Louisiana Life May-June 2020

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The people fighting to conserve one of the state’s most important resources

Davis Pond Diversion in St. Charles Parish was built to channel fresh water from the Mississippi River into Barataria Bay to balance rising salinity levels caused by encroaching water from the Gulf of Mexico

May/June 2020






Noteworthy news and happenings around the state

Adventures abound at Driskill Mountain and the wealth of parks, trails and sites in North Louisiana




Acceptance, boundaries, routines and more for optimal selfnurturing 6


Our early summer round-up of books that will inspire, intrigue and entertain 8


Walker pediatric speech therapist and children’s garment designer Ashlyn Major creates feel-good clothing with connection




Art, outdoor adventure, history and an ever-evolving culinary scene define Bentonville, Arkansas 40


Jeff Richard keeps professional muscians’ instruments working in Baton Rouge repair shop



New Orleans photographer Cate Colvin Sampson captures Louisiana’s vanishing marshes and swamps 12



Drastic Measures Conservation and the murky future of Louisiana’s embattled Coast

Lance Thomas and Drew Hoffpauir of Room Service redesigned a Lake Charles house to reflect the personality of its owners 32


Light, yet hearty and flavorful shrimp and fish dishes


For the past several years, we’ve used space in the May/June issue to explore conservation throughout the state. From artists who focus on or include conservation in their work, to important locales around Louisiana and even the preservation of the Jefferson Highway we’ve offered a mix. For this issue, we are looking at Louisiana’s most pressing issue: coastal conservation. Turn to page 16 to learn more.



Our Commitment


e have all experienced our Evangeline Oak moments this year. In 1928 Huey Long, a then little-known candidate for governor, stood beneath the oak and made a speech that is a classic in American politics. Referring to the tree made famous by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem about an Acadian girl named Evangeline who waited at the oak for her lover Gabriel to return, the candidate captured the pathos of the moment: “...Evangeline is not the only one who has waited here in disappointment.” Long went on to list a series of political promises, such as better schools and hospitals, that were never delivered. Then came his sensational closing: “Evangeline wept bitter tears in her disappointment, but it lasted only through one lifetime. Your tears in this country, around this oak, have lasted for generations. Give me the chance to dry the eyes of those who still weep here.” Our tears as fellow Louisianans have not been for who did not return but rather for what did arrive. We have shared the virus crisis with the rest of the world though there were times when this state was hit harder than most places. Now we hope to dry the eyes, though we do so in what will be a weakened global economy. We all need each other’s help. We suggest a new commitment to Louisiana, its people and places. From Shreveport to Grand Isle, from the Pearl River to the Sabine, Louisiana is a wonderful place for its locals to explore. Occasionally the paths are enhanced by visions of alligators in the Atchafalaya swamp and black bears in the Kisatchie Forest. Then there are the sounds of the Cajun Two-Step in Breaux Bridge and the stirring gospel music of the northern parishes. Natchitoches sits on a bluff; New Orleans is below sea level. The two are Louisiana’s oldest towns though in different parts of the state. Both were settled by the French. One town is famous for its meat pies; the other for its world-class Creole cuisine. This is a state where blues pioneer Lead Belly played his 12-string guitar and from which Louis Armstrong’s trumpet was heard around the world. Musically, as Hank Williams assured, “son of a gun we will have big fun on the bayou.” And then there is the Evangeline Oak still standing majestically along Bayou Teche. Gabriel never did return, but we can. We at Louisiana Life are committed to being the journal for exploring the state. Fortunately, it is an easy destination to become fascinated with. We urge you to join the trek. And if you’re waiting for someone to meet you, just text them your next destination.



E D I TO R I A L EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Errol Laborde MANAGING EDITOR Melanie Warner Spencer ASSOCIATE EDITOR Ashley McLellan COPY EDITOR Liz Clearman TRAVEL EDITOR Paul F. Stahls Jr. FOOD EDITOR Stanley Dry HOME EDITOR Lee Cutrone ART DIRECTOR Sarah George LEAD PHOTOGRAPHER Danley Romero EDITORIAL INTERN Kathy Bradshaw SALES VICE PRESIDENT OF SALES Colleen Monaghan (504) 830-7215 Colleen@LouisianaLife.com SALES MANAGER Rebecca Taylor (337) 298-4424 / (337) 235-7919 Ext. 230 Rebecca@LouisianaLife.com M AR K ETI NG DIRECTOR OF MARKETING & EVENTS Jeanel Luquette EVENT COORDINATOR Abbie Dugruise DI GI TAL WEB EDITOR Kelly Massicot DIGITAL OPERATIONS MANAGER Sarah Duckert P R ODUCTI ON PRODUCTION MANAGER Emily Andras PRODUCTION DESIGNERS Rosa Balaguer, Meghan Rooney TRAFFIC ASSISTANT Jeremiah Michel ADM I NI STR ATI ON CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER Todd Matherne PRESIDENT Alan Campell EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT Errol Laborde OFFICE MANAGER Mallary Matherne DISTRIBUTION MANAGER John Holzer SUBSCRIPTION MANAGER Claire Sargent For subscriptions call (504) 830-7231

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Innovative Measures New lab in Baton Rouge increases testing capacity BY LISA LEBLANC-BERRY =


FROM HOSPITALIT Y TO HEALTHCARE Some of the city’s best waiters and bartenders are now among a growing number of newly displaced restaurant staffers with new jobs that guide homebound patients in need of technical guidance for video calls. Thanks to the rapidly expanding telehealth sector, a new company, QED Resources, was recently formed by Chef Brian Landry and Emery Whalen, cofounders of QED Hospitality. Their workers are taught to graciously navigate patients’ needs. QED Resources is under contract with Divurgent, a healthcare IT consulting company that has identified one million appointments needing to be converted to telehealth for its clients alone (qedhg.com).


SU researchers and hospital leaders have recently created, obtained fast-track federal approval for and started running coronavirus tests at a newly minted River Road Testing Lab. The new lab testing capacities could give coronavirus test results to the most critical patients and providers within 24 hours. Our Lady of the Lake, Baton Rouge General, Women’s Hospital and other area hospitals are now sending the samples needing the fastest turnaround to the new LSU lab.



Ah, Cha-cha-cha! Organizers of the 8th annual El Festival Española de Nueva Iberia, themed “Taste of Spain on the Teche,” have set new dates, August 28-30, following its spring cancellation. Festivities include a gala featuring live Spanish guitar and flamenco dance performances with free-flowing sangria, a parade, a Running of the Bull’s fun run, paella eating contests and a petting zoo (newiberiaspanishfestival.com). B ATO N R O U G E -B A S E D

New Virtual Program for Kids To help keep music alive for students and their families, the Kids’ Orchestra has launched a new virtual learning program, KO@Home, that includes fun weekly mini-lesson videos from teaching artists, a series of instrument care and handling guides and a curated list of music resources (kidsorchestra.org). O P E LO US A S A N D B E Y O N D

Workers Needed Are you searching for a sideline? Walmart is hiring both full-and parttime workers (starting pay $17-$18/ hour, with training and benefits) at its distribution center in Opelousas, as part of its efforts to hire added staff during the coronavirus pandemic. Officials said employees could be working 24 hours after applying (careers.walmart.com). Numerous positions are also listed for towns and cities throughout Louisiana. TER R EBONNE

Front-liners Need PPE PPE donations are needed at Terrebonne General Medical Center, Thibodaux Regional Health System, Chabert/Ochsner Hospital, Acadian Ambulance, Houma Fire Department, SLMA and St. Anne Hospital (houmachamber.com).


Anxiety 101 Acceptance, boundaries, routines and more for optimal self-nurturing

Fresh Take



If you’re looking to add a little pizazz to your salads, pastas, and pizza, try this herb full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.



t different times and to different degrees, all people experience anxiety in their lives. But how can you manage it? How can you keep your mind from racing nonstop, especially in times like now, amid the COVID-19 fallout?

