Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Hot Springs holiday, part 1.

This has been one crazy, chaotic summer, and because we're trying to put our house on the market, we never scheduled an official family vacation. Since Katie went to camp, then I headed to Amarillo, then Ryan and I took our turn at OC, we haven't even had a ton of "together time" lately. When we realized that the graveside service was in Arkansas Monday evening, Brett and I decided that instead of driving all the way home that night, we should go just a few more hours northeast to Hot Springs.

We drove in on Monday night, so Tuesday morning, we were pleased to have such a pretty view from our balcony:

No, not of the parking lot...

...of Lake Hamilton!

Our first stop that morning: Bathhouse Row.

We were amused to see people filling up water containers at one of several jug-filling stations around the area. I can remember doing this when my family visited years ago. (I was probably in late-elementary or middle school when my parents brought me here.)

We were also reminded frequently that President Clinton grew up here.

The bathhouses were pretty cool to see, all lined up.

The Fordyce Bathhouse is now a visitor center for Hot Springs National Park. We stepped inside and back in time to see how the bathhouses operated.

Ryan tried out a lounger in the "pack room." Steaming towels would be wrapped around clients in that room.

Katie had to try it out, too!

These vapor cabinets were more than a little claustrophobia-inducing!

We also saw the men's bath hall. From the National Park brochure: "Like Romans of old, men wrapped toga-style in bath sheets enjoyed lounging in this elegant court as they waited for their baths."

The fountain in the center depicts Hernando de Soto, "legendary visitor to the springs in 1541, being offered the hot water from a ceremonial vessel held by a Caddo Indian maiden." It's said that the bathers would drink the hot water from that fountain. (EW!)

The stained glass skylight in that room is remarkable!

In one room the kids watched a video about how people can still take advantage of a Hot Springs bathhouse. Much of the process is unchanged from the old days.

These signs on display cracked us up!

We used one of the women's dressing rooms for another of our self-portraits.

The assembly room was bright and airy. It was easy to imagine patrons relaxing there after their baths.

This is the Hubbard Tub, used for physical therapy. I was impressed with the rail system that helped transport non-ambulatory patients in and out of the room and tub.

The gymnasium was considered the largest in the state in 1915, and it was built to attract many of the famous athletes who came to Hot Springs, including Jack Dempsey and Babe Ruth.

After our walk through the Fordyce, we headed out to the Grand Promenade to check out one of the display springs.

And yes, the spring water is HOT!

Like, freaky hot! It was so strange to dip our fingers into the water because we expected it to be cool and refreshing, not 143 degrees and scalding!

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