Tagged with "children"
26 Jun
2015
Posted in: travel
By    Comments Off on Arkansas: Hot Springs National Park

Arkansas: Hot Springs National Park

Kids with fountain at Hot Springs

Honestly, I didn’t have high expectations for Hot Springs National Park located in Hot Springs, Arkansas. I thought the kids wouldn’t find the bathhouses interesting enough and that the water you can collect wouldn’t taste good enough to warrant bringing home with us. Wrong and wrong.

Fordyce Bathhouse music room - Hot Springs National Park

Wisely-named Hot Springs National Park revolves around the local hot springs, which have a history of people flocking to the area for therapeutic purposes. Bathhouse Row sprang up in the 1800s as wood and canvas structures and evolved to what visitors can tour now with elaborate stained glass windows, marble facades and carved stone accents. People traveled to Hot Springs to relax, rest and heal.

Fordyce Bathhouse shower - Hot Springs National Park

Fordyce Bathhouse is restored as the park’s visitor center and museum. It is restored to what it would’ve looked like during its glory years when it was purported to be the best the town had to offer. There are separate spaces for men and women including changing areas, bathing facilities and steam chambers. Attendants would have helped visitors with their bathing and steaming needs.

Fordyce Bathhouse men's shower room - Hot Springs National Park

Fordyce bathhouse men's room - Hot Springs National Park

The women believed their side of the bathhouse was equal to the men’s side. A tour of the facility proves they were misguided. The men’s area is more spacious and includes a large, intricate stained glass skylight featuring several mermaids as well as a large fountain showcasing Hernando de Soto who was believed to have come through the area in the 1500s.

Fordyce Bathhouse gym - Hot Springs National ParkThe Fordyce also has a beauty shop, early physical therapy machines, a gymnasium, courtyards, music room and billiard room.  The gymnasium with its wooden dumbbells, rings, weight balls, and climbing ropes were intriguing for the kids. I know they were trying to picture their dad and I using that equipment to exercise.

Fordyce Bathhouse beauty parlor - Hot Springs National Park

Upper courtyards separated men from women. The men’s side was used for smoking and sunbathing. The women’s side was more shaded to help keep women from tanning. The kids asked several times why husbands would spend their vacations at the spas and most of that time was not with their wives. It was an opportunity to explain past society rules of etiquette from dress, to genders to the role of children. Bathhouses were a place for adults to find peace and healing. Children didn’t fit into that agenda.

Public water fountain station in Hot Springs, Arkansas

There are 47 springs in the area dubbed “Valley of Vapors” because of the steam wafting from the hot water. The average temperature of the hot springs is 143° F. Scientists say the water is over 4,000 years old and is heated deep below the earth’s surface before making its way up to the west slope of Hot Springs Mountain and the surface.

Woman filling a water bottle at Hot Springs, Arkansas

Hot Springs National park collects 700,000 gallons a day for public use. We watched people fill jug after jug at the free fountains available for use. I was skeptical about the taste of the water, but it might be the best water I’ve tasted. The water comes out hot from the fountains, some hotter than others. I filled an empty bottle and played hot potato with the container – the water was that hot! I regretted not grabbing a tea bag from our hotel to make hot tea.

Magnolia bloom

There are several miles of trails in varying degrees of difficulty. We stuck to the trail system behind the bricked Grand Promenade behind the Fordyce. We’re from a dry climate so the heat and humidly of Arkansas in June was a shock to the system. Everything is so full of life. We were surrounded by the smell of magnolias and honeysuckle. We could have hiked more miles if we weren’t so distracted by how different the trees, plants and animals are from the west. If I had a dollar for every time someone asked, “What’s that?” our house mortgage would be substantially smaller.

View of Hot Springs, Arkansas from mountain observation tower

We drove to the Hot Springs Mountain Tower for a 360-degree view of the surrounding hills. The road to the tower is a one-way, narrow, winding road that only takes a few minutes to reach the top. We were overzealous and climbed the stairs of the 216-foot structure instead of taking the elevator. It was a sweaty climb in the heat. Our boys practically ran up the stairs in their haste to see the view, which is lovely. It’s said you can see 140 miles on a clear day, but the thick humidity made quite the haze during our visit.  There are miles of rolling, tree-covered hills and bodies of water in the distance as well as the town itself.

