Sunday, March 26, 2017

On the Road Again to Hot Springs and Gulf Shores Part 2

The rain ended and I was off again.

I have drive across Tennessee north and south, but never east and west, it's a long state, 440 miles across. I was amazed at all the state parks along I40, it seems there was one every 25 or 30 miles. My favorite part was the eastern third of the state.

I was driving along and saw a sign for the Appalachian Center for Craft  - I had just gotten their brochure about upcoming classes in the mail! So off I went to check it out. It is on beautiful Center Hill Lake high on a cliff. Their grounds are extensive, it is part of Tennessee Tech, where you can get a BFA degree.

I'm always looking for new artists and workshops (although I seldom take the time to go to them I always look) and what better place to look.

Stopping at Casey Jones' home in Jackson, TN I saw how much that had changed in 35 years. My first visit was with Michael 34 years ago. At that time I was drawing a lot of railroad depots and steam locomotives. I have work from that period in the Michigan Historical Society's Collection and in the Western History Collection of the Denver Public Library. So while I seldom do artwork of them I still like to look.

Back then there was just a locomotive and his house. Now they have built a small museum, added a number of cars, and have built a little village with shops.

Next stop Memphis. While not particularly wild about Elvis, I don't dislike him either but as long as I was passing through I thought I'd stop and see Graceland. It was not as glitzy as I thought it would be but it was interesting, and definitely right out of the 70s.

And I could not leave without going to Beale Street, home of the blues. Like Fells Point better visited at night when every eating and drinking establishment has music, during the day there are lots of tacky souvenir shops and parking is plentiful. My favorite part was the neon. If you look at the front of Carolina Creations I guess you can figure that out.

Not my photo I have to give credit to US News (I was not there at night), I would have loved to have seen them lit up.

I finally arrived at my furthest west destination - Hot Spring, Arkansas. Where my Michael and Bill Clinton were born.

The biggest attraction her for me are the Bath Houses. While only 2 are currently operating as bath houses, another one is the National Park Headquarters ...  Fordyce Bathhouse, you can have a free tour... , and another as the National Park gift shop.

You might think that the purpose of this National Park is to preserve these buildings, it is not, it is there to protect the water. Most hot springs, like Yellowstone for instance, are created by volcanic activity, this hot springs is different. The water does not smell like sulfer. It comes out of the ground at 400 degrees from 47 springs. They say the water that is coming out now fell as rain water over 4000 years ago. It is delicious, you can fill your jugs in several places, you are drinking untreated water, they only thing they do to it is cool it down. It is full of minerals which is what gives it its healing power. I enjoyed a massage...

...soaking in the pools at Quapaw Baths & Spa - I was there on a weekend and they were booked but soaking in the pools was wonderful.

This is a photo from their website. each of the 4 pools is a different temperature.

...and a full treatment at Buckstaff Baths that was like what you would have gotten 100 years ago, in the same tubs and steam (metal box with just your head sticking out), being wrapped in hot towels, it was heaven.

One day I did the massage and soaked in the pool for about 2 hours went back to the rv, went to sleep at 8 pm and didn't wake up until 8 am the next day.

The shops downtown weren't that great but I did see a few nice ones in other parts of town. I went to the Hot Springs Mountain Tower, looked at the lake then drove to Little Rock.

In Little Rock (about 45 miles) I was impressed with the Arkansas Arts Center but my favorite thing was Mill Park.

There is an authentic reproduction of a water-powered grist mill there that is a reproduction of one built in the 1800'. It was built in 1939 and appears in the opening scene of the film Gone With The Wind. The neatest thing though were the bridges made from cement. I've written before about the bridges in near where I grew up in Michigan at Somerset. The bridges there and in Little Rock were built by artists from Mexico, but not the same people. I loved it!

The next day I took off for Gulf Shores.

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