Thursday, March 21, 2013

Day 31 (Thurs, 21 Mar)

I made it to the Gulf of Mexico coast today – the second major saltwater body of water I’ve visited on the trip!

I rode from Wiggins, MS to Biloxi, MS today.  A ride of 49 miles and a little over 500 ft of good climbing in the initial 20 miles and then basically flat at sea level for the last 30 miles as I neared the coast and then road from Gulfport to Biloxi along the Gulf Coast.

The route: Hwy 49 straight south from Wiggins to Gulfport and then east on Hwy 90 over to Biloxi, along the coast.  Hwy 49 was pretty good with a super wide riding lane for the first 20 miles and then the paved shoulder disappeared again on my for the remainder of the ride, but traffic was light enough to make the trip pretty reasonable while riding along the side of the highway.

The weather: Another very nice day.  It was sunny all day with just a few light clouds in the sky. Temps started out pretty cool in the morning (for this area, even in March) – high 40s in the morning and then high 50s throughout most of the ride- very nice riding weather.  The winds started out from the North at about 10 mph and swung all the way around to be from the South by the early afternoon.

The first 20 miles or so of the ride was through forests again – the southern edge of the De Soto National Forest.  I had a nice paved shoulder and broad rolling hills for that part of the ride.  Knowing the ride would be short, I pushed some speed up/down the hills in the first stage – 22-25 mph for about 20 miles – very fun!!  Then through Gulfport, MS and a great ride along 12 miles of the 26 miles of white sandy beach on this part of the Gulf Coast.   The beaches here are awesome white, pristine beaches and as you’ll see from the pictures, given how cool it is right now – nearly deserted.

On to the pictures!

Beautiful morning leaving Wiggins today.  Cool but sunny and lot's of room to ride along Hwy 49 (at least on first 20 miles going south)

A river called the Red River just south of Wiggins.

These guys still perform!?  Seems that there are many casinos and shows in the Gulfport/Biloxi area.  If you want to see groups from the 70s and 80s, this appears to be the place to visit!

Entering Gulfport, MS.

My "old friend" I-10.  I hadn't seen this guy since back on Day 11 on my ride into Las Cruces, NM.  I had been (intentionally) staying north of I-10 since then and now will be south of it for the remainder of the trip.

Pretty fancy US Post Office in Gulfport.

Interesting history of these "auto trails" in the US and Canada.  From Wikipedia: The system of auto trails was an informal network of marked routes that existed in the United States and Canada in the early part of the 20th century. Marked with colored bands on telephone poles, the trails were intended to help travellers in the early days of the automobile.
Auto trails were usually marked and sometimes maintained by organizations of private individuals. Some, such as the Lincoln Highway, maintained by the Lincoln Highway Association, were well-known and well-organized, while others were the work of fly-by-night promoters, to the point that anyone with enough paint and the will to do so could set up a trail; trails were not usually linked to road improvements, though counties and states often prioritized road improvements because they were on trails.
In the mid-to-late 1920s, the auto trails were essentially replaced in the United States with the system of numbered U.S. Highways. Similar numbering schemes had begun to be implemented in the Canadian provinces as well.

Awesome white sand beach!!!!!!

Time to take a left turn and go to Biloxi.  I didn't bring my scuba fins, so going further south is no longer an option...

This is in Gulfport - a Chiquita International sea port.  Also Dole was right next door.  There were about 300+ trucks in this area - it must be the major port that these 2 companies use to import their food from Latin America into the US - lot's of bananas and pineapples go right through this area on to your local grocery store.

Local history near Gulfport.  Given its close location to New Orleans (just 40-50 miles west of here) this has been a strategic location for the Spanish, French, British and even the Union army during the Civil War.

Lighthouse mentioned in the above sign, near Gulfport.

This anchor seems to have lost its ship :-)  It's huge!

 And more beach - 26 miles in this stretch of the Gulf.

Pelicans, I believe, near Biloxi.  If so, these are the first I've now seen on the trip.  (Still no alligators, yet...)

Updated Map!

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