Thursday, March 29, 2007


Hot Springs National Park is as urban a national park as I can imagine, a small jewel of history, hiking and camping adjacent to the main drag of Hot Springs, Arkansas. Down one side of Central Avenue run the usual tourist services, shops, restaurants and galleries; down the other side are the grand old bath houses now protected by their National Park status (since 1921).

We visited once before, a couple years ago. Both times, I wished we had planned to stay longer.

The day we arrived, we went straight to the park for a hike. It was too late to tour the restored bath house that serves as park headquarters, but we picked up the park map and set out up the hill.

This photo shows Odel on the Grand Promenade, up the slope behind bath house row. A hundred years ago, this was THE place to see and be seen, strolling back and forth, socializing...

Twenty six miles of well defined trails wind up, down, and around the small mountain (really, just a large hill) encompassed by the park. During the heyday of the bath houses and "taking the waters" for your health, exercise on these trails were part of the overall health improvement plan. For us, it was part of our "make room for BBQ'ed ribs" plan.

Fronting the Grand Promenade are small parks with benches, bubbling, steaming hot springs, and beautiful spring flowers. I can easily picture visitors relaxing on these benches under the redbud trees between treatments.

Hot Springs is still known for the water, both hot and cold. At one end of the park, a hot spring is piped into a fountain outfitted with four faucets; at the other end, a cold spring is set up the same way. According to National Park literature, the water emerging from these springs is 4,000 years old. I don't know if that is a good thing or not, but we joined the group of people filling gallons and gallons of water jugs at the cold spring, and it tastes GREAT!

Tuesday night was our first test of the weather radio I gave Odel for his birthday. This is a radio that is always "ON", quiet until there is a NOAA weather watch or warning within a 50 mile radius of your current area (or a specific county you have set). When we got back from sightseeing, the little amber "watch" light was blinking. We pushed a button to learn that most of southern Arkansas was under a tornado watch (just means it COULD happen).

As little later, a loud, undulating, wail snapped us to attention, and a red light blinked on the display: tornado warning for the county to the south of us. We headed into the Elks Lodge to watch the weather channel playing in the lounge, and saw that it was no threat to us. I was thrilled with the performance of the radio. Now, rather than staying awake all night to watch TV or listen to the radio during local severe weather alerts, we can count on the radio to awaken us for any urgent weather action.

I took this last photo just this morning, as the sun rose over the Mississippi in front of Scoopy. We will be in Memphis for a week.

1 comment:

  1. What gorgeous, gorgeous pictures!!!! I have never been in the South (other than Texas) and it is hard to even imagine the scenery. THANK YOU!!!!!