Saturday, August 12, 2017

Hot Springs, Arkansas

During the summer, Austin started talking about us going somewhere laid back like maybe the mountains in the coming months.  I jump on any chance of a vacation, so I started looking for somewhere we could go.  We narrowed our options to the Blue Ridge Mountains and Hot Springs, Arkansas.  One night Austin was on the phone with Travis, and Travis mentioned that they were planning to take an anniversary trip to Hot Springs.  That led to us talking about going together and booking a place to stay off VRBO!  Woo hoo!

We booked the room in Hot Springs for Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.  Austin and I decided to leave late Thursday afternoon so we wouldn't have to drive all 6 hours on Friday.  This is the face you make when you know your people are leaving and they haven't been home long from the fair.  Daisy is normally NOT an inside dog, but she takes full advantage whenever I let her be.  I was feeling pretty guilty that we were leaving her again, so I let her watch me pack!  I will say, she never really leaves that chair whenever she comes inside.  She prefers the recliner.  

 We had gone back and forth about leaving Thursday afternoon or Friday morning.  I thought we had agreed to leave on Friday morning until Wednesday night at 8:00 whenever Austin asked me if I could be packed and ready by 3:00 on Thursday.  I had not put the first thing in a suit case, so I left work a little early on Thursday and we were in the car and ready to leave around 5:00.  I did pretty good!

 We drove through the Mississippi Delta and po-dunk towns until we made it to Pine Bluff, Arkansas.  There really wasn't much between here and there!  
 Mama was hungry.  With limited options between home and Pine Bluff, we waited it out and got something to eat before we checked into the hotel.  The room was super nice, and it didn't take me long to realize it was so big because it was a handicap room.  Arby's for the win!

 We ate the continental breakfast at the hotel, which I was very impressed with, and left the room around 10:00.  After we left our hotel, we went across the road to Wal-Mart to pick up a few drinks and other essentials for the road.  We only had another hour and a half to get to Hot Springs.
 We were planning to meet the Mauthes for lunch in Hot Springs around 12:00.  Since we were early, I called the location and got early check-in.  Winning.  We stayed in a condo on Lake Hamilton, a few miles from downtown Hot Springs.  
 Jess and Trav's room.
 Our room.
 After we got checked in, we found the "strip" downtown and picked somewhere to eat lunch.  
 We picked this Italian restaurant called Angel's and split a brick oven pizza.  YUM.  Over lunch, we talked about what we needed on our Wal-Mart run. We made the grocery trip and then I did what I do best these days-sit on the couch.  I read through a book on all of the things to do and see in the area.
The boys grilled burgers for supper and we did nothing.  It was glorious.  The only thing not so glorious about it was that we ate supper at like 8:30.  They had an issue with the electric grill.  It wouldn't work, and the problem did not get solved until Jessica brought to their attention that the breaker was tripped.  

On Saturday, we got up rolling.  We first went to the mountain tower.  You can hike up to the tower, but we chose to drive.  Jessica let the elevator get the best of her.  You can see for miles and miles from the top of the tower.  Jessica chose to stay on the lower deck that is enclosed and pass up the opportunity to go up another flight of stairs and take it all in from outside!  They met us at the bottom!
The weather was beautiful on this morning!  It felt like crisp fall air, which I haven't felt in quite some time here in the Sip.  I have noticed in pictures that sometimes I look more pregnant than others.  In this particular picture, I look very pregnant.  Hey, baby girl.  
After we finished up at the tower, we walked around at the bottom of it and took in some scenery.  It was lunch time, so we found McClard's BBQ.  This is a place that had been recommended to Travis before we went on the trip.  It was a super neat hole in the wall/a hundred years old kind of place.  You had to seat yourself, so there were people lurking around waiting on tables.  Thankfully whenever we got there, there were four seats open at the bar!

I got a BBQ pulled pork sandwich that was quite tasty.  The fries were to die for.

 Austin and Travis both got these tamales.  After eating them, they weren't sure whether it tasted more like mexican or BBQ and it sounded weird.  
 And Jessica ordered the loaded fries, which turns out could have fed all four of us.  Needless to say, we probably left over half of the food we ordered at McClard's.  We will take note of that if we ever go back!  After eating, we explored a few mountains from our vehicle.  No hiking here!  A lady at the tower had told us that if we went to the West Mountain to some hiking trail that we could see natural springs.  We used our iphones and found the trail.  Whenever we got there, it was brought to our attention that is was ten miles long and after some googling we know that it did not have any natural hot springs on it!  Moving right along.  Next on our list was Garvans Gardens.  We had heard some really good reviews on this place and it did not disappoint.  It was BEAUTIFUL.


Kea asked Austin during the fair if he had ever worn shorts.  If he wears shorts around home, he wears them with boots so that is interesting.  Since he's outside a lot and allergic to ants, he does not wear shorts often.  You can tell by the color of his legs.  Yikes.
 They told us whenever we went in that Anthony's chapel, the chapel on the grounds, would be closed for a wedding in the afternoon for a few hours.  We finished looking at the gardens in time to get a lemonade and get to the chapel just as the wedding was finishing up.
 We witnessed the bride and groom leave the chapel and then we were free to explore!  It was so pretty.  It is surrounded by glass, and obviously does not need any flowers/extras to be beautiful for a wedding.

