Sunday, March 11, 2018

Hot Springs! So Hot Right Now

I'm the only person awake in our Little Rock hotel room (I assume; James is definitely asleep next to me and I'm sure if a kid was awake they'd have told me by now). I don't sleep well in hotels, so I've found it's best to not really even try. So blogging it is! Plus I love reading back over our trips and I've found if I don't stay on top of things it's REALLY hard to go back later and fill in the travelogue. Life picks right back up when you're home, usually even faster than before, and it's hard to blog backwards when you're drowning in laundry and grocery shopping lists.

So, today was Hot Springs! We left one hour later than we planned, but it was daylight savings time, so I feel like that counts as right on time. The drive was easy and the kids were delighted when we hit our first new state only 3 hours into the trip.

Rub-a-Dub-Dub, Three Kids in a Tub!

We pulled up to a free Sunday meter spot on Central Parkway in the heart of downtown historical Hot Springs right at 2 p.m. Unsure of what to expect in this preserved, antique version of a national park, I'd just turned to the kids and said, "now this won't be a trip where you just get to run around and climb on stuff."

Five seconds later they had run across the park by our car and climbed up this giant boulder. Of course.

And then right next to the boulder was a hot spring! Just right there for you to touch it!

Touch it and then yank your hand back because it's 143 degrees and that's really hot after about 2 seconds. Even for someone who takes scalding hot baths like I do.

And right next door to that was our fist historic bath house, now turned brewery where we stopped for snacks and beer later in the day. We continued down Bath House Row - they're all so different and look so well preserved. Most were built in the late 1800's and early 1900's and you can just picture people strolling up and down the sidewalk between treatments.

The Fordyce Bath House, built in 1915, now serves as the National Park's Visitor's Center. The park is free, so you can just walk in.

It is incredibly well preserved and you can roam through treatment rooms, changing rooms, salons, galleries, spa rooms, and even a gymnasium. It was wonderful and the kids loved it.

We watched the short film in the ground floor which gave them a lot of context for what they were seeing and then they got their Junior Ranger packets and got to work.

I really couldn't get over how amazing everything looked - the NPS has done an incredible job and there's just enough information presented about each room as you roam through the 4-story house.

James got a big kick out of the gym while I fell in love with the stained glass.

We finally emerged to roam more of the Row, stopping to admire the houses, read their information plaques, and fill out whatever was needed in the kids' ranger packets. We also found the gift shop, located in another historic Bath House, and so obviously the kids had to touch every single thing in there.

Lady Cora will take her bath now

We stopped at a hot springs fed fountain for a drink and James forgot the water comes out of the tap at 143 degrees.

... and that's a little hot to splash from your hands straight into your mouth. Luckily we had my Yeti to fill and we all got a sip. It's delicious. We filled all our water bottles on the way out for the car ride tomorrow.

At the end of the row there's an entrance into the Promenade that was built over the river for the fancy men and women to stroll between their treatments. The kids ran, we strolled, the weather was perfection, and I wished there was a bath treatment somewhere in my future. We saw several of the 47 separate hot springs along the way. Most are now covered to preserve them and keep them clean and uncontaminated, but some of it seeps out and you can feel the warm puddles.

We looped back to the Fordyce so the kids could turn in their packets and take the vows as a Junior Ranger. I adore Park Rangers and this one was perfection.

Obviously I cried during the pledge. I do it every time. I just take these words very seriously, "I promise to teach others about what I learned today, explore other parks and historic sites, and help preserve and protect these places so future generations can enjoy them"

That's literally what we're trying to do with our kids, and what we hope they do with their next generation. These parks are a legacy.

We roamed back towards the park and the Bath House turned Brewery, stopping in for a flight of beer and a delicious giant pretzel and boursin/pesto/tomato appetizer I'm determined to recreate at home. The kids got to climb their boulder one (six) more times and then we piled back in to drive to our hotel in Little Rock, putting us one hour closer to our Mammoth Cave adventures tomorrow and right next door to a tasty pizza place we stopped for dinner tonight.