A W A R E N E S S A N D ACC E P TA N C E Jackie Ball, a

psychologist with Ochsner Health System, said the first step to easing your anxiety is to acknowledge that it exists in the first place. She said once you acknowledge the anxiety is there and accept it, you will start to feel more in control. Plus, at stressful times, there’s nothing wrong with being anxious. That is 100 percent applicable to living through a global health crisis. “It’s a completely appropriate response to be anxious right now,” Ball said. MEDIA OVERLOAD If you’re suffering from anxiety, you should also limit your time on social media. This is always good advice, but it is especially true during events like the coronavirus outbreak. Yes, social media can sometimes provide useful information, but if you are already anxious about the current situation and you can go on a website where

almost everyone is posting theories, opinions and feelings about it, that will only make things worse. “Too much exposure to media will increase your anxiety,” said Ball. This includes more conventional forms of media, too. You should try to remain informed, but just because cable news is available to you 24/7 does not mean you have to watch it for more than 30 minutes a day. MAINTAIN A SCHEDULE Even if you are unemployed or working from home, Ball said you can ease your anxiety by keeping to a set schedule. Find time for exercise. Eat healthy and get some sleep. If you have children, set schedules for them, too. VIRTUAL VISITS In times like these where people are

encouraged to practice social distancing, Ball said therapy visits can be handled virtually. She said it’s important that people talk about the anxiety and pain they are feeling. For many, the current coronavirus situation and the uncertainty that comes with it will bring back unpleasant memories of the months following Hurricane Katrina. “If we avoid our feelings and avoid talking about them, it will only increase the symptoms,” Ball said. n

Some studies indicate this fruit (yes, it’s a fruit and not a vegetable) lowers LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, both of which are blood markers that indicate an increased risk of heart disease.


This classic ballpark snack is rich in protein, fiber, fat, and other healthy nutrients. They are low in carbs and have a low glycemic index, which means they’re a good option for people with diabetes.



Off the Shelf Our early summer round-up of books that will inspire, intrigue and entertain BY ASHLEY MCLELLAN


A Private Cathedral: A Dave Robicheaux Novel BY JAMES LEE BURKE


The Lost Book of Adana Moreau

Author James Lee Burke brings back popular detective Dave Robicheaux for his 40th book, “A Private Cathedral.” This edge-of-yourseat thriller combines star-crossed, runaway lovers, a mysterious assassin and a New Orleans mafioso in a book that is described as creating a brand new genre: crime-romancehorror-science fiction mystery. If the words “timetraveling superhuman assassin” don’t intrigue, then what could? Simon & Schuster, 384 pages, $28


There I Am: The Journey from Hopelessness to Healing BY RUTHIE LINDSEY

Ruthie Lindsey is a fighter. At the age of 17, she was hit by an ambulance near her home in rural Louisiana and given only a five percent chance of survival and a one percent chance of ever walking again. She defied the odds and after surgeries, was able to walk out of the hospital a month later. Years later, her luck would run out as she began to battle overwhelming bouts of mysterious pain that would lead to a fierce addiction to pain killers, another stay in the hospital, and a long and rocky path to recovery from both. While Lindsey’s story may sound bleak, she digs deep and finds a way to restore both her mind and body, while also restoring her sense of joy and love for life. Her compelling tale is one of redemption, inspiration and an education in healing. Gallery Books, 288 pages, $26


This book is a hard-to-describe tale of twists, turns and mysterious manuscripts. It starts in 1929 New Orleans, where a young woman writes a popular science fiction tale, falls ill and dies just after destroying the only copy of the sequel to her book. Fast forward to 2005, when Saul Dower discovers a manuscript that would lead him and his friend into the eye of Hurricane Katrina on a journey to answer the mysteries of the book. The Lost Book of Adana Moreau has already received rave reviews from The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, Salon, Booklist and more. Add it you your list for a stunning, mysterious treat for the mind. Hanover Square Press, 272 pages, $26.99


AN OPEN BOOKSELLER With the recent coronavirus crisis, many of our favorite local booksellers may need our help and would absolutely appreciate a visit. Buy local, either online or curbside pick-up in person; check with your bookseller for details. Octavia Books 513 Octavia St. New Orleans 504-899-READ octaviabooks.com

Garden District Book Shop 2727 Prytania St. New Orleans 504-895-2266 GardenDistrictBookshop.com

The Conundrum 11917 Ferdinand St. St. Francisville 225-245-5025 conundrumbooks.com

Blue Cypress Books 8126 Oak St. New Orleans 504-352-0096 bluecypressbooks.com

Cavalier House Books 100 N. Range Ave. Denham Springs 225-664-2255 cavalierhousebooks.com

Alexander Books 2116 Johnston St. Lafayette 337-234-2096 alexanderbookstore.com


What’s one color that people — children and adults — should wear more, and why? Color is such a fluid marker, in my opinion, so I like to think of colors in clusters or families. I think kids and adults should wear fewer primary colors and wear more earth tones and jewel tones, overall. These colors are warm, pleasing to the eye, and overall they look more high end. So kids are messy. Sometimes very messy! Did you have to resign yourself to the fact that your beautiful clothes might be covered in all kinds of things? I hope they are covered in many things. That’s a sign that a lot of memories were made in them! In terms of design, I choose fabrics that can withstand many washes and wears, so I hope children wear my garments for occasions and for play.

Well Armed Walker pediatric speech therapist and children’s garment designer Ashlyn Major creates feel-good clothing with connection BY JEFFREY ROEDEL PHOTOS BY GREG MILES



ounding the corner past a path of palms, ferns and lilies in the expanse of the greenhouse, Harper runs beaming, her arms waving wide like falcon wings. The young girl refuses to take off her new jacket; she pleads with her photographer mom to leave it on, even if this style shoot requires a wardrobe change — eventually. When Harper puts on the reversible, French terry bomber with sunbeams on the back and at the elbows, she feels like she could take flight. She looks like a little superhero.

What do you like to do for fun when you’re not designing clothes or working w ith your speech clients? I recently became a plant mom. Watering, assessing and researching plants is probably the thing I’m doing the most when I’m not working.


“Kids are our sunshine, they give us hope,” says the handmade jacket’s designer, Ashlyn Major, founder of the Print or Solid line of children’s clothing, as she refers to the sunlit accents at the elbows as “armor.” “Children don’t realize the effects of their successes or their failures yet, they just go out and try. They’re just living life with an inspiring audacity. And as they experience failures, they need armor, and that’s the inspiration for this jacket.” Major is used to making children feel better about themselves with a greater sense of the world around them. The 34-year-old creative is a practicing pediatric speech therapist in Walker, near Baton Rouge. Her bold, rule-bending clothing design is an ever-increasingly aggressive side hustle. “I think I’m burning it at both ends, but I have a good momentum,” says Major, her coffee cup swamped by a collage of her favorite patterns, recent sketches and concept notes.

(Below) Pediatric speech therapist and children’s clothing designer Ashlyn Major’s daugher Harper in action while wearing a dress from Major’s Print or Solid line.

