Reality check

Trip Start Sep 07, 2007
Trip End Jan 12, 2008

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Flag of United States  , Mississippi
Saturday, November 24, 2007

Yesterday we arrived in Biloxi after yet another seemingly interminable drive. We needed some groceries and such, so we set out in search of a Walmart, since we've found that so many towns seem to have nothing but a Walmart. We apparently chose the wrong address to aim for because we passed one almost immediately. But we kept going for our original address because we were heading in the direction of the beach. All I could think of was how exciting it would be to see the Gulf of Mexico. We kept driving and suddenly, there it was. What a beautiful beach.   Calm waters, soft sand. .... wrecked harbors. The bubble of excitement we were feeling was burst so quickly. We've been to so many places on this trip that we didn't really think about where we were. Biloxi, being right on the Gulf, was, of course, furiously hit by Katrina. Even though much has been reconstructed, the evidence of the destruction was everywhere. The harbors were smashed, many hotels and homes were still gutted, and the break wall was nothing but a skeleton. An entire block or two seems to have been purchased by one company. They're putting up highly expensive luxury condos. And equally expensive hotels. They'd better hope they don't get hit by another hurricane. We had been hoping to pass through New Orleans, but that just wasn't going to happen on this trip. We had been so fixated on New Orleans being the hub of destruction, that we didn't even think about Mississippi. Seeing all this mess and the ongoing construction efforts was quite sobering. There are even quite a few of those federally funded trailers still in the neighborhoods. You would think that all of these folks would be back in their homes by now-more than 2 years later. It was just sad to see .
Today we decided to try fishing again. This campground, too, is situated on a lake, so we figured we'd just hang out here and catch dinner. We had the whole day, after all, so we were bound to catch something eventually. Well, when we went into the office to settle our bill, we happened to mention that we were going to go fishing. We were told that "this is a hard lake to fish, so good luck catching anything". This didn't sound too encouraging to a couple of fishing novices, so we figured we'd seek out a different lake.
We spent some time online trying to find a good place, and we finally found a state park about an hour north. We figured this would give us a chance to see more of Mississippi. And it did. This state is actually a lot prettier than I had thought it would be. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but this was a nice drive. We passed over quite a few rivers, and the trees were never-ending. When we arrived at the park, we were glad we had come. Very nice. (Great campground here too-for future reference). We got our fishing permit from the office and headed out to the little pier.
There was a family already at the pier, and the daddy clearly knew what he was doing, so we kept watching him for hints. We weren't even getting any nibbles. Neither were they, apparently. The wind was blowing really hard and it was COLD. Unpleasantly cold. My face was getting chapped in the wind. When I saw the family pack it up and decide to try again another day, I was just hoping that Albert would quickly say the same thing. He didn't. We stayed there maybe another half hour. No bites, no nibbles, just vicious, freezing wind. Mercifully, Albert finally said to head for the car. We drove around the park for a while, and got out for a bit to let Brandy run around. I was feeling cold and miserable, so wasn't too excited when Albert found another spot to try. He was determined to catch dinner. Well, we got set up, and, thankfully, this area was much less windy, and even almost warm with the sun shining on us. I decided I could hang it.
The day dragged on. Other fisherman came and went, no one catching anything. We weren't getting any bites. The only thing that made it a pleasant day was that this spot proved to be nice and comfy, without all that wind. Brandy had a ball. Albert hooked her up to a really long tie-out, so she was able to run around quite a bit without getting away. She's always entertaining. Towards the end of the day, getting close to dusk, Albert finally started getting nibbles. The excitement was finally on. These stinkin' fish played with the bait for a good couple hours. They kept making off with it, though, and Albert just couldn't seem to hook anything. I was getting absolutely nothing, so was getting quite jealous that Albert was at least getting to play with the fish. All I caught was a big muck of lily pad roots. Finally, we heard a huge splash and knew that there was definitely something big out there. And then we saw it. Something huge gliding through the water. Loch Ness monster, maybe? Now THIS was exciting. We tried following the creature along the bank of the lake, but couldn't get a good view. No idea what that was, but it was almost unsettling.

The area where the creature disappeared under the water happened to be a good-looking fishing spot, so I thought I'd try it. I cast my line quite a few times, but nothing. But that creature came back several times. Just kept swimming back and forth. We finally figured it was either a river otter or a beaver. More likely a beaver, because it was too big to be a river otter. And then-sweet success. After watching Albert play with the fish for hours, and not getting a single nibble myself, I finally felt something at the other end of my line. Yay! I must have had a good hold on him, because I reeled him in so easily-he didn't even fight. I caught me a catfish! Woo-hoo! Albert came running with the camera and a bucket, and that guy suddenly was on the menu for dinner.  

After my victory, I was so done. By this time it was pitch black dark, and freezing. My feet had gone totally numb, and wavered back and forth between terrible pain, and simply not being able to feel them. We had been out at this lake all day. I was so ready to go home. But Albert was more determined than ever to catch a fish. I told him to go ahead-I was going back to the truck with the dog.
We waited. And waited. And waited. We waited so long that my whole body had turned in to a popsicle, and I was starting to wonder if Albert had fallen into the lake. I was also becoming wary of night creatures that might get me. But just as I was getting ready to take my frozen self and go look for him, Albert finally showed up. Thank goodness.
During the hour ride back home, I was trying to figure out what to do with this fish. It was late, I was tired, and I didn't feel like dealing with it. But deal with him, I did. We took him far away from all the trailers, so that we wouldn't leave nasty fish smell near the people. When we opened the bucket, I was very distressed to see that this thing was still alive. The only way I know of to kill a fish is to knock it on the head. I decided to let Albert handle this part. After all, I had to clean the thing, a truly revolting job that happens to not bother me at all.
Not really knowing what I was doing, cleaning and filleting this thing took forever. But I got it done, and it wasn't long before that critter was fried up nicely for dinner. I've never had catfish before.
   I know I cooked it right (thanks to a helpful phone call to Mom) and it came out well, but I don't think it's my new favorite fish. Not bad, but I'll stick with sea bass and snapper, thank you.
So tomorrow we make the long drive to Houston. I'll keep you all posted!
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