I'll cut to the chase. On the afternoon of the Fourth, a bunch of us packed blankets and a cooler of "soda" and headed for the Biloxi beach. We cruised down I-10 to Ocean Springs and took the Biloxi exit. We reached Highway 90 at dusk. Highway 90 follows the beach along the Mississippi Gulf Coast and The Fourth of July is one of those times that brings a lot of traffic to the highway. People come to watch the displays put on by Biloxi and Gulfport from the beach. Our intention was to see the one put on by Biloxi near the Beau Rivage hotel/casino.
The traffic on 90 was heavy and slow as people looked for good beach spots. The beach was full, though not overly crowded, with people waiting for the fireworks and just funning in the sand. We found a likely place and turned down a road between bed-and-breakfasts to find a parking spot. We did and left our cars to join the procession towards the beach, with my sons lugging the big cooler of "soda," and Donna and her sister carrying the blankets.
The traffic was moving so slow, it wasn't hard to find a pause in it to get across the highway. Then we ditched our shoes and made our way onto the beach. We were not far from the landmark Biloxi lighthouse and the antebellum Welcome Center. The Beau Rivage was in the near distance to the east. We spread our blankets and settled in.
It had been a good while since I had been on this beach. It was as I remembered--an expanse of soft sand though crunchy with broken sea shells and debris. Not unpleasant though. In fact it was nice to be there at sunset with a cool, briney breeze invigorating us after a day of rainy travel and insufficient hotel rest. Breaking into the "sodas" we relaxed and waited for the show.
Actually the show started early because a lot of people around us had brought their own fireworks and started setting them off as soon as it began to grow dark. Some were quite good. There were lots of rockets and roman candles and squealing kids and ooohing parents. The air filled with smoke and gunpowder smells on top of the salty ambiance from the briney deep. We watched and chugged "sodas."
At one point, my sons and I felt the need to search for a restroom. There were no portables on the beach and there didn't look to be any public options close by. It was dark, so we decided to find a spot up the little side road where we had parked our cars. So we left the women at the blankets and hiked back across the highway. We reached our cars and found there were still a lot of people around. So we looked some more and found a road that lead from the back of a bed-and-breakfast and through a space of thick trees and bushes. It was workable for our needs. When we emerged from the thickets, we were hit with a cloud of gunpower amid the sound of fireworks. With the big antebellum bed-and-breakfast in front of us, it was as if we had suddenly transported to some civil war battle.
Then the smoke cleared and we returned to the present and the beach.
At about 09:00 o'clock, Biloxi and Gulport started their shows. Gulfport's we could see in the distance towards the west, but Biloxi's was close by, just beyond the Beau Rivage. It was impressive, with large rockets bursting high overhead, showering colorful and bright sparks and secondary bursts to the delight of the crowds below. This display was joined by even more fireworks from the beachcombers to create an atmosphere of sparks and explosions puncuated by shouts of "America! Duck yeah!" It was almost magical.
After about 30 minutes, lightning from the south was adding to the fireworks so we left the show and returned to our cars. We had a late dinner at The Half Shell and then cocktails in the Beau Rivage casino. Around midnight, Donna and I returned to her sister's house to crash. Others of our party stayed later to dance into the wee hours.
Yes, it was a very nice holiday. My thanks to Donna's family for their hospitality. We returned home late Friday and found the chores still in place, waiting patiently for us. Sometimes, you just got to get out of town.