The self-taught designer is set to launch Harper’s favorite superhero-inspired reversible jacket online the evening of this interview, after teasing it on Instagram. It’s just the latest piece in a series of creative garments from the speech therapist who for years shared sketches of her creations with the public at arts markets and then for word-of-mouth clients less than four years ago. Print or Solid’s rule-bending collection feels classic with mad dashes of whimsy. Leather and gingham? Alright. Check-pattern and purple bears? Why not! Major designs and creates each bespoke piece herself, but she keeps time for collecting ideas — she still has her very first sketchbook on hand — and connecting with photographers and mom bloggers while networking online. The Louisiana native’s inspirations can come from anywhere — a vintage car, an eye-seducing mural, a scroll through eclectic Pinterest boards. Ever inheriting her pilot grandfather’s bomber jacket as a child, Major has loved gender-neutral looks. She designs her jackets for boys and girls to enjoy equally. “Growing up, I would cut up my shirts, wear my belt to the side, put some crazy colors and prints together, and just try the unexpected,” Major recalls. “I recently looked back on my college photos, and the girl in those photos has no reservations about what she is wearing. Several times my mom expressed embarrassment of the outfits I would put together, but I have no regrets.” Conceptualizing and organizing photo shoots, managing online orders and her own social media marketing, and of course turning out enough clothing to meet demand, Major has had to overcome moments of near burnout. In March, an electrical fire burned her home. She lost all of her inventory and supplies but managed to save one sewing machine. She’s resolute that it’s only a setback, and nothing she can’t overcome. It just reminds her that, for example in the summer of 2018, she felt overwhelmed with the details of it all and found herself asking: “Why am I so stressed out about a romper?” Her answer was that she had lost connection with her “Why?” — why she had begun to create in the first place. “It gives me satisfaction on an inner level, because it’s a creative outlet but an inner peace,” Major says. “There’s a difference between something that you just put on your body and something that you’re proud to wear. So being able to give someone the thing that they can’t create themselves, but it makes them feel equally good, that connection means so much to me. That’s my biggest inspiration.” n


Holding On

Sampson draws attention to the vanishing marshes and swamps “outside the levee system” in her ongoing black-and-white photography series “All the Place You’ve Got,” a line she borrowed from O’Connor’s 1952 novel “Wise Blood.” Here the gospel-haunted protagonist Hazel Motes tells readers, “In yourself right now is all the place you’ve got.” To Sampson, Louisiana’s wetlands are all “we’ve got” and they are disappearing. To better understand the plight facing people who live and work in the wetlands, Sampson attends their church services and visits with the subsistence fishing families and others to hear their stories. “We only have one home,” Sampson says. “Louisiana already claims some of the world’s first climate refugees out of Isle de Jean Charles. Learning about and participating in efforts to preserve our wetlands benefits all of us — industries which invest in and extract from those environments, fishermen who support themselves and their families from the bounty of our waterways, to the burgeoning ecotourism industry around New Orleans, and the creative community that draws inspiration from this special, vulnerable place.” Sampson is referring to the rapidly disappearing Isle de Jean Charles in Terrebonne Parish inhabited by the Jean Charles Band of Biloxi-ChitimachaChoctaw Indians. Like the Jean Charles Band and other wetlands residents, Sampson is sensitive to the land. The 31-yearold New Orleans resident was born in Virginia but raised in Central Louisiana’s Rapides Parish. For generations, the Colvin family on her mother’s side farmed the land in North Louisiana near Dubach in Lincoln Parish — that is, until natural gas and oil were discovered on the family property in the 1930s. Gradually, gas wells and pine trees replaced crops and cattle. “Just about everywhere you look,” she says, “you can identify the presence of the petrochemical industry — from its physical occupation of and contribution to our damaged wetlands, to its effects on the accessibility of our natural landscape, to its ubiquitous influence in our society in terms of what this industry supports, what it minimizes and who it marginalizes. I feel like my family’s connection to the natural resources of our home state is at odds with the environmental sustainability for which my photographs advocate, but conversely it reminds me how deeply tied folks’ livelihoods are to the natural resources of this place, how much pride people have in their work. It’s a complicated issue and I think drawing a hard line isn’t a realistic way to win people’s hearts to the plight of coastal restoration. It’s going to take stakeholders from the oil and gas industry as much as folks from conservation (above) Barataria Bay, backgrounds.” 2016 (facing page, top) Sampson, a 2012 LSU graduate and photogQueen Bess Island, Preraphy archivist at the Historic New Orleans Restoration, near Grand Collection, first became interested in Louisiana’s Isle, Jefferson Parish, wetlands back in 2013 after reading about coastal 2019 (left) Bonnet Carre erosion, wetlands dredging, saltwater intrusion, Spillway, 2019 land subsidence and the political and social

New Orleans photographer Cate Colvin Sampson captures Louisiana’s vanishing marshes and swamps BY JOHN R. KEMP


ouisiana photographer Cate Colvin Sampson, inspired by the writings of Southern novelist Flannery O’Connor, joins a growing chorus of artists and photographers raising warnings about South Louisiana’s endangered wetlands and a way of life for the people who have lived there for centuries.



Exhibits Art to view or browse virtually at home* CA J U N

“ Notes from the Schoolyard.” An art exhibition organized with the Talented Visual Art program in the Lafayette Parish School System, through June 3. Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum, Lafayette. hilliardmuseum.org CE N T R A L

“ Childhood Classics: 100 Years of Children’s Book Illustration.” Children’s books from the turn of the century to popular works today, through June 20. Alexandria Museum of Art. themuseum.org

problems surrounding them. She soon learned that exploring those wetlands is difficult. “Industry is everywhere,” she says, “and I found it to be pretty efficient at discouraging us from looking very closely at it, the space it occupies and its relationships to those natural spaces over time. I think these obstacles to accessing the natural landscape of South Louisiana tend to make the work of conversation more difficult in one sense because a lot of folks still see the swamp as an uninspired throwaway rather than an incredibly productive and diverse ecosystem worth caring for.”

In 2014, Sampson co-curated the Louisiana Culture Exhibition at an international photography exhibition in Moscow, Russia, and the following year she received the New Orleans Photo Alliance’s Michael P. Smith Documentary Photography Grant. In 2016, she served as an artist-in-residence at the National Park Service, and the next year, her work appeared in New Orleans at a satellite show during the city’s international art triennial, Prospect 3. In addition, Sampson developed a method that is unique among today’s ubiquitous digital cameras and computers. She uses 4-by-8-inch and 8-by-10-inch Graflex cameras made in the 1930s and mid-1940s. As to negatives, she makes her own light-sensitive silver gelatin, glass plate black-and-white negatives, a popular late 19th-century process she learned while attending a workshop at the George Eastman House Museum of Photography in Rochester, New York. “Through my camera lens I have witnessed the various players of a complex issue,” she says. “I just listen to stories. Stories, of course, are the motivation of any photograph in this series, but there is generally no expectation or formula that I adhere to when getting out to make a photograph. You just have to pay attention.” n


“ Frank Hayden: Lift Every Voice.” Features work by influential Louisiana sculptor reflecting humanistic concerns shaped by Catholic faith and Civil Rights Movement, through Oct. 25. Louisiana Art & Science Museum, Baton Rouge. lasm.org NOLA

“ Melvin Edwards: Crossroads.” Exhibit examines relationships between Edwards’s artwork and that produced by African artists, through July 5. Ogden Museum of Southern Art. ogdenmuseum.org NORTH

“ The Art of Architect Mike McSwain.” Drawings of popular Shreveport restaurants, historic buildings and event spaces, June 18 through Sept. 5. artspace, Shreveport. artspaceshreveport.com *Be sure to call ahead for COVID-19 closures.



