August 4, 2015
We got up early as Bob had to prepare for the BOD meeting for the Co-op via Skype at 8:30 our time. He walked Auggie before the meeting and saw these two kids hanging in their hammocks wrapped up like cocoons. I guess that's where they slept last night.
I hung out while Bob participated in the meeting until 11:30. It was a sunny, very warm day with a predicted high of 99 degrees. We decided that we would go into Hot Springs National Park and drive the Hot Springs Scenic Mountain Drive after the meeting was finished. Portions of the park are surrounded by the city in the Quachita Mountains. Music Mountain is the highest point in the park at 1,405 feet. Mountain Drive is about 4 miles of mountain road. Because of the sharp switchbacks, vehicles more than 30 feet long cannot negotiate on this road and are not allowed. After the meeting concluded, we hopped in the truck and went into town.
The road began at the end of Bathhouse Row on Central Avenue and climbed to Hot Springs Mountain at an elevation of 1,040 ft.
The tree-lined road was one way and paved in concrete.
We took a slow ride up, carefully maneuvering on the switchbacks and stopped at the observation deck to check out the view.
As we took in the view, we noticed this serious hiker who was headed down the trail.
From there we drove the short distance to the Hot Springs Mountain Tower.
The tower sits high on the hill and rises 216 feet.
We took the elevator, (thank goodness for little things) to the top and got a 360 degree view of the park, city, and vicinity from the observation deck. It was a little hazy, but the view was still awesome.
Bob, who isn't crazy about heights, did a pretty good job in the glass-walled elevator. Neither of us looked out as we rose in the elevator. Going down was much easier.
The Mountain Drive is a loop that took us about 30 minutes to drive and we were back downtown in no time. We had some time to spare so we decided to drive up the West Mountain Road.
The road was similar, but due to the lack of rain, it looked more like fall than summer with all the golden colors.
There were some nice overlooks where we could get a good view of the Mountain Tower from a distance.
Our next stop was the Jug Fountain where people can fill bottles with the odorless, flavorless, and colorless liquid--water. We pulled up to the fountain and as you can see, these women were VERY serious about filling up their MANY containers with water.
I politely asked if I could fill my ONE container and there were kind enough to let me step in. I did, and my pitcher of water was hot to the touch!
The temp of the water coming out of the ground is said to be 143 degrees, but mine wasn't quite that hot, yet I couldn't hold it bare-handed for very long either. The thermal water flowing from the Springs is naturally sterile. It begins as rainwater, absorbed into the mountains and carried 4,000-8,000 feet underground. The Earth's heat raises the temperature to 143 degrees. The purified water makes its way back to the surface through cracks and pores in the rock in the form of hot springs. The process takes about 4,000 years. People must still believe in it's medicinal value or like the free bottled water. Our final stop was Coleman's Rocks and Gems Store.
Hot Springs is known for being rich in quartz crystals of superior hardness and brilliance. The store had table-upon-table of different
kinds of rocks and gems on display ouside
There were also some very cool samples of amazing fossils.
I wanted to take home a sample, but it was hard to choose from all the kinds there were.
I finally made my choice--a beautiful aqua-marine piece that reminded me of a wave in motion or and glacial ice in Alaska. You decide.
Back at the campground, we took a swim in the pool to cool off and relaxed a little before dinner. After dinner, Auggie and I took our walk around the campground. Tomorrow Bob and I will tour the historic downtown area of Hot Springs and check out the famous Bathhouse Row. There is a lot of cool history in this town.