Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sand and sun!

Pina colada martinis and the beach! We loved Shaggy's!
I spent last weekend on the Mississippi Gulf Coast   with a sweet friend from work. We drove in from our respective cities on Saturday morning and headed straight for the outlet mall in Gulfport. They were having a 65 percent off sale at the Coach outlet, so we stocked up on handbags and wallets. I have to admit, I've been coveting a Coach bag for a while. It's difficult for me to spend $100 on a handbag. (If I spend $60, I'm thinking that it's getting a bit rich for my blood.) But everything was soooo beautiful. And it was marked down so much from its original retail price. I couldn't resist!

I also picked up some short-sleeved shirts for Clay at The Children's Place. Because he wasn't with me, I used the store's sizing chart, based on his height and weight. I had a minor meltdown in the store because the shirts looked AWFULLY big. I kept telling the saleslady, "This can't be right. This shirt is way too big. Can we consult the chart again?" When it hit me that MY CHILD IS ACTUALLY THIS BIG, the poor saleslady had to talk me down off the ledge. And she was right. I mean, the kid is wearing the shirts now. They fit fine. It's just that in my head, he's a lot littler than he actually IS now. Yikes.

With stomach rumbling, we headed to Shaggy's for lunch. We chose the Biloxi location, because it's right on the beach. The interior of the restaurant was full, but we got a spot immediately at the bar. We sipped our pina colada martinis while we waiting on charbroiled oysters and fish sandwiches. The food was great, and afterwards we walked it off a bit by circling up and down the beach for a while, talking.

By this time, we figured we'd better be checking into our hotel. We'd reserved rooms at the IP Casino Resort and Spa. (The last time we made this trip, we stayed at The Palace. It had just been declared the first smoke-free casino/hotel on the coast! We definitely enjoyed our stay there, but we figured we'd try something different this time.) We chose the IP because it has a good selection of restaurants and evening entertainment. Though we didn't go to the spa, it's supposed to be fantastic as well.

The view from McElroy's
We checked in and decided to spend a few hours at the pool. We suited up and laid in the sun for a while, gabbing and people-watching. Afterwards, we decided to dress up for a nice dinner. We were a walk-in at the Half Shell. (We ate there the last time we were on the coast and loved it. Delicious food, and extremely reasonable prices. We'd thought about eating at 32, the top-rated restaurant at our hotel, but the price point was so much higher that we decided to look elsewhere.)

We ordered another half dozen charbroiled oysters and some wine to start. I followed it up with a delicious paneed flounder. We ate and talked and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves before heading to the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino to see if anything was jumping yet. We looked at all the memorabilia ("All of these rock stars were so skinny," said Charlotte. "Heroin will do that to you," I replied.) and walked the casino floor a bit before heading over to Beau Rivage. It had been a long time since I'd been there, and it's such a beautiful property.

We'd heard that Stalla was good, so we popped in there for dessert. We had delicious cream custards with berries and biscotti, washed down with strong coffees and punctuated with hilarious conversation. It was wonderful, and I'd love to return to Stalla sometime for dinner!

By this time, we knew that some of the live music acts were cranking up back at the IP. We ensconced ourselves in two comfy chairs at Chill, one of the on-site bars, and listened to Orphan Annie, a great four-piece band. (Though I did question whether the cage around the drummer was really necessary. It was a fairly tame crowd.) I loved how committed they were to the performance.

After an hour or two, we called it a night and hit the hay. In the morning, we were up and at 'em for brunch at one of my fave places on the coast - McElroy's. There are several locations, and my sister in law, who lives in Biloxi, has completely indoctrinated me about it all. We went to the one in Biloxi, right on the beach, and enjoyed breakfast on the balcony. I had beignets and bacon with a big cup of coffee, and I think Charlotte had something virtuous like an egg. The service was so friendly and prompt and the view was so gorgeous! We struck up a conversation with a neighboring table and left feeling that all was right with the world.

Beautiful Beauvoir
I'd been wanting to tour Beauvior, Jefferson Davis' historic home, for a while. I hadn't seen it since it was nearly demolished during Katrina, and I was anxious to take a look at how the landmark had been recovered. I'm happy to say that it's lovely. They've done a wonderful job restoring what was damaged in the storm, and the extensive renovation process has given them the opportunity to take some of the home's features, which had been diminished over years of use and foot traffic, back to their original splendor. Due to the loss of so many beautiful oaks on the property in the hurricane, they now have sufficient sun once again to plant Varina Davis' rose garden. They are using antique heirloom varieties, and I'm sure it will be gorgeous when complete.

It's a wonderful visit for the history buff, as so much of the original furnishings of the house remain intact. You can even walk the grounds and peruse the Confederate cemetery out back. (After Davis' death, the property was used as a home for Confederate soldiers.)

After our tour, it was time to go back to our real lives! I drove all the way up to Jackson with the top down, as it was a gorgeous day, and got a nice tan! What fun! I'm already looking forward to our next trip!!

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