Finding Its Voice Lance Thomas and Drew Hoffpauir of Room Service redesigned a Lake Charles house to reflect the personality of its owners BY LEE CUTRONE PHOTOS BY HAYLEI SMITH


he challenge was to give a voiceless house a voice,” says designer Lance Thomas, one half of the duo that runs Room Service, a Lake Charles interior design business and store specializing in Southern traditional mixed with a current and modern twist. “The owners are such an outgoing, cool, fun couple. We had to take this box of a home and give it a voice that represented who they are.” Lance, an award-winning designer whose resume includes competing on an HGTV design challenge, had worked with the owners, Brandi and Michael Cox, on a previous home. In fact, Brandi was Lance’s first client when he returned to Lake Charles after living and working on the West Coast. This time around, the Coxes would be working with Lance and his partner, Drew Hoffpauir, the business side of the team who brings real estate experience and an affinity for design to the table. “Lance is the creative and Drew keeps him organized and on-budget,” says Brandi. On the plus side, the new property was in the same Kingspoint neighborhood where they already lived and on the lake where the couple and their three sons, ages 16 to 19, frequently boat, fish and ski. It also had a layout they liked. On the negative side, it

(left) The remodeled kitchen features quartzite counters, a large island, glass-front cabinets and a plaster-finished vent hood trimmed with reclaimed wood to tie into the other architectural features in the house. (above) Brandi and Michael Cox at home with their dog, Charlie. (right) The custom John Richard dining chairs were designed with casters for easy movement and skirted in linen bordered with salmon trim.



(left) Comfortable upholstered chairs provide a place for enjoying morning coffee and afternoon wine. (right) A Chinoiserie painting is paired with lamps by Visual Comfort above the original stone mantel. Chandelier by Eloquence.

didn’t have a clearly defined architectural perspective, particularly the traditional Louisiana kind that the couple prefers. The project called for gutting the downstairs of the 15-year-old house completely, removing a wall and adding architectural character. It also included painting, updating finishes and remodeling the bathrooms upstairs, and improving the exterior with a new entrance, iron gates and other cosmetic changes. The disjointed amalgam of Grecian columns, Victorian built-in shelves and pocket doors that once resided in the house was stripped away and replaced with a clean backdrop where reclaimed antique pine beams, wide plank oak floors, marble kitchen counters,


and a wrought iron stair rail now stand out. Brandi likes airy Southern elegance, so Lance chose custom pieces designed to stand the test of time and a light palette of floral-inspired pinks and blues that exude calm. To that, he added fun accents that Brandi could change if she tired of them as well as masculine elements that represent Michael and his love of hunting. The couple also wanted the house to fit the way they live. Rather than a breakfast nook in the kitchen for example, they opted for a coffee area with comfortable upholstered chairs where they can relax and enjoy their outdoor views. “Lance made it all blend so you have some of Michael and some of me,” says Brandi. Blending a variety of influences is at the heart of what the Room Service partners say they do best — whether it’s traditional and edgy, old and new, his and hers, classic and contemporary. “Our look is traditional with a bit of a bite,” says Lance. “We try to create spaces that look curated and collected over time,” says Drew. “The number one thing people say when they walk into one of our spaces is it looks like it’s been there forever.” n

At a Glance LOCATI ON

Kingspoint (Lake Charles) SQUA R E FOOTAGE

6,500 living, 8,000 total Y E A R BUI LT



Reclaimed antique pine beams, wide plank oak floors, quartzite counters, dual kitchen islands






is many things to many people. Home. A livelihood. Vacation. Beauty. A breath of fresh air. With over 7,000 miles of squiggly coastline — more than any other U.S. state besides Alaska and Florida — Louisiana waterways are a paradise to not only sportsmen, but also businessmen, nature-lovers and, of course, nature itself. Louisiana wetlands are home to the iconic American alligator, several species of snapping turtles, brown pelicans, great blue herons, great egret, osprey, a range of migratory songbirds, as well as coyotes, muskrat, bobcats and even the elusive black bear. But the hard truth, for us and all of these critters, is that this coastline is vanishing. Since the 1930s, the state has lost an estimated 2,000 square miles of coastal marsh — the size of the state of Delaware — which has caused myriad problems ranging from what to do about ownership and taxes on that square mileage to how to manage shrinking resources for fisherman whose livelihoods depend on them. “One of the things you might have heard over the years is that Louisiana loses a football field of wetlands every hour,” said Alisha Renfro, staff scientist at the National Wildlife Federation. “Now it’s about every hundred minutes that we lose a football field of wetland.” That slight slowing is thanks in part to billions of dollars of state restoration programs, relatively mild hurricane activity in recent years and fewer wetlands left to disappear. But it doesn’t mean we’re in the clear.



Gov. John Bel Edwards sticks a large pin to show the location of the Maurepas Swamp. A council created to allocate money paid after the BP oil spill voted to give $130 million to link the state’s secondlargest coastal swamp back to the Mississippi River, providing fresh water and sediment to nourish it.


At the LSU Center for River Studies, Scientists have built the birdfoot delta in an indoors space the size of two basketball courts. It is an exact replica of the Mississippi River from Donaldsonville to the Gulf of Mexico.


The natural state of the Mississippi River Delta in Louisiana is one of regular flooding. Historically, several times a year in

response to snow melt or rain to the north or storm surges from the south, the river would swell beyond its banks, fanning out in a thin layer over the surrounding delta and carrying fine sediment out of the river channel with it. This sediment built land. In 1927, a devastating flood gave way to the Flood Control Act of 1928. Miles of levees were built to prevent the Mississippi River from overtopping its banks. As a result, it no longer fans out over the delta and it no longer brings sediment to the marsh plants that root themselves in it. The new, channelized shape of the river delta is referred to as a “birdfoot” delta because the levees guiding the river constrict it to one path through the delta, a bird leg, which then splits into three talon-like channels as it reaches the Gulf of Mexico, which resemble a bird’s foot. At Louisiana State University, scientists have built the birdfoot delta indoors, in a space the size of two basketball courts. With one foot of the model equal to one mile of the actual river, it is an exact replica of the Mississippi River from Donaldsonville south to the Gulf of Mexico. It has levees and plastic sediment particles and it can match the scaled flow of the river at any time through history. “We know, for example, that the average moving velocity of water moving down our model river is one twentieth the average velocity of water moving down the actual river,” said Clint Willson, director of the Center for River Studies. “If you tell me today the river is moving at one million cubic feet per second, we know exactly how much water to put into our model river to replicate that at model scale.” Willson runs experiments using the river model to determine how changes to river flow and sediment load might build land or leave marshes to erode away. Next he intends to run a simulation of the Mid-Barataria River Diversion project, which will divert freshwater and sediment from the Mississippi River, through a series of channels just north of Ironton out into the Barataria Basin, which has been depleted of sediment since the levees were built. The experiment will run for fifty years in model time — about 50 hours in real time — and tell his team how much land, and where, the project is likely to produce. But just one project won’t do the trick, Willson says. Addressing the threats facing the coast will require many different kinds of projects, implemented by many generations of Louisianans. “We [the Center for River Studies] are also educating and producing students and graduates who have a better appreciation for our coast and the relationship between engineering and ecosystems,” said Willson. “We want to be a creative and innovative hub, helping educate the next generation of scientists and engineers who are going to be working on these problems.”




The task for the next generation of Louisianans is complex. Scientists say that the situation at the coast is an interplay of sea level rise and subsidence (sinking) with coastal erosion from storms, oil and gas development and the retreat of marsh plants. The marsh plant Roseau cane, for example, makes up much of the front-line of defense against increasingly severe tropical storms. It’s one of the state’s most hardy and widespread wetland plants, and it is currently being attacked by an invasive scale insect that, as of 2017, had decimated 100,000 acres of Roseau cane in Plaquemines Parish alone. Scientists aren’t yet sure how to combat the scale insect, and it might not be the only culprit behind the reed’s retreat anyway: toxins in the soil (as from old oil spills), rising sea levels and increased salinity due to freshwater diversions may also be causing wetland plants to die back or fail to take root. “The estuaries are sinking and no longer recruiting young trees because they’re too deep,” said David Muth, director of the Gulf Restoration Program at the National Wildlife Federation. Sea rise is a result of thermal expansion of the ocean as average global temperatures increase, and glacier melt causing more of the world’s water to be in the sea as liquid rather than bobbing at its surface in ice form. Saltwater intrusion is also human accelerated, in two ways: diverting fresh river water from where it once flowed allows salt water to advance, and digging canals for oil and gas rigs or shipping vessels opens up passages for saltwater, too, to travel inland, disrupting plant and fish reproduction in near-shore estuary waters. “What you end up with [by dredging] is a canal that used to be wetland, and what was there piled up on either side of it, and that’s not wetland either,” said Denise Reed, a coastal geomorphologist at the University of New Orleans and 2020 Louisiana Life Louisianian of the Year, who has worked in Louisiana coastal wetlands for 35 years. “So, you’ve immediately contributed to land loss.” Reed worries that if the combination of coastal erosion, sea rise and subsidence continues, “we could lose a whole lot more land.” She is also concerned that “we don’t really have any technology for reversing subsidence.” A 2017 report by the Geological Society of America found that, on average, coastal Louisiana is currently sinking by about 9 millimeters, or nearly 4 inches, per year. The rising sea, sinking soil and retreating marsh leave Louisiana vulnerable to a host of changes, and less of a good host to wildlife. Rising saltwater closer to shore is changing what can live there. And less life out in the marshland means less of a barrier between humans and hurricanes.



