Alas not the butcher, baker nor candlestick maker, just two road worn travelers. Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas, to take the waters. The Buckstaff Baths, a 1912 original bathhouse with classic white-grey, Carrara marble laid floor to ceiling, so old and oxidized and aged it could pass for browned, Calcutta marble. Like Graceland Mansion, the serving staff are predominantly African American. The real South lives, I guess. I obediently stepped behind and followed every instruction given by my attendant, Walter, whose indifferent and shuffling steps were probably indicative of years of predictability and boredom.
Through mineral bath, Sitz, steam room, needle shower and massage, I was boiled, rubbed, scrubbed, spiked, prodded and probed enough to be served as the main course. One floor above in the gender segregated “Ladies Level”, I was sure Dee was being prepared to follow me as the steam pudding. My massage therapist informed me that nothing had changed since 1912 … including it would seem the thinly covered, non-adustable massage table, the claw footed tubs, and perhaps even Walter. Al Capote is legend to have hoteled at the Arlington and bathed at the Buckstaff.
Arkansas is awesome. A phrase you thought you would never read. From dull flat lands of Rt. 40, we climbed steadily at dusk yesterday into the Blue Ouachita Mountains so covered in Pines and cut through with country trails it could pass for Vermont. A watery pink and orange sunset welcomed us to yet another Hampton Inn perched over looking Lake Catherine. The town of Hot Springs is entirely historically preserved. Charming, artsy, but not fartsy.
I even managed to Skype with one brother a day after his birthday. It’s bad enough being mid fifties let alone having my baby brother hit late forties. As I peered at my almost duplicate “reflection”, I passed on some sage advise about middle years. “Give up looking in mirror”. The Dorian Grey self image in your head will sustain you. We chatted about technology, the iPod, the iPad and plotted and planned to get my Mum into the 21st Century. I just know she is a budding iPad convert. Apparently Apple’s “Face Time” makes Skype looked stayed. Looking forward to having our beloved matriarch dial us up visually without notice. Might be opening up a can-of-worms here.
Then onward to Oklahoma. To quote Gertrude Stein, “Is there a there, there?” We are still looking. A sea of nothingness. Where did all the trucks and traffic go? The lighted towns and gas stops? Now we understand why nothing Hampton Inn googled between Fort Smith, AR, and Oklahoma City, OK. Unless you count Muskogee, Okmulgee, Okeman, Okfuskee, Pottawatomie!!! Try pronouncing those names in polite company after a few sherries. They sure like their oaks in OK. And, “Yes, Virginia. There real are cowboys” as witnessed at our first gas stop before retiring to Hampton Inn, Shawnee.
Stats:- Miles Traveled – 1,900
Gas Prices – $3.34 & $3.39
Blog Views – 1,018