Thursday, October 11, 2007

Leaving the gulf behind

We are at the Wal-Mart in Saraland, Alabama, just north of Mobile (map). Today turned out to be a short driving day, mostly due to errands we ran en-route.

After leaving our wonderful spot on the beach in Long Beach, we drove through Gulfport and Biloxi. There was still plenty of damage in evidence along the waterfront, but many businesses have returned, including some tourist hotels, timeshares, and, of course, the casinos. A legislative change pushed through after Katrina has allowed the casinos to rebuild on dry land -- they previously floated on barges, with devastating results in the storm.

We skirted around Biloxi bay, as the bridge to Ocean Springs is still under construction, and came back down to US90 in Ocean Springs via MS609 from I-10. Ocean Springs, the bulk of which is a few miles inland from the gulf, is in pretty good shape. So much so that we ended up stopping there in the Winn-Dixie parking lot for nearly two hours while I took care of some errands.

The specific errand that took the most time was shipping six packages from my eBay sales. We chose the Winn-Dixie lot because it was adjacent to the Post Office, where I needed to get some Priority Mail supplies. We put the dish up and I generated labels for everything right there, a sometimes frustrating and very lengthy process -- I'm not sure why eBay/PayPal/USPS integration is so tediously slow, but the pages take forever to load, and it took a full hour to generate and print six labels. Arrrgh. But it felt great to cart everything over to the post office and get it out of the living room.

Louise picked up a few things at Winn-Dixie, while I also stopped into Radio Shack in that same parking lot, and picked up a new GPS to go on the scooter. It's a Mio brand, C320 model, which is only available at Radio Shack. It remains to be seen how well it does, but I have 30 days to try it out. I'll report here when we see how it works out. (This is to replace the clunky Garmin 176C that I just sold on eBay.) NAPA across the street turned out to have 40-weight oil in stock, and dodging traffic to get some rounded out this stop.

With most of the eBay stuff off my plate, I had two other pressing items: finding a notary to notarize my title paperwork for the new scooter before I mail it off to Washington, and finding a box large enough to ship the last eBay item, a pair of motorcycle saddlebags. Just a few blocks further along, still in Ocean Springs, we spotted a UPS store, and they had both a notary and a box, which mostly finished up the errands. By this time it was past four in the afternoon, and we both declared a moratorium on any further errands for the day.

The rest of the drive through Pascagoula and up to Mobile, mostly on US90, was uneventful. We segued onto I-10 south of Mobile and then to I-65. We ditched off the freeway in Mobile at the same exit where we stayed 18 months ago (to eat at Olive Garden), looking once again for the Wal-Mart that was reported to be there, but our maps were out of date. This one was just another eight miles up the road, so we got back on the freeway, only to spot the mystery Wal-Mart just a mile north of the exit, on the frontage road.

Tomorrow morning we'll swing by another UPS Store just a block from here to drop off the saddlebags, then head across Big Bayou Canot, the Mobile River, the Middle River, and the Tensaw River on I-65 (really, the only way across the Mobile delta here) before veering off the Interstate for a road that suits us more, US31. We should be in Montgomery by mid-afternoon.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Sean,

    Catching up on your blog and I have an answer to a (probably rhetorical) question you asked:

    "...I'm not sure why eBay/PayPal/USPS integration is so tediously slow, but the pages take forever to load, and it took a full hour to generate and print six labels..."

    We have the same kinds of issues with our Datastorm. The sites you mention are all HTTPS secure sites, and therefore are not cached by the HughesNet web accelerator. Because of this, each communication (many per web page/transaction) must travel the whole path from your computer to the other end (ebay, usps, etc.) and back again. All that latency of about 1 second for each of these slows things down.

    Happy travels! Maybe we'll cross paths later this fall.



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