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July/August 2020 $6.95 DISPLAY UNTIL AUG 31, 2020







From Abbeville to Zwolle and some names in between

Alabama beaches are open and offer safe, sociallydistant summer fun in the sun




Noteworthy news and happenings around the state 8


Three new novels that transport, inspire and surprise




Thibodaux beekeeper Sarah Shult finds sweet zen through backyard beehives



Woodworker Sandra Walkin reclaims beauty in Lake Charles 12


Baton Rouge abstract artist and professor Randell Henry is driven by the need

to create



Ginny and Dean Westphal’s addition was designed to look original while increasing the size of their St. Francisville retreat three-fold 34



Staycationing in the Atchafalaya Summer adventure awaits in one of Louisiana’s most impressive and diverse outdoor spaces


Best Hospitals PLUS Health News and Tips

Mocha, creole cream cheese, key lime and bourbon pecan treats for hot summer days 36


Get outdoors for paddling adventures at Black Bayou Lake, Bayou, DeSaird and the Ouachita River in and around Monroe


When the time came to pick our feature for the July/ August issue, we knew we wanted to focus on the outdoors. Most of us are spending a lot more time outside since COVID struck, so it was a natural inclination. We decided to zero in on all that the Atchafalaya River Basin has to offer, which is everything from birding and boating to camping, hiking and historical sites. Explore with us on page 20. It’s time for adventure!



From Abbeville To Zwolle And some names in between


ne semester in college I had a professor who started every class with the same question, “Is anybody here from Clarence?” After the first couple of classes it was evident that none of us was from the Natchitoches Parish village, yet the question persisted throughout the semester. At first, I could not tell how serious he was about his continued inquiry, but his grin gave him away. For reasons unknown there is something funny about continually asking students, or any other gathering, if they are from Clarence. Since our cover story this issue is about “Staycations” (the art of vacationing within one’s own area especially during a time of crisis so as to support local folks as well as discover more about ourselves), I was wondering about some of the city names a traveler might encounter along the way. Unusual names abound throughout the 64 parishes, including a location called Frogmore. Some places, such as that one, are the names of plantations that stood there, and not legal villages. Our pursuit here is of the officially sanctioned towns, a search which begins with wondering what the founders in Caddo Parish were thinking when they named their village Belcher. Perhaps they would have thought otherwise had they known that the place would one day be best known for its watermelons. Some names are descriptive, if not flattering. Dry Prong was, according to legend, named after a creek on which a mill was built. Only, the creek went dry each summer, so the mill was moved to another more reliable creek. Nevertheless, it was the dry prong that received immortality. Then there is the Iberville parish town of Grosse Tete which is French for “big head.” The legend might be more socially acceptable if I could tell you it was named after a geographic landmark, such as a nearby head-like hill, but no, according to tradition the early French settlers named the bayou, and hence the settlement, after a member of the local Choctaw tribe known for the size of his noggin. As for towns at the polar ends on the alphabetical spectrum, there is nothing particularly humorous about the name Abbeville, nor unique. Nevertheless, give the place credit: It is very picturesque, loaded with history and the home of the Giant Omelette celebration (a French thing with roots to Napoleon) for which 5,000 eggs are allegedly used, and a really big frying pan. It is also where Steen’s Syrup (the brand in the bright yellow can) is made. This is hearty cane syrup which no doubt goes well on a biscuit accompanying a more modest sized omelette. Zwolle, named after a city in the Netherlands (don’t ask why, it has to do with early railroad financial deal-making), is a Sabine parish town known for a particular annual celebration. Fortunately, the town’s name is pronounced Za-wall-ee which creates a rhyme when speaking of the Zwolle Tamale Festival. And the list goes on: There is a village in Vermillion parish that gives me pause to wonder. Would the Professor’s question have been any funnier if he had asked, “Is anyone here from Maurice?”



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New Oenophile Alert New wine superstore to open in Lafayette BY LISA LEBLANC-BERRY


NEW L AB INCREASES TESTING CAPACIT Y LSU researchers and hospital leaders have recently created, obtained fasttrack 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.


Culinary Quests for Quarantine Chefs to the rescue: New Orleans Culinary & Hospitality Institute (NOCHI) is offering virtual “Cooking in Quarantine” classes that are ideal for folks staving off creative repression during those “gotta-getoutta-here” cabin fever moments. With whisk in hand, pay what you can, and join the donation-based supper club-style sessions led by prominent chefs. Taking place via Zoom; also featuring Facebook Live Q-and-A sessions (nochi.org). NEW I BER I A

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, Aug. 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 Bulls dog-friendly fun run, paella eating contests and a petting zoo (newiberiaspanishfestival.com). F R O M A CA D I A N A TO O R E G O N

Swamp Pop’s New Papa


otal Wine & More, a wine superstore (with 205 locations in the U.S.), is slated to open soon in the former Stage retail space at 4407 Ambassador Caffery, featuring wines from every wine-producing region in the world, more than 2,500 beers from America’s most popular brands and hardto-find microbrews and over 3,000 different spirits (totalwine.com).


Swamp Pop Sugarcane Sodas’ new owner, Chris Fontenot (Our Life Foods), wants to expand sales to other national retailers including Walmart, and has launched a lifestyle brand by offering backpacks, shirts, hats and sweatshirts with the Swamp Pop logo. Fontenot is currently operating Our Life Foods out of his home in Portland, Oregon with his wife, Hillary, and recently announced a crowdfunding effort to help ship products across the U.S. (drinkswamppop.com).



Summer Reading List Three new novels that transport, inspire and surprise BY ASHLEY MCLELLAN


Last One Out, Shut Out the Lights BY STEPHANIE SOILEAU

A love letter to Louisiana, “Last One Out, Shut Out the Lights” is a collection of 11 quirky, personal, provocative stories with characters that may remind you of someone you know. The cast of characters includes a teenage mom, Cajun elders, Sudanese immigrants and a Pentecostal singer in a children’s theater. Set in the southwest corner of the state, Soileau, who grew up in Lake Charles, paints a picture not just of a place, but of a people; where have they been and where are they going in an ever-changing world. Hardcover, 256 pages, $26.


The Vanishing Half: A Novel BY BRIT BENNETT

Named “Most Anticipated Book of 2020” by O, The Oprah Magazine, The Washington Post, Vogue and New York Magazine, “The Vanishing Half: A Novel” explores what happens to identical twin sisters after running away from the small town they grew up in for the big city of New Orleans. Their lives take very different paths, and the lessons they learn and the trials they navigate transform them. Themes of identity, family, community and loss combine with the twins’ constant connection by blood, although being separated by hundreds of miles. Author Brit Bennett’s writing has been compared to such other powerhouse writers as Toni Morrison and Zora Neale Hurston, and this, her second novel, does not look to disappoint. Hardcover, 352 pages, $27.


Louisiana Lucky: A Novel BY JULIE PENNELL

In “Louisiana Lucky: A Novel,” author Julie Pennell brings us the story of three sisters growing up with modest means in a small town. They fantasize about what it would be like to be rich; to have it all, from dreamy weddings to dream-like houses to a dream job. So, what happens when the three strike it big with the lottery? Think $204 million. Can money buy happiness? This is Pennell’s second book, preceded by The Young Wives Club, which was named one of Southern Living’s Best New Summer Books in 2017. Paperback, 320 pages, $16.99.



HATS OFF TO TWO LOUISIANA WRITERS WHO SCORED BIG PRIZES FOR THEIR WORK. Louisiana Poet Laureate John Warner Smith joins just 23 other poets across the country who have received the Laureate Fellowship from the Academy of American Poets, which honors literary merit in civic positions. In addition to the honor, he received $50,000 to produce “meaningful, impactful and innovative projects in Louisiana,” according to the announcement. Shreveport native Jericho Brown took home a 2020 Pulitzer Prize for his collection of poetry, “The Tradition,” this past May. Brown, who earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Dillard University, a Master of Fine Arts from the University of New Orleans, and a PhD from the University of Houston, has had work appear in The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Time and The New Republic.



