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Hot Springs: Arkansas Diamond Mining Day Four

Day four, Friday June 12

Hot Springs, Arkansas

We made one more group breakfast, got everyone cleaned up and ready to go. As the kids put it, the shower was pretty small, but you didn’t feel like you would fall over. Always the optimists! And it had lots of hot water, which was nice. We checked out, and moved on our way. It was about a 40 minute drive to get to Hot Springs, then about 10 minutes to get to the park area. I think everyone else was expecting an actual park, but we knew this was a more urban setting. The Hot Springs are actually some of the historic bathhouses which have been restored and you can go through. There is one that the National Park Service runs, and a couple which are still functioning bathhouses. We didn’t have the time to take a bath, although it did sound nice. Maybe next time.

Sauna Contraptions, Fordyce Bath House, Hot Springs, Arkansas

Sauna Contraptions, Fordyce Bath House, Hot Springs, Arkansas

We spent the time to get the kids their park ranger badges. This involved an extensive tour of the Fordyce House, which is the one the park service runs. We compared the architecture on the original houses, explored the rooms in the Fordyce House, saw where the springs feed into the structure, saw equipment used in old days and generally discovered where current spa services and physical therapy evolved from. Surround showers, steam rooms, massage tables, physical therapy equipment; it all started here. It would have been amazing in its prime. I am sure it was an experience like no other at that time.

As we were walking the promenade behind the bathhouses, a major storm started rolling in behind us. The rest of our group decided to call it a day and head back; we stopped at one of the filling stations to fill our jugs of water from the Hot Springs, then juggled the 140 degree jugs from hand to hand to try not to burn ourselves as we headed to the cars! We watched in amazement as vanloads of people would stop and fill multiple jugs of water and speed off. The water is free and it looked like some of these people were locals who must come fill jugs daily. Many people believe the waters have healing effects, but it is bizarre to watch all the same. The water was still hot hours later, amazingly. Maybe the locals just don’t want to pay for hot water.

Once we split up, the storm had pretty much passed us by, so our family went back out to the town for some gift shopping and then on to the mountain tower. The area around the park buildings is all shops, and we spent a little time finding some souvenirs, then decided to take a drive up the mountain for a different view of the town. We started with the North Mountain drive and went up in the mountain tower. This is an observation tower at the top of one of the mountains, where you take a glass elevator up to an observation deck. You can see for miles, and it's gorgeous. You can see why this area is popular, it is very peaceful. You can see to Missouri and Oklahoma from up here, and in the early days of this settlement, it must have been a pretty awesome sight. Next we took the West Mountain Drive. You could see just as far, with many scenic outlooks. It was a pretty drive, worth the time. Next order of business, we all agreed, was food!

Natural hot spring, Hot Springs, Arkansas

Natural hot spring, Hot Springs, Arkansas

We decided to find a local place to eat, a general requirement for us, so we drove the strip looking for something appealing. There were several pubs that looked OK, but we decided to go back to the spot that struck our fancy when we were souvenir shopping, Bubbalu’s, for burgers and dogs. Pretty basic fare, well done, in a quaint old building. We took a seat at the counter, ordered malts and burgers, and some excellent chili cheese fries! The food was all good, cooked from scratch (the burgers were not a frozen affair) and the service was extra friendly. You can’t ask for much more. And the building was fun, antique without being stuffy. I was amazed that the high ceilings made it open and airy, even with the hot humid weather all day. The doors were open, a breeze flowed through, and it was cool and inviting. We all agreed it was a great choice.

We felt like we had done the town justice. Although if we had another day we would try a bath. We headed out to meet back up with the rest of our group. We had a family affair the next day, so we needed to get back to our home base to prepare.

Related posts:

  1. Sifting for Treasure: Arkansas Diamond Mining Day Two
  2. Superman’s Hometown: Arkansas Diamond Mining Day Five and Six
  3. Ghosts of the South: Exploring Haunted Places in Arkansas
  4. A Day In The Quartz Fields: Arkansas Diamond Mining Day Three
  5. The Ghost Town of Cairo: Arkansas Diamond Mining, Day One

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