I arrived in Biloxi, Mississippi on Monday afternoon – around 11:30 am, local time. I had been up atrociously early (say about, 4:30 am) to catch the flight from Portland, Maine. Now, when you’re flying from the Northeast, specifically chilly Maine where it’s below 40 that early in the morning, and you get to the Gulf Coast you are just absolutely smacked in the face with the humidity. It was like an insta-melt-athon. I was wearing several layers that were just unbearable in the Mississippi day. The taxi driver who drove us (myself and my two cohorts, Bob Keuch and Tania Chen) informed us that it would soon be getting warmer. Excellent.
The Odyssey was docked at Point Cadet marina, pretty much at the farthest point of Biloxi before you cross over into the even-more exciting Ocean Springs. Johnny came out to meet us from the boat and welcomed us aboard. We took a tour of the place, all 93-feet of it, and found our sleeping bunks, or cabins, whatever you want to call them. I haven’t learned the proper sailor term for sleeping quarters, but I assume both work. I have picked up other valuable vocabulary that I fully intend to utilize in every day life, simply because it sounds cool. I mean, calling the bathroom “the head” sounds a lot better, am I right? The word “restroom” I’ve always found to be a bit stuffy, and saying “the little girls (boys) room” just makes you sound foolish. “The head” is an excellent term, if you ask me. It’s right up there with calling it “the loo”.
Slightly settled in, Tania and I took off with Johnny and his mom, Sandy, to do laundry from the previous leg. There were pounds of it. Literally, pounds. One bag of laundry was (almost) too heavy to even carry. We headed toward Ocean Springs and drove around in search of a laundromat. Ocean Springs has a unproportional number of “cleaners,” but finding a place to do laundry proved to be harder than we thought. Sandy finally stopped the car outside of a dry cleaner’s and told Johnny to go in and ask where someone could get some laundry down around here. He refused with a, “I don’t ask for directions.” Typical males (Just kidding. Kind of.) I jogged in to decipher directions through the thick southern accent of a diminutive white woman with a sweet disposition. Luckily, the laundromat was right down the street.
The 4 of us spread out to lay claim to the largest, utility-looking washers, throwing everything in without much regard for if the machine could even handle the load. We had seen a sign for an Oyster House next door and walked over to be surprised with a nice, empty restaurant for rent. Lunch proceeded to be Frito Lays and Snapple tea from the BP gas station next door (Ironic, no?). Other errands for the day included getting some groceries for the time we were set to be docked in port.
We ended up at the cheapest grocery store I’ve ever been in. By cheap, I don’t mean flimsy shopping carts or fruit covered in brown spots because they’re too frugal to purchase the good stuff for customers. No, this was affordable shopping in its prime. I’ve been in a long-term relationship with Special K cereal for some time now, but it’s been on the rocks since a box is pricey compared to some others. So, I’ve been cheating on Special K with cereals like Cheerios, or really, the Hannaford brand “Happy O’s” or whatever they’re called. A girl’s gotta pinch pennies. But, not at this place! Special K was somewhere around $1.50 for a box, which I can go through in a day. That’s absolutely fantastic. We picked up things like lunch meat, cheese, bread, some milk (that’s another story in itself), apples, peaches, lettuce and tomatoes (real “treats” while in port because they don’t last out to sea), and Johnny was insistent on getting a tub of Cookies n’ Cream ice cream.
Back in Biloxi, there was inventory to be taken of the boat. That’s just about as exciting as it sounds. I sat in front of cupboards in the pilothouse going through every single random piece of whatever I found and documenting it. 4 32 oz. bottles of Teak Oil under starboard sink cupboard, 2nd shelf; 1 white bleach bottle marked “glass cleaner” (questionable); 1 air horn; 1 fire ax…continued on for 4 pages. And that was just my own inventory task – Johnny didn’t even finish his because the one or two drawers he decided on were so full of knick knacks that it took him forever. On a bright note, he did discover a mini plastic Samurai sword that was used at dinner in a sword-plastic straw duel.
Speaking of dinner, I had really been craving Thai food, but it seemed inaccessible. I followed the rest of the science crew to the Grand Casino, where Dr. Wise and Sandy were staying while in port. We ate at their buffet. Now, buffets are always too expensive for mediocre food and I always overeat because I feel I need to get my $20 worth. This time was no exception. I started out with the closest things I could get to Thai and I’m not even sure what it was. Springrolls with some Sweet n’ Sour sauce, some chicken and peppers dish, and other Asian inspired things. Then it was on to a monster salad and finally, I gave in to the frozen yogurt machine, rainbow sprinkles, and caramel sauce. How can you argue with that, really? I learned an important lesson at dinner, which was not to sit across from Johnny if he has straw wrappers. I got more rolled up balls of wrapper flung into my face than I ever could have wanted. Note to self: get Johnny back. Note to Johnny: Payback is a bitch.
I ended the night buying Johnny a belated 21st birthday drink and catching up with him, since it’s been awhile. We sat outside by the hotel pool afterward with fellow crew members Matt and Rick and talked for a bit before coming back aboard the boat. I had wanted to play the 1 cent or 25 cent games in the casino, but they kept thinking that I was straight out of high school, even after checking my ID. So, no late night gambling for me (“Alright, I’ll let y’all through, but that’s it. You walk straight through, no stopping.”)