Southern Mississippi and the Florida Panhandle

Wow, did I make a discovery today.
On a whim, I decide not to follow my original plan, which was to visit the De Soto National Forest on my way to Decatur, AL. I was to stay two nights in Decatur and teach my Nia class once, then move on to Atlanta, GA. Well it turns out, it makes just as much sense to go to Destin, Fl for one night, and then up to Birmingham for a night, and teach my Nia class on my way from Birmingham to Atlanta.
I was missing the beach and Destin came up in two different conversations, so I went for it.
So glad I did.

I-10, US-90, FL-281, US-98

I was going to take I-10 the whole way to Florida, but I saw a sign that indicated the coastal scenic route alternative to I-10, so I quickly veered onto the road that lead me to US-90 and all the coastal towns of southern Mississippi.
I loved the white sands and grassy dunes and ample parking and vast open spaces of the beach in Pass Christian. 

I also loved Long Beach and Biloxi, though the latter actually had casinos and looked like party zone. It was dead quiet, though. I was obviously there during off season. The scenic route was paying off, though. I was really enjoying my drive and experiencing the gulf coast. 

This was a dilapidated old boardwalk with a caution sign that has also seen better days. River was quite intrigued by the whole thing. He wanted to investigate but wouldn't go near it. 

After getting enough beach time, I cut back onto I-10 right about the time I crossed over into Alabama. 
 And I stopped to fill up the gas tank just past Mobile.

Shortly thereafter, we crossed into Florida and I switched to US 98 via FL 281. 

I got into a town called Gulf Breeze, and couldn't resist blasting the song of the same name from an old Nia routine. We checked into the Motel 6 room in Destin, FL, which was a cute little beach town with beautiful white beaches. It was a bit touristy and popular, but I noticed a fairly unused National Seashore just about five miles west of Destin, so we went back there. 

Thanks to my National Parks Pass, I didn't have to pay, and we have a fun time here. The decline of the shore was so slight, that we could walk 25 feet out from the beach into the water and still only be in water a foot deep. It was a brand new experience for River to be able to come so far out off the shore. 

There was supposed to be a mexican food truck parked just a block from the motel, so I took River on a walk to get some blackened fish tacos. The truck wasn't there, but on the way back, I passed a good barbecue place and ordered some meats to go. I wrote the details on my BBQ blog, but it was basically pretty good. I was really getting into the pork and beans. They were so sweet and smokey and the juice was thick. I got the 'spicy' hot sauce, but it was mild. 

I have put over 5555 miles on the car since I started this trip three weeks ago. I got an alert from Mini that I need to extend my warranty. It expires after 36, 000 miles, which I'll reach in a few more weeks at this rate. I have to physically be there to extend the warranty, so now I'm trying to play catch up with Mini Dealers. I've contact Mini in Birmingham and Atlanta, and let them know my dilemma and my schedule. Maybe tomorrow one of them will be able to help me. 


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