Digging canals for oil and gas rigs or shipping vessels opens up passages for saltwater to travel inland, disrupting plant and fish reproduction in nearshore estuary waters.


The coastal system worked beautifully before humans intervened with dredging and levees and contributions to climate change, said Muth. While diverting the Mississippi and the Atchafalaya Rivers with a complex system of levees and dams to prevent flooding in settled areas temporarily saved inland homes, it created the main cause of our vanishing coast. “The whole [delta] system is built on a steady annual influx of sediment,” said Muth. “None of the sand that reaches the Gulf now is in shallow enough water to be recruited [into land]. The whole system worked beautifully for 140 million years until we started tinkering with it 300 years ago. So, we have to fix all that.” Fixing that, though, puts some industries under water. The answer is not quite as simple as just putting freshwater and sediment back where they were, because now there are communities and fishing practices and businesses in the way. Development by the oil and gas industry has also been implicated in worsening saltwater intrusion, the degradation of marsh ecosystems and the natural process of subsidence. A 2015 report by the New Orleans Geological Society named oil and gas extraction as one of the primary causes of subsidence, since removing liquid from underneath the surface causes settling of the sediment to a lower level. Solutions to this problem are muddied by the fact that, according to a 2018 Grow Louisiana Coalition report, the oil and gas industry employs nearly 45,000 Louisianans. Since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill 10 years ago and the resulting $20.8 billion environmental settlement, the oil and gas industry is also a major source of funding for some coastal restoration projects that otherwise might not be possible. “The money that comes to Louisiana for coastal restoration has a lot of strings attached to it,” said Simone Maloz, Executive Director of Restore or Retreat. “Funding is also based on oil and gas prices, so when that industry goes down, this funding goes down.”


There are no easy answers for Louisiana. But there are a few billion dollars earmarked for finding the best ones. Since the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana has developed a new coastal master plan every five or six years to manage coastal restoration and hurricane surge risk reduction. The most recent plan, released in 2017, has a $50 billion budget: $25 billion for restoration and $25 billion for risk

The marshes and swamps that buffer New Orleans from the Gulf of Mexico still show evidence of Katrina.

AUG UST 2 2 , 2 0 0 5 One Week Before Katrina

reduction. The plan outlines proposed state projects that include diversions of freshwater and sediment from rivers to build wetlands, shoreline protection, ridge restoration, marsh creation, bank stabilization, oyster barrier reef creation and barrier island restoration, among others. “The opportunity we have right now with the funding that’s come through is to invest in some of these large-scale marsh creation projects and do river diversion to help offset loss,” said Renfro.

AUGUST 2, 2015 Ten Years After Katrina


According to Muth, the best way to restore the coast is to divert sediment, strategically, from the state’s two major rivers — the Mississippi and Atchafalaya — into the wetland-dominated deltas that were created by floods before we built up the levees to stop them. But that will mean injecting freshwater into some ecosystems that have since adapted to saltier conditions. “Many species that do best in the saltier end, like oysters, have moved steadily inland up the estuaries

and it’s going to be extremely disruptive for the industries built around them to put freshwater back into those estuaries. The pushback is completely understandable,” Muth said. “Of course, the alternative is to continue the current processes, which is a zero-sum game. There won’t be any of those species to worry about and, of course, there won’t be any humans around anyway.” Meanwhile sea level rise, which is expected to affect 41,000 homes, 99,000 people and $36 million in annual property tax revenue in Louisiana by 2045, threatens to undermine every coastal rehabilitation project. The only known solution? Cutting global emissions to slow climate change.


“Certainly, oysters are a huge part of the cultural identity of Louisiana,” said Brian Callam, director of the Louisiana Sea Grant Oyster Research Lab. “You can't walk through New Orleans without passing a restaurant trying to sell you a dozen charbroiled oysters.” Louisiana is likely to remain the dominant oysterproducing state for a long time, Callam says. “But we’ve seen downward trends on the public oyster reefs where there's not as many juvenile oysters available for farmers to transplant back to their leases.” The oyster industry is just one of the entities that will suffer when river and sediment diversion initiatives return fresh water from the Mississippi and Atchafalaya Rivers to parts of the delta. Other fishing industries, like shrimping, are likely to be hit even harder. Callam says the fishermen he works with are oftentimes fourth and fifth generation water workers who have adapted their practices to the increased salinity of the coastline. They are struggling to know if their way of life is stable. “It's hard to plan your business year to year, or five years or 10 years from now, when you have no idea what projects are going to be in place and how those are going to change the coast,” he said. But it is all part of a necessary and natural process, and the alternatives are much worse, says Muth. “[Sediment diversion] doesn't mean that those species are going to disappear, they’re just going to move,” he said. “There's always going to be a zone where oysters can grow.”



The outlook is not the same for everyone. Tribal communities on the coast, many unrecognized by state and federal agencies, are fighting today against rising seas and raging storms. Their homes and way of life are already threatened by delayed action on coastal goals. “As we do the things we need to do to protect ourselves, it’s important that we step in to help those who might be affected in other ways and do what we can to help them,” reminds Steve Cochran of the Environmental Defense Fund. Local scientists, though, are optimistic about the state’s restoration and diversion plans. “Since 2012, we’ve been using a pretty systematic, scientific approach to decide what projects [the state] should spend money on to restore the coast,” said Reed. “We have been, I think, remarkably successful at developing predictive models that support this process.” Rudy Simoneaux, engineering division chief at the Coastal Restoration and Protection Authority of Louisiana, is likewise optimistic about what we can learn from both computer models and the Center for River Studies’ 120-foot high-density foam river model. “It's another tool in our toolbox that we're using to better understand the Mississippi River and how we can use it to rebuild and sustain our coasts,” Simoneaux said, referring to the physical river model. “When you look at removing a part of the Mississippi River levee and actually flowing water and sediment down a man-made channel, that is a mega project. But if we can show our success, perhaps the federal government will think it’s worth contributing.” Simoneaux says he hopes more funds might pour in from federal pots of money once the state can demonstrate success with current projects. Right now, even with the Deepwater Horizon settlement money, the state is shy of its $50 billion for Coastal Master Plan projects. But money, and effort, is starting to flow. “Over a billion dollars over the next couple years will be spent on coastal construction alone,” said Maloz. “We’re really starting to turn the corner from planning to implementation.” These efforts won’t be enough without the global community also slowing the effects of climate change to help counteract sea level rise and the decline of marsh habitat. But for now, it’s a good start. “There’s still a lot of work left to do,” said Simoneaux. “But I am optimistic that certain parts of our coast will be sustained through the projects we have planned.” n


A replica of the lower Mississippi River will help experts study the river and how sediment can be used from it to fight coastal erosion.