Why cypress? When you open up, or mill, a cypress log it is like treasure hunting. It is always a surprise and a thrill. Where does your love for patina come from? Straight gold looks too ‘blingy.’ I love using chemicals to bring out certain colors and patina in the metal and the wood. It’s all about the control rate of absorption of mild acids on the metal surface. That’s where my chemical background comes in. It’s like Forrest Gump said, ‘You never know what you are going to get.’ The patterns of color are never the same. If you could create a piece for anyone famous who would it be and why? Ellen DeGeneres wrote a book showcasing homes she renovated. As I perused the pages of her book, I could ‘see’ my pieces in her home. My style would blend beautifully with her style.

Arts and Sciences Woodworker Sandra Walkin reclaims beauty in Lake Charles BY JEFFREY ROEDEL PHOTOS BY ROMERO & ROMERO



ou see a lot of things out in the wild, but if nothing else, Sandra Walkin believes in resurrection. Reaching out beyond her sun-drenched, glassed-in porch, thousands of pines, pecans, winged elms, river birches and more stand as towering reminders of the work the 58-year-old and her husband Patrick have put into the land. It was the early 1990s when the couple bought a fallow rice farm on the outskirts of Lake Charles and began evolving the property into the veritable arboretum it is today.

Is there a type of furniture you haven’ t made that you would like to make? I would like to make a low-profile bed with a live edge headboard. Maybe with floating side tables built into the headboard. I’ve already built it in my mind. Many times.


Walkin describes her life as a love affair with nature — she studied dendrology at McNeese — and being a caretaker for her extensive patch of earth every single day, the Louisiana native has developed a uniquely creative language, an extra sense, of sorts, that beckons on her long walks through the woods. “Every tree has a story, and I listen,” she says. A pharmacist by trade — she met her anesthesiologist husband through work — Walkin has always stayed busy through continuing education courses. While building their home, she took a finishing class for cabinetry, then a course on plaster, and even an apprenticeship with the acclaimed George Olivier of Olivier Woodworks in Natchitoches. “I was really prepping for a career in wood art without even knowing it,” she says. After Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, Hurricane Rita struck Acadiana with equal force, downing many of Walkins’ beloved trees. Six years ago, she pulled out some of the stored wood from those storm casualties to inspect it. “They were riddled with holes, but I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to fill the holes with metal?’” Her early work was chosen to complement a local exhibit on the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright. “I never thought of myself as an artist until then,” Walkin admits. “I thought ‘I’m a science person.’” Her furniture pieces are a beautiful combination of science, creativity and pure craftsmanship. She does all the sanding and cutting and finishing herself — the “diry work, ” Walkin jokes. She designs the metal pieces for her fabricator, and she employs her chemical skills from pharmacy to develop rich patinas and rivers of vivid colors as accents on her work. She doesn’t have to hunt for precious slabs of sinker cypress like she did at first. Walkin is well-known enough across Southwestern Louisiana that friends and strangers call her when they stumble upon something they think she may want. Discarded, overlooked, abandoned. They know Walkin believes in resurrection. “I choose pieces of wood that a typical woodworker or contractor wouldn’t want. When the wood has these voids in it, that’s where I can get creative,” Walkin says. “There’s beauty in imperfection.” n

“Every tree has a story,” says woodworker Sandra Walkin. “And I listen.”


(left) “Royal March Into the City” (facing page, top) “African Dreams” (bottom) “Man With Mask” (right) Randall Henry


Chaos and Order Baton Rouge abstract artist and professor Randell Henry is driven by the need to create BY JOHN R. KEMP


andell Henry of Baton Rouge is a remarkable artist who creates vibrant and often cryptic paintings and collages that reflect an imagination and intellect drawn to the rhythms and cultures of Africa and the African-American experience. Henry is perhaps best known for his seemingly abstract collages influenced by African and Asian art as well as the Modernist painters of the first half of the 20th century. They are all there — the Cubists, Surrealists, Abstract Expressionists. Look deeper into his compositions where stories are told. “My approach to making collages involves the use of improvisational methods of playing with shapes, colors and patterns,” Henry says. “I approach each work from an abstract format first by making pure shapes and forms work together. By working on compositions in this manner, I enjoy surprising myself by finding hidden symbols, figures, faces and abstract patterns that I can find meanings through. When figurative forms appear, I try to develop those in relationship to the composition to make the work pleasing for one to look at again and again. At times in the creative process, this involves bringing order out of chaos.” Henry accomplishes that goal in that viewers must open their own imaginations to understand the “order” he has created from “chaos.” That task became clear

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

“ Bridging the Mississippi: Spans across the Father of Waters.”

in a recent retrospective of Henry’s art organized by the Louisiana Art and Science Museum, or LASM, in Baton Rouge. The exhibit, titled “Soulful Journey,” unfolded an impressive 40-year career that has taken him from Baton Rouge and New Orleans to major cities across the country and as far away as Denmark and Africa. “Henry’s mature work,” says LASM’s chief curator and exhibit organizer Elizabeth Weinstein, “combines his interest in collage with that of abstraction and evinces a personal vocabulary composed of vibrantly painted undulating lines and sinuous shapes inspired in part by colors, symbols and repetition found in African art. Almost hidden within the seeming chaos are eyes, figures, hands or faces, icono-

graphic elements that feature throughout Henry’s oeuvre.” Born in New Orleans in 1958, Henry grew up in the Baton Rouge area and has resided in Scotlandville since the 3rd grade. His interest in art began at an early age while attending the South Scotlandville Elementary School. In his spare time, he became a regular at the local library where he read books about famous artists such as Jackson Pollock, Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, Robert Motherwell, Hans Hofmann and others. After high school, Henry went on to receive a bachelor’s degree in art at Southern University in Baton Rouge and later a master of fine arts at LSU. “I started painting in 4th grade,” Henry says. “By 6th grade I decided to become an artist. Mrs. Richardson came to my classroom once a week to do art demonstrations for the class. I sat close, right up to her as she made pastel landscapes on paper. It was fascinating to watch her work with colors and shapes. On Fridays my teacher, Mrs. Belizaire, gave the class cards with a painting by a famous artist on it. I remember the wonderful work by Jan Vermeer, ‘Young Woman with a Water Jug’ on one card and the museum it was in was mentioned. That is what I dreamed of doing, making paintings and getting some in museums. By junior high when I discovered modern art and abstraction I never looked back. I knew that was what I wanted to do.” At first, his mother had reservations about his interest in art. In junior high, however, she gave him $5 to buy paints. “As my mother pressed that $5 bill into my hand,” Henry says, “she told me to not ask her for any more money to buy paint. She said, ‘I’m sending you to school to get your lesson, not to paint.’ After I began to sell a few paintings I bought other colors. My mother

Photographer Philip Gould documents bridges and their historic significance along the Mississippi River, through Dec. 12. Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum, Lafayette. hilliardmuseum.org CE N T R A L

“ Louisiana Women Making History.” Virtual tour. Alexandria Museum of Art. themuseum.org P L A N TAT I O N

“ Conspicuous: Satirical Works by Caroline Durieux.” Satirical prints created during the 1930s and 40s, through Aug. 30. LSU Museum of Art. lsumoa.org NOLA

“ Revelations: Recent Photography Acquisitions.” Virtual tour. Features 70 images from early 20th century to present, through Sept. 27. Ogden Museum of Southern Art. ogdenmuseum.org NORTH

“ Photo + MixedMedia and the Photographic Image” Virtual tour. Through Sept. R.W. Norton Art Gallery, Shreveport. rwnaf.org (Editor’s Note: Due to COVID-19 phasing, call ahead to confirm in-person visits.)





