The spring breaks for our older sons high school and our younger boys grade school were magically aligned this year. It rarely happens. So we went on a camping road trip to warmer climates. For Scouting families with several kids who don’t have loads of money lying around for airline tickets and hotel rooms, a camping road trip is a great option.
We started out from St. Louis at 4AM on Sat March 26. We pretty much drove straight south. We did stop at LeFleur’s Bluff State Park in Jackson Mississippi for a picnic lunch. Then we continued driving until we reached Buccaneer State Park in Waveland Mississippi. We set up camp, got some dinner and supplies in Waveland, and went and walked on the beach at low tide before settling in for the night at our campsite.
The next morning we drove to New Orleans and visited the French Quarter. We had beignets at Cafe Du Monde. Since it was Sunday, we went to 11AM Mass at the St. Louis Cathedral. It was a good thing we got there early. The cathedral was packed.
Then we spent several more hours walking around the French Quarter. The boys didn’t seem as impressed with the history and architecture as I was, but they did enjoy seeing all of the art and street performers. We returned to Waveland, picked up some fried chicken, and had a picnic on the beach. Then we returned to our campsite for a campfire and marshmallow toasting.
We spent a good part of Monday playing on the beach. Then we packed up and drove to Davis Bayou campground in Ocean Springs Mississippi. This campground is part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore which is managed by the National Park Service.
On Tuesday we drove to Dauphin Island and spent the day on the beaches there. The boys had a great time shelling and splashing in the surf. My husband and I enjoyed sitting on the beach relaxing. Tuesday evening, we got some pizza and picnicked at a park on the Ocean Springs beach.
On Wednesday, we packed up our stuff and drove back west again. We visited Jefferson Davis’ home in Biloxi. The home was very interesting and gave a good picture of life in the South during that time period. Unfortunately the library and museum were still being rebuilt from Katrina damage.
Next we went to the NASA Stennis Space Center. This is a large rocket testing site. First we had a bus tour around the facility. We got to see the large structures were they test the rocket. Then we visited the museum. The boys enjoyed “flying” the space shuttle simulator.
It was getting late already, so we splurged and spent a night in a hotel. Then we headed into New Orleans for our final campground, the New Orleans KOA. Unfortunately, our van broke down just as we were pulling into the campground. The horrific noise coming from the transmission made it clear that there would be a delay in our plans. So the boys and I set up camp while my husband went to find out about repairs and a rental.
That afternoon, we got back to the fun. We visited City Park in New Orleans, but we didn’t have a lot of time to spend there. Then we went to Bayou Segnett State Park for a burger cookout. (Dining out is pretty expensive, so we purchased our own food at a grocery store and cooked it ourselves as much as possible.) It was pretty late by then and it had been a long day, so we headed back to the campground and turned in for the night.
On Friday, we went to the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. The boys really loved this and we spent most of the day there. We also saw a 3D show at the Ommimax theater – Deep Sea Adventure. This was fun. DS and I had never been in an Omnimax before and none of us had seen a real 3D movie. Then we took a free ferry ride across the Mississippi and back.
We went back to the French Quarter to see some more of the street entertainers around Jackson Square, but we only stayed until about 6PM. We didn’t want to be in the area too late with the boys when the activities become more adult.
Since it was a Friday and Lent, we stopped at a local church on the way back to the campground to sample a local fish fry. It was very good – not just fish but shrimp also. It was another busy day, so everyone was ready to settle in when we got back to camp.
On Saturday morning we packed up and left. When we left Mississippi, it was 84 degrees. When we arrived back home in St. Louis, it was snowing with about 2 inches already on the ground. What a difference! We were all exhausted from our adventure, but everyone agreed it was a lot of fun.
Here are some separate articles reviewing the campgrounds we visited: