Friday, December 7, 2012

Hot Springs, Arkansas

I really had no burning desire to visit Arkansas, until I heard there was a town called Hot Springs. One thing Bill and I really try to look for on our travels are hot springs, this sounded like a place we needed to visit. That and the fact that our friends Chris and Cherie of had been here twice and loved it, We also got the skinny about a great place to park Bebe in the National Park for $12/day with Bill's senior park pass. So here we are, yes, right now, at the very moment I am writing this blog! (well that was a few days ago...maybe a week ago!)

We set up and got settled with about an hour of daylight left and took off on a trail from the campground up into the nearby mountains for a little exercise and to get the lay of the land. Luckily we were smart enough to grab our head lamps because by the time we got back it was dark.

Our first stop was to the Buckstaff Bathhouse where you can have a traditional thermal mineral bath experience, which we did, accompanied by a short swedish massage. The men's and women's areas are on separate floors; I went upstairs while Bill stayed on the main floor. I went into a little individual changing room with a locker and the attendant wrapped me in a big white sheet which accompanied me throughout my stay. Another attendant came and got me and brought me to a room that was lined on one side with individual old-fashioned tubs in curtained off rooms. These are the original jacuzzi's that look like they have an outboard motor in them to make the bubbles. I was given 2 little cups of the hot water (from the springs) and left there to soak for about 15 minutes. My girl came and checked on me several times and then I got out and she wrapped me back in my sheet. Next up was the siztz bath. You sit in a little tub of hotter water that is supposed to be great for digestion, arthritius, hemorroids and a myriad of other ills. I was re-wrapped in my sheet so my butt could sit in the water but my front was covered by the sheet. I was now brought cold cups of ice water. I had experience a sitz bath before, in the hospital after I had given birth but that was more like a jacuzzi sitz bath. This was just the hot water. It felt great, especially on my hips! Next up was the steam chamber. Looked a little like a torture chamber! I was divested of my sheet and sat on this seat - the part in front of me closed up and a little hole was left for my head. Every so often my attendant would pour ice chips into my mouth. I was then told to think about what areas I would like my hot towels put on, which was coming up next. I was very excited for this part - shoulders and hips, please, ahhhhhhh! I was rewrapped in the sheet and in addition to the hot towels an ice cold towel was wrapped around my forehead and cheeks...and more ice chips! Next was the needle shower and finally the massage. The Yelp! reviews had gone into great detail about the experience so I was pretty prepared for the massage being nothing special, and they were right, plus the masseuse had an attitude, but all in all it was a fun experience. Bill's experience was pretty similar except he was pretty much nude the entire time (sans sheet). He was underwhelmed and there certainly is no need to do it again, but what the hey!

Yesterday we took off on a hike into town to check out Bath House Row and do a little site-seeing. I had looked online and found a couple of restaurants where we could find something we could eat but our hike ran long and by the time we got to the restaurants one was completely closed for lunch and one had just closed. On our walk through town the ex-mayor offered to take our picture and mentioned a good place to eat. We were also greeted by a man who shared with us some of the local history. When he asked where we were from and we told him we lived in an rv and traveled around he said that he was homeless too! Everyone we have met here has been extremely friendly. We ended up at the Bolivian restaurant the mayor had recommended and had a fabulous margarita and meal. By the time we got home we had walked almost 7 miles!

Hot Springs, Arkansas was known as the "Valley of Vapors" and many flocked here to "take the waters," so to speak. The town is filled with very old, very large hotels that remind you of a distant era, most are no longer in use but a few still are. There are springs all over the town and many fountains that encourage one to fill up their vessels with the healing waters.

Superior Bathhouse is now under renovation to become the town's first brewery!
Last night we got online with our rv-ing homies and had a blast - first texting on Facebook and then Maria switched us all over to Google+ where we could all video conference. What fun we had - we haven't seen Sam and Tracy since January in Slab City and Maria and Brian since Delfest at the end of May. Three more weeks and we'll all be reunited - well most of us, anyway!

1 comment:

  1. That park looks cozy... we'll have to take note for the next time we roll through! Another AK visit we went up to the Ozarks, a spot called Eureka Springs. It was an artists town, really quite though, with springs popping up all over the city. Kinda like here but I don't remember seeing baths?
    Anyway, glad you guys enjoyed it - well, sort of, kinda. ;)