enjoys walking around galleries now, looking at my paintings.” Henry realized his dream of being a full time artist after completing graduate school in 1982. He struggled at first but then the breaks came. That same year, he had a show at the prestigious Nahan Fine Art Gallery in New Orleans, and two years later he joined the Baton Rouge Gallery where he continues to show his work. In 1991 John Bullard, then director of the New Orleans Museum of Art, visited Henry’s studio and selected 15 large paintings to exhibit at the museum. Henry also has had a long relationship with the Stella Jones Gallery in New Orleans, which has featured Henry’s paintings and collages in shows across the country. As his art and reputation grew so did invitations to participate in major juried exhibitions. In 2011 the U.S. State Department selected two of his collages to hang in the American embassy in Liberia, Africa, and in 2014 the LSU Museum of Art included one of his large paintings in an exhibit featuring famous African-American artists of the Harlem Renaissance. In 2018, and at the invitation of the Stella Jones Gallery, Henry created a stunning collage to celebrate New Orleans’ Tricentennial. The collage, titled “Royal March Into the City,” depicted in brilliant colors and imagery the ill-fated 1811 slave uprising in the River Parishes between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. When not creating his own art, Henry teaches art at Southern University in Baton Rouge where he also serves as an associate professor and curator of the university’s art gallery. He moves easily between the two worlds. “I enjoy teaching students the importance of the visual arts,” Henry says. “As curator of the Southern University Visual Arts Gallery, I am able to bring exhibitions to the campus. Every university has to have a place for art and someone telling students about the vast history of art. From all walks of life, art is a big influence for creativity in any field of study. Look at the world’s 200 top art collectors and you will find names that are behind some of the biggest companies in the world, the movers and shakers of the world.” Like most artists, the need to create drives Henry. After completing one composition, he immediately looks forward to the next one and what it will say. “I create art because I am an artist,” he says. “As an artist I feel that I should have works of art coming

out of me. I want to see what the next finished work will look like. I want people to see and respond to works that I make.” Walking among Henry’s paintings and collages, one can’t help but respond. They draw you in and demand attention. “Order out of chaos” will do that. n

(Top) “Saturday Night” (Bottom) Randell Henry working with students at Southern University.




Triple Delight Ginny and Dean Westphal’s addition was designed to look original while increasing the size of their St. Francisville retreat three-fold BY LEE CUTRONE PHOTOS BY SARA ESSEX BRADLEY


n 2013, New Orleanians Ginny and Dean Westphal built an 800-square-foot St. Francisville retreat with an eye toward the future. Dean, a retired designer of office furniture and former architecture student, sketched the space with a pair of floor-to-ceiling windows on either side of the living room fireplace that could be turned into casement openings if the couple decided to add-on. Just three years later, he drew up an addition, and the windows were put to use as planned. “We bought the property and built a small cottage thinking that we’d be here one week a month and then it ended up we were here more and more,” says Ginny, noting that the one-bedroom, one-bath space with a loft above felt crowded when guests stayed over. “We knew where we would add on and how we would add on,” says Dean. “The windows allowed us to have construction going on while we were living here.” The original cottage took its cues from the 10 woodsy acres around it: walls and ceiling beams of cypress, floors of reclaimed heart pine, a 400-square-foot open-air porch and numerous windows that connect the interior to the outdoors. The new 1,600-squarefoot space, which incorporates a focal entrance and features the same warm woods (there is no sheetrock in the house), followed suit so successfully that visitors inevitably think it is the original structure and that the original house is the addition.

(Left) The ceiling of the home office was designed to complement the trussed ceiling of the adjacent living room. Dean made the table. Chandelier, Chris Wynne Designs. (Above) Woolf suggested screening the original porch and added a deck off the living room.


The loft overlooks the dining and kitchen area. The Westphals designed the table in an oval shape conducive to conversation and had it made of 200-yearold sinker cypress purchased across the river from Natchez.



(Left) The addition’s new living room overlooks 10 acres with a pond and wildlife. (Right) The new master suite’s wood beams tie into the living room and office.

The Westphals worked with architect Lindsay Woolf of Woolf Architecture & Interiors to perfect the expansion, which houses the the entrance hall, a large master suite, a living room with a vaulted ceiling, an office and game area, a mudroom and a loft bedroom with its own bath. “She was instrumental in refining all our thoughts,” says Dean. “They definitely knew what they wanted,” says Woolf. “They came to me with clear ideas of what they wanted the floorplan to look like.” Woolf made sure windows aligned from the outside, saw to it that the proportions of the addition worked and that views were emphasized. She also suggested the owners screen in the original porch and add a deck off the living room. “It’s all about the fresh air and trees and birds,” says Woolf. “You really get a sense of the 10 acres around you.”


Just as they had with the original house, the Westphals sourced their lumber from several St. Francisville suppliers (both Stutzman Sawing and Jackson Hardwood custom-milled their orders), worked with the same contractor, who did much of the carpentry work himself and lightened the cypress walls with a mixture of one-part paint to three-parts water that allows the grain of the wood to show through. They also furnished the house with the same mix of rustic and refined. Dean made some of the simpler pieces, while the couple scoured estate sales (including one at a Natchez plantation) and consignment stores in Louisiana and Mississippi for some of the more elegant pieces. The mantel in the original part of the house was purchased 40 years ago when the original Loyola music school was torn down; its weather-worn finish is the serendipitous product of being stored in a leaky outdoor shed for decades. The Westphals host family and friends often and as intended, the house is well suited to entertaining. Three sets of French doors are conducive to moving about easily, enjoying both the house and its bucolic Louisiana setting. “We had a seated dinner for 40 and it flowed very easily,” say the couple, who accomplished exactly what they envisioned. “It’s a very people-friendly house.” n

At a Glance DATE BUI LT

original house 2013, addition 2016 SQUA R E FOOTAGE

2,400 living space plus 400 screened porch, 400 deck A R CHI TECT OF A DDI TI ON

Lindsay Woolf, Woolf Architecture & Interiors I NTER I OR DESI GN

Ginny and Dean Westphal


Cypress walls and ceilings (no sheetrock), reclaimed heart pine floors, custom extra-wide French doors, 20-foot vaulted with exposed cypress beams (dining and living areas)




FALAYA Summer adventure awaits in one of Louisiana’s most impressive and diverse outdoor spaces BY CHERÉ COEN



the 200 species of birds and incredible sports fishing and hunting. The massive Atchafalaya River Basin tops all U.S. wetlands, encompassing an area larger than the Florida Everglades. Because the Basin spans 14 parishes and continues to be vital in the ongoing development of a unique American culture, the region has been designated a National Heritage Area. Most Louisiana residents, however, don’t consider the impressive numbers when discussing the Atchafalaya Basin. For natives, the Basin is a way of

life, a relaxing pastime, a unique waterway worth fighting for. Scott Green spent his childhood exploring the Basin with his grandmother, fishing, catching wild crawfish and picking blackberries. Today, he’s one of the Basin’s largest landowners. In addition to leasing waterways to crawfishermen, he uses much of his property to introduce the Basin to veterans, the handicapped and disadvantaged children through his Green Community Foundation. “The Atchafalaya’s the best of what Louisiana has to offer,” Green said. Dean Wilson was traveling on his way from his native Spain to the Amazon in 1984 when he detoured to Louisiana for an immersion into a similar subtropical environment. “I wanted to get used to the mosquitoes and the climate in Louisiana,” Wilson explained. “I fell in love with the Basin.” At first, Wilson lived among the swamps and waterways, fishing for a living. When he witnessed logging he felt detrimental to the Basin’s survival, he join forces with the Sierra Club and took on the fight. In 2004, he founded Basinkeeper, a member of the Waterkeeper Alliance whose aim is to educate the public about the unique river drainage swamp. “It’s one of the most beautiful waterways in the world,” Wilson said. The Atchafalaya National Heritage Area covers 14 parishes where the Mississippi River exists or had flowed at one time; the river’s circuitous route has changed repeatedly over millennia. The Atchafalaya Basin serves as the drainage wetlands of the Mississippi, reined in by the Old River Control Structure near Lettsworth and numerous levees throughout South Louisiana. Today, the Basin remains the largest river drainage swamp in America. But the Atchafalaya is more than a swamp and series of bayous, waterways and land masses. Louisiana’s diverse population — Native Americans, Cajuns, Africans and Europeans, among others — reaped its bounty for centuries. In addition to the great outdoors activities, a visit to the Basin may include the rich music, food and culture of South Louisiana, one of America’s first melting pots.