Follow our 6,025-mile adventure.
Next: Crater of Diamonds State Park (Arkansas)

 


 
Great American Road Trip
By     |    Jun 25, 2015
Posted in: travel     |    1 Comment

Great American Road Trip

6,025 miles + three weeks + 18 states = epic road trip More than a few people questioned our sanity leading up to our trip from Wyoming to Key West, Florida and back covering thousands of miles of territory. I had moments where I questioned it myself, but that trip is one of the best decisions we’ve made for our family. In the chaos of raising four children while juggling full-time work, part-time work, multiple volunteer roles and everything that... [Read More]

Read more
Preschool Time is Over
By     |    May 21, 2015
Posted in: parenting     |    Comments Off on Preschool Time is Over

Preschool Time is Over

I believe Father Time is mocking me. I can hear a voice taunting me to keep up to the pace that’s been set. My breath hitches quite often theses days when these children of mine hit a milestone or some new physical change becomes abundantly obvious, even if I live in denial of anything changing. I mistakenly believed I was sad about the quick passing of time. While I do think sadness lurks in there somewhere, I’m more in awe... [Read More]

Read more
Percy Jackson Birthday Party
By     |    May 18, 2015
Posted in: parties     |    Comments Off on Percy Jackson Birthday Party

Percy Jackson Birthday Party

My favorite birthday parties to plan are based on books. Our third son turned eight this weekend and celebrated with a Percy Jackson themed party. Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan is a family favorite. Our son is well-versed in mythology and has a passion for weapons. We knew there would need to be training worthy of demigods. Characters in Riordan’s books train at Camp Half-Blood, so our basement was transformed into camp for the day. At... [Read More]

Read more
Summer Reading with Children
By     |    May 15, 2015
Posted in: reading     |    Comments Off on Summer Reading with Children

Summer Reading with Children

The school year is winding down and papers are arriving home with ways to keep children reading over the summer months to avoid the summer slide. Public libraries run reading programs along with publishing companies and book stores. There are quite a few options, more than I remember as a child. Reading is part of our family lifestyle. We have bookshelves, book baskets, book bins and use books for decorating. We’re known to ask our children to put the book... [Read More]

Read more
Mother’s Day: I Had No Idea
By     |    May 10, 2015
Posted in: parenting     |    Comments Off on Mother’s Day: I Had No Idea

Mother’s Day: I Had No Idea

I knew I was potentially in over my head almost 13 years ago when I was preparing to bring my first baby home and the hospital staff only cared if I had a car seat. I remember sitting in the backseat staring at this little boy and thinking I had no idea what I was supposed to do when we arrived home. We spent a great deal of the coming weeks just holding and staring at that little guy. I... [Read More]

Read more
Confidence Built Through Music
By     |    May 6, 2015
Posted in: parenting     |    Comments Off on Confidence Built Through Music

Confidence Built Through Music

Sometimes my feelings seem too much to handle. Life hits me hard, the good along with the bad. Yesterday was intense, in a fantastic way. I was weepy on-and-off and spent parts of the day with a big grin on my face. I watched our middle son stand in front of several groups and play a solo on his flute. His band, from a local performing arts center, was touring schools talking about instruments and music opportunities for the summer... [Read More]

Read more
There’s a What Today?
By     |    May 3, 2015
Posted in: parenting     |    Comments Off on There’s a What Today?

There’s a What Today?

I know better than to be cocky about this parenting thing. Yesterday I rocked motherhood. Today I managed to avoid a motherhood disaster. Our oldest had a track meet 90 minutes from home yesterday. Friday night he and I engaged in a passive/aggressive argument about whether or not the family should make the trek to the meet for the morning and come back to town for other obligations that afternoon.  I knew he wanted us to come. I also knew... [Read More]

Read more
Time Away from Parenting
By     |    Apr 20, 2015
Posted in: parenting, travel     |    Comments Off on Time Away from Parenting

Time Away from Parenting

A date night for my husband and I consists of eating takeout in the living room while we watch a movie after putting kids to bed. We rarely spend time together without one or more of our children. I enjoy the kids, most of the time. We do have a tween who tests my annoyance levels (on purpose). Still, they’re good people. The kids are at ages where we can all go do just about everything I want to do... [Read More]

Read more
Caught Off Guard by Adulthood
By     |    Apr 8, 2015
Posted in: uncategorized     |    1 Comment

Caught Off Guard by Adulthood

I spent spring break last week being easily distracted by my children. They wanted to go to a park multiple times. We went. They wanted to paint. We did. They wanted a movie marathon. We sat for hours watching movies, which is a true indulgence at this house. I soaked in the best part of being able to work from home: being with my children. It wasn’t all roses and butterflies. There were thorns during the week. I have a... [Read More]

Read more
Essentials for Family Road Trips
By     |    Apr 2, 2015
Posted in: travel     |    Comments Off on Essentials for Family Road Trips

Essentials for Family Road Trips