Alabama & Mississippi– We spent a couple short weeks in January making our way across the gulf region of Alabama and Mississippi. Two states shaped like mirror images of each other, split down the middle. Partaking in history, food, and sights, we enjoyed our time exploring these states and basking in their delightful winter! Throughout our time in each, here are a few things that stood out along the way:
Mobile, Alabama: birthplace of Mardi Gras
Having spent a roaring week in New Orleans, LA during Mardi Gras, it is easy to understand why we were a bit stunned to find out that the Mardi Gras revelry originated in Mobile, Alabama. While touring downtown Mobile, we came across an old home turned Mardi Gras museum and acquainted ourselves with all the history and pageantry. * Tip for visitors: AAA members get reduced $6 admission tickets.
Ground Zero in Mississippi
While making our way along the Mississippi coast, we camped in the town of Waveland, MS and happened upon a “Ground Zero Hurricane Museum” occupying the town’s former elementary school and highlighting the effects of both Hurricane Camille (1969) and Hurricane Katrina (2005). The museum was largely composed of pictures and newspaper clippings. The building itself was one of the only buildings remaining in Katrina’s aftermath. A blue line, about 11 feet up, marked where the water had risen to in downtown Waveland during Katrina. A sobering realization, as at that level, nearly the entire town would have been submerged and swept away.
No coast for you, Alabama!
As if Florida didn’t have enough coastal territory to begin with, its “Panhandle” region not only dips into an entirely different time zone, but ate up nearly all of what could have been Alabama’s coastline. A small section of the Gulf Coast remains in Alabama’s domain, and it is dotted with picturesque towns, like Fairhope, the likes of which inspire novels and movies alike.
Mississippi street signs
Most of our short stay in Mississippi was along its southern coast. As we travelled, we noticed that all of the major roadways had street signs depicting shrimp. Not a major discovery, but something different, adding character to the region. Whether it is a statewide practice, or simply found in the coastal zone, we don’t know, but we enjoyed spotting them along our drive.
Alabama is Camellia country
The Alabama landscape was sprinkled with Camellias, a bright, cheerful, almost rose-like flower growing in shrubs and small trees. A flower we knew virtually nothing about, so I looked it up and discovered that they originated in Asia. While not native to Alabama, they clearly thrive there, and we also learned they have become Alabama’s state flower. Again, something that was news to us, and explained why we kept seeing them wherever we travelled.
Mississippi’s cheap gas
The south is an especially cheap region for gas, and Mississippi seemed to consistently have the cheapest prices of any of the states we had visited in the South East. Back in January of this year, we came across gas as low as $1.75 per unleaded gallon- significantly lower than most of the country. Cheap gas is a double-edged sword, as we want to see our reliance on it dwindle; we also do have to admit that our truck guzzles it and we benefited from the savings.