. As you drive along the coast between Bay St. Louis and Biloxi there is wide open ocean view lots for sale. I thought it was because this area was mostly undiscovered. But these lots used to have beautiful houses. When Hurricane Katrina hit, one or two houses weren’t destroyed, whole areas and streets were wiped out. 10 years later they still haven’t been rebuilt partly due to high insurance cost. The few places that have been rebuilt are required to be built on stilts.
After the Seafood and Maritime Museum we went to the George Ohr and O’Keefe Museum. Warning-this museum does not have Georgia O’Keefe art. Instead, O’Keefe a museum director attached his name to the signage. Right now the museum is showcasing Katrina +10 which is an exhibit on the Hurricane Katrina anniversary.
George Ohr was unique in many ways. Not only did he name himself “Mad Potter of Biloxi” he also was not deterred by the mixed response to his art. He had a sign on his shop that said, “Get a Biloxi Souvenir before the potter dies or gets a reputation.” When his shop of unique pottery closed, he commanded his heirs to pack up his pots until they could be really appreciated.
As we drove down Hwy 90 I spotted the Hurricane Camille memorial. This was THE storm before Hurricane Katrina. Behind the Hurricane Camille memorial is a silent reminder of Hurricane Katrina-a bent flag pole and a left over steel frame of a church that had been destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. In fact, the memorial for Hurricane Camille had just been dedicated right before Hurricane Katrina. It had to be rebuilt.
The official Hurricane Katrina memorial is in Biloxi. Inside the glass case is keepsakes donated by victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Even along the beach you can see the effects of Hurricane Katrina. There are still some destroyed piers.
Marlin Miller and Dayton Scoggins took the majestic oaks that had been destroyed and carved them into art. Most of the carvings that are in the median between Biloxi and Bay St. Louis are Marlin Millers.
The next day we walked along the 26 mile long beach. The beach is made of beautiful white sand dredged up from the ocean bottom and the sand feels so soft when you walk thru it. When we past the boat marina we stopped so Howard could take pictures. I wish I was a natural photographer like him. He was the one who noted the boat reflection in the water. We also saw a couple of herons.
The last stop of the trip was to Beauvoir, home to the only president of the Southern Confederacy Jefferson Davis. I highly recommend this museum. Don’t skip visiting the memorial tombs in the back, they have goats, sheep, peacocks, horses, and a camel that you can pet.
Tomorrow I leave to visit New Orleans!