Since we have been touring on the professional bass fishing circuit for 21 years, experiences start to run together after a while. There are so many memories that I think we sometimes become numb to the “specialness” of each. But our week at Toledo Bend in Louisiana sure was special and made me so grateful for good ol’ hospitality done right!
Toledo Bend is very different from where we live; it is truly rural America. I made one trip into town to the Walmart, and it was a 20- to 25-minute drive. I really stocked up on what I needed for the week so as not to have to make that trip again. Now don’t get me wrong… I enjoy taking it easy in the wilderness and quiet of the woods, but I also appreciate the fact that when I am at home I can be at Walmart in 5 minutes.
I must say that from the moment we arrived in Many, Louisiana, we were welcomed as part of the community. You could feel the excitement from everyone that we talked to that it was a big deal that the Bassmaster Elites were in their hometown. We went to dinner the first night and had someone buy our meal. Randy had people asking for pictures at dinner. The local church welcomed us and wanted to provide sandwiches for the guys for the week. We also had people cook for us on several occasions during the week. We even had some sweet friends we met last time we were here offer to take the boys out crappie fishing on the lake. Of course, they loved that!
There is nothing like Louisiana cooking either. They really take pride in their food and make some amazing dishes. In fact, our trip to Toledo Bend began by stopping in Monroe, La., and staying with some friends who cooked an awesome meal on their Big Green Egg. We really were fed everywhere we went: at the restaurant and the church; crawfish at Dennis Teitje’s; the Wednesday night meeting for the guys; a catered meal from a friend of the Chapman’s; we missed a meal over at the Roumbanis host’s house due to fatigue; Big Momma’s Restaurant; El Giros and on and on! Can you tell that we ate a lot and enjoyed every second of it? I had to run extra miles this past week to keep up with the eating I was indulging in, but it was well worth it! Now that we’ve been so spoiled, I have to relearn how to cook since I took a week off.
From Toledo Bend, we made a stop at Red River South Marina and Campground in Shreveport, La., and the owners there welcomed us in like family. I just can’t say enough about the hospitality we have been shown by the fine people from all over Louisiana.
Randy and I always strive to teach our boys to love and respect others, and they do a great job at doing just that. However, I plan on really working on teaching them how to be gracious and hospitable to everyone they meet. There is a lot to say for good ol’ hospitality done the way our grandparents used to do it. America would be a different place if Louisiana hospitality was taught in every household.
Remember, SMILE, it can change the world around you!