It was a great day. Three hours in Hot Springs was perfect and I highly recommend it if you're ever driving through (or anywhere near! Lake Ouachita and a million other gorgeous Ozarks destinations are over here, just head to any one of them!). One park checked, three to go - we're so excited to be on our way!


  1. Hi, Rebecca! I heard you on Sarah's podcast, and I loved your attitude so much that I decided to check out your blog! I immediately felt a kinship -- I'm not a lawyer and I don't have kids, but I'm also a redhead from Houston (even though I don't live there anymore) and share both your politics and your devotion to exercise, reading, cooking, and the Great British Baking Show. :)

    At the risk of sounding like a creepy internet stalker, I have read a LOT of your blog over the past month or so. It's been a stressful few weeks, with a lot of work pressures and some other stuff going on, and reading your blog has been such a source of happiness and delight. It's like sitting down each night to read a happy little novel, and after reading all your ups and downs and holidays and vacations, I feel such a camaraderie with your little family in Fort Worth!

    I'm 28, and my husband and I are both really devoted to our careers. I wouldn't really consider myself a "kid person" but I would like to have one (mayyyybe two). So much of the internet/cultural conversation about parenting is somewhat negative ("it's torturous! but worth it! but also really torturous!"), and it has been SUCH a breath of fresh air to get a tiny glimpse into your life as a parent who seems to genuinely enjoy your children. It's honestly made me excited for my future child(ren), fertility willing, and I thank you for that.

    So thanks again, and I'm happy to share tips if you all ever venture up to New England for a vacation! :)

    (And to make this comment even longer, here's a book rec: The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater. Series is complete at four books, urban fantasy, YA, a little angst with a happy ending, and a sweet side romance.)

    1. Do it. I was 28 when my daughter was born (and married almost 10 years). I kept hearing the "it's terrible but worth it" and couldn't make the decision to take the plunge It's not "terrible but worth it." It's just worth it, being a mom is the best!

    2. I like the way Meg said you seem to enjoy your children. You so do & not in a "oh, babies, aren't they precious, give me all the babies" type way. You come across very genuine in your writing and I love seeing the way your vacations seem very down to earth and doable, not just doing the fun stuff for the pictures. I hope that comes across clear. I enjoy your posts and aspire to have the energy you carry each week. Maybe one day when I've been at this mom role for 10ish years, maybe not :)

    3. Meg and The Dauterives, those were such sweet comments! Meg, I meant to write you on Monday, but our internet has been super spotty. I so appreciate it when people I don't even know take the time to write such thoughtful things. Gave me such a huge smile as we were packing up the hotel room to press on with our trek! And The Dauterives, I think you gain more stamina as your days get longer and busier with older kids, and the kids get easier too (physically, anyway!). But mostly we figure since kids are kind of a hassle wherever you are, you might as well take them somewhere you want to go and have them be a hassle there! And it's so fun to explore the world through their eyes :). Thanks again you guys!

  2. I, too, always cry when my children take their Junior Ranger oath. It's the best. I'm very embarassed to say that despite living most of my life in KY and now raising my children here, I've never been to Mammoth Caves. We keep talking about going as there really is no good excuse! I'm excited to hear your report.

    1. WE LOVED MAMMOTH CAVE! I'm working on a post right now, but we're driving through the Great Smokies and the internet from my hot spot is quite hot spotty. But you must go, we really enjoyed it!

  3. So jealous it's already your Spring Break! Have fun and wave NW at me when you're in Atlanta!

    1. Will do! (And I'd actually prefer a later spring break because everywhere is warmer - we woke up to snow at Mammoth Cave this morning! But it is nice to be out!)

  4. Hot Springs is my hometown! We are so proud of our national park there!!!! Did you get to taste the water at the cool spring, Happy Hollow? It's my fave for drinking. Have a great week.

    1. We loved your national park! And we did not find the cool spring but it would have been nice since James and each of my children were determined to burn themselves trying to drink out of the hot ones. Next time!

  5. Happy hollow cold spring is the BEST tasting! So glad you are having a great trip.