Day 3: Baton Rouge, Bay St. Louis, Gulfport

The towering Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge

The towering Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge

Friday,  September 6, 2013

Not so bright and early, we drive to the State Capitol building, where we meet Miss Lulu! She greets us and says that we are free to take a self-guided tour. When asked if someone could please show us around, she, with a big dollop of southern charm, proceeds to proudly share the Capitol’s history. We walk through the Great Hall as she tells us that this is the tallest State Capitol building in the United States. I ask if we could please go up to the gallery overlooking the Senate. It is roped off, but Miss Lulu has connections! The security guard allowed that we may go up the marble staircase as she was with us. Once there, our enthusiastic guide gave us a brief history of how a pencil wound up stuck into the chamber’s ceiling.

With such a friendly tour guide, we talk about what we experienced on the trip so far. (Miss Lulu is 77 years young and has a boyfriend!) We thank Miss Lulu and proceed up the elevator to the observation deck. It’s a clear day and so cool to see Baton Rouge from all angles!

Coming down and out of the elevator, we notice a flyer with the day’s lunch menu. Hmm … catfish ‘n fixins. We head down to the lunchroom. Visitors can sit in a simply furnished area. There’s a separate room for employees. It’s only 10:30am and we hadn’t taken time for breakfast. We’re ready! It was a good deal: 6 pieces of fried catfish, two sides and garlic bread. Done. Happily, we are on our way.

Louisiana State University campus, Baton Rouge

Louisiana State University campus, Baton Rouge

I want to go by LSU (Louisiana State University) to see Mike, the school’s mascot. Heard he had a $4 million dollar home! Well, that sounded interesting. We arrive and start over to see Mike. My husband pops into a store to buy yet another school t-shirt. He likes to collect school t-shirts where ever we go. When he wore the Oklahoma State shirt, our daughter looked at him in disbelief – Oklahoma State and the University of Texas are sworn football enemies! We eventually find Mike. With such a nice home, yard and pool available, he was taking an afternoon nap in the dirt next to a concrete wall. As we leave, a group of girls ask to take a picture with us. We oblige and I ask why.

Floating around the Mississippi Visitors Center

Floating around the Mississippi Visitors Center

Off to Mississippi! First stop, Visitors Center. We like to stop at Visitors’ Centers to stretch our legs and maybe hear of places we didn’t know about. There are usually corny cutouts to pose behind too!

This center had a nice wood sculpture by Marlin Miller, an artist who gave two years of his life to carve wood sculptures out of trees left after the devastation from Hurricane Katrina. What a beautiful gift he has given to the Gulf Coast!

Tree sculpture by Marlin Miller

Tree sculpture by Marlin Miller

Take a break in Bay St. Louis!

Take a break in Bay St. Louis!

We stop off at Bay St. Louis to admire the wide expanse of water and browse the shops. The Redfish Gallery had some wonderful art – from signed and numbered editions to delicately rendered original watercolors. I thought what the owner and his wife did for fun was also interesting – they like to go alligator hunting! Twin Light Creations is a shop filled with eclectic home and garden items. The owners live in the apartment above. But, after many years, they are ready to sell. If you have a hankering to own a shop by the bay, give them a call! I bought a pair of starfish earrings to enjoy and to remember our trip by. Strolling along, we saw a shop that had a curious name, Serious Bread, Handmade Artisan Breads. We HAD to go in. Al Jensen is a retired oceanographer. He uses a sourdough starter that takes many days to develop the flavor of the bread. We didn’t want a full loaf as we were worried it would go stale too soon. Serious Bread doesn’t sell half loaves. We asked if we could have half of the loaf he was cutting for samples. He thought about it, then named a fair price. The bread lasted several days and every time we untied the plastic bag, a wonderful just baked bread smell floated out.

There are many little, and I mean LITTLE, towns on the way to Gulfport, Mississippi.Bay St. Louis

Bay St. Louis 3

Bay St. Louis 2

Best Western Sea Way's complimentary breakfast buffet

Best Western Sea Way’s complimentary breakfast buffet

From the outside, Best Western Sea Way did not compare favorably to newer hotel chains nearby, so we were a little concerned. Sadly, we were in an outside room that could use a paint job on the building front and the interior walls were kinda thin. Thankfully, it’s been renovated and had some nice touches. I assume that because they are an independent, they don’t have soap, shampoo and conditioner under the hotel chain name. I really liked that they used name brand products such as Pantene shampoo and conditioner. There was a problem with a lamp and the maintenance crew was pretty quick to replace it. We were happily surprised see sausage and eggs included in the complimentary breakfast. They did a really nice job updating the lobby and public restrooms.

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