Thursday, September 22, 2016

Hot Springs, Arkansas

On Thursday, Warren and Joslyn took us to one of Arkansas' most famous destinations:  Hot Springs.  After speaking with the ladies at the Visitor's Center for a few minutes, we began walking up towards Bathhouse Row.

There are several points throughout downtown Hot Springs where people can fill jugs of water up directly from the hot springs in Hot Springs.  :)

Not only was Hot Springs known for its bathhouses, it also had some "side" businesses of ill-repute like gambling and brothels.  Maxine's was a famous brothel back in the 1950's and had some "high-class" clientele including both politicians and mobsters.

We continued walking up "Bathhouse Row".  The buildings have been beautifully restored and a few of them still operate as bathhouses.

The first one we walked in was the Lamar.

The Lamar no longer operates as a bathhouse but has a nice little gift shop in front.  I did find a nice big tub in the gift shop.  :)

Can somebody get my back?
Don't you love my cap!
Ah...nothing like a soak in the tub.
I may take a nap!  :)
We walked by a few more bathhouses.

The Buckstaff
The Ozark
The Quapaw
The Buckstaff and the Quapaw still operate as bathhouses where you can soak in the Hot Springs mineral water or have a massage or other type of spa treatment.  The Ozark serves as an art museum now.

Our next stop was the Fordyce Bathhouse that now serves as the Visitor Center for Hot Springs National Park.

The Fordyce was open from 1915 to 1962 when it closed due to declining business.  It remained vacant until it opened as the Hot Springs National Park Visitor Center in 1989.  The bathhouse has been restored so you can see what it looked like when it was operational.

 Behind all the doors are individual big tubs
for soaking in the hot springs mineral water.
The stained-glass window above was beautiful.

An individiual stall with the big tub.
Saunas...not for me!
Is this a shower or a car wash??
The Cooling Room where ladies
rested and cooled off from the hot baths.
We watched the film in the visitor center that provided information about how the hot springs originate.  What was surprising to me is that the water did not stink.  I fully expected the water to smell like sulfur as it did when we were near hot springs at Yellowstone.  Hot Springs, Arkansas, is not in a volcanic region (like Yellowstone).  Here, rainfall "percolates" down through the earth, as much as 8,000 feet deep.  For every 300 feet the water "percolates," the temperature of the water increases 4 degrees.  Eventually, the water meets faults and joints leading up to the lower west side of Hot Springs Mountain where it re-surfaces as hot springs.

What is really interesting is that in this the 100th year of the National Park Service, we learned that Hot Springs was the first U.S. "reservation" to protect a natural resource.

Notice the sign says:
"U.S. Hot Springs Reservation"
The year after Thomas Jefferson had purchased the Louisiana Territory (which included Arkansas), an expedition was sent out by President Jefferson in 1804 to explore these newly acquired springs.  Soon after, more and more people began coming to soak in these hot waters and for its therapeutic and medicinal effects.  In order to protect these natural springs, the federal government set aside four sections of land here in 1832 making it the first time the government set aside land to protect a natural resource.

After leaving the visitor center, we continued down Bathhouse Row stopping at Superior Bathhouse Brewery and Distillery for some good ol' Arkansas ice cream called Yarnell's.  Chuck and I shared the Whoo Pig Chewy which was delicious!

Next, we stopped at the Hot Water Cascade where you could actually see the hot springs coming out of the ground and cascading over the rocks.  The water comes out of the ground at a piping 143 degrees!  A little warm for a soak in the tub!  The bathhouses cool the water to keep it at 104 degrees (like most hot tubs today).

Next, we walked across the street to the historic Arlington Resort Hotel & Spa.

While the original Arlington was built in 1875, after demolition of the original wooden structure and a fire of the next Arlington building, the current building opened New Year's Eve of 1924 and has been operational ever since.

Can you imagine some of the parties and balls the Arlington may have hosted over the years???

O.K. kids.  Stop running up and down the stairs!
We finished our walking tour of Hot Springs along the Grand Promenade which is a beautiful brick walk on the hill behind the bathhouses.

We walked by another open hot spring where you can see the steam coming off the water.

Most of the 47 hot springs are capped off with these big green boxes to prevent contamination.

At the end of the Grand Promenade is the Army Navy Hospital that was built in the 1930s.

After returning to their truck, we rode a very windy road up Hot Springs Mountain and took the elevator up to the top of the tower...

,..where we could look out and see the green hills of Arkansas.

Downtown Hot Springs

Magic Springs Amusement Park
Of course, we had to get a selfie before leaving the tower.  :)

Hot Springs also has a famous horse racetrack:  Oaklawn.  

The racing season at Oaklawn begins in January and ends in April before the Kentucky Derby in May.  In fact, the latest Triple Crown winner, American Pharoah, won the Arkansas Derby in April of 2015 before going on to win the Triple Crown:  Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes.  

After all our touring around, we were ready to have a nice sit-down dinner.  Warren and Joslyn took us to one of their favorite restaurants in Hot Springs:  Steinhaus Keller.  Chuck and I enjoyed our first-ever meal in a German restaurant and it was absolutely delicious.  Chuck had a schnitzel with garlic mashed potatoes and I had cabbage rolls with brussel sprouts and a potato pancake.  A perfect ending to a perfect day!  

Thank you, Warren and Joslyn, for showing us around Arkansas and for all the fun and good eats during our visit!  What a great time we had!  Looking forward to seeing you in San Antonio this winter!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!

On Monday, we planned to get together with Warren and Joslyn for a late lunch at their house.  Joslyn's mother was going to join us and we were looking forward to meeting her.

We arrived at their house around 12:30 and took things we had brought for our lunch together straight to their kitchen.  We came out of the kitchen, we had a big surprise!  Terry and Gloria who we meet up with in San Antonio in the winter had drove in the night before!  We were so surprised!

We couldn't believe it!  Terry had just texted Chuck earlier that morning saying he wished they could be here with all of us.  Those sneaky Farnstroms!  :)

The Burlesons were pretty sneaky too!

Joslyn's mother, Miss Pauline, arrived a short time later.  What a sweet and beautiful lady!

"Like mother, like daughter"  
We had such a wonderful afternoon talking and visiting with everyone.  And Warren's grilled chicken and Joslyn's mashed potato salad were DELICIOUS!

On Tuesday, all the guys went to play golf while all the girls including Miss Pauline went to a crocheting group that Joslyn and Miss Pauline go to every Tuesday.  I'm just learning, but Miss Pauline, Joslyn and Gloria are extremely talented and have showed me some of their projects.

The Crafty Crocheters!
At the crocheting group, I saw even more beautiful projects being worked on by such talented ladies. After crocheting, the four of us went to McAllister's for a delicious lunch and then Miss Pauline invited us to her house to see some of her other projects.  She had beautiful blankets and afghans she had crocheted and then she showed us all of these intricate doilies and table scarves she had made years ago.  They were so beautiful.  And then, she surprised us, and told Gloria and me to pick one for ourselves!   We were so surprised and so grateful to receive one of her beautiful doilies.  I found the perfect spot for mine:  on our "steering wheel" table in the motorhome.

Isn't it beautiful!
The third surprise came on Wednesday but this surprise we were a part of on the front end.  Warren and Joslyn had invited two other friends from San Antonio who also live in the Little Rock area to join them for dinner at the Bonefish Grill.  What Suzanne and Charlie didn't know was that Terry and Gloria and Chuck and Melissa were going to be there too!

We had a delicious dinner of Bang Bang Shrimp and lots and lots of laughs!  It was such a fun evening!

Terry and Gloria had to return home to Oklahoma on Thursday morning so we said our good-byes to them Wednesday night.  We can't wait to see you again for New Year's in San Antonio!  :)

Friday, September 16, 2016

Arkansas...Here We Come

We left Nashville on Monday morning and stopped over in Tunica for a couple of nights before heading on to Benton, Arkansas, to visit our friends, Warren and Joslyn.

Warren and Joslyn invited us to their house for dinner Wednesday night.  It was so good to get to see them again and we enjoyed a delicious dinner of homemade tacos.  Yummy!

On Thursday, we played golf at one of Warren's favorite golf courses in Hot Springs Village.  It was very hot but we were having a fun time together.  Unfortunately, it started raining after the first 9 holes so we had to call it quits.  Probably was just as well because we were all pretty hot and getting pretty hungry.  We had pizza at Molly O'Brien's which was near the golf course.  When we eat pizza with Warren and Joslyn it really works out great.  Warren and I prefer pepperoni pizza and Chuck and Joslyn like pizza with everything on it.  The extra treat was on Thurday nights they have free dessert:  a cone of soft serve ice cream!  Sweet!

Today, Warren and Joslyn came and picked us up and we rode to the booming metropolis of Keo, Arkansas.  Population:  256.

In the big city of Keo, is a restaurant called Cotham's located in what used to be an old country store built in 1912 called Cotham's Mercantile.

Based upon the appearance of the building, I began to wonder if it was safe to enter.  :)

But the parking lot was full of customers so I figured it must be pretty safe.  :)  When we walked in the restaurant, it looked just about as old on the inside as it did on the outside.

We ordered what Cotham's is known for:  their Hubcap Hamburger.  All I can say is it was a good thing Chuck and I split the burger because it was the biggest hamburger I've ever seen.

It was delicious and the first time I ever needed to eat my hamburger with a fork!

Boy, was it good!  After lunch, we rode further into the countryside...

...and were able to see where they were harvesting the rice fields.

This area of Arkansas was where his parents and grandparents had lived.  Warren told us that his grandmother's name was Sallie T. Burleson.  Guess what the T stood for:  Tennessee.  Isn't that cool?  Sallie Tennessee Burleson.

We went to another small restaurant with the intention of trying some of their pies for dessert but  most of their pies were gone.  So, guess where we went?  Back to Cotham's for some cobbler and Mississippi Mud cake.  Joslyn suggested that she and I split the Mississippi Mud Cake.  All I can say is it was a good thing we split!

We were in chocolate heaven!

It took awhile, but we worked our way through the "mud."  :)

Joslyn, finally through in the towel.  But not me!

I even threatened to lick the plate!

Okay, now I am as full as a tick.  I don't think I'll eat anything the rest of the day.  But, it sure was good!  :)