Monday, August 25, 2008

the big four-oh

The itinerary for my just-completed road trip was designed so that I could add another state to the list of those I've visited. Arkansas is my fortieth state, filling in a gap on my coverage map.

My copy of "1,000 Places to See in the U.S.A. and Canada Before You Die" helped me decide to head to Hot Springs, America's first resort. The book says that the word spa is an acronym for the Latin words for "health through water" (sanus per aquam) although other sources say the Latin is a convenient backronym.

We started out by touring the Fordyce Bathhouse, which is now the visitor center for Hot Springs National Park. We walked through the old locker rooms, steam rooms and massage rooms to see the equipment used back in the olden days. My wife was reminded of the way Hearst Castle in California is also frozen in time. The from-the-neck-down steam cabinets were something I had only previously seen in cartoons. Empty bottles are for sale everywhere in town. The hot water is available for free. In the AAA TourBook I learned that it takes 4,000 years for rainwater to soak into the nearby mountains and come back up through the springs, heated to 143 degrees.

Rather than just see history on display at the visitor center, we were able to experience it firsthand at the Buckstaff Bath House. We lined up early for the afternoon session, having been advised that those tickets often sell out. My wife and the other women went upstairs. The men bathe on the first floor. Everything inside the facility looked like it had been there since 1912. As I got in the porcelain tub, the attendant gave me a little cup of water from the tub's spigot and told me to drink it. During what seemed like a very long soaking, I occasionally twisted around to protect my parts from the whirlpool. I had plenty of time to think that I had probably never been more naked on a vacation. Eventually the bath attendant shut off the whirlpool and scrubbed my back, chest, arms and legs with a loofa mitt, which I got to keep. I also sat in a small steam room, took a needle shower. and sat in a sitz bath tub with water cascading over my lower back. After that, my lower back and shoulders were wrapped in hot towels. I think I may have dozed off for a minute while waiting for my massage.

After our spa treatments, my wife and I headed to another place mentioned in "1000 Places to See..." to get some dinner. We split an order of the famous ribs and fries at McClard's Bar-B-Q Restaurant. I didn't want so many fries, so we got it with half fries and half slaw. Two stickers on the front door at McClard's grabbed my attention. One said they were also featured in a book called "Eat This!: 1,001 Things to Eat Before You Diet." The other said "Warning: No Firearms Allowed." I wonder what happened in the past to make that sign necessary.

Labels: , , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button


Blogger Tony W said...

My wife and I got to go to Hot Springs National Park last year and it was amazing. I don't know wich was better the massage or the food at McClard's it all was really wonderful.

Blogger bean said...

folks, be sure to click on "parts" in this post. you'll want to see frank's stitches...

Anonymous Sandy Weaver Carman said...

Frank...only two more road trips and you're done!! Actually, you could fly to Maine and rent a car for the day and be done. Glad you and Jere had a great trip...sorry it was improv-free, though. BTW, Scott Woodside says "hey."

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Frank

Fly into Sioux City and you can blast out three states in about a 15 minute drive. NE, IA, and SD.

Blogger Mr. Kazinec said...

For someone who can't stand driving it is hard to believe you've covered so much ground. Okay, I'm a bit envious, my wife never drives. lol. Hope you had a great trip!


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home