April 8 – Hot Springs, Arkansas


They say not to travel the interstates as you miss so much of the USA. This trip was 246 miles with not one interstate – very enjoyable but tiring – you have to be aware of every car turning and stopping and gawking. We made it to our campground without any incidents.

I can tell you Arkansas roads are better than Louisiana’s.

I was impressed in the Delta area all the flat huge farm fields and the lack of topography. You learn quickly where all your food comes from.

Arrived at J&J’s RV Park in Hot Springs and no one was at the office – sign said pick out your site and settle up later – we did. Have a nice sized lot adjacent to the creek

– no rain scheduled so we should be okay. Place has paved roads and level gravel sites with cable and Wi-Fi.

Sunday headed for church and we had two choices – surprising in the southern Bible belt – two Lutheran choices – but we went to Lakepointe Hot Springs Church. What a shocker – reminded us so much of our home church in Pacific – very contemporary – young pastor and friendly people. Today is Palm Sunday and they brought in a group (called Witness) to put on the passion of Christ in theatric form – very impressive and with a spiritual message.

We had lunch at Stubby’s which has been serving BBQ since 1952 – worth the stop.

We then went to the local Visitor’s Center and gathered information for our stay here. Nearby was the NP so we walked on over. Hot Springs NP is quite different than any other park we have seen so far – it does protect a natural resource but it also protects the recreation and healing powers that went with that resource – water.

The Federal Government set aside 4 sections of land in 1832 which was the first time the government protected a natural resource. In 1921 it became a National Park.

They have fountains in a variety of locations around town that flow hot or cold water and is safe to drink. Regulations prohibit private individuals from selling of any of the park’s waters.DSC_0039

Bathhouse Row has gone through numerous changes over the years and continues to be restored. It is quite the row to walk down and see history.

We walked the area and right at the end was Superior Bathhouse Brewery – need a cold one as the temps have warmed up quite a bit – in the low 80s. The beer is brewed from the thermal spring water.

Monday is overcast and severe weather is predicted. Let’s get out and do the outside stuff – what else do you do when you are in a NP but hike. We took the dogs and drove up Hot Springs Mountain. Reached the top and walked Upper Dogwood Trail – about a mile – with the dogs – good exercise for all.

What was so peaceful was the new spring leaves on the tree, no noise and just the rustling of fall leaves below our feet. If you can’t de-stress here then something is wrong.

Finished our mountain drive and stopped at the cold mountain spring fountain and filled a water bottle for the dogs and they refused to drink it – go figure – it is tasteless, odorless and colorless. It was amazing the number of people filling up 100’s of gallons of jugs of water.

Went up the other mountain – West Mountain and enjoyed a quiet drive amongst the trees and solitude. Not a lot of people wandering around at least during the week. That’s why we love our traveling because we get to beat the crowds – not looking forward to summer and the kids on vacation.

Need lunch – Subway today.

Then we walked the Grand Promenade which was a quiet area behind the bathhouses for the guests of the hotels to walk to get to the bath houses or to go downtown. They even had an open spring that is still bubbling hot water. The green boxes are all the locations where they sealed the open springs so they couldn’t be polluted.

We didn’t follow it all the way thru but Hot Springs is famous for attracting baseball players and gangsters that took advantages of the baths.

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Brenda had completed her Junior Ranger book and stopped at the Visitor’s Center to be reviewed and receive her medal – ask her about this new endeavor sometime.

Tuesday woke up to a bunch of rain the night before but no severe weather – thank God. Today we are taking a bath for the first time since we sold our house – sure do miss that huge Jacuzzi.

We went to Buckstaff Bathhouse (continuous operation since 1912 and the only one left) and they have the same traditional mineral bath treatment that was so popular during the early days of Bathhouse Row. If you are shy about getting naked, this ain’t the place for you. Now it was separate men and women, but you didn’t get much of a chance to cover up – the birthday suit was all exposed.  No pics!DSC_0015

First a soaking in hot water with a Jacuzzi. Bobbie was my attendant and he wanted me to get the most. He kept warming the water up and it was so relaxing. Only 15 minutes.

These pics are from the Fordyke Bathhouse which is the NP’s Visitor’s Center and gives visitors a chance to walk thru a typical bathhouse.

These IMG_3099

Then whisked away to the Sitz bath (10 minutes) – you know the one where you focus on your bottom and again the water was hot – I guess to relax those muscles and heal any ailments.IMG_3101

Then into the steam bath or as we used to call them the sauna and felt the sweat pour out.IMG_3102

Then to the hot towel stack? And I did fall asleep waiting for Bobbie to return.IMG_3103
Then to the needle shower to rinse and with the water pulsating all over your body to relax muscles.IMG_3100

I can see why this was so popular as a cure all for what bothers you.

We did get the massage and I had more muscles and joints bent and stretched than I had ever felt before.

When I met Brenda (after almost 2 hours) in the entrance way we both exclaimed how great we felt.

The water for the bath houses comes from 47 protected springs at an average 143 degrees at the source at an average flow rate of 700,000 gallons per day.

Did lunch at Angels and the food was good.

Picked up the dogs and did a hike on Whittington Park. A nice flat walkway. Afterward Brenda still felt the need to hike and started up Whittington Trail to the top of West Mountain. She thought it was only .4 miles and took off without a phone. She said to meet her up the road.

I drove up the road and realized after looking at the map that she was wrong and it was a 3 mile hike – I called her and that’s when I realized she didn’t have a phone.

Drove up and down the road to the top and finally found her and she admitted that she misunderstood the map. At least she is home and we didn’t have to spend out a search party.

Did stop at Fat Jack’s Oyster & Sports Bar to let her recover from all that climbing.

Hot Springs was a great town and we missed a lot of things that we should do – horse racing, lakes, mountain bike riding, theatre, shops, wine tasting and for sure another bath!DSC_0041

Wednesday we are off to Fort Smith, Arkansas.

Categories: Uncategorized

1 comment

  1. Great pics! Those hot baths sound amazing!

    Like

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