Electrobaths: No deaths were recorded

Trip Start Feb 22, 2006
1
9
11
Trip End May 2006


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Flag of United States  , Arkansas
Monday, March 20, 2006

Hot Springs, Arkansas

March 16, 17, 18

Rejected titles:
Paulie! Shore!
Drink the water.
Hot like fire!

After a *wonderful* experience at the Dallas Zoo, I drove up to Hot Springs, Arkansas. This town of about 35,000 has been famous for its hot water springs (water emerges from the earth at 137 degrees) since Hernando De Soto visited the spot in the 1500's. I sound like Rick Steeves, don't I?
Anyway, I set up camp in the Gulpha Gorge campground right on the riverbank at $10/night. It was about a 5-10 minute drive from historic downtown, the Promenade, and Bathhouse Row.
Since I got there late on Thursday, I didn't have much time to explore. But on St. Patty's Day, I was up early in all my green, ready to go. Most of the rest of the town was in the festive mood, too-wearing green and some of the fountains were dyed green as well.
I hit up the town's visitor's center and got the scoop on what to do. The lady was a great help except she tried to send me to some nearby alligator farm. I was like "Lady, I'm from Florida. What could you possibly have up here to compete with our gators?"
So, I walked Bathhouse Row-this tree-lined section of Central Avenue with about eight different bathhouses in a cool mixture of Spanish mission and Victorian architecture. The visitor's center for Hot Springs National Park is actually located inside one of the restored bathhouses-so you can tour it and see what it was like in the early 1900's for the people who came to "take the waters." Most of it was cool and seemed like a fun idea (shout out to the Romans!) until I saw some of the more advanced treatments. Not only did this particular bathhouse advertise electrobathing (as in electricity plus water) and the sign was quick to point out that no deaths were RECORDED at this bathhouse (so that smell isn't really the sulphur), but there was this intricate tub that really looked like a torture device or the table that Frankenstein rose from. (see pictures)
And while prescriptions were not required, many people took the waters to treat advanced cases of syphilis, among other diseases. This fascinating tour sure cured me of my desire to try the bathhouses for myself!
Later, I strolled the Promenade and enjoyed the warm weather. By then it was mid-afternoon and I decided to go back to camp to rest up for the night's festivities.
At about 4:30pm, I headed back downtown, parked my car and walked over to Bridge Street-the Guinness Book of World Records' proclaimed shortest street at about 98 feet and the site of the "First Ever Third Annual Shortest St. Patrick's Day Parade."
A crowd was just beginning to gather as the parade didn't begin until 6:30, so while I waited I bought a shirt and a huge thing of beer.
The parade's special guest was my fellow Seminole, Paulie Shore, and even though I don't think I've ever since one of his movies, it was exciting to see him.
Other highlights of the Parade were the Irish belly dancers, the order of the Elvi (a bunch of random people dressed as Elvis. Not really impersonators because aside from the white suits, capes and sunglasses, they looked like normal people), the pet therapy group with the adorable dogs and the world's tallest leprechaun.
After the parade (complete with tickertape), there were fireworks and a block party. I hung around a little bit afterwards but with 8,200 people crammed into downtown, there wasn't a chance of eating or getting anymore to drink.
So, I headed back to the campsite, passed out and early next morn, busted a move to Little Rock which was like 50 miles away.
At my dad's suggestion, I stopped at Clinton's Presidential Library which was very modern and high-tech. I learned a lot from the people working there but I don't think I endeared myself to them when I asked where the Monica Lewinsky exhibit was.
"Do you guys have the dress?" Silence.
Apparently Bill was in town while I was there, but I didn't wait around to see him.
I high-jacked their internet to upload my Chickasaw pics and then headed to Memphis.
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