More Mississippi and Louisiana, and Home

After arriving in Biloxi, we stayed two nights at the Beau Rivage in very, very nice rooms for which we paid less than at any of the La Quintas we stayed in on the trip, with this view:

We drove around the gulf coast, and ended up at the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge.  There are only about 100 of these amazing birds left in the world, and they are hard to spot from the public areas of the refuge, but I think we saw one the other day in Alabama.  I showed this picture to one of the experts at the center:

She said she was surprised that one of the cranes would be over there, but she didn't know what else it could be. 

The NWR is a very beautiful place:

We then drove over to Pass Christian, and then drove back along the coast back to Biloxi.  The scale of Katrina's devastation is pretty hard to comprehend, with just mile after mile of scrubbed clean foundations and destroyed houses, with many of the lots for sale, more than four years after the storm:

I caught a nice sunset back in Biloxi:

And saw, to my surprise, a lone kayaker on this near record cold day (wish I could have caught up with him to talk!):

Yesterday, we had some time to kill before our flight, so we drove down across the I-10 bridge devastated by Katrina:

They are bulding a new, much higher bridge to the east (left in the picture above).  We went back through New Orleans and through the amazing Plaquemines Parish to Port Sulphur, Louisiana.  Driving south through this area, you have the Mississippi on one side, and a large swamp on the other, with a little levee-protected area (once again, apparently below sea level) in the middle.  It's a bizzarre place we were saw cattle grazing, oil wells, refineries, coal and grain terminals, citrus fruit growing, crops, and huge ships looming up over the levee:

More pictures here.

All in all, since we left New Orleans on January 1, It was a 1500 mile road trip, and well worth it.  I visited four states I had never been to before: Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alabama (my only remaining states to visit now are Michigan, North Dakota, Iowa, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Hawaii--I'm hoping to visit them in that order).  And, I ate an enormous amount of amazing food--we did a bit of research along the way and didn't have a single bad meal on the trip.

Here's an approximate route map: