I may have been a bit harsh saying that Downtown Shreveport was dead and abandoned. It is true that many of the really old buildings are empty, and like many downtowns of mid-sized cities, businesses and shopping have moved elsewhere. When people went to the malls and outlets, the downtowns slowly shut down. It is a common cycle.
In addition to the informative river cruise, and visits to a couple of museums, we went on a two hour evening walking tour of the area around the parish court house and were entertained and educated by our guide. It was called the ghost walk, and he linked the history and architecture with anecdotal haunting stories. We really like these guided walks because it helps us get a feel for the past. It would be a true loss to see the old building fronts replaced by new glass towers. Once you realize they are 150 years old, you want to see them kept up for future generations to see as well.
On Sunday, we packed up and made the long drive (68 miles) to Choudrant so we would be there and ready for our 7 AM appointment at Albritton's.
I could see Choudrant in my big trucker's atlas, and we knew the address, but as usual I was a tiny bit nervous about getting there. I guess it's just the unknown. There were two contributing factors to this. First, the ladies at the State Visitor's Center did not know where Choudrant was, and second, our Rand McNally Navigator system did not recognize the address as valid. This is not unusual in itself. The Rand McNally will end up giving you a range of addresses on a road that do not include the one you want, and you have to use other means to get the last bit of directions.
So, as we came within 30 miles of the place I looked for it on Google Earth. I remembered Paul and Mary writing about how they had used Google Earth to look at gas stations to figure out the best approach. It turned out to have been a very good idea, because we might never have found it otherwise.
This is the image I got from Google Earth:
Albritton's is the gray building on the left side of the road. The long white buildings on the right side are a chicken farm. There is no sign of any kind.
The red dot is on the wrong side of the road at the entrance of the chicken farm. Albritton's driveway is actually above the dot marker.
This is all we could see as we drove up the road. A basic rural mailbox with the 5048 on it. However, because I had looked on Google Earth, I knew there was plenty of room to turn around if we were wrong, or to park if we were right.
There is a large parking area with four full hook up spots, and a nice bunk house for customers to spend the day in while their rigs are worked on. Craig appreciated the TV and watched several World Cup games, and I was able to catch up on the wash using the washer and dryer.
I'm not sure this is 100% accurate, but it is what I have come to understand is the Albritton story. Dick Albritton had a successful heating and air conditioning business for many years. After buying his first Alfa Motorhome he developed an Air Exclusion process / rework that improved the insulation of the coach. When other Alfa owners heard about it, they asked him to do the same for them. He also began doing air conditioning and other work on them. He was very good. His son took over the air conditioning business. Dick bought the present property which had been a truck company. It was quite run down, but had some nice acreage, and a large building with service bay spaces.
He did a lot of cleanup, repaving, and renovation of the building to include a living area.
Although he was "retired" he continued to work on Alfas and when he needed some help called on Ronnie, a young man who had been working at a local RV shop. He and Ronnie really hit it off, having "the same work ethic". Eventually Ronnie took on more and more of the work. Now Ronnie's wife, Jodie, is his co-worker.
We were the only customers here at first, but just about the time they were almost finished with our Alfa, another rolled in. I have read the guest book in their bunk house, and it looks like they have very few days off!
Although our air conditioner was not having major problems, it had not had service in seven years. One of the bearings was starting to go, and last night it purred instead of growled as it cooled the coach.
We had had a big air noise in the front cab area, and Ronnie said there were a couple of very large air gaps. As we drove to our next stop the coach was delightfully quiet. Of course there are a few squeaks and rattles we didn't notice before, but the irritating wind noise is gone.
We are staying at the Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas for a couple of days.
I hope this post wasn't too long, but I just kept having more to add!