We went back to the room after the gardens and I crashed for a moment.  Thomas started the #nawsheaintbred hashtag and it has stuck for awhile now.  Guys.....

 Jessica and I ate some chips and cheese on the patio before supper!  Another instance where I look to be very preggo.  I know I'm going to get much bigger but whenever I see pictures like this, it amazes me.  Haha.  Oh, and Austin and I have been calling the baby JuneYa for quite some time.  Like "junior" but different.  Now that we know IT is a girl, I think we can call her something else.
 After eating steaks on the grill, we found the pool.  I sat on the sidelines.  We counted how many seconds Austin can stay under water.  He acts like he is 5 whenever he gets in a swimming pool

 I propped my feet up whenever we got back.  This really was just the vacation we needed!

Austin's look describes how he felt about his freshly squeezed orange juice Sunday morning at the Pancake Shop downtown.  I thought it was delicious.  This was another hole in the wall/super old place.  It had lots of character!

 After we ate, we went into the Arlington Hotel and this is the only picture I got.  It has been there forever and is a really neat place.  You can tell that so much of the place is preserved just as it was a long, long time ago.
 We hit up Fat Bottomed Girls cupcakes where I got a cupcake that I managed to take home with me and eat at work on Tuesday.  It was YUM.
 It started raining, but that didn't spoil our fun.  We got a little wet, but it wasn't terrible.  I tried to get some pictures of Bathhouse Row, but I didn't get any really good ones.  You can see one of the bathhouses on the right side of this picture with the blue awnings.
 One thing we knew we wanted to do on this day was tour an old bathhouse.  It proved to be verrrrryyyy interesting.  The bathhouse looked more like a torture chamber than a luxury in my opinion, but that is just me!  I had never heard of bathhouses before, but this town is known for them.  Obviously back in the day, before modern medicine, doctors would prescribe patients to go to these bathhouses for services that would help their medical issues.  They believed that a long, hot soak in a mineral bath would help polio and paralysis. From what I gathered, everyday people did not get this luxury.  There were what seemed like "maids" that would bathe individuals.  They didn't bathe themselves!  

 There were big rooms with lots of small rooms and a tub like the one below in each little room.

 Pictured below is the ladies' dressing room.
 The picture below is a board on a monorail type system.  The monorail went to the men's and women's dressing room.  People who were paralyzed could be placed on that board in the dressing room, transported to this room by the monorail, and then lowered into the water.
 Beauty salon.  I think this place was like today's modern day resort!

 Above is a super old gym.  This particular bathhouse is open for free for public viewing.  It was called the Fordyce Bathhouse.  There are several other bathhouses down the row that are still in operation today.  I am not sure how traditional they are, because the packages they offer just look like modern day spa packages but we were told there is one bathhouse that is particularly true to the ways of old.  I think it was called Buckstaff Bathhouse.  I am not sure that I would have any way, but I could not experience the bathhouse thing due to being pregnant.  My body temperature doesn't need to get that high!

After our self guided tour, we went down the strip to a gangster museum.  We had to wait a little while for the tour to start, but it was worth our wait. Here we are wet from the rain and waiting impatiently.
After taking the tour, I know that Hot Springs was the place to be back in the day if you wanted to drink, gamble illegally or get with a "lady of the night".  I didn't know who Al Capone was before I went into the museum, but he is obviously pretty well known and plays a big part in the history of Hot Springs.  He had a room in the Arlington hotel that we went in, and you can stay in it today for a little extra $$$.  
After we left the museum, we went to eat mexican and then back to the room for some down time.  We ate dinner at the Blue Monkey and stopped on our way back in to the condo for a photo op.  We had not taken a group picture on the entire trip and that is not okay!

We don't get to the see the Mauthe's near enough because they live so far away, but they're always there for the big stuff!  We were in their town whenever we got engaged, Austin claims to have practically delivered their first child in Starkville (not really) and they were at our wedding with a teeny tiny new baby!  (We still have not moved past the fact that we did not go to their wedding.  Austin claims he didn't get an invitation.  But it was the Saturday after the fair 5 years ago, so who really knows!)  We thought about re-marrying them at Anthony's chapel so that we could be in attendance this time!  (just kidding)

Hot Springs is probably one of the more interesting places I have ever been!  I learned a lot. I now know that it is the birthplace of Bill Clinton, does not actually have big natural hot tubs out in the wilderness, and the springs people talk about are water fountains in town where you can fill up your empty jugs. I know about American gangsters and that they didn't wear saggy pants and gold chains, but dressed super nice in slacks and fedoras.  I know who Al Capone is and that he would not take a second thought at killing someone for some $$$.  Hot Springs isn't particularly somewhere I want to go back to year after year, but I am glad we saw it!