The Vizenas, who live in the River Bend community on the Calcasieu River, share the story of their beloved home in Allen Parish, Louisiana.
Since he was a little boy, Joe’s fondest memories came from the shores of the Calcasieu River. It’s where he learned to hunt rabbits and where he enjoyed many a crawfish feast. It’s where he would go fishing for largemouth bass when his chores were done. And it’s where he would one day take his wife and children to enjoy campfires and countless adventures.
So when a piece of riverfront land came up for sale in the River Bend community, which is on former Rayonier land, he felt like it already belonged to him - and he wanted to make sure that never changed. Rayonier is Rethink:Rural's parent company.
“We bought it for that river access. There is nothing more beautiful than being out here,” Joe said during a visit to their land, which includes about 15 acres on the shore of the Calcasieu.
Robin and Joe Vizena in front of their "camp house" alongside the Calcasieu River in the River Bend community.
Although they have a lovely custom home that's also on country land in Louisiana a few miles down the road from their riverfront land, with plenty of space for their chickens and a porch overlooking their pond, they’d rather just move to the more humble home they built at the riverfront.
The house - which they call their “camp house” - is on stilts in anticipation of the river’s ebbs and flows, with two stories of porches overlooking their favorite view in the world. It’s steps away from the blackberries Robin picks for some of her famous homemade jam and cobbler. On lucky excursions, she may even find muscadines and huckleberries. And fishing can be enjoyed on foot or by boat.
Their best days start with a sunrise over the river and end with bonfires near the shore.
The view from the Vizenas' porch looking over the Calcasieu River.
“There’s just no stress here, no hurry, no worry,” Robin said while gazing at the river from her porch. “You don’t feel like you have to do anything the way you do at the main house.”
When they retire, they plan to officially move to their riverfront house, but in the meantime, their cat Pumpkin keeps watch. The playful orange cat lives in the home fulltime, getting her meals from a feeder whenever the Vizenas aren’t there.
With the giant, down-home feasts she whips up, you’d swear Robin was raised in this beautiful part of the country, too. But she didn’t grow up in Louisiana: She was a military brat who moved from place to place. She met Joe, then a U.S. Navy Seabee, in a scuba diving class on Midway Island when she was a teenager.
When he took her back to his birthplace, this rural part of Louisiana just north of the city of Oberlin, she knew it would be her home, too.
“He brought me here, and I’ve been here ever since,” she said.
They’ve been married almost 40 years.
This pretty dirt road leads to the Vizenas' property in River Bend, Allen Parish, Louisiana.