At the end of our trip we went to visit some extended family, who live in a cute little place on one of Arkansas’s many lakes. Nightie night, Arkansas!
I didn’t get around to taking pictures of my food much on this trip, but suffice to say it was a LOT of fried things, mostly fish, shrimp, and some assorted chicken and potatoes. One time we ate at the best Mexican place I’ve ever been to, which was right next to our motel in a random town in Missouri on the way back - I still dream about those tacquitos.
That’s all for our mini vacay! Thanks for joining us!
Further up the sides of the valley and deeper into Hot Springs National Park, you can drive around and come to a bunch of different overlooks, from which you can see the entirety of Hot Springs below.
Another odd thing I like is graffiti - this overlook is understandably a popular place to propose marriage as evidenced by lots of couples’ jottings.
Now here’s a labbit-sized spring!
The one above no longer flows, but modern versions of these little springs pipe hot and cold water out for people to drink or store up.
Tunnel spring is just cool looking - inside is a murky little cave of water and greenness. It looks like some kind of big labbit-eating monster might live there - evidently, because Mini Me wouldn’t go near the bars.
And here we are at an actual hot spring! If you look closely you can see steam rising off the pool. It’s quite warm! This particular one runs down into the valley, creating a fun - hot! - waterfall.
Even in such a lovely setting, Mini Me did not want to take a bath. Good thing, because pretty sure labbits aren’t allowed in park pools.
The sign next to the falls cautioned us not to climb there - it’s very slippery and steamy! - but further in you can climb up winding stairs and paths into the lush wooded hills and go up to the Promenade, which sounds more exciting than it actually is - it was where you would go strolling to show off in turn-of-the-century resort society. Now it’s a cool little park with a long tiled pathway which overlooks the valley that is Hot Springs.
Okay I don’t know about you, but i LOVE kitsch shoppes! Especially on vacation!
I was super excited to see an authentic coin-op Zoltar! Nearby you could buy tank tops, mermaid fountains, stamped pennies, and jugs to collect the hot spring water.
The spring water flows out of fountains and taps all over the town, some cold, some hot, so that residents and visitors can collect it and use it for drinking - free of charge! I don’t know why that blows my mind, but it does. The water is indeed good - it’s not extraordinary or anything, but tastes a lot better than bottled water, and has no weird tastes that tap water can end up with.
One of the bathhouses was fixed up and converted to the park visitor center, so you can see what a functioning bathhouse would have looked like around the turn of the century. It’s a rather cramped, maze-y place, like a cross between an old hospital and a social club!
The water from the hot springs that occur naturally in this random bit of Arkansas was billed as a cure-all, and people would bathe in it, get all sorts of health treatments, and even drink it to cure whatever ailed them. You can see the torturous-looking metal tanks that one would sit in for a full-body steam, and changing rooms (for men and for women seperately). Mostly it seems people felt the effects of a healthy exercise retreat plus unusually high levels of aspen acid (what is in Aspirin) in the water, not to mention hobnobbing socially.
The area became this resort town that welcomed the who’s who of turn of the century rich and infamous, including gangsters like Al Capone. He may have hung out in this enormous men’s bath atrium, with the copper fountain and stained glass roof (why did the men get the cool bathing area? Not fair). Apparently people back then were not shy about hanging around socially in various states of undress amongst their same gender peers.
Next stop - Hot Springs AR, where I was born long long ago! I was 1 year old when my family left, so I don’t remember any of the cool stuff there - now I’ve made new memories I guess!
This is bathhouse row - a literal row of giant, oppulent bath houses from the turn of the century, which were built to capitalize on the hot springs health craze that swept American high society (and organized criminal society) at the time.
Next we’ll go inside!
Outside the Clinton Presidential Library … there’s an entire wing suspended over the Mississippi river!
We had a terrific lunch at Forty-Two, a fahncy cafe inside the library (underneath the suspended part) - amazing fried catfish, club sandwich, and truffle mac & cheese!
Afterward we went outside to get a better look at the Chihuly installed on the reflecting pools outside - don’t those red spires look cool there? I wish they’d keep them there forever. We also checked out the old railroad bridge that’s now a biking/walking path, which scared me a bit (I hate heights) but the view is great!
It’s no secret, my favorite part of going to the Clinton Presidential Library was the special exhibits of the work of glass artist Chihuly. One room had a giant spotless black field on which a garden of amazing twisty plantlike sculptures were mounted. Another room had a collection of interlocking spherical glass pieces, which look a lot like sea creatures and shells, along with the artist’s sketches. And in the large main hallway there was an enormous blue-and-green tower of swirls that nearly reached the second floor!
Mini Me kept wanting to climb around on them, but breaking a Chihuly is probably a sure-fire way to get kicked out (possibly of the entire state).
Mini Me’s been promoted to White House Chief of Staff!
Well, in Clinton’s recreated cabinet room anyway. We visited the gigantic William J. Clinton Presidential Library Museum on our way around Little Rock, since I still live near and regularly visit the Herbert Hoover one. It’s much bigger!
The library part is the collection of Clinton’s presidential papers, which are kept in a rather unique set of shelves that also serve as the building’s support pillars. The blue boxes (actually perfectly TARDIS-sized for Mini Me …) are removable in case anyone needs to look at some bit of paper from Clinton’s administration. The rest of it is a detailed museum of Clinton’s life, presidency, and all kinds of cool stuff.
Mini Me’s favorite things were the elaborately painted eggs from an Easter celebration in the 90s. My favorite thing was probably the giant windows and the amazing view!