After ignoring my alarm for a bit, I finally got my rear out of bed and headed out to explore Alabama;s neighbor: Mississippi. I was excited to get to state number 29! Before leaving, I decided to get a quick breakfast downstairs in the lobby. It was free and I always try and get the free breakfast at least once when I stay in a hotel. I ran into Mark’s family who were all down there excited about the wedding. They wondered what I was doing up so early, and I told them I was going for a quick road trip.
Off I went down the freeway! It was actually a pleasant drive. I managed to find a good radio station that did not play banjo or Jesus music as most of the stations were playing. It only took me 30 minutes to reach the state line. I saw that there was a welcome center at the first Mississippi rest area, but I passed it before I realized it. Driving by, it looked like I missed a treasure since there was a huge building that seemed to be choc full of good stuff to see. Since I made good time, I decided to head to Biloxi since I had seen several signs indicating there was some casinos. I wasa not sure what to expect, but when I got there I was completely floored.
I knew that Hurricane Katrina had slammed into the gulf coast, but I did not realize that even as far away as Biloxi there was utter devastation. Here it was over a year later and most of the town was still rubble. Almost all of the beach front homes, condos, and businesses were either gone completely or just a pile of rubble. I was amazed. From the billboards it looked like things were back to normal, but only a few of the casinos were actually open, and they were the only things that looked like were involved in heavy construction. I drove around and took it all in and snapped a few photos. There was even a monument to the victims that was created by the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition show (go ABC). I wanted to explore more, but it was time to head back to Mobile for the gala wedding.
On the way back, I stopped at the visitor center on the Alabama state line. I chatted with a nice lady who worked there and got some maps as well as some other visitor propaganda for the Mobile Bay region. There actually was quite a lot to see in the entire state – perhaps I will have to hit the north part of the state when I visit Tennessee sometime.
I made it back to the hotel with an hour to spare to get ready. Mark was a bit nervous and was running around trying to get organized. We helped him get everything put into Alex’s room and then headed out to the wedding site. Jen was on scene so we had to be careful to sequester Mark in the dining room. Alex and I felt like we were the secret service escorting the president around the compound during a crisis.
Finally everything was ready to go and the ceremony went off without a hitch. I was glad I spotted Colleen behind me at the ceremony so I could get some photos. I discretely handed her my camera and she took some cool photos. Later on, I discovered that the camera was set into black and white mode, but it added a distinct flair to the photos. Afterwards, I got to meet the family in the receiving line and then partook in an especially good dinner. It was buffet style, but as a member of the bridal party we had the food brought to us. I chatted with Mark’s brother Matt during dinner and it was nice to catch up on what he was up to. I also noticed that he does a few of his brothers’ mannerisms unconsciously. At the end of the evening, there was some dancing and cutting of the cake before the masses started to leave. There was a great band that performed most of the night and when they went on break someone had a laptop with iTunes hooked into some serious speakers with some general party music.
All in all a great night. We headed back to the hotel and had a bit of a nightcap in Mark’s parents room and then headed back to our own rooms for bed. It was kind of sad since I knew we were all heading out separate ways. Alex was leaving at 4am so I wouldn’t see him in the morning. Mark and Jen were off in a different hotel enjoying their wedding night so I knew I probably wouldn’t see them at all either. Hopefully they will move back to the states so I can see them more often.