For Memorial Day Weekend we went to Hot Springs, Arkansas, famed for its ancient, bubbling waters the one-time cure-all of baseball players, gangsters and the frail elite, the ailing down-and-out, too.
While some original offerings are intact—spas in the historic buildings along Bathhouse Row—tourist trap attractions have taken hold in haunted street tours, the duck-bus-boat-things and the inevitable Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, made extra creepy with its double-whammy Bush display.
Instead we hiked Hot Springs National Park and beheld a blushing moon.
We marveled at the old Army–Navy Hospital, imagined pale faces in window panes and entire scripts of footsteps, ghosts in straight-jackets, purse-lipped Nurse Ratcheds stalking the halls.
Come dark the townies cruised the Row and shouted insults and come-ons out their cars. We drank hurricanes in a faux New Orleans bar then mischievous crashed the Arlington Hotel, a favorite retreat of Al Capone. A geezer band of three dressed to the nines played Johnny Cash, Elvis and multifarious waltzes, way old dudes who didn’t miss a beat.
Young and old alike danced before the stage, but the elderly couples were the best, jangly limbed and joints well oiled, lightfooted miracles of pep and life, defying stereotype, hopelessly in love well maybe just for tonight, sashaying about the dance floor.
In the morning grinning folk insisted taking our photo. “Just like a real Paris cafe!” running across the street with my camera snap snap okay, if you say so, lady, and really, it was a sweet thing to do.
Then we lounged in the hot springs at Quapaw Baths, where the mineral-rich water carbon-dates 4,000 years old. Medically therapeutic or not, it felt divine.
From there we drove to Ouachita National Forest. It took me three days to learn to say it (Wash-e-tah), but I did it (WASHITA!!), and we made it, after a pitstop at a rockshop where I collected a talisman of fossilized things I forgot the names of.
I didn’t think the day could get any better.
Then we met Smokey the Bear.
Camping was lovely,
ticks, eerie hatches, and all.
Arthur is notorious for occasionally looking creepy. It’s the eyes, really, and even when it’s dead sexy, it’s deathly, too. He apologizes, but it’s unnecessary.