Blytheville to Dauphin Island; something like 540 miles.
After a breakfast that should be considered an insult to the Continent, we sped off again south on I-55, past cotton fields, catfish farms and all the truck stops in West Memphis. There really isn't much geographical variety from St. Louis to Memphis. Seems like a broad historic floodplain.
Once out of Memphis (no stopping for catfish & longnecks this time) and into Mississippi, the scenery improves. The terrain undulates more, and there are tall pine trees on both sides of the freeway and often in the median. We managed to not stop in Coffeeville or Hot Coffee but did stop somewhere around Collins where I had my first Moon Pie, which, in my case, was not a life changing event.
Once south of Hattiesburg, I cultivated a new appreciation for Trent Lott: We travelled swiftly on billiard table-smooth, four-lane highways that cut through the middle of nowhere had no one on them. That's Trent Lotsa Appropriations I guess. He managed to get an airport named after hisself, too (notice no traffic on that highway, either).
After quite enough of Mississippi, we plopped onto I-10 near Pascagoula, entered Alabama proper, and broke south for the coast. Getting to the island means a trip through Coden and Bayou La Batre, which, to be frank, are the last places anyone from Alabama should want photographed for public dissemination.
It sounds heartless, but this is a place that really could have benefited from more of Katrina's wash-n-rinse effect. Katrina ended up making landfall about 70 miles to the west, sparing Bayou La Batre the full punch, so just about all of the crummy, poorly-maintained homes, each with their allotment of non-functioning cars, unattended domestic animals and budding shrines to the 70's sit-com "Sanford and Son," were preserved.
Crossing the 3-mile causeway and bridge leading to Dauphin Island is like changing planets, but any stopping point will look good after 1,400 miles over 2 days.