Davis Bayou in the Gulf Islands National Seashore

It’s still the holidays, I think, so today I tossed the Surly in the back of my car, grabbed my National Parks Passport, and headed to Mississippi to get a cancellation stamp from Davis Bayou, part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore. The gulf shoreline along scenic highway 90 looks a lot different than it did this time last year. It’s still eerily quiet and relatively empty, but now there are roving bands of workers in matching t-shirts and reflective vests carrying clear trash bags, raking through the sand, hunting for oil. There are also regular folks walking along in their flip flops and building sand castles–when will they start handing out safety boots for the rest of us? I could now tell you about the smell of oil in the air, the practically empty beaches on a holiday weekend, the Davis Bayou welcome video that sadly has no idea what’s happening with the BP oil geyser as it tells us how badly we need to protect these barrier islands. But I want to write about some other things I saw: a rabbit, pelicans, crabs, terns, egrets, an armadillo, and a baby alligator. I saw marshes, saltgrass, oak and elm trees, and wild blackberries. I fed an impressive number of mosquitoes while watching a family catch crabs with a chicken leg, some string, and a net. I snapped a picture of this vista, and fifteen minutes later had my feet in the warm Gulf of Mexico, looking at a seemingly endless horizon. It was a most beautiful day for a drive, a bike, and a walk, and I felt lucky to live where I do, a place so rich with so many different kinds of life. I hope we don’t lose it.

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