Taking the Baths

 A week in Hot Springs, AR proved salubrious. The place is known for, of all things, the natural waters that spring from the earth at a temperature of 140 degrees or thereabouts. It has long been known as a place to “take the baths” and there are still several bath houses fed by the natural waters (or so they say). The first place I went for a bath was the Arlington Hotel, which is one of the old historic hotels in town The current building has been there almost 100 years, and unfortunately it looks it. Their maintenance plan is wholly lacking, noticeable even walking up the steps to the lobby. In the bath house there is peeling paint and the pipes are probably original to the building. Sad, really. But the bath service was good: 20 minute hot soak in a large bathtub, 20 minutes lounging with hot compresses, a dip in the dry sauna, a needle shower, followed by a 20 minute massage. All for 70 bucks. Very relaxing. I had basically the same service at the Buckstaff Bath House a few days later. Good waters to take.

Back in the day Hot Springs was also known for gangsters and baseball players. Al Capone and some of his cronies enjoyed the town thanks to the baths, the horse track, illegal gambling and a police force that looked the other way. Famous club owner/gangster Owney Madden retired from the rackets, married a local girl and settled in Hot Springs, becoming a respected citizen. There’s a Gangster Museum on the main drag that tells the stories of many of the colorful characters that hung around back then.

Apparently Hot Springs was the original site for baseball spring training. There are a number of plaques around town citing many famous players that came through the town.baseball-trail

My RV site was quite nice, located right on Catherine’s Lake.catherines-landing

lake-catherine

deer

I was last in Hot Springs 50 years ago and remembered it to be more “mountainous” than it is: wooded rolling hills is more like it.

hot-springs

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Little Rock is an hour’s drive from HS, so I rolled over there one day to check out the Clinton Presidential Library. It’s a very handsome building.

clinton-library

It’s always interesting to get refreshed on the background  and the accomplishments of those who have occupied the Oval Office. It’s a common theme at each of the Presidential Libraries I’ve been to: a replica of the Oval Office in effect at the time of each particular President’s service. The Clinton Library was having a Beatles exhibit, as did the LBJ Library when I was there a year or so ago. I figured they were the same exhibit, but actually the LBJ one was way better.

First night in HS I went to a German restaurant. That’s long been a beef I’ve had with the Houston dining scene. As diverse as it has become, there’s hardly any traditional German food, which is especially puzzling given the number of German immigrants that came to Texas in the late 19th century. So a meal of sauerkraut cakes, schnitzel (with spaetzle and red cabbage)and strudel was quite enjoyable.

sauerkraut-patties

schnitzel

And I was especially pleased to see a reliable Houston import in HS:

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