Friday, October 28, 2011

April 2011

It was a short 14 mile trip from the Big Biloxi Recreational Area to the Gulfport SeaBee Base. We like those sort of trips. The Navy campground was relatively new. The previous one was destroyed by Katrina as was much of the base. They have recovered very well, but that is to be expected with a military installation.

These military campgrounds are administered by the military service's Moral, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) Office and are, quite often, much less expensive than a private campground. Their use is supposed to be for recreational purposes, but we have seen an increase in homesteading by both active and retired personnel. Some active duty personnel stay their entire tour in these parks which is some times up to three years. It is dependent the park's length-of-stay policy and all of these parks have different policies. One may say that is fine, but it really is not. These people are scamming the system. Active duty personnel are paid a monthly allowance for lodging. If there are not government quarters available at their duty station they collect this allowance. If government quarters are available they forfeit this allowance. This allowance is based on the location of the installation and is different for each grade. In Gulfport this ranges from $1077 per month for the lowest grade (E-1) to $2095 per month for the highest grade (O-7). The scam is these allowances are not forfeited, as they are supposed to, while staying in these government facilities. We have actually had some of these service members tell us they pay off their RV and still make a lot of money.

This practice is the fault of the individual MWR administrators by not imposing length-of-stay policies. A lot of these parks only allow 60-90 day stays with 60-90 days before they can return. These kind of policies allow legitimate use of MWR facilities as they were intended to be used. It was obvious this park in Gulfport did not have any such policy since 90% of the 68 sites were filled by homesteaders.

We stayed in Gulfport for one week and during this time we toured the coast from there to New Orleans. Our New Orleans day trip was the highlight of this segment of our journey. Guinness and Rosco went with us and were enthralled by the smells, sights and sounds of the French Quarter and the Mississippi river front. We definitely want to go back for a longer stay and see more of the city.

Our next few stops will be along the coast heading back towards Savannah. We were glad to leave Gulfport and do not plan on returning. Next stop will be Pensacola Naval Air Station's Oak Grove RV Park. This is our favorite place to stay.

Joyce, Guinness and Rosco on Bourbon St. in the New Orleans French Quarter

Joyce, Guinness and Rosco in front of Emeril Lagasses's restaurant NOLA in the New Orleans French Quarter

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