Why Shreveport? March 26 – April 2, 2010

Just picking with a pushpin, our destination after Livingston was Paris, Texas.  But as we explored it on the Internet, there seemed to be nothing of great interest there.  So we looked for a destination about half way between Livingston and Little Rock, Arkansas.  We settled on Shreveport, and we stayed there for a week.

One of the special highlights of our Shreveport stay was the campground itself, Tall Pines, owned by Tom and Tracy Landis.  They were determined to provide the service they saw lacking elsewhere, and boy, did they succeed.  They had just installed a dog park, separated into large and small varieties, and while we were there they even installed agility equipment in it.  The park even had a special memorial tribute to 9-11 firemen.  We were totally impressed.

Downtown Shreveport was about eight miles away.  On our first excursion, we visited the waterfront along the Red River.  The River is the raison d’être for the city, and it was made navigable twice by the Army Corps of Engineers, first by Captain Shreve in the early nineteenth century and again in the late 2oth century when a series of locks brought a tremendous rebirth of commerce.  The Corps has a fascinating museum there, which we toured.  In addition, we walked the waterfront to view the huge outdoor amphitheater with incredible floral lights.  We also took in the R.W. Norton Art Gallery and Gardens, combining a beautiful building with a huge arboretum.

Shreveport’s sister, Bossier City across the river, hosts several major casinos and the Louisiana Boardwalk shopping center.  One of the casinos, The Horseshoe, offered new members a free meal.  So of course we signed up and enjoyed a spectacular lunch buffet – without gambling a penny.  But we did ooh and aah at the entrance corridor, which included a wall of encapsulated $100 bills – a total of 10,000 of them amounting to $1 million.

The city also boasted an Elvis Presley “beginning.”  Knowing that his life began in Tupelo, MS and his life-base was Memphis, we wondered why.  So we sought out the famous Shreveport Municipal Memorial Auditorium Stage of Stars Museum.It wasa huge elaborate building – a real character study from the outside.  But despite hours posted in its brochure, it was closed tighter than a drum, and no amount of calling around could determine why.  In front were larger than life statues of Elvis and Shreveport’s own James Burton, who was Elvis’s lead guitar for years and is a member of the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame.  The Auditorium was home to radio’s famous Louisiana Hayride, on which Elvis performed for more than a year in the earliest days of his career.  Other performers of note:  Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Faron Young, Floyd Cramer, Webb Pierce, Kitty Wells, Jim Reeves and George Jones.

We also went out to Barksdale Air Force Base to witness its 8th Air Force Exhibit.   This is an underdeveloped but interesting museum near the fortified gate chronicling the life (and death and capture) of pilots.  But outside, the fascination begins.  Lined up in a row are over two dozen vintage aircraft and ancillary equipment.  Every “B” is there, from the B-17 up to the B-52.  Fighter planes, cargo planes and reconnaissance aircraft are also in view.   Three standouts:  A Russian MIG,   F-111 fighter/bomber, and the SR-71.  The latter was the fastest, highest flying reconnaissance plane of its era (1966-’91).  It set records for altitude (85,069 feet) and speed (2,193 mph).

Overall, Shreveport was a lucky pick.

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