With the fall colors changing, we decided to take a trip up to our neighboring state of Arkansas. Neither of us had ever been there before so we figured it would be a pretty rad trip. Here our my thoughts:
Arkansas rocks. It has all the mountains and rivers and outdoor stuff of Tennessee and Georgia, but with none of the population and much clearer bodies of water. There is even scuba-diving because the lakes are so clear! The downside of Arkansas is that it’s sooo remote, that it’s kinda weird. My iPhone 3G was on Edge network through most of the state – what the f?
How remote is Arkansas?
We’re talking “stand in the middle of the highway like an idiot” remote. Let’s just say that there are a shitload of towns where you couldn’t buy wheat bread to save your life.
Enough of the lollygag. We kicked this bitch off in Hot Springs! It’s a cool little town nestled in a valley on Highway Scenic 7.
They have hot water fountains all over the city that spout the therapeutic water for free. Go ahead, make a cup of tea. Take some home with you. It’s yours. Hot Springs water is hot because it shoots up from close to the Earth’s core after trickling through layers of rock and being filtered for 4000 years. It’s odorless and tasteless just like regular water, but it’s naturally hot.
We also visited the Buckstaff, the oldest bathhouse on bathhouse row that has been continually in operation since 1912(it’s a national historic landmark).
Here’s how your bathhouse experience goes down:
1 You walk into a one of these beautiful old buildings for a bath and massage.
2 You are ordered to “strip to your bones.”
3 Once naked, you are bathed by an old black man(or woman) with a loofa while you sit in a whirlpool tub like a kid.
4 Next, you go to another tub for a few minutes, then a steam room, then a hot towel wrap(the whole time being paraded completely nude from treatment to treatment in this huge marble room by the old black man(who has seen a lot of penis in his day).
5 After lying naked and towel-less on a table for awhile, O.B.M.(old black man) brings me to the needle shower – see photo:
6 Last, I got a massage(which was great and cheap).
Invigorated with the old-school spa sesh, we went for a hike. There is plenty of hiking to do right near the city of Hot Springs. Let’s check out Goat Rock!
That was fun. Let’s cruise up Scenic 7 to Petit Jean state park! Arkansas state parks are fairly awesome. A lot of them were set up by the Works Progress Administration in the thirties and forties just to create jobs. This is a period in history when the United States gave a fuck about parks. Now that the government is in so much debt, parks are like asking a person in a crashing plane if they want some gum.
Petit Jean(pronounced Petty Gene) is rocky and beautiful. Tons of hiking and scrambling to do here in the Ouachita Mountains.
Bec in a cave.
Me in a cave.
Then we found this huge waterfall. It was beautiful, but it stunk. There was a dead-for-a-week 8-point buck deer in it. Gross!
Despite the nasty carcass, it was a pretty tranquil spot.
Let’s continue onward to… Mt Magazine, Arkansas’ highest point. That makes 2 state highpoints for me because I already rocked Louisiana’s Driskill Mountain.
Mt. Magazine is a great park with plenty of scenic vistas. It’s also a great place for active seniors(seriously, we were the youngest people there by 30 years). The Lodge is top-notch with a modern lodge-y atmosphere complete with gigantic fireplaces and a killer hot tub in our bedroom. this is also one of the few parks that allows roped climbs(which is dumb because there is rock everywhere at Petit Jean).
The climbing was easy.
Just watch out for the copperheads!
And the poison(maybe) berries!
You couldn’t shake a stick without seeing a breath-taking view.
Just stand on the edge of the cliff with the wind in your hair.
Part 2 – the Ozarks is coming up next!