It had threatened to rain on previous sections of this hike, but so far, we were spared a deluge – not so lucky today. The forecast predicted morning showers, so we came prepared with raincoats and umbrellas. Shortly after leaving our car at Jones Park in Gulfport, dark clouds gathered in the northeast and slowly moved our way as we hiked west along the seawall and the man-made beach of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Just before the rains hit, we stopped for breakfast at a Waffle House on the east side of Long Beach. This was Charlie’s idea. I didn’t know until then that Charlie loves waffles and that he had actually planned for this. All the cute coffeehouses and cafes along the Coast and Charlie insists on Waffle House.
“I’ll take two waffles,” Charlie told the young lady taking our order, “and can you bring an extra cup of syrup?”
No kidding! As for fit and trim, as Charlie is, you wouldn’t know he had a weakness for chocolate chip cookies and Waffle House waffles with extra syrup.
The restaurant sits alone on a low lying lot across the beach road from the Gulf. It was in this same location that another Waffle House was entirely destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Photos of the restaurant, stripped clean by the storm surge except for four red stools, became an iconic image of the storm’s destruction (see a picture of the restaurant after the storm below). Perhaps before Hurricane Katrina, there were other businesses in this area, but this is the only one that has been rebuilt. It is an odd sight to see this rectangular red brick building with a large yellow block-letter sign, by itself in a landscape of white sand, sea oats, live oak trees, and the vast blue waters of the Gulf – pristine natural environment meet tacky commercialism head-on. Somehow, this striking juxtaposition of the restaurant and the Gulf enhanced both our view of the water and the sweet taste of our waffles.
Gail, Charlie, Sue, Marcia, and I continued west with full bellies as the rain chased us down. We got soaked as we passed through the rebuilt towns of Long Beach and Pass Christian to the end of our hike at Henderson Point and the foot of the Bay Saint Louis bridge
Total distance: 13 miles.