742 Highway 182, Houma, LA 70364 985-872-2413 • Cenac.com

The maritime industry in Louisiana is a driving force behind the state’s booming economy. Perhaps the most outstanding example of a maritime company in Louisiana is Cenac Marine Services, owned by Arlen “Benny” Cenac Jr., in Houma. Originally founded in 1927 by Benny Cenac’s grandfather, Cenac Marine Services is an exemplary leader in its field, promoting hard work, respect, and values in its employees. Benny Cenac takes pride in his company’s impeccable safety record, one that ranked them among the top towing companies working with major oil companies and refineries. Cenac Marine Services was also home to the most

innovative push boat and tank barge fleet operating within the U.S. inland waterway and the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. After liquidating their fleet of boats and barges, Benny Cenac shifted his focus to shipbuilding and marine repair. It is clear that Cenac Marine Services and sister company Main Iron Works will remain strong leaders of the maritime industry in Louisiana and beyond. By caring for his employees, giving back to local organizations and charities, and working hard to conserve the natural beauty and abundance of wildlife that call this place home, Benny Cenac represents a face of Louisiana that all locals can take pride in.




SHR I MP AND G UA C A M O L E TOS TA DA S 1 pound small shrimp, peeled 2 tablespoons Cajun/ Creole seasoning 2 medium avocados ¼ cup diced onion ¼ cup diced tomato 2 teaspoons chopped cilantro juice of 1 lime 1 finely minced serrano pepper, or to taste coarse salt to taste 1 package tostadas ½ pint sour cream P U T shrimp and Cajun/Creole seasoning in a pot, cover with water and place over high heat. When it comes to a boil, remove from heat, cover and leave shrimp in water for one minute. Drain and cool.

Fresh Catch Light, yet hearty and flavorful shrimp and fish dishes BY STANLEY DRY PHOTOS AND STYLING BY EUGENIA UHL



efore Hurricane Rita washed me out of it, I lived on a small bayou that emptied into Vermilion Bay. I knew shrimp season was about to open when I heard my neighbor tuning up the engine on his boat, the “Osprey.” Willie was in his late 80s at that point, but he never missed the chance to go shrimping with his sons on opening day. These days I only know that shrimp season has opened when I read it in the paper. But, like everyone else, I love shrimp. Unfortunately, it has become increasingly difficult to make a living as a shrimper. In part, that’s due to foreign competition, so it’s important to buy only local shrimp. Louisiana shrimpers need all the help we can give them.

H A L V E avocados, remove seeds and, using a spoon, scoop out the avocado pulp and place in a bowl. Mash avocado with fork. Add onion, tomato, cilantro and lime juice and combine ingredients. Add serrano pepper and salt to taste. T O S E R V E Spread a tostada with guacamole, cover with shrimp and top with a dollop of sour cream. Makes 12 or more tostadas.

Five of the recipes this month are for shrimp and two are for Gulf fish. The recipe for Shrimp and Guacamole Tostadas combines America’s favorite seafood with guacamole, a preparation that Americans also love. Tostadas are fried corn tortillas, which are widely available in grocery stores. Preparing the dish is as simple as boiling some shrimp and making guacamole. Each diner can construct his or her own tostadas by spreading the fried tortillas with guacamole, adding shrimp and topping them with sour cream. It’s great do-it-yourself party food. We all know shrimp salad made with mayonnaise, and it can be very good, but this shrimp salad recipe uses a vinaigrette of olive oil, lemon and mustard as the base. It also includes spices, capers, green olives, green onions and sliced radishes. It’s a very different type of shrimp salad and a nice change of pace. If you want a more traditional shrimp salad, try the recipe for shrimp burgers, which are toasted hamburger buns filled with a mayonnaise-based shrimp salad and dressed with lettuce and tomato. For those who’ve eaten a lobster roll in New England, the similarity will be obvious. The recipe for linguine with shrimp is another adaptation of a favorite dish, linguine with white clam sauce. This is an easy and quick preparation that is loaded with flavor. Usually Italian pasta dishes made with seafood don’t include cheese, but I tried this both ways and found that I much preferred it with freshly-grated Parmesan. When this issue comes up, I am reminded of my experience in a New York Italian restaurant years ago. After I ordered a seafood

SHR IMP SAL AD 1 pound small shrimp, peeled 2 tablespoons Cajun/Creole seasoning ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil 1½ tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard ¼ teaspoon dried thyme ¼ teaspoon finely-grated lemon zest 2 tablespoons capers ¼ cup chopped green olives coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste cayenne pepper to taste 1 tablespoon chopped parsley 2 tablespoons chopped green onion tops 4 radishes, thinly sliced P U T shrimp and Cajun/Creole

seasoning in a pot, cover with water and place over high heat. When it comes to a boil, remove from heat, cover and leave shrimp in water for one minute. Drain and cool.

I N A B O W L , combine olive oil,

lemon juice and mustard and whisk to form an emulsion. Add thyme and lemon zest and whisk. Add cooled shrimp, capers and olives and stir to combine. Season with salt, black pepper and cayenne. Add parsley, onion tops and radishes. Serves 4 or more.

B R O I L E D S P ECK L E D T R O U T WI TH WHI TE WI NE A ND BUTTER 4 speckled trout fillets 2 tablespoons melted butter ⅓ cup dry white wine Cajun/Creole seasoning ½ teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice 3 tablespoons softened butter 1 tablespoon chopped parsley P R E H E A T broiler. Brush a rimmed pan suitable for the broiler with butter. Place fillets on pan and brush them with butter. Pour wine over fillets. Sprinkle with Cajun/Creole seasoning. Broil until fish flakes easily with a fork (timing will depend on thickness of fillet). US I NG A SL OT TED SPATUL A ,

transfer fillets to warm serving plates. Tip broiling pan and pour pan juices into a skillet. Add lemon juice and boil pan juices on high heat until thick and syrupy. Add butter, a tablespoon at a time, whisking until emulsified. Divide sauce among fillets and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serves 4.


TIP It’s almost impossible to imagine Louisiana food without shrimp. Both Cajun and Creole cooking feature shrimp in a wide variety of preparations, among them boiled shrimp, fried shrimp, barbecued shrimp, shrimp remoulade, shrimp gumbos, stews, poorboys, and jambalayas. Today, innovative chefs and cooks use shrimp in a variety of nontraditional dishes, ranging from the simple to the complex.

Butter olive or vegetable oil 4 flounder fillets Cajun/Creole seasoning all-purpose flour 1 tablespoon chopped parsley lemon wedges A D D equal amounts of butter and oil to frying pans to a depth of about ¼-inch and place over medium-high heat. Sprinkle fillets with Cajun/Creole seasoning. Dredge fillets in flour, shake off excess and add to hot pans. CO O K until browned on one side, then turn and brown on the other side. Using a slotted spatula, transfer fillets to warm serving plates. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve with lemon wedges. Serves 4.





12 ounces linguine 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 4 cloves garlic, minced ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper ½ cup dry white wine 2 tablespoons butter, softened coarse salt and freshly-ground black pepper ¼ cup freshly-grated Parmesan 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

2 pounds medium shrimp 1 tablespoon Cajun/Creole seasoning 1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice ¼ cup finely chopped celery ¼ cup mayonnaise, plus additional for buns 4 hamburger buns or rolls lettuce leaves 4 tomato slices coarse salt and freshly-ground black pepper hot sauce

CO O K linguine in salted boiling water, according to package instructions, until al dente. M E A N W H I L E , in a large, nonreactive

skillet or pot, combine shrimp, olive oil, garlic, crushed red pepper and wine. Bring to a boil and cook until shrimp turn pink. Reduce heat to a simmer. When linguine is ready, drain in a colander, reserving some of the cooking water.

