Monday, April 18, 2011

Hot Springs Day! The Mecca of Spring Water.

It's 10:30 on Saturday night and we just got finished playing a round of Skip Bo and Laurie and I won. We had a busy day today. We started the day out by driving into town and taking a tour of one of the original bath houses. It was very interesting. Hot Springs is one of the first tourist destinations in the US. People traveled from all over to go soak in the baths for a few days or even weeks. The building was mostly tile and marble. We learned about the Hot Springs area and history. I included a link about Hot Springs below, from the National Park Service. Check it out and it will tell you about what we saw today.

Needle Shower (Used to wash off after the steam bath)

After the tour, we walked the main street and did some shopping. We were waiting on the bath house to open back up after lunch, to be able to go bathe. The weather was a little chilly today, so the warm bath actually sounded good. 

We chose Buckstaff Bath House to bathe in because it is the only bath house with the traditional way of doing things, that is still in continuous operation since 1912. The men were taken separately to different areas of the building. I will share the experience from my point of view...

Joe and I were taken into a locker room and were told to strip down to "the way that we came into this world." We had changing booths with lockers in them so we could secure our belongings while we bathed. We were given a sheet to wrap around us when we were finished undressing. Actually, Bobby, the locker room attendant wrapped a sheet around us. Did he just wrap a sheet around me when I was naked, I thought. I guess he is used to seeing naked men. Ok, let's move on. By wrapped a sheet around me, I mean, draped over my shoulders and I was having to use both hands to secure it from showing my parts as we walked into a waiting area before we got in the baths. Joe walked behind me and I made sure to keep my eyes on the horizon and not look down. We walk into this room with other men in sheets and there were tubs and other contraptions making noise. I take a seat in one of the white waiting chairs and wait for my name to be called. Joe walks in and sits down also. When my name gets called, I follow this black guy over to a bath tub and he tells me to take my sheet off and get in the tub. I climb in and he turn the faucet on. Hot, mineral water starts flowing out of the faucet and he turns a whirlpool contraption on that makes the water bubbly and like a hot tub. It was very relaxing!  I stayed in the tub until he came and got me, for about 30 minutes. Other men stayed in shorter than I did, because I heard them come and go in the tub next to me. Oh, btw, the tubs were separated by marble slab walls, so there was no peaking going on. The water started out at 110 degrees, and then cooled to 102 by the time I got out. The water is straight from the ground at 145 degrees and then cooled through a system so it won't burn. I grabbed a towel as I got out of the tub and it barely wrapped around me. The attendant told me to go sit in the sits bath. It is a little tub that you sit in and it runs hot water down your back.  It is supposed to help back problem. It was comfortable, but weird, because it was on a wall, facing the waiting chairs. So, I got to see everyone that walked in, with the same look on their face, as I had on mine when I first walked in. "What is this place? Am I really naked with all of these guys around?" :)  It wasn't that bad. After sitting down for 10 minutes, I was taken over to a steam room. It was a one person room with a door on it. I was told to wait outside of the door while the attendant opened it for another guy to come out. Well, he came out, naked of course. But, he was surprised I was standing there waiting for him to come out. He saw me and I said "Surprise!" He said, "Surprise" back. He grabbed his towel so fast and hurried over with the attendant somewhere. That was pretty funny! The steam room lasted a little longer that I expected but it was nice to feel like I'd been beat up by the time I walked out of there. It was like a workout without lifting a finger. I was taken to a table where other tables were lined up with other guys laying on them. I was told to lay down on the table and wait for the man to bring me a sheet to cover me up. It took him a little longer to get to me than I had hoped, but he made it and wrapped me up with a few hot towels and a sheet. I laid there for 20 minutes and then I was taken to a shower.  It was an old shower, but it was warm and it felt really good after sweating so much. After the shower I was led by a masseuse to a room and he took the towel off of me and made me lay down in the table. The massage wasn't one to die for, but it was relaxing. I heard Joe come in the room and be massaged by another person. That was his first massage, so I was waiting to hear something funny, but they were just talking about The Villages (The masseuse used to live there) and Weeki Wachee. I got dressed and waited outside for the rest of the crew. Overall, I would definitely do it again. Getting past the naked guys all in one room part, is easy. Just stay focused at eye level and occasionally look to the ceiling. I think it was a great experience and I would recommend it for anyone going through Arkansas. I talked to Laurie, Jan and Joe about their experience and it sounded like we were all in different places because their experiences were different from mine. I guess it all depends on what attendant you get. 

After the bathing, we walked the streets and checked out some more stores. I filled my water bottle with spring water on the street, in fountains that they have set up throughout the town. I was in heaven with all of the water fountains and accessibility that they had for drinking water. People were filling 5 gallon jugs with the water too. 

Water Fountain
We headed back to the campsite after walking around and took Holly and Mindy for a walk. The weather was beautiful. We were pretty much worn out from our day at the bath, so we finished the night off with some roast and veggies. 

Holly and I got up the next morning and took a 2 mile hike over the mountain and back to the town so I could return a "bling" collar that Laurie bought Holly. It was too small. :)  The hike took about an hour and it was nice to get out and get more exercise. After the hike, we needed to get moving down to the diamond mine so we packed up and took off.  

We got to Crater of Diamonds State Park at about 3pm and went down to the visitors center to check out what the deal is with all this diamond hype.  The diamond field is 35 acres and is plowed once a month.  It is dirt and rock...and diamonds.  We watched a video and took a walk through the field to see if we could spot any diamonds on top of the soil and to get a game plan together for the next day. We didn't find any diamonds sitting on top but we did get a game plan together.  Game Plan: Wake up when we wake up, drink coffee, eat breakfast and go digging. 

Where we ate lunch. Bodacious Burgers.

We barbecued some chicken and Laurie and I won another round of Skip Bo before going to bed. We were all anxious about getting up and digging for diamonds.  

I have more pictures to upload, but it is taking a very long time to get them uploaded tonight. I'll add a link to a site for more pictures.  Next post will be all about diamond mining!

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