Hot Springs, Arkansas

December 14 – 17

We crossed the state boundary into Arkansas on a Wednesday, and the girls celebrated in the back seat that we were finally in the same state as their Mimi.
Hot Springs made a perfect stop en route to the family property because it was on the way, but also because it’s a National Park, and it’s where Brad and I spent our honeymoon. Actually, once we were there, I realized that besides some childhood visits to the area that I have almost no memory of, I’ve visited Hot Springs for my honeymoon, a wedding, and a funeral. All of these markers of major life changes left me with some good food for thought throughout our visit.
We camped at Lake Catherine State Park right on the Ouchuita River (Wash-i-taw), so the girls had a fun muddy beach with lots of shells to play in during our first morning. I took my ukulele out for music class, and since we had the campground nearly to ourselves, we belted out “I’ll Fly Away” over and over and over while the girls gleefully ran around the beach collecting shells and making mud pies.

happy kids with space to play outside
“I’ve never seen real mud before!” exclaimed my desert children.
nothing like some mud & sticks for a really good time
proud of her muddy boots
 

Right across the water from our site was a giant electricity generating, fossil-fuel-burning plant. Brad and I tried to pick our site based on seeing the steam-puffing behemoth through as few windows as possible. The girls, however, were delighted by the sight of it! “We love this site because it has that beautiful castle with all of the lights on it at night!”they proclaimed on our first night. Perspective check…

What a beautiful castle…

There were several short trails in the state park, so several of us got some much-needed exercise. One evening the girls and I attended a men’s chorus Christmas Concert at Anthony Chapel, a beautiful glass and wooden chapel in the forest.

beautiful chapel in the woods
http://youtu.be/p7hB4EL9Ojw

 

We were too cheap to pay the $15 entrance fee for their Christmas Light Extravaganza at Garvin Gardens, but thankfully the parking lot was beautiful on its own!
The girls’ favorite part was the golf cart that shuttled us to & from our parking space.
One day we all visited the National Park site, drank some hot water from the free fountains, and learned about the heyday of the area when people from all over the south and mid-west visited the springs to fix whatever ailed them. My only disappointment was that there were no ironically terrifying postcards of the old spa implements, that today look much more to me like torture devices.

The kids and the hot springs considered one another.
I really love these people.
warming up in the warm steam on a cold day
hot bath, anyone?
Sunny lounging around in the shower room.
The Fordyce Spring in the basement…the heart of the whole operation.
please do not… Also, the “steam baths” where you sit in a metal box with only your head peeking out terrify me!
not torture devices…
Still apparently not torture devices….At least they stopped the “electric baths” in the 1920’s, even though no electrocutions were ever documented.
the gym
picnic lunch was in the cab of our truck on this cold day
Jr. Ranger Sunny
Jr. Ranger Coralin
no actual hot baths for us on this day…
On our final morning at Lake Catherine I woke up to coffee & breakfast in bed for my birthday. When Brad took the first load of things out to the truck to prepare for the day’s drive, I started hearing him make sounds of surprise and disgust. When he came back inside, the mood of the morning quickly changed. “There are thousands of ladybugs crawling all over everything outside. Let’s get out of here ASAP.”

The weather had changed overnight from frigid to springlike, so the earth had opened and an army of ladybugs was swarming the giant square of white – their favorite color. They were crawling up our tires, into vents, up our power cord, and into every crevice and window.

They were particularly fond of our electrical cord & many many many were making their way into our trailer by this avenue.
oh, here’s some…
These are some of the only pics I got in the scramble to unhook and keep them out of our clothes.
At least it was an insect that is kindof cute since I had to scoop handfuls of them out of our electrical compartment, but at some point a swarm of almost any bug is disgusting. We scooped, swept, and vacuumed as many of them as we could reach and high-tailed it for Mimi-land.

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