My Life Adventures, Travel Experiences and Reflections

Monday

Arkansas Road Trip 2009 - Part One

I think Arkansas gets a bad rap.

Every fall, we are drawn to experience the beauty of the autumn leaves, the serenity and yes, the quirkiness of Arkansas. This year was not any different.

The Annual Spotswood Road Trip to Arkansas included…
Day 1 – A 5-hour drive from Dallas to Lake Catherine (just outside of Hot Springs)
Day 2 – Hot Springs: Breakfast at The Pancake House with "Murph" and his wife, Theresa.
Day 3 – A 5-hour drive to Mountain Home
Day 4 – A day Trip to Mountain View and a visit to The Blanchard Springs Caverns
Day 5 – Mountain Home to Eureka Springs then on to Queen Wilhemena State Park
Day 6 – Home
Blanchard Springs Caverns

Hot Springs
A great little city. I have always thought that if I were homeless, I would try my best to make my way there, largely because of the fact that Hot Springs has an abundance of hot running water that comes from natural springs. The city has installed (free) public hot water access at several locations along the main drag and I can’t help but think that would certainly be an advantage to those who might need to wash up or warm their hands on occasion.

Known for the healing properties of its natural thermal waters, Hot Springs developed ‘Bath House Row’ during that time that gambling was the major draw. In 1967 casino gambling was banned and with that, the Bath House business 'dried up' - so to speak. Fortunately, Hot Springs Bath Houses are back. Renovation and revitalization began a few years ago and Bath House Row is looking good again.

The Bath House Spa Experience ...as I encountered it a few years ago:

Know Before You Go…

  • Hot Springs Bath Houses separate men from women. You will not see anyone of the opposite sex once you begin your experience. Thank you Lord.

  • You will be issued a robe and are expected to strip down to your birthday suit. Awkward.

  • You will be escorted to a private tub room where a bath has been drawn for you with the natural hot spring water. There, you will meet your very own ‘bath lady’.

My bath lady, ‘Erma’ was not the ‘chatty’ type and judging by her deep voice, I'm thinking she had smoked a few cigarettes in her time. I guessed her age to be about fifty-five or so, hair as black as shoe polish, less than expertly applied mascara and looking a little rough around the edges. She sported several piercings and what appeared to be not-so-professional tattoos on her hands and forearms. Whatever.

After providing me with a couple of washcloths “for privacy” and pointing out the call button located on the wall behind me, “for emergencies”, Erma instructs me to “get into the bath” and then, she was gone.

Carefully, I enter the steaming porcelain bathtub and gave it my best effort to think only good thoughts of mineral healing before I was to lose consciousness and die in the hot, hot, hot water.

In the nick of time, Erma reappears and without making eye contact, she places an ice cold washcloth on my forehead “for comfort”she says. Saved.

"She's not so bad after all, " I thought. But then, without warning, Erma cavalierly hands me a large cup of hot spring water “drink this,” she croaks. She is then nothing more than but a memory.

Putting that cup to my lips would have for certain been the kiss of death. I poured the contents into my bath water and placed the cup on the table beside me. She would never know.

Soon, Erma returned and with squinty, mascara smeared eyes, she announced her plan to "exfoliate" my arms. legs and back.

I was scared.

It was at that moment I felt the need to become friends with Erma.

...to be continued. Eureka Springs
Lake Catherine State Park

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