Friday, October 19, 2012

Hot Springs, Ark

My last stop in Arkansas was to Hot Springs where I spent two days basking in the hot baths.  What an amazing treat when most of my life is spent bathing in the RV(?) while wrapped in a shower curtain cocoon, with spit-water soapings and dribbling cold-water rinses.  Or better yet,  joining the truck drivers of the world and luxuriating in a truck stop hot shower along with my gas fill-up and hot coffee. I must say that one of the real pleasures of this weird existence was while shopping,
 on an especially hot, sweat-inducing day and, after putting away the groceries, I closed all the curtains, stripped naked, wrapped up in that shower curtain, and took a cold shower.  I will always consider it one of the top ten experiences of my life--being naked in the middle of a Walmart parking lot.

Now, try and erase that image from your mind as we explore Hot Springs, Arkansas.  

 The town is famous for its (non-sulphur smelling) thermal hot springs.  Native Indians used the natural springs for many hundreds of years before the Europeans arrived to turn the warm water baths into a rich man's resort destination complete with very elaborate bathhouses and plush hotels.

The water has an average temperature of 134 degrees--year 'round.

The area was first protected by Thomas Jefferson and, at the turn of the 20th Century,  became our 18th National Park.  At that time the government built a public bathhouse for the  'poor folk' who might need the healing powers of the warm waters.

The town slogan became, "The Nation's Health Sanitarium".

And that's exactly what I needed for my health--a whole day or two of sitting in hot tubs!

First I had lunch on their veranda...I thought I might need to strength to survive the afternoon....

Then I started the regimen--with five tubs and five different temperatures to partake in.  Ahhhhhh.....

After about 4 hours I was totally rejuvenated....and limp as an overcooked noodle.

The next day I walked through the town and found it was not the great destination it had been in its heyday. 

Most of the bathhouses are now museums and many are just closed altogether.

There is some of the bygone elegance still around to remind us of what it must have been like...

But the busiest establishments I found were the Casino on the edge of town and this fountain where us 'poor folks' could fill our water jugs with those healthful waters--for free.

The next morning I found this amazing sunrise as I drove towards Louisiana....
After all, some of the best things in life are free.

1 comment:

  1. Toni,
    Thanks for this window into Hot Springs. Back in the 1930's, my grandfather, who suffered from rheumatoid arthritis much of his adult life, and his family, went at least once to Hot Springs from their home in central Missouri. They were very poor, and camped out somewhere nearby. My father recalled it as the adventure of his young life, and one of the few times his father had some relief from the constant pain. I've never been there, and am glad to see what it looks like.