Today (the day we wrote this) was our first time ever in Louisiana. It’s the first state we have entered since we started traveling that I hadn’t ever been in. We had thoughts and expectations about what it might be like, but, as it happens frequently for us, it was completely different. Expectations are off in general and we are never sure what to expect, filtering our expectations through others experiences never really does it justice.
Our initial planning was just for Shreveport but, in all the literature it’s Shreveport-Bossier and surrounding areas. With just the Red River dividing them and the Texas street bridge connecting them; the two smaller cities make up one combined small city. We saw most of the downtown and river-walk areas on foot during our 6 hour visit, walking between 3 and 4 miles.
We liked the area. It is a combination of borderline-dead-on-the-rebound scenario. There are vacant stores and abandoned buildings next to artistic, active areas, and bustling hotels / riverboat casinos. There was life where you didn’t expect to see it, like under the Texas street bridge with bright colored restaurants and art covered pillars. Some scenes are what we expected to see in the French Quarter with iron worked balconies. Others looked like downtown Wichita, or downtown any other small city. Still some areas were every post apocalyptic abandoned or run down.
We even took the time to ask locals where we should try for lunch, something unique to the area. Oddly enough, they all suggested the same place – nicky’s, which is a Mexican restaurant. Being this far north I wasn’t expecting creole places everywhere, but I thought maybe they would recommend something like that. Something maybe a little more French / Cajun / something else, not Mexican. Apparently good Mexican rules the area. They had crayfish nachos at the restaurant! I felt if we were eating Mexican in Louisiana I might as well make sure there are crayfish. The restaurant was good, with good lunch specials, but it wasn’t unlike other popular Mexican that I have had in other states. Still it was good, just not what we expected.
The awesome find of the day was the closed, somewhat abandoned Observatory off the Shreveport side of the river walk. The observatory is owned by the city and shut down 2 years ago. The Arboretum has not been maintained and made for some cool apocalyptic looking pictures. We spent some time talking to the grounds crew who, while the wouldn’t let us in, didn’t stop us from opening some windows and taking some pictures from the inside. This was also the first time ever we had been asked if we were Yanks or Confederates…to tell you the truth, we are from Colorado, I don’t think we tow the civil war lines except that the end result is what we have.
The outlet shops along the river walk – this was another thing that was a “must see” for the Shreveport-Bossier area. We were also told that where we had parked was too far to walk to go check it all out. Well, we’re rebels. We took that “too long” walk across the Texas street bridge, which, as it turns out, was interesting and fun along with exciting and mildly terrifying! Something that made this experience unique was that on either side of the bridge there are stores that nestle right up near the bridge. I have never seen anything like it before. It literally looked like you could jump from the bridge over to the roofs of the stores, but you also knew that doing so would be a very bad idea. The potentially terrifying part came in the form of seams in the concrete. These decent sized gaps allow you to see the earth – or swiftly moving river – that is there, just underfoot.
Since we aren’t really big on shopping (you know budgets, RV living and all) we just walked part of the river walk and took a few pictures. After doing this the sun was beginning to go down, taking the heat of the day with it. As the temperature began to drop we figured it was best to get back to the truck, which brought an end to our time in Shreveport. We took some time to look up other attractions, but in the winter most if not all close at 5 or 6 and we didn’t have enough time.
The take away from Shreveport? We enjoyed the compact, small city and river walk areas. Weather aside, (I’m sure the summers are miserable) the idea of living in or near such a compact city area with near by rural living is intriguing. In asking the boys what they though, our youngest said it was his favorite place ever. He couldn’t name why, but the short time we were there certainly made an impact.
Highlights from Shreveport
Observatory – unedited images