Monday, June 30, 2008

Sip This It Will Sweat and Relax You

Sip this, it will sweat and relax you. She said it twice, which is good because I didn't quite catch it the first time. The other thing I didn't quite catch was, "Take off your towel and get in the tub." I'm sorry, what did you say to do with my towel? "Take it off and get in the tub." Wait, what?

I'll start at the beginning. While we were vacationing in Hot Springs, Arkansas,


also known as the Hometown of Bill Clinton,

I decided to partake of the thermal baths. I like little slices of Americana Pie, so if Al Capone and Babe Ruth have sought the healing powers of the thermal baths, then I should try it too. I later learned that Al Capone may have been trying to cure syphilis, but I was just trying to relax.

People have been seeking the healing powers of the Hot Springs for thousands of years. Or something like that, I think the National Park Brochure is in Luke's room, and the website seems to start with the white people in the 1700's. Anywho, Hot Springs had it's heyday in the late 1800's early 1900's. We stayed in the Historic Arlington Hotel,

which was reviewed highly by Family Fun Magazine. It had a gorgeous lobby, and I guess George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Yoko Ono, and Barbara Streisand have stayed there. Possibly in the presidential suite? , but probably not in our room, which was very historic. But it had a pretty view.

Know this though: Reserving a crib in advance, and then calling again in advance to make sure you have a crib is a waste of time. Also, asking for a crib 3 more times will get you nowhere. But if you say that you have asked for a crib 6 times, then a manager will call you half an hour later and ask if you have a crib yet, and if you say no, then you will soon get a crib. On the second day of your visit.

But back to the bath! So I read a review in Family Fun magazine about a mom and daughter who went and had the hot springs bath plus a massage for $60.00. And the whole thing takes 90 minutes. I thought it sounded great. Then at the family reunion, a few days before our trip to Hot Springs, someone who had been there said something about how they rub you to get your circulation going. That sounded a little odd. But then I was looking at a brochure for the Buckstaff Bath House and the attendants looked like my grandma, and therefore nice and business-like. And here is a picture from the Buckstaff brochure:
See? So modest! Of course, I went to the Arlington, not the Buckstaff. (And the ladies I met in the sauna said the Arlington is the best.) Baths and massages can be booked 4 months in advance, but when you wait until 20 minutes before you want one, you end up with an appointment at 7:30 am the next day. Jack had been getting me up around 6:30 every day, so this was no problem for me. I checked in, and the people were really nice and they gave me the impression that someone would be there to guide me through every step, etc. I went through the big door and looked around for the attendant. After a while, I found her napping on a couch, so I just wandered around trying to figure out what to do next until she woke up. She handed me a towel with velcro around the top to change into, and a key for a locker. I would classify myself as medium sized, but when I tried to wrap the towel around me, there was only a tiny bit of overlapping velcro. I had to wrap it loosely to get the velcro to stick. I guess the average bather is a lot bigger? Thermal baths are supposed to be a treatment for obesity, so maybe. Then I went to the bath section where I met the bath house attendant, whose name I forgot but she was the Bath House Employee of the Year. (Per her name tag, which I obviously only partially memorized.) I am going to call her Susan. She said, "Head down to tub number 5, take your towel off, leave your key on your wrist." That is where the confusion started with me not really understanding what she said to do with the towel. The baths were in a little private room, and I went in there and was staring at the tub trying to work out the logistics of where to put the towel and how to get in gracefully, since it was pretty deep, and really early in the morning. The next thing I knew, Susan was in there. "Take your towel off and get in." The rest of our conversations were pretty one sided with me either saying "OK." Or "Yes." It helped that she was pretty bossy and business like.

"Drink this it will sweat and relax you." (Hot Mineral Water.)
"Drink this it will sweat and relax you."
"How you feel? You feel good."
"How you feel? You feel good."
"Lift your leg."
"Other leg."
"Left your arm."
"Other arm."
Wait, you are really scrubbing me with a loofah? Weird. At least it will be only my arms and legs. Oh, and my stomach. Hmm.
"How you feel, you feel good?"
At this point I got to put my towel back on and keep it on until the massage. Modesty, restored!
Then it was off to the sauna, where I met three other really nice ladies, one of whom was on the far other end of the towel fitting spectrum.
"How you feel, you feel good?"
Then I laid on a cot and Susan wrapped hot towels around my legs, arms, body, and head and put a cold towel on my face. She continued to replace the cold towels until I cooled off from the bath and sauna. Then off for a massage. I liked Susan, and I really recommend her, assuming that is her name. Just ask for the employee of the year, 2007.

Long story longer, we also went to the Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo,

a Mineral Water museum,

shopping, out on Lake Hamilton,

and Luke went horse back riding. So, so fun. Then we toured the historic bath house and National Park visitor center, which was eerily similar to the actual bathhouse that I had experienced. I was sort of glad that I did the tour last.


There was lots of sweating and relaxing. What more could you ask of a family vacation?

5 comments:

Ready Maid said...

Whew! I'm sweating from laughing so hard!

It's always fun to hear stories like yours when newcomers visit Hot Springs. Thanks for sharing.

Although you're a little young, you should probably know our town was amed as the No. 1 place in America to retire by geographer Warren Bland . Hot Springs was later confirmed as a top retirement destination on a recent Today Show segment by realtor Barbara Corcoran.

I gotta admit, Hot Springs is a pretty cool place to live, even for those of us who aren't yet retired. In fact, my husband and I visited here only one day six years ago before deciding to move here permanently three months later.

To see some of the things we enjoy, check out these short docu-videos at Spa Vlogger.

Rebecca McCormick,
Travel Journalist and Photographer,
The Sentinel-Record

(Are you LinkedIn?)

Anonymous said...

Megan-

I LOVED your recap of your trip! I totally felt like I was there with you (like a fly on the wall, but don't worry, I didn't witness anything embarassing!). Thanks for the fun read!

Ellie

Anonymous said...

Same comment as Ellie. I felt like I was there, too. Glad I didn't spend my $60, got the same experience free! Melinda

Zilla said...

I just wanted to say, that THAT...is the GREATEST LIKENESS of Bill Clinton I have EVER SEEN.

Laura M said...

That was the best 'what I did on my summer vacation' essay ever. A +

Only I'm afraid I'm going to start saying 'How you feel, you feel good' all the time. very catchy.