A D D linguine and butter to shrimp

and toss to combine. If needed, add some of the pasta cooking water to make a sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Turn linguine and shrimp into a warmed serving bowl. Add Parmesan and parsley and toss to coat. Serves 4.

pasta, the waitress and I discussed whether it should be served with Parmesan. Her take: “The chef says no Parmesan, but when he eats it, he adds Parmesan.” So there. Everybody loves fried shrimp, and with good reason, but sometimes we need to take a break from deep-fried food. The recipe for oven fried shrimp isn’t likely to top your affection for fried shrimp, but it produces a very crisp and tasty alternative. The Japanese-style bread crumbs called Panko are the reason. Flounder is one of my favorite fish. A whole broiled flounder is a special treat, but whole flounders are hard to come by. Flounder fillets are delicious and easy to prepare. Pan frying is a great way to cook them. If you have clarified butter, use it, but otherwise use half butter and half oil. Whole butter by itself will burn, but mixing it with oil prevents that. Once the fish is fried, I like it with nothing more than a squeeze of lemon. Anyone who loves seafood must love speckled trout. It’s a wonderful Gulf fish that can be prepared in a variety of ways. Here it’s broiled with butter and white wine and then the pan juices are reduced and whole butter is whisked into them to create a rich sauce that does justice to a noble fish. n


OV EN FR I ED SHR I M P 2 pounds medium shrimp ½ cup all-purpose flour 1 tablespoon Cajun/Creole seasoning 2 eggs 1 cup Panko bread crumbs P E E L and devein shrimp, leaving the tail section intact. Preheat oven to 450 F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine flour and Cajun/Creole seasoning in a shallow container, such as a pie pan. Place eggs in a shallow bowl and beat lightly. Place Panko bread crumbs in another shallow container. Holding a shrimp by the tail section, dredge in flour, dip in egg, dredge in bread crumbs and place on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remainder of the shrimp. Bake until shrimp are browned, about 10-12 minutes. Serves 4.

P L A C E shrimp and Cajun/ Creole seasoning in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Turn off heat and cover pot. After 2 minutes, turn shrimp into a colander to drain. When cool enough to handle, peel and devein shrimp. C H O P half the shrimp and place in a large bowl. Add lemon juice and stir to combine. Add celery and ¼ cup mayonnaise. Stir to combine. Add whole shrimp and stir to combine. Refrigerate until cold. W H E N R E A D Y T O S E R V E , toast buns. Spread toasted buns with mayonnaise. Add lettuce and tomato slices to bottom half of buns. Divide shrimp mixture among the 4 buns. Season to taste with salt, pepper and hot sauce. Add the top half of buns. Serves 4.


Spring Travel Travel Louisiana Thanks to its many historical sites and outdoor sights and sounds, Louisiana is still a wonderful state to travel while practicing social distancing and protecting our loved ones and communities. Take a drive and explore old highways, food and music trails, and the roads less traveled across the pelican state. Enjoy a windows-down adventure for take-out from famous restaurants old and new that you’ve been meaning to try or experience again. Or, hop in a boat, kayak, or canoe and motor or paddle your way through the state’s meandering bayous, swamps, rivers, and lakes and make a day of fishing for your supper. Enjoy Louisiana’s beautiful sunsets in late spring and summer with a blanket on the levee or picnic in the park. Parishes and cities across the state each have their own unique destinations that can be enjoyed during this unusual season of social distancing. Explore outdoor Avoyelles Parish this season while awaiting summer events. Opportunities to experience Avoyelles’ natural beauty include kayaking in Spring Bayou, Bayou des Glaises, and Bayou Rouge in Cottonport and picnicking at area parks in Effie, Simmesport, and Marksville. Exercise at town walking tracks or Marc Dupuy Wildlife Trail in Fifth Ward. Ride the Northup Trail from Red River in Avoyelles to Red River in Alexandria. Along the one-hundred-mile stretch, drive by the Fort de Russy Civil War site, observe the markers at the Avoyelles Parish Courthouse where Northup was freed on January 4, 1853, and make your way to the Bunkie Depot Museum. Find great places for a grab-and-go lunch while you follow Bayou Boeuf through Cheneyville, see the Epps House on the LSUA Campus, and continue to downtown Alexandria to see where Solomon Northup came to Central Louisiana in 1841. For more Avoyelles adventures, visit TravelAvoyelles.com or Travel Avoyelles on Facebook.

Visit Arkansas Depending on where you are in Louisiana, a trip to beautiful Arkansas is either a few minutes or few hours’ drive and is well worth

Hot Springs, Arkansas

the time and effort. Arkansas offers a vast and diverse landscape, one that ranges from around 50 feet above sea level in its southeastern lowlands to as high as 2,750 feet above sea level in the Ouachita Mountains. With clear, glistening lakes and rivers, Arkansas is known as the Natural State and is a top destination for outdoor enthusiasts and travelers of all kinds. Its cities feature a variety of historic sites, from Civil War battles to famous birthplaces, exquisite stops for delicious food and drink, and Victorian and antebellum homes. See for yourself what makes Arkansas a favorite destination for Louisiana families—begin planning your trip now and you’ll be set for fun once it’s safe for communities to begin venturing out and sightseeing again. It’s never too early to dream up your next escape for when it’s safe to travel again. From the woods and water to the urban scene, Arkansas is your destination for a unique Southern experience any time of year. Phenomenal hiking and kayaking, zip lining, fishing, hunting and rock climbing are everywhere. The hardcore rider can find world-class cycling and the best motorcycle

routes in America. Ready for a vacation? Go to Arkansas.com and download your travel guide today. The five Diamond Lakes of Arkansas include Lake Ouachita, Lake Hamilton, Lake Catherine, Lake Greeson and DeGray Lake. Anglers can find everything from largemouth bass to catfish and rainbow trout. Watersports include skiing, kayaking, sailing and even scuba diving. Whether you want to RV, tent camp, or stay in a resort on the shore, there’s something for everyone on the five Diamond Lakes of Arkansas. Request your free vacation guide at HotSprings.org. Little Rock is a community like no other, offering close-knit neighborhoods that welcome visitors to wander and wonder, restaurateurs and brewers who value local ingredients and local pride, and historic sites and attractions that beckon, inspire, and enthrall. If now’s not the time to travel, file Little Rock away in your memory. The community will still be here to welcome you with open arms and an unforgettable time. It’s a promise. Visit LittleRock.com. F


Get Out Adventures abound at Driskill Mountain and the wealth of parks, trails and sites in North Louisiana BY PAUL F. STAHLS JR.


rust spring to fill us with urgency to get outdoors, and never more so than spring 2020 with cabin fever posing the second-greatest threat to our physical and mental wellbeing. So, what’s keeping you? Many of Louisiana’s great short-trip destinations are to be found at safely uncrowded spots, and whether near home or on a roadtrip to any parish, you’ll be pleased with the beauty and adventure to be found there. I was. Work and play conspired long ago to fashion for me a life of Louisiana rambling, exploring our six-cornered borderlands and crisscrossing the interior on every three-, two- and single-digit state and U.S. highway. North, south, east, west and bottom to top. The bottom? That’s the salt-dome mines of Iberia Parish, no longer accessible, and the top? At 535 feet above sea level, our sweet little Driskill Mountain in Bienville Parish is the highest patch of terra firma in Louisiana — third-lowest state highpoint of the 50, a stat that wife Peggy and I came to appreciate as we recently trudged up the incline. From Arcadia on US 80 it’s 10 miles down LA 147 and 507 to Mount Zion Presbyterian Church, where intrepid mountain climbers are invited to park. One gate opens directly onto the upward trail, beside a collection of “mountain-grown” walking canes left there for you by earlier climbers. Choose one and advance to a fork in the trail to make another choice: the narrower path is steeper but more scenic. A pile of rocks and a handsome sign mark the apex (complete with a ledger to record your name and the date of your triumph), as well as comfy benches at the overlook to enjoy the panorama. As you relax there it’s good to consider some of the options open to survivors of the climb. An interesting little circle drive from nearby Gibsland and around to Arcadia, for instance, would familiarize you with the last days of Bonnie and Clyde, but much larger circles and longer lists of attractions are also waiting. Driskill is near the midpoint of I-20’s and U.S. 80’s east-west trip across the state, making it a convenient departure point to all our northern parishes. Those hilly highways, like parallel LA 2 nearer the Arkansas line, become attractions themselves when the peach orchards bloom in May or the forests don their fall attire. As expected, the region’s six state parks offer miles of trails and waterways (Bistineau is temporarily closed),


but don’t forget the vast lakes and reservoirs spaced west to east across the map (Caddo, Bistineau, Claiborne and D’Arbonne — again, check for closures) or the endless streams and woodlands to be found in three sections of Kisatchie National Forest and nine State Wildlife Management Areas. Birdwatchers can fill up checklists quickly in spots like Big Colewa Bayou WMA in West Carroll Parish or Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge in Tensas and Madison, and paddlers can launch kayaks and canoes to celebrate the 50th anniversary of our Natural and Scenic Rivers program (nine of those streams flowing through the parishes above I-20). Cities and small towns also offer uncrowded sightseeing, like touring the riverfronts or university campuses in Shreveport, Ruston/Grambling, Lake Providence and Monroe, and welcome centers often have tour maps of local historic districts. For longer sightseeing drives, find listings by parish of landmark homes and buildings at nationalregisterofhistoricplaces.com/la/state.html, and call State Archaeology at 225-342-8170 for your free “Indian Mounds of North Louisiana” guide to dozens of prehistoric earthworks, including our Poverty Point World Heritage Site. Lots to see, lots to do, but no need to rush away from your mountaintop perch. You know, Tennessee brags about Lookout Mountain’s seven-state view, but give me Driskill Mountain every time, the advantage being that you see only Louisiana. n

Corney Lake in Kisatchie National Forest.



Mountain Escape Art, outdoor adventure, history and an ever-evolving culinary scene define Bentonville, Arkansas BY CHERÉ COEN


ocated in the northwest corner of Arkansas, Bentonville used to be a sleepy little town. Then Sam Walton got the great idea of helping people save money and live better, opening a five-anddime called Walton’s on the square and beginning a chain of stores worldwide called Walmart that would change retail history. His vision also transformed both Bentonville and the region, with Walmart attracting businesses that support the global conglomerate and producing the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport with daily flights to 15 destinations. Today, Bentonville attracts art lovers to the massive Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (call ahead to confirm hours due to coronavirus closings) and the new Momentary, Crystal Bridges’ satellite contemporary art space. Outdoors enthusiasts visit for the regional miles of established biking and nature trails. The culinary scene continues to evolve and attract acclaim and accommodations run the gamut. And beyond the modern attractions lies historic sites and Native American history, not to mention the incredible story of Sam Walton. BE AR TI STI C

Arts patron Alice Walton founded Crystal Bridges Museum of Art to showcase five centuries of American art, along with traveling exhibits. The building, designed by renowned architect Moshe Safdie, is as much a piece of art as the masterworks inside. Best of all, admission is free to the museum and grounds are open daily 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information and to view their schedule of events, visit crystalbridges.org. This past February, Crystal Bridges opened a satellite art space in downtown Bentonville called The Momentary. The decommissioned cheese factory has been transformed into a multidisciplinary space for contemporary visual and performing arts, culinary events and festivals. Like its mother property, admission is free and there are numerous dining opportunities, including the Tower Bar serving up cocktails with a lovely view of Bentonville.



There are over 40 miles of bike trails within the city limits of Bentonville, a city that’s focused on becoming a destination for mountain bikers and cyclists. Biking trails stretch out into the region from Bentonville, so the city also serves as a hub for those wanting to tackle the Ozark Mountain landscape. Trails are designed for all ages and skills as well. Visit Bike Bentonville at visitbentonville.com/bike for more information. Visit Crystal Bridges for its unique architecture and American artwork but don’t miss the trails and grounds surrounding the buildings. There are more than four miles of nature trails that wind through the 120 acres filled with streams, waterfalls, unique landscaping and outdoor sculptures. Special architectural pieces to enjoy along the trails include Buckminster Fuller’s “Fly’s Eye Dome” on the North lawn, the Frank Lloyd Wright House and “The Way of Color,” where visitors gather for the sunrise and sunset experiences daily. LEAR N

The Museum of Native American History showcases artifacts dating as far back as the Paleo Period, an exquisite collection of native pottery and holds events including storytime and arts workshops. Admission is free. n

Eat There’s a culinary vibe happening in Bentonville these days, from the James Beard Awardfinalist restaurant The Preacher’s Son to Yeyo’s Mexican restaurant, which evolved from a family farm to food truck to brick-and-mortar space. Rafael Rios of Yeyo was nominated this year for a Beard Award for “Best Chef South.” New to town is Brightwater: A Center for the Study of Food, part of NorthWest Arkansas Community College, that teaches cooking to individuals as well as students with an emphasis on culinary nutrition and artisanal food.



Jukebox Hero Jeff Richard keeps professional muscians' instruments working in Baton Rouge repair shop BY LAURA MCKNIGHT PORTRAIT BY ROMERO & ROMERO



eff Richard opened The Fret Shack in Baton Rouge as a side venture, considering the instrument repair shop a productive way to occupy his free time. Thousands of renewed and enhanced instruments later, the 52-year-old Baton Rouge native marvels at how his hobby took off. “I thought a guitar would come in every now and then,” Richard said. “I had no idea how much of a demand there was for what I did.” Not only does he get professional musicians’ instruments back in working order, he revives heirlooms and helps salvage American music history. Richard and his wife, Vonnie, opened The Fret Shack, a guitar repair, upgrade and restoration service, in 2015. But Richard has been servicing guitars since the 1980s, when at 15, he began playing – and repairing – electric guitars. He describes himself back then as a “shadetree mechanic,” but for guitar and bass, learning through trial and error in the heyday of hard rock. “I destroyed a lot of guitars on the route to learning to fix them,” he said. Richard continued repairing guitars as a hobby while working in media relations for the Louisiana Office of Tourism from 1999 through 2016. Within a year of opening The Fret Shack, Richard found himself working late into the night and on weekends repairing fretted instruments — and business increased from there. Richard began devoting himself to his shop full-time in 2017, hustling to meet a growing demand as online sales drive mom-and-pop music shops out of business, leaving instrument owners in a lurch for repairs. In 2019 alone, Richard serviced about 800 instruments — mostly guitars and basses, but also ukuleles, banjos, dulcimers and other stringed, fretted instruments. He’s built a reputation for speedy, attentive work, drawing clients from the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame, like Tab Benoit and Chris LeBlanc, and working Louisiana bands of various genres. The Fret Shack has serviced guitars from across the Gulf South and around the country, from Colorado Springs to Boston. An especially monumental repair came in a couple of years ago: a guitar once played by Johnny Cash. The guitar, purchased by a Baton Rouge collector, had a catastrophic break, Richard said, and he wound up turning to the original builder, fellow Louisiana native and master luthier, Danny Ferrington, to help restore the instrument. “We’re trying to protect a piece of Americana, trying to protect a piece of history,” Richard said. “To bring it back in the coolest way possible, I got the original builder of the guitar involved in the repair.” Richard’s handiwork extends beyond important pieces of history to family heirlooms and instruments for hobbyists, which he also recognizes as invaluable. “Some of the most valuable instruments that have walked through my shop have no blue book value,” he said. “But when you start talking about heirloom and sentimental value, they’re priceless.” n