BIRDING In addition to wildlife such as black bears, otters and minks, the Basin contains about 200 species of birds year-round, plus migratory birds coming through twice a year because of the Basin’s position on the Mississippi Flyway. ¶ “The Basin produces the best birding opportunities in the country,” Wilson said. “It’s the second to the tropics in the amount of birds.” ¶ Birds include nesting ospreys, bald eagles, owls and kites. Herons and egrets are in abundance, as are ducks and other waders. ¶ “You name it,” Wilson said. ¶ The Atchafalaya Heritage Area offers a guide to Louisiana birds at atchafalaya.org/ckfinder/ userfiles/files/BirdGuide.pdf.

CAMPING Throughout the Atchafalaya Basin lies several private campgrounds, RV parks and wildlife management areas. The Sherburne Wildlife Management Area, located on Highway 975 south of Krotz Springs, offers camping between the Big Alabama and the Little Alabama Bayous. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries manages the property and owns part of the 44,000acre tract with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Army Corps of Engineers. Visitors can enjoy camping, hunting and fishing, boat launches on both bayous and a shooting range. Sherburne camping is labeled primitive, but it’s more rustic than a total immersion in nature, said Brandy Serrette, Atchafalaya Welcome Center tourism supervisor. The area is remote enough, however, that Serrette advises against too much reliance on GPS coordinates. “I warn people not to rely on your cell phone out there because you will drain your battery,” she said.

HIKING THE BASIN The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers owns a spot of land off the levee road about six miles north of Interstate 10 at Butte La Rose (Exit 121). Indian Bayou includes several marked trails with opportunities to spot alligators, deer, birds and other Basin wildlife. “You’re close enough to the interstate but you don’t hear the interstate,” Serrette said. It’s a bit tricky to find Indian Bayou and remote enough to please nature enthusiasts, although the trails include markers and benches. A stop at the Welcome Center may be in order before heading out. “I was glad we’d looked at a map ahead of time since we traveled a good distance up the levee road before getting to the hiking trail,” said Anya Burgess, who took her children there for a hike in mid-May. “Once we pulled into the parking area (a loop), we drove around and found the trailhead but signage was a little murky.” Out of the five trails offered at the 28,500acre site, Burgess chose the 1.5-mile Alligator Trail. “It was the perfect length with our two kids, and most of the path travels adjacent to the water — a very scenic and wellmaintained trail,” she said. The family spotted several blue herons, turtles and songbirds, but no gators. “Everyone wants to see an alligator,” Serrette explained. “We tell people you really don’t want to be that close to an alligator.”


Numerous biking trails crisscross the state, but two get close to the Basin; try the False River Historical Trail, a 10-mile ride in Pointe Coupee Parish along Louisiana Highway 1, or the 55-mile gravel Atchafalaya Basin Wilderness Trail that tops the levee through three parishes from Henderson to Franklin. For a complete list of bike trails, visit louisianatravel.com/bike.

Currently, the state is developing a hiking trail that will extend behind the Atchafalaya Welcome Center near the boat launch, Serrette added.


Start your Atchafalaya journey with a visit to the Atchafalaya Heritage Area website (atchafalaya.org), where handy maps offer both an overview and details on specific regions that range from the “Upper Atchafalaya” near Marksville to the “Coastal Zone Region” that extends from Morgan City and Chauvin to where the Basin meets the Gulf of Mexico. The Atchafalaya Welcome Center at Butte La Rose off Interstate 10 provides tourism information and maps as well. Atchafalaya Welcome Center Tourism Supervisor Brandy Serrette admits to being a bit prejudiced when it comes to the Basin. Serrette grew up in Breaux Bridge and is partial to the Basin’s “Bayou Teche Corridor.” “I think where we’re located is some of the prettiest areas in the Basin,” Serrette said. The Corridor includes the Welcome Center and its boat launch, the Henderson-Breaux Bridge area with its swamp tours and restaurants and open spans of water that are popular with fishermen. Every region includes peripheral fun, cities offering Cajun and zydeco dance halls, awardwinning restaurants and additional opportunities to get on the water and hike, such as False River near New Roads and Lake Martin by Lafayette. Both the website and Welcome Center representatives can point you in the right direction, Serrette said. Whatever your preference, there’s no doubt there’s something for everyone. The Atchafalaya Basin easily covers a fourth of the state of Louisiana, which can be overwhelming. The best way to begin your Atchafalaya adventure is to determine your interest and pinpoint the right jumping off point. “There’s so much to see and do,” said Monica Fisher, outreach coordinator with Atchafalaya Basinkeeper. “It’s just knowing where to go.”

HUNTING+ FISHING There are numerous places to hunt and fish in the Basin, Serrette said, but permits and licenses are required through Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries. She warns visitors to be alert in the various hunting seasons and to take caution moving into designated hunting areas. ¶ The Basin does not contain many fishing piers, she added, but it’s easy to fish off levees, waterway banks and off the sides of roads.

PADDLING THE BASIN Canoe clubs and outfitters throughout South Louisiana can get Basin visitors on the water. Pack & Paddle of Lafayette, for example, offers both guided tours of the Basin and neighboring waterways and rentals on the Vermilion River and Lake Martin. Past trips have included full moon paddles from Bayou Benoit, known as the “forgotten Atchafalaya;” on Two O’Clock Bayou near the Morganza Spillway and along “The Forks,” a waterway that’s a “short, easy route out of Catahoula,” said John Williams, who owns the outfitter with his wife Becky. For a list of paddling trails, visit louisianatravel. com/paddle/trails.

STATE PARKS + HISTORIC SITES In the northeast corner lies a hidden gem, one of the most important archaeological sites in North America. Poverty Point State Historical Site dates to before the Egyptians built the Great Pyramids and the Mayans established their empire, 3,700-3,100 years ago in the Late Archaic period. These prehistoric earthen mounds created by sophisticated Native American residents are a National Historic Landmark, a Smithsonian Affiliate and, most recently, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The site took its name from a less than prospering 19th century plantation located along Macon Ridge not far from the Mississippi River. Several large mounds, a set of semi-elliptical earthen ridges and a main plaza comprise what used to be a thriving village of hunters, gatherers and fishermen. The site was used for both ceremonial services and human settlement and includes a giant center mound, one of the largest in the continent.


Swamp tours remain the most popular way to get on the Basin and they range from nature-based tours that educate or allow for photography to fast-paced airboats. A few swamp tour vendors also rent canoes and kayaks. ¶ Wilson operates Last Wilderness Swamp Tours with his son, Albert Wilson, who earned a degree in natural resource ecology and management with a concentration in wetland science at LSU. They launch from Bayou Sorrel on the east side of the Atchafalaya. ¶ Airboat Swamp Tours out of Henderson, on the other hand, gives visitors an introduction to the Basin while providing a wild ride, ear plugs included. ¶ For a complete list of tour vendors, visit atchafalaya.org/wetland-tours.

Poverty Point State Historical Site is only open for day use, with tours and special events happening year-round. The neighboring Poverty Point Reservoir State Park, however, allows visitors overnight accommodations in cabins, some located right on the park’s expansive man-made lake. Campsites and a lodge are available as well. Boat rentals, boat launches, hiking and a beach area for swimming provide for a complete vacation spot. And there are native mounds on the property as well.


health news and tips

There is one major source that provides credible ongoing analysis of hospitals: Medicare, which, as the federal health insurance program for people 65 and older, as well as certain younger people with disabilities, often provides funding for many of the big bills. As part of its informational services, medicare.gov reports on evaluations of hospitals based on queries of patients.



The Louisiana Life editorial staff sifts through the data every year in order to create a one-of-akind list that demonstrates the state’s hospitals according to locality. To qualify for this list, at least 60 percent of the patients queried had to give the hospital a top overall ranking of 9 or 10. These are the top general service hospitals as seen through the eyes of those who have experienced them firsthand — the patients. Note, however, that several hospitals in the state did not have any information available on Medicare’s website and therefore could not qualify to be on the list. Abbeville Abbeville General Hospital 118 N. Hospital Drive (337) 893-5466

Covington Avala 67252 Industry Lane (985) 801-3010

Alexandria Central Louisiana Surgical Hospital 651 N. Bolton Ave. (318) 449-6400

St. Tammany Parish Hospital 1202 S. Tyler St. (985) 898-4000

Christus St. Frances Cabrini Hospital 3330 Masonic Drive (318) 487-112

Columbia Caldwell Memorial Hospital, Inc. 411 Main St. (318) 649-6111

Rapides Regional Medical Center 211 4th St. (318) 769-3000

Citizens Medical Center 7939 U.S. Hwy. 165 S. (318) 649-610

Baton Rouge Baton Rouge General Medical Center 3600 Florida Blvd., (225) 387-7767

Crowley Acadia General Hospital 1305 Crowley Rayne Hwy. (337) 783-3222

Ochsner Medical Center – Baton Rouge 17000 Medical Center Drive (225) 752-2470

Cut Off Lady of the Sea General Hospital 200 W. 134th Place (985) 632-6401

Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center 5000 Hennessey Blvd. (225) 765-6565 Surgical Specialty Center of Baton Rouge 8080 Bluebonnet Blvd. (225) 408-8080 The Spine Hospital of Louisiana 10105 Park Row Circle, Suite 250 (225) 763-9900 Womans Hospital 100 Woman’s Way (225) 927-1300 Bogalusa Our Lady of the Angels Hospital 433 Plaza St. (985) 730-6700

Doctor’s advice and tips for preventing and managing one of Louisiana’s leading illnesses

Delhi Richland Parish Hospital 407 Cincinnati St. (318) 878-5171 Deridder Beauregard Memorial Hospital 600 S. Pine St. (337) 462-7100 Fort Polk Bayne-Jones ACH 1585 3rd St. Fort Polk (337) 531-3118 Farmerville Union General Hospital 901 James Ave. (318) 368-9751

Breaux Bridge St. Martin Hospital 210 Champagne Blvd. (337) 332-2178

Franklin Franklin Foundation Hospital 1097 Northwest Blvd. (337) 828-0760

Chalmette St. Bernard Parish Hospital 8000 W. Judge Perez Drive (504) 826-9500

Franklinton Riverside Medical Center 1900 S. Main St. (985) 795-4431

THREE NEW ORLEANS HOSPITALS JOIN STUDY ABOUT IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON HEALTHCARE WORKERS Ochsner Medical Center, Tulane Health System, and University Medical Center will encourage all local healthcare workers to join the Healthcare Worker Exposure Response & Outcomes (HERO) Registry. The registry will gather personal accounts of workers’ clinical and life experiences with the goal of understanding problems faced by those on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Anyone who works in a healthcare setting, including therapists, physicians, emergency responders, food service workers, nurses, and interpreters, is welcome to participate. Among other issues, the study will track stress and burnout among these professionals. For more information about the HERO Registry, visit heroesresearch.org.

Dr. Matthew Bumgardner, a family medicine physician with Baton Rouge General Medical Center, has an analogy for high blood pressure — a prominent illness in Louisiana. If you don’t protect your pipes during freezing weather, the pipes will get squeezed. Little by little, over time, the pipes will be more susceptible to bursting. That’s how high blood pressure works. If the long-term blood pressure against a person’s artery walls is high enough, it can cause heart disease. One of the scary things about high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is that there are often no symptoms for years. But just because there are no symptoms does not mean there is no damage. Heart attacks and strokes can result. WHAT CAN YOU DO? Sometimes, high blood pressure is hereditary. If your parents struggled with it, there’s nothing you can do about that. But there are a few things you can control. Dr. Bumgardner said the easiest is to avoid smoking. Following a low-sodium diet is also a good idea, but that can be hard to do for people in food deserts or those who are on limited budgets. Exercise is also crucial. The standard recommendation is 30 to 45 minutes of moderate exercise (yes, walking counts) on most days of the week. Even if you cannot do the full 30 to 45 minutes, it’s still important to exercise. “Even five minutes is helpful,” Dr. Bumgardner said. “Anything is better than nothing.” CHECK-UPS AND MEDICATION Dr. Bumgardner said the ideal blood pressure numbers are 120/80. However, as people get older, their blood pressure will rise a bit. While there may not be any need for alarm if a person’s blood pressure rises to the higher end of the normal range (under 140/90), they should still aim for 120/80. Pain, stress, anxiety and activity can cause temporary increases in blood pressure levels. So, a doctor should get a sense of a patient’s average blood pressure over the course of a day before recommending a treatment program. If a patient cannot control their blood pressure with lifestyle modification or if it’s at an extremely high level, then medication will be necessary.

Mental Health Tips in a Pandemic In a pandemic, it’s not just physical health that’s important. Your mental health matters, too. Gina LaRose, LPC, LMFT offers tips on maintaining good mental health in a difficult era.

01. Be Kind. Be patient as everyone is stressed now. Do good deeds for others. “Sometimes the best way to get our mind off our own problems is helping someone else,” said LaRose.

02. Maintain Normalcy. Even if you’re unemployed, keep a set routine on most days. “When things feel out of control, we seek to find something we can manage… something that gives us structure,” said LaRose.

03. Do Something! Hone your chef skills, learn a foreign language, ride a bike, read new books, write your own story, solve jigsaw puzzles. Keep your mind occupied.

Hammond Cypress Pointe Surgical Hospital 42570 S. Airport Road (985) 510-6200

Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center, Inc. 4801 Ambassador Caffery Parkway (337) 470-2100

North Oaks Medical Center, LLC 15790 Paul Vega MD Drive (985) 345-2700

Park Place Surgical Hospital 4811 Ambassador Caffery Parkway (337) 237-8119

Homer Claiborne Memorial Medical Center 620 E. College St. (318) 927-2024 Houma Leonard J. Chabert Medical Center 1978 Industrial Blvd. (985) 873-2200

Lake Charles Christus Ochsner Lake Area Hospital 4200 Nelson Road (337) 474-6370

Physicians Medical Center 218 Corporate Drive (985) 853-1390

Christus Ochsner St. Patrick Hospital 524 Dr. Michael Debakey St. (337) 436-2511

Terrebonne General Medical Center 8166 Main St. (985) 873-4141

Lake Charles Memorial Hospital 1701 Oak Park Blvd. (337) 494-3000

Independence Lallie Kemp Medical Center 52579 Hwy. 51 S. (985) 878-9421

Lake Providence East Carroll Parish Hospital 336 N. Hood St. (318) 559-4023

Jefferson Ochsner Clinic Foundation 1516 Jefferson Hwy. (504) 842-3000

Luling St. Charles Parish Hospital 1057 Paul Maillard Road (985) 785-3644

Jena LaSalle General Hospital 187 Ninth St. / Hwy. 84 W. (318) 992-9200

Lutcher St. James Parish Hospital 1645 Lutcher Ave. (225) 869-5512

Jennings Jennings American Legion Hospital 1634 Elton Road (337) 616-7000

Mamou Savoy Medical Center 801 Poinciana Ave. (337) 468-5261

Jonesboro Jackson Parish Hospital 165 Beech Springs Road (318) 259-4435 Kaplan Abrom Kaplan Memorial Hospital 1310 W. Seventh St. (337) 643-8300 Kenner Ochsner Medical Center – Kenner 180 W. Esplanade Ave. (504) 468-4806 Kinder Allen Parish Hospital 108 6TH Ave. (337) 738-2527 Lafayette Heart Hospital of Lafayette 1105 Kaliste Saloom Road (337) 521-100 Lafayette General Medical Center 1214 Coolidge Ave. (337) 289-7991 Lafayette Surgical Specialty Hospital 1101 Kaliste Saloom Road (337) 769-410


University Hospital & Clinics 2390 W. Congress (337) 261-6000

Mansfield Desota Regional Health System 207 Jefferson St. (318) 872-4610 Many Sabine Medical Center 240 Highland Drive (318) 256-1232 Marksville Avoyelles Hospital 4231 Hwy. 1192 (318) 253-8611 Marrero West Jefferson Medical Center 1101 Medical Center Blvd. (504) 347-5511 Metairie Easxt Jefferson General Hospital 4200 Houma Blvd., (504) 454-4000 Minden Minden Medical Center No. 1 Medical Plaza (318) 377-2321 Monroe Monroe Surgical Hospital 2408 Broadmoor Blvd. (318) 410-0002

Ochsner LSU Health Monroe 4864 Jackson St. (318) 330-7000

Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport 1541 Kings Hwy. (318) 675-5000

St. Francis Medical Center 309 Jackson St. (318) 966-4000

Overton Brooks VA Medical Center 510 E. Stoner Ave. (318) 424-6037

Morgan City Ochsner St. Mary 1125 Marguerite St. (985) 384-2200 Natchitoches Natchitoches Regional Medical Center 501 Keyser Ave. (318) 471-2628 New Iberia Iberia Medical Center 2315 E. Main St. (337) 364-0441 New Orleans New Orleans East Hospital 5620 Read Blvd. (504) 592-6600 Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System 2400 Canal St. (800) 935-8387 Touro Infirmary 1401 Foucher St. (504) 897-8247

Experts Urge Parents to Keep Children Up-to-Date on Vaccinations and Wellness Visits The Louisiana Department of Health and the Louisiana Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics said parents should continue to vaccinate their children and participate in their routine wellness checks even during the COVID-19 pandemic. Vaccinations protect from many other preventable diseases and prevent other outbreaks from happening. Telemedicine may be available for some visits, but the LDH said that pediatricians are taking extra precautions to ensure the health and safety of their patients (virtual forms and payments, separate entrances for sick and well patients, thorough disinfecting of examination rooms between appointments).

Willis Knighton Medical Center 2600 Greenwood Road (318) 212-4000 Slidell Ochsner Medical Center – Northshore LLC 100 Medical Center Drive (985) 646-5000 Slidell Memorial Hospital 1001 Gause Blvd., (985) 643-2200 Southern Surgical Hospital 1700 W. Lindberg Drive (985) 641-0600 Sterling Surgical Hospital 989 Robert Blvd. (504) 690-8200

University Medical Center 2000 Canal St. (504) 903-3000

Springhill Springhill Medical Center 2001 Doctors Drive (318) 539-1000

Oak Grove West Carroll Memorial Hospital 706 Ross St. (318) 428-3237

After performing more than 1,500 COVID-19 antibody tests in the months of April and May, Baton Rouge General reported that 4.5% of those tests came back positive. A positive test indicates a person has likely been infected with COVID-19. The results showed that while AfricanAmericans made up only 5% of test takers, 17% of the positive results came from African-Americans. Only one positive test was from a person under 20 years old. Women were more likely to get tested than men, but they tested positive at about the same rate. Half of positive tests came from the 40 to 59 age range.

Willis Knighton Medical Center, Inc. 2600 Greenwood Road (318) 212-4000

Tulane Medical Center 1415 Tulane Ave. (504) 988-5263

Oakdale Oakdale Community Hospital 130 N. Hospital Drive (318) 335-3700


Specialists Hospital Shreveport 1500 Line Ave. (318) 213-3800

Sulphur West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital 701 E. Cypress St. (337) 527-7034

Olla Hardtner Medical Center 1102 N. Pine Road (318) 495-3131

Thibodaux Thibodaux Regional Medical Center 602 N. Acadia Road (985) 447-5500

Opelousas Opelousas General Health System 539 E. Prudhomme St. (337) 948-3011

Ville Platte Mercy Regional Medical Center 800 E. Main St. (337) 363-5684

Pineville Alexandria VA Medical Center 2495 Shreveport Hwy. 71 N. (318) 473-0010

Vivian North Caddo Medical Center 815 S. Pine St. (318) 375-3235

Raceland Ochsner St. Anne General Hospital 4608 Hwy. 1 (985) 537-8377

West Monroe Glenwood Regional Medical Center 503 McMillan Road (318) 329-4600

Rayville Richardson Medical Center 254 Hwy. 3048 (318) 728-4181 Ruston Northern Louisiana Medical Center 401 East Vaughn Ave. (318) 254-2100 Shreveport Christus Health ShreveportBossier 1453 E. Bert Kouns Industrial Drive (318) 681-5000

Winnfield Winn Parish Medical Center 301 W. Boundary Ave. (318) 648-3000 Winnsboro Franklin Medical Center 2106 Loop Road (318) 435-9411 Zachary Lane Regional Medical Center 6300 Main St. (225) 658-4000


Traveling Around Louisiana: Summer in Sportsman’s Paradise

Baton Rouge


Home order, you can still stay at home in Louisiana and experience a wealth of travel adventures that await just down the road. The state offers a variety of experiences for vacationers, day trippers, and weekend warriors who want to take advantage of summer without worrying about the hassle of airports and long road trips. Louisiana’s outdoor offerings are a dream come true for anglers, paddlers, cyclists, golfers, and folks just looking to relax with a cold beverage and scenic view to go with it. When it’s time to retreat to the refreshing cool breeze of the A/C, resorts and spas offer a way to relax, while museums, historic sites, shops, and restaurants offer a taste of local culture. Embark on your next adventure by “staying home” this summer, and let Louisiana treat you with its natural splendor, Southern hospitality, and penchant for fun. Moments of splendor define every visit to Cypress Bend Resort, from sunrises over the shimmering lake to birdies on its lush championship golf course or family stories around a glowing fire. Located on Toledo Bend Lake just 70 miles south of Shreveport, Cypress Bend Resort promises unforgettable memories for friends and families seeking a beautiful and tranquil respite. Cypress Bend offers the perfect locale for vacations, meetings, conventions, or weddings with its 95 guest rooms (including 14 two-bedroom golf suites). The resort also boasts a luxurious Spa at Cypress Bend, 600 acres of gardens and forests, 11,000 square feet of state-of-the-art conference facilities, a nationally recognized 18-hole golf course, and the top bass fishing lake in the country according to BassMasters. Crisp, country air, serene views, and southern hospitality all combine to transform and elevate your experience—whether a meeting or golf game—into a communion with nature. The resort is conveniently located for residents 30 LOUISIANA LIFE JULY/AUGUST 2020

of both Louisiana and East Texas. Discover the magic of Cypress Bend Resort with your loved ones. For reservations and information, visit CypressBend.com or call 318-590-1500. Rediscover authentic Louisiana down in the Capital City. From soulful sounds to Cajun flair, Baton Rouge is the perfect place to explore Sportsman’s Paradise and indulge in rich cultural experiences. Take a stroll along the Mississippi River, explore Downtown attractions like the Old State Capitol, the USS Kidd Veterans Museum, and the LSU Museum of Art, and grab a bite from local restaurants around every corner. In Baton Rouge, you can rediscover your adventurous side at a variety of BREC parks, complete with swamp and nature trails, paddle boarding, fishing and biking. MidCity’s unique galleries, murals and shops line Government Street, making it a hidden gem for local arts and culture. And strolling under the shade of the Garden District’s beechmagnolias and oaks, you can taste, hear, and experience authentic Louisiana. Rediscover what authentic Louisiana means to you at VisitBatonRouge.com. You are invited to rediscover the many reasons to love Louisiana Northshore, located 40

minutes from New Orleans’ French Quarter and a world away—the destination where adventure and relaxation await. Explore St. Tammany’s pristine waterways and great outdoors with a paddle along the bayou, boat tour of Honey Island Swamp, fishing charter, bike ride along the 31-mile Tammany Trace, or tubing trip down the Bogue Chitto. Satisfy your taste buds with the deep and delicious Tammany Taste culinary scene. Abundant fine dining and mom and pop eateries combine all the flavors that Louisiana is known for in exquisite dishes featuring Gulf seafood, local produce, and hospitality that cannot be beaten. Wind down with the family at your choice of comfortable and affordable accommodations, luxurious B&B’s or updated camping sites at either, Fontainebleau or Fairview-Riverside, state park. Discover what it truly means to feed your soul on Louisiana Northshore. For more information and destinations, visit LouisianaNorthshore.com/10things.


State of Medicine


are at the forefront of care, not just in the state, but in the United States and world. By leading the way with the latest, most advanced new technologies, Louisiana healthcare institutions are delivering world class care to the people of the state and contributing to the advancement of medicine through research, training, and strategic investments. Whether recognized by the communities they serve or the international medical community, they have much to be proud of as they continue to work toward positive health outcomes and breakthroughs that deliver. Check out the latest news from local health systems serving the families of Louisiana with the following summer update on today’s state of medicine. Thibodaux Regional Health System, located in Lafourche Parish, continues to be at the forefront of bringing leading-edge technology and treatment options to the bayou region. Thibodaux Regional has acquired the ROSA Knee System, the world’s most advanced robotic-assisted surgery system for total knee replacement. Total joint replacement is one of the most commonly performed elective surgical procedures in the United States. The ROSA Knee System enables the surgeon to use computer and software technology to control and move surgical instruments, allowing for greater precision and flexibility during total joint replacement procedures. The System brings together robotic technology with industryleading knee implants to help the surgeon personalize surgical procedures for patients.

“We are excited to be able to bring this innovative technology to our region,” says Greg Stock, CEO, Thibodaux Regional. “This new robotic-assisted technology will benefit patients and enhance patient safety and improve the overall quality of orthopaedic patient care.” For more information, call 985-493-4326 or visit thibodaux.com. Willis-Knighton Health System, the largest healthcare provider in northwest Louisiana, is pleased to be listed among the World Best Hospitals by Newsweek magazine. Willis-Knighton ranked No. 1 in Louisiana and shares honors with Tulane Medical Center, the only other ranked Louisiana hospital. Only 300 hospitals in the U.S. qualified for the list, which relied on opinions of medical professionals from throughout the world. In 2014 the Willis-Knighton Proton Therapy Center became the first in the world to offer compact Intensity Modulated Proton Therapy. It is now a primary training site for the Proteus®ONE compact pencil beam proton therapy system, which hosts national and international radiation therapy experts each year. Willis-Knighton continues to be the only cancer treatment center in Louisiana to offer this sophisticated technology. Proton therapy is just one of many innovative services offered by Willis-Knighton, a not-for-profit community healthcare corporation that is integral to healthcare in Northwest Louisiana. For more information on WillisKnighton, visit wkhs.com. LOUISIANALIFE.COM 31


TIP If you can brew a cup of coffee, you can make this recipe for mocha ice cream, even if you’ve never made ice cream in your life. For the best result, use strong coffee made from dark roast beans and Dutch process cocoa (sometimes labelled “Dutched”), which is lower in acidity and darker than regular cocoa.


I scream, you scream Mocha, creole cream cheese, key lime and bourbon pecan treats for hot summer days BY STANLEY DRY PHOTOS AND STYLING BY EUGENIA UHL



here’s really nothing quite as wonderful on a hot summer day as ice cream. I’m sure psychiatrists could have a field day with that statement, analyzing what it says about childhood, the need for security, reassurance, gratification and all the rest, and they would probably be right on all counts. I would be happy to submit to such an analysis as long as they supplied plenty of ice cream. This is a great time for ice cream lovers. Long gone are the days when making ice cream was a big production. With today’s countertop electric machines that require no ice or salt, it’s easy to whip up a batch of ice cream on a whim. Recently, I’ve been developing several new ice cream recipes. Some of them have been

1 cup strong brewed coffee or espresso ⅔ cup Dutchprocess cocoa 1 cup granulated sugar 2 cups heavy cream CO M B I N E coffee, cocoa and sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk until smooth. Add cream and whisk. Refrigerate until cold. Process in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Makes about 1 quart.

successful, others not. Here are four that I really like. Two of them involve making a custard, which some find intimidating, but, in truth, all it requires is a little practice. The other two require no cooking at all. The first is a bourbon praline ice cream made with a custard base and crushed caramelized pecans. It’s a little more involved than the others since it requires making the praline before starting the ice cream. But if you like pralines and the flavor of bourbon, you won’t mind the extra work. The creole cream cheese ice cream also requires making a custard. Creole cream cheese is available in some markets, but many of us don’t have access to it, so this recipe uses regular cream cheese in conjunction with buttermilk, lemon juice and zest to approximate the flavor of the classic. The mocha ice cream is a snap to make, and it will reward you with a rich and intensely flavored treat. If you like key lime pie (and who doesn’t!), the key lime ice cream will be a favorite. Although key lime pie is often topped with whipped cream, it was originally made with a meringue. This ice cream pays homage to both styles by incorporating beaten egg whites and whipped cream. Our home freezers are really too cold for storing ice cream, so these need to soften a bit before serving. You can put them in the refrigerator before you sit down to dinner or leave them on the countertop for a bit, maybe 5 to 10 minutes, depending on your freezer and the ambient room temperature. n



4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature 2 cups cultured buttermilk 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest 1½ cups whole milk 8 egg yolks ¾ cup granulated sugar

For crushed praline ⅔ cup granulated sugar ⅓ cup water ⅔ cup chopped pecans

P L A C E cream cheese, buttermilk, lemon juice and lemon zest in a mixing bowl. Heat milk in a heavy sauce pan to just below a boil. In another mixing bowl, beat egg yolks and sugar until light. Slowly add hot milk to egg yolks, a little at a time, while whisking constantly. Return mixture to sauce pan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a high-heat silicone spatula (or wooden spoon) until thickened. The mixture will coat the back of the spatula when ready. S T R A I N mixture through a fine mesh strainer into mixing bowl containing cream cheese, buttermilk, lemon juice and zest. Whisk until smooth. Cool completely, then refrigerate until cold. Process in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Makes about 1 quart.

K E Y L I M E I CE CR E A M 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk 1 cup freshly squeezed key lime juice 2 cups half-and-half 4 egg whites ¼ cup granulated sugar ½ pint heavy cream 2 teaspoons powdered sugar 1 teaspoon grated key lime zest CO M B I N E sweetened condensed milk

and lime juice in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add half-and-half and whisk until smooth. Refrigerate until cold.

B E A T egg whites until thickened, add granulated sugar and beat until stiff. Fold into condensed milk mixture and freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Makes about 1 quart.

For ice cream 3½ cups whole milk 8 egg yolks ¾ cup granulated sugar 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 2 tablespoons bourbon crushed praline L I G H T LY B U T T E R a baking sheet. In a heavy sauce pan over medium heat, cook sugar and water until it becomes a light caramel color. Add pecans and cook until color changes to dark amber. Using a metal spatula or spoon, turn praline out onto greased baking sheet and spread to a thin layer. (Careful, because it will be very hot!) Cool completely. When cool, break into pieces and pulverize in a food processor or place in a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin or wooden mallet. H E A T milk in a heavy sauce pan to just below a boil. In a mixing bowl, beat egg yolks and sugar until light. Slowly add hot milk to egg yolks, a little at a time, while whisking constantly. Return mixture to sauce pan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a high-heat silicone spatula (or wooden spoon) until thickened. The mixture will coat the back of the spatula when ready. S T R A I N mixture through a fine

mesh strainer into a mixing bowl. Add vanilla, bourbon and crushed praline and whisk to combine. Place bowl in a container of ice and water and stir until cool. Refrigerate until cold, then process in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Makes about 1 quart.

W H I P heavy cream with powdered sugar until thickened. Serve scoops of ice cream topped with softly whipped cream sprinkled with key lime zest.



Nature Heals Get outdoors for paddling adventures at Black Bayou Lake, Bayou, DeSaird and the Ouachita River in and around Monroe BY CHERÉ COEN


ark Elliott had spent 70 straight days working in his kayak outfitter warehouse after having to send five of his employees home due to COVID-19. Spring was usually a time when interest in paddling surged, but the phones weren’t ringing in his H2GO office in Monroe. Lucky for him this travel writer needed a story. Elliott was more than willing to show me the waterways surrounding the twin cities of Monroe and West Monroe, eager to get back outside. As we put in at Black Bayou Lake, a wildlife management refuge just north of Monroe, floating among the cypress trees, gators and a symphony of birds in temperate conditions, he wasn’t the only one smiling broadly. It was my first foray outside in weeks, as well. Louisiana contains some of the most unique outdoors adventures in America, particularly when it comes to water. Visitors travel from around the world to witness our swamps, bayous and the many unique critters, Elliott said. Maybe we’ve become accustomed to them being right outside our back doors, and when so much inside keeps us busy, but if there’s one thing COVID-19 taught us its that nature heals. It’s why Elliott started his business five years ago. His brother had introduced him to paddle boarding but when Elliott tried to purchase a board, the nearest dealer was south of New Orleans. The main office in Destin suggested he become a dealer, selling products through north Louisiana and Arkansas. Eventually, H2GO began selling kayaks, gear and clothing as well. Elliott’s business, however, goes beyond pushing merchandise. His passion for paddling and his belief that Louisiana residents take the beauty around them for granted has inspired him to provide services that range from kayak rentals to overnight camp outfitting. He rents kayaks and paddle boards by the day, allowing visitors to pick up boats and take their time exploring area waterways. Elliott even includes soft cushions for the kayaks to rest upon so even those with small cars can easily transport the boats. And if you’re looking for a party, he rents a VESL Bomber board, a massive paddle board for six. After a day of spotting wading birds, a few alligators and a glimpse of a rare scarlet tanager, Elliott left me with some wise words: “A great day in nature with excellent company is a time to be treasured.” n





The 5,300-acre National Wildlife Refuge includes hiking trails, butterfly garden, arboretum, educational center and Black Bayou Lake with a designated paddle trail. Best of all, it’s minutes from Monroe.

Bayou DeSiard meanders through both the refuge and throughout Monroe and makes for excellent paddling. One way to get on the bayou is a public access point behind CenturyLink headquarters off Highway 165.

A public boat launch at Moon Lake, a semicircular body of water off the river, allows paddlers to head downstream toward downtown Monroe and pause on sand bars.

“We’re only one block off Highway 165 and 5 miles from town,” Elliot said. “It’s easy to get to nature.” For those who don’t want to transport boats, the Friends of Black Bayou rents canoes and kayaks at the Visitor Center.

“You can go about 16 miles to the north,” Elliott explained. “To the south, only about a half of a mile because there’s an earthen bridge.” The Wesley Foundation at the University of Louisiana at Monroe also rents kayaks and canoes.

“A lot of families use this to get on the bayou,” Elliott said. “It makes for a nice day trip. You can easily make that trip in three to four hours in my lightweight kayaks.” Elliott offers a monthly Paddle and a Pint trip to Trapp’s restaurant landing in West Monroe.




Beach Vibes Alabama beaches are open and offer safe, socially-distant summer fun in the sun BY CHERÉ COEN



ummer’s here and the beaches are calling. Coastal Alabama is not only open for business but offers plenty of ways to get outside and stay at least six feet away from others. There are 60 miles of Gulf beaches and hundreds of shoreline miles in neighboring waterways and Mobile Bay. Hiking trails in the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge lead visitors through tree canopies to secluded beaches and Gulf State Park with its varied activities encompasses 6,500 acres along both inland waterways and forests and Gulf beaches. Here are a few ideas to plan your Gulf Coast road trip.

(Left) Orange Beach (Right) Cruisin’ Tikis BYOB floating tiki bar might be the best way yet to see the views in Coastal Alabama.

Go, See, Do O N T H E W AT E R

Quack Attack The Gulf Coast Ducks, vehicles that travel on both land and water, have relocated from Mobile and are now operating their amphibian craft from Caribe Marina in Orange Beach. The 50-minute tour cruises along Cotton Bayou to educate visitors about area wildlife and local history. A D U LTS O N LY

Cruisin’ Tikis

“Our cottage has splendid views looking deep into the reserve that is abundant with wildlife, and includes the protective area for the endangered Alabama beach mouse,” Christianson said. GULF STATE PAR K

To say there’s something for everyone at Gulf State Park seems trite, but for a summer destination, that phrase fits. The park covers an enormous acreage in the heart of Gulf Shores, with two miles of beaches, a campground and cabins, nature center, boardwalk and The Lodge at Gulf State Park, a hotel and conference center. Check into the park’s secluded Eagle Cottages, one of a select few chosen for National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World Program. Then bike or hike the 28 miles of paved trails or boardwalks, including seven trails of the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail complex. Be sure to visit the Nature Center’s exhibits and sign up for a guided nature walk. alapark.com/parks/ gulf-state-park AWAY FR OM M ADDI NG CR OWDS

Hotels, condos and vacation rentals have gone the extra mile to ensure visitors their accommodations are safe and sanitized. For those who would rather avoid crowds, the peninsula of Fort Morgan offers a quieter beach experience with double the water — Gulf on the southside and Mobile Bay to the north. For instance, Lafayette real estate agent Donna Christianson operates a cottage rental in a small community that’s six miles from the historic fort and surrounded by the Bon Secour refuge, but still a quick drive into town.


OWA amusement park in Foley reopened June 5 with enhanced health and safety measures, which include health screenings before entering The park and limiting the number of guests inside. Downtown OWA with its restaurants and shops continues to grow, but also with limited capacity and social distancing policies. Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen and Lucy’s Retired Surfers Bar & Restaurant with its outdoor seating and sandy beach have joined Downtown OWA, as well as C’est Le Vin Wine Bar and Shop and Sweet Tooth. visitowa.com n

The only thing better than drinks at a beachside tiki bar is drinks at a tiki bar on water. That’s the idea behind Cruisin’ Tikis of Orange Beach, a literal tiki bar that floats six people (stools are spaced 6 feet apart for social distancing) and travels the waterways throughout coastal Alabama. Guests bring their own booze. FA M I LY F U N

Zoo for You After a lengthy redo, the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo opened in early March, only to immediately close its doors due to the pandemic. It reopened in May with restrictions. “It’s triple the size of the original zoo and there are wide-spaced walkways throughout for social distancing,” said Kay Maghan, public relations manager with Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism. Be sure and check out the new Safari Café, Maghan advised.



Let it Bee Thibodaux beekeeper Sarah Shult finds sweet zen through backyard beehives BY LAURA MCKNIGHT PORTRAIT BY ROMERO & ROMERO


hen Sarah Shult needs to relax after a hectic week in retail, she often finds calm in the steady buzz of her beehives. “It’s where I find my peace,” Shult said. The 33-year-old Thibodaux resident and her wife, Rachel LeCompte, took up backyard beekeeping more than a year ago, after getting lackluster results from their new garden. The couple’s squash and zucchini plants were blossoming but not producing vegetables. “They weren’t being pollinated,” Shult said. The two then attended a talk by Katina DeMello with the Cajun Beekeepers of South Louisiana — and they were hooked. “We were just amazed and fascinated,” Shult said. DeMello’s welcoming demeanor and the helpful nature of the group encouraged Shult and her wife to stay involved, and to eventually care for hives of their own. “It made us realize that maybe we can do this,” she said. Shult and LeCompte both enjoy the hobby but tackle different aspects, Shult said. LeCompte, reference services supervisor for the Terrebonne Parish Library, conducts more of the research on bees, while Shult describes herself as more of “the doer” who builds the bee boxes and frames. The pair has two hives at their home, as well as two hives and a nucleus (essentially a mini bee colony, using a box with fewer than eight frames) at a property in nearby Chackbay. Shult said the hobby requires more attention in the spring and fall, known as “heavy nectar flow” times, with most local beekeepers checking their hives at least two or three times each month. Beekeepers tend to avoid disrupting hives during seasons with harsher weather. As Shult gained beekeeping experience, a defining moment came in tasting honey made in her backyard. “I didn’t feel like a true beekeeper until we harvested honey in our garage,” Shult said. “It’s nothing like you’ve ever tasted at the grocery store. It’s got nuances, it’s floral, it can be bitter, it can be spicy.” One of her favorite dishes to add honey to: crab cakes.


“It tends to round out the salty flavors and brings out the sweetness in the crab meat,” she said. Shult also mentioned her initial surprise at how docile bees can be. “They’re very gentle creatures,” she said. Shult is now encouraging others, including her mother, to get involved in beekeeping as a good outdoor activity. “This gets you outside, out in nature,” she said. The hobby is rewarding, she added, and helps raise awareness of the critical need for bees. The methodical pastime, with its mesmerizing views of bee colonies, also offers much-needed stress relief from her work as a merchandiser at Lowe’s. Shult says a lot of people could use a similar outlet. “It’s honestly my happy place; it’s my zen place,” she said. “I’m the most calm and relaxed and in the moment when I am working my hives.” n

Beekeeper Sarah Shult took up the hobby after realizing her vegetables weren’t being pollinated.


Profile for Renaissance Publishing

Louisiana Life July-August 2020  

Louisiana Life July-August 2020  

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