Leesville is a great area for outdoors activities. It does get hot and humid in the dog days of summer - Memorial Day to Labor Day; but it has beautiful hardwood and pine forested woodlands, and is surrounded by National Forests on three sides. West Louisiana is also close to Sam Rayburn reservoir with excellent fishing, camping, hiking and boating opportunities.
It has a typical small town appeal to it, but there is not a lot of options for entertainment. Fort Polk and the Training Center is the dominant employer in the area, next to logging. Night life is geared to single men and unmarried military. Typical chain stores and family owned restaurants. Housing is fairly affordable if you choose to live off base, but rent is geared to military tenants, so if you do go off base, the safer neighborhoods cost more. Be sure to check out the Military Museum in town.
We used to camp out on the lakes there - the woods are amazing in the fall colors, no large predators, but the Alsatian dog I had at the time was swimming once and I spotted a big alligator trying to ambush him. We got him out of the water, so beware of that issue. I still remember coffee off the campfire with sunrise over the lake as the fog lifted...magical. Camping was very safe there. You definitely will want to grill and maybe get your own crawfish/shrimp burner to boil up some fresh seafood if you don't camp out now....
Biggest issue is heat and humidity, and Mosquitos and flying insects. Mosquitos are the unofficial state bird in Louisiana. Unemployment is still high, so keep your doors locked and eyes open.
Lake Charles is a short drive, with great seafood and Cajun or Creole cuisine. If you golf, there are great courses there. Skeet and trap clubs are abundant, and inshore charter boats for redfish, speckled trout, and red snapper are also affordable and fill the freezer.
The people in Louisiana love life, love to party and cook good food, and every weekend there is a festival somewhere. Crawfish are abundant in season, and Gulf shrimp are the best in the USA. There is a strong cultural influence from the French and Catholics, so Mardi Gras is fun. Do not miss out on King Cake, beignets and coffee, crawfish pie, and seafood gumbo. Fried oyster or shrimp "po-boys" (like a sub sandwich, only much tastier) and andouille sausage, and crawfish or shrimp boils with jambalaya are not to be missed. You will have to keep running because you will love the good food there.
Oil and gas slowdown should be having some economic effects now. It is the Deep South and there is some rural poverty.
Overall, I spent eight years in Louisiana. The only thing I did not like was the subtropical climate.
I go to Louisiana on business every month, and I have a blast every time I go. Let the good times roll...!
I'm fully dreading the heat and humidity, I've been there a few times but only to participate in training events, didn't get any of the recreational aspects. I know the Commissioner is gonna be hating the heat after being up north for a few years. I'll be sure to keep the pup in close eye with the gators present. Been used to keeping him safe from the moose and large game.
I'm debating the living situation as I think I'll only be there for a year or two. On base is easier but heard the houses are small.
If your traveling in that area this summer, let me know, we can get together
I learned a great secret to handle the summers - get a high velocity fan to sit in front of when you are outside. The Big Woogie loves sitting by the fan, and the flying bugs get blasted away by the wind. It keeps your skin dry and you don't sweat at all. All my family and friends own these now after hanging out around mine. $49 and problem solved.
Also, the kiddie pool is a great way to keep The Commish cooled off.
Like everything in life - it all comes down to your attitude -- keep a positive one and it's all good!
I'll keep in touch - pretty soon I will be in Louisiana every week on business travel - great places to shoot there!