There’s something about a blue sky that just makes me happy. I don’t know if that’s a chemical, or physiological reaction. All I know is that in my world when the sun shines good things happen.

In Mississippi there was no shortage of blue sky as Susan and I set off for West Ship Island, a barrier island some 12 miles off the Mississippi Coast in the Gulf of Mexico. (I like writing that, ‘The Gulf of Mexico’, it just sounds so tropical to me!)

We jumped on the noon ferry from Gulfport just in the nick of time before it set sail on the crossing that takes about an hour. As we boarded I asked the Captain what the conditions were like as I was somewhat weary that an hour long ferry ride might take its toll on me if the crossing was choppy. He assured me it would be calm and joked that it was very bad the previous day.

“Do you get sick?” Asked one crew member. Feeling a little foolish to only be thinking about this possible issue now, I tried to play down the fact that boats can make me feel like I am about to die. “Oh no, well you know just a little, sometimes, not often though. It looks calm today so I’ll probably be fine… right?” If they detected any apprehension in my tone they were kind enough not make anything of it.

“Do you have any ginger?” Asked one of the crewman. “Ginger works wonders. Let me see if I have any. You go an get yourself situated and I’ll come find you if I have any.” That’ll be that southern hospitality again, I thought to myself as we boarded and found a seat on the deck. Sure enough, just as the boat began moving the friendly crewman found me and gave us some sugared ginger.

We didn’t have much time on the island when we arrived so we used the time to just go for a leisurely stroll. We explored Fort Massachusetts, an historic fortress built nearly 150 years ago that has withstood the devastating force of both hurricanes Camille and Katrina.

Susan and I took off our shoes and left them by the lifeguards hut. We ambled along the white sandy beaches that make this little island such an attraction, occasionally wading knee deep into the warm clear tropical water. Along the way I decided to attempt taking a self-timer picture of the two of us. The result was as bad as the idea itself, but something about the comical picture makes me smile each time I look at it.

Later that same day we were out on another boat, this time belonging to Jeff and Moli, friends of Susan. They had invited us, along with Susan’s other friends, Mary Kay, Andrea, and Cindy, to join them along with on a boat ride out to an alligator infested part of the St Louis Bay to go swimming!

The trip was accompanied with a fairly potent punch that had me feeling relaxed and mellow about my impending death match with a hungry adult alligator. Little did they know it, but as we swept along the water to the alligator infested lake I was looking at the others in the boat trying to work out who among us might look more appetizing to the alligators. In the end though Jeff decided to abandon the idea due to the fact that the sky that had been blue all day long, was now turning dark as storm clouds gathered in the distance. Only here could a closing storm be viewed as more dangerous than an encounter with an alligator at dinner time!

West Ship Island
Satellite view of West Ship Island
The story of West Ship Island’s destroyed lighthouse