I’m in Arkansas today, in the town of Hot Springs, to visit Hot Springs National Park, which has, I believe, some hot springs.
Hot Springs National Park is one of the more unusual National Parks in that it’s heavily integrated into the town itself, incorporating some of the old bathhouses. The area was one of the first to receive any federal protection as people… really like hot water, I guess. In the late 19th century, the government even offered a free bathhouse for those who could not afford the private ones. Although it sounds odd, this was because taking in the hot springs was often recommended by doctors.
The popularity of the springs grew in the 20th century, with some lovely art deco buildings cropping up in the ‘20s. By the latter half of the 20th century, “just add water” became a less prevalent treatment and the baths went into decline, although one or two still operate.
Still under the weather from post-New Orleans blues, I am a little tempted to try the baths, but to quote Modern Family’s Mitchell, “I don’t find relaxing that relaxing”. Still, I’ve driven just over 1,000 miles in three days, so perhaps a relaxing – y’know, it’s just hot water. I mean, it was a pleasant enough experience, but basically it’s a blend of a bath, a Jacuzzi and then a shower. At least go the Lourdes route and sprinkle in a bit of Jesus.
Having had as much relaxing as I can handle, I set off towards Oklahoma to begin the leg of my trip through the middle of the country or, as I understand it, the most exciting states.