Sunset, Kailua-Kona, The Big Island, Hawaii, March 11, 2024

Sunset, Kailua-Kona, The Big Island, Hawaii, March 11, 2024
Sunset, Kailua-Kona, The Big Island, Hawaii, March 11, 2024

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Up to Our Necks in Hot Water - Mon., October 15, 2018

We were up in time to have breakfast at 6:00 a.m. at the motel. Today we're going to historic Buckstaff Bathhouse for a 20-minute mineral bath and 20-minute massage combination. The bathhouse opens at 8:00 a.m. and we wanted to be there at 7:30 a.m. to get in line.

We arrived at 7:35 a.m. and there was not a line. It was raining and the chairs on the porch in front of Buckstaff were wet. A couple of buildings down was a nice covered porch with rocking chairs, so we waited over there. At 7:46, Susan said, I'm going to go over to Buckstaff to see if it's open. 

A couple of minutes later I got a text from her that not only was Buckstaff open  there were already people in line. I scurried over immediately and joined her in line. It took about ten minutes for the line ahead of us to move, but we were able to get in. 
The Buckstaff brochure
Hours, services, and rates.
Both of us thought a longer massage sounded real good, so we asked at the front desk if we could book for longer. Their response was that we would need to ask our massage therapists if they had time. 

From the lobby, a very old elevator (operated by a person) came down to get us when we rang the bell. The elevator operator took us up to the Ladies Bath Hall. We were shown to a dressing booth with a locker. After removing everything and locking my stuff in a locker, a female attendant came and wrapped me in a large white sheet. Then, we sat in a waiting area with some other women until our name was called. When I came out of the dressing booth in my sheet, I went up to Susan and said, "Toga! Toga! Toga!" It really reminded me of the toga party in the movie "Animal House." (No party and no alcohol, though.)

Once my name was called, another attendant took me to a private tub filled with 100-degree natural thermal mineral water direct from 47 protected hot springs. Upon first setting foot in the deep tub, it felt very hot. 

After a while, however, even though the thermometer showed 100 degrees, the water felt cooler. I guess your body gets used to it. While you're in the tub, the attendant brings two little cups of water for you to drink. I took a sip and it was almost as hot as the tub mineral water! It was colorless, scent-less, and flavorless.

Since I did not have my camera in the bath with me, I am using some of yesterday's photos from the Visitor Center (the old Fordyce Bathhouse). Our baths were different, but you get the idea...private rooms.

A little history from the brochure: "Located on Bathhouse Row, the Buckstaff Bathhouse, a National Historic Landmark, has been in continuous operation since 1912 and remains the only bathhouse providing the traditional bathing experience in Hot Springs National Park. 

"Over the years, thousands of visitors and local residents have found therapeutic healing and relief from various ailments using the thermal water for bathing at the Buckstaff Bathhouse while jug fountains provide the odorless and clean tasting thermal water for drinking.

"The thermal mineral water comes from 47 protected springs located along the lower slopes of Hot Springs Mountain. Maintaining an average 143 degrees at their source, with an average flow rate of 700,000 gallons per day, the water is cooled and used in our thermal mineral water baths at a maximum temperature of 100 degrees. Additionally, the Buckstaff uses the thermal mineral waters for  heating during the winter months."

After 20 minutes in the thermal mineral bath, the attendant wrapped me up in a clean, dry sheet. I was then placed on a cushioned lounger on my back. Very hot, wet towels were placed behind my back, on my legs and wrapped around my feet. To cool me down, the  attendant wrapped a cold towel around my head and gave me ice chips to suck on. I had the hot packs on for about 10-15 minutes. 

Next, it was into the vapor cabinet to get steamed. Again, the photo below is from the Fordyce. At the Buckstaff, the vapor cabinets were in individual "closets," but they had a half door that was left open so you didn't feel claustrophobic.
Vapor cabinets steam you until you perspire.
Supposedly, you only stay in the vapor cabinet about 3-5 minutes. I was in mine about ten minutes. Then, you move over to a Sitz bath. A Sitz bath is very warm water that you sit in up to your hips. It's hard to describe. You have to lower your bottom into it and your knees are higher than your hips. That was another five minutes.

After all the steam, you needed to wash the perspiration off your body, so it was into the needle-shower where you are surrounded from knees to neck with water jets that blast water on you from all sides. My attendant didn't get the shower very warm, so I had a coolish shower. 

Needle-shower at the Fordyce. (The
Buckstaff Bathhouse needle-showers had
way more jets.)
Another dry, clean sheet is wrapped around you after the needle-shower and then you lie down in a waiting area until your name is called for your massage. After all the other stuff we had done to us, the massage was rather anti-climactic. I'm used to having hour massages that are deep tissue. This massage was a gentle Swedish massage and only 20 minutes. Our massage therapists told us they didn't have time to do a longer massage. It was fine. I had been in there almost two hours by that time. Time to get on with our day!

Yesterday, we didn't have time to see the complete movie in the Visitor Center, so I went back to watch it. Susan, meanwhile, had finished her bathhouse experience about 1/2 hour before me, so she was out shopping. When she was done, she met me at the movie.

There was only one thing left to do in Hot Springs National Park...go to the tower on the mountain. We drove to the top of the mountain. Going up to the top of the tower was an option.

The tower was open today but it cost $8.00 to go to the top. It was cloudy, so we decided not to go up. We shopped in the gift store for postcards and a collectible pin and refrigerator magnet for me. Susan also got postcards.

Cut display outside the tower gift shop.
On the way down from the mountain, we saw a doe and two fawns. The doe and one fawn crossed the road in front of us. The second fawn was too busy eating, but I figured it would want to cross the road too. Sure enough, while we waited, the second fawn joined the rest of its family across the road. This was our wildlife moment for the day.

Hungry fawn.
Flora and "fawna."
From Hot Springs National Park, we drove six hours to Nashville, Tennessee. On the way to our motel, we stopped at Comfort Inn Music Row to sign in for our Capital Volksmarch tomorrow.

It rained all day, from the time we got up in the morning, until we got to Nashville. A good day for rain because we didn't have any outside activities planned.

Tomorrow, we walk a 10k in Nashville. I can't wait because I've never been there before. Susan Medlin had done a 7k with her husband a few years back. 

All for today.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Exploring Hot Springs Historic District in Arkansas - Sun., October 14, 2018

Today was a long day. At 6:00 a.m., Susan Medlin and I left San Antonio and headed north. Thankfully, we missed the two tornadoes that hit Waxahachie, Texas yesterday afternoon. Our drive took us through there today. 

We made good time and arrived at our motel at 3:30 p.m. Immediately after checking in, Susan and I headed into historic Hot Springs, Arkansas, to see if we could make it to the National Park Visitor Center, housed in what was once the Fordyce Bathhouse, before they closed for the day. 

Our plan was to explore Hot Springs this afternoon/evening and then go to Buckstaff Bathhouse Monday morning for a mineral bath and massage. On the way to the Visitor Center, I learned an interesting fact: Hot Springs is on the "Historic Baseball Trail." I didn't even know there was such a thing until now.

Historic Baseball Trail sign.
Hot Springs has hot, steaming water that has been used for thousands of years, starting with the Native Americans. After the Louisiana Purchase, explorers were sent to find out what was on the land that we got in our purchase. Once the hot springs were discovered, the area was developed with a "wild west" type of atmosphere with people claiming land and charging for the privilege of using the hot water. Most of the town's early buildings were wood and we know what happens to those wooden buildings. Fire! 

The original town burned down in the late 1800s. When the town was rebuilt, the materials used were marble, iron, rock, and brick. The claims were that the new spas were as nice as the ones in Rome. A railroad was built to bring in the masses, the main road was landscaped and gentrified. And the masses came in droves to "take the waters," which had minerals that would supposedly cure just about anything that ailed you (which ended up not being true). 

Big murals on our way to the Visitor Center.
Big murals on our way to the Visitor Center.
A cute sculpture.
Buckstaff Bathhouse (where we're going tomorrow).
Ozark Bathhouse
Quapaw Baths
Quapaw Baths entry and dome.

National Park Visitor Center
(formerly Fordyce Bathhouse).
The stained glass is lovely!
About Fordyce Bathhouse
The Visitor Center was open when we arrived, and we started our time there on the main floor. A Park Ranger asked us to visit the upper two floors first because they were getting ready to close them. As soon as we finished the first floor, we headed to the third.

The comfortable lobby at The Fordyce.
The mineral bath.

Ladies Pack Room
In pack rooms, attendants applied carefully timed moist packs to ailing body parts. The hot or cold packs were soaked in natural water. The procedure was considered very beneficial in certain ailments. Visitors usually went from the pack room to the needle-shower (to rinse off perspiration only) before entering the cooling room.

There are also lockers, a parlor room, beauty salon, massage rooms, and a gymnasium.
Stained glass in the ceiling.
Main Assembly Hall (women's parlor was at one end,
the men's parlor at the other end).
Women's Parlor
Men's Parlor
When we finished touring the upper floors, we went down to the basement. There, you can see the actual hot springs through a hole in the foundation.

The hot springs at The Fordyce.

There are very interesting and informative exhibits in the basement. If you haven't been, it's worth going!

After the Visitor Center closed, we wandered around town and found the Grand Promenade, The Arlington Hotel, the Hot Water Cascade, and more art and architecture.
We walked most of this loop.

Grand Promenade -- a beautiful walkway.

The water coming out of the drinking
fountain is HOT!
Water, water everywhere!
We stopped to get ice cream cones. With ice cream cones in hand, we discovered this adorable pocket park with a fountain in the back of it. Pretty lights decorated the trees.

Susan Medlin enjoying her ice cream.

Historic Baseball Trail.
Susan going all gangsta.
Such large, colorful murals in town.
The Arlington Hotel
Historic Baseball Trail.
Bar in the lobby of The Arlington Hotel.
Medical Arts Building.

Sideways strata.
Here's another interesting factoid: Hot Springs was Arkansas's temporary state capital in 1862!

The Hot Cascade
Hot Cascade and pool.
You can see how huge The Arlington Hotel is.
Looking down the Hot Cascade to the hot pool.

After our three-mile "wander" around Hot Springs National Park, we drove to the tower on top of the mountain. It was closed for the day. Supposedly, there are great views of the surrounding area and the town. We'll check it out tomorrow. 

[I would like to mention that there is not a Volksmarch in this town, but there should be. There is so much to see: so many gorgeous houses and buildings, extremely large abandoned buildings and some that are still being used. It would be great to learn about all this. I think it's a shame there isn't a Volksmarch here. Hint, hint.]

Tower Mountain.
With that, we hauled our exhausted selves back to our motel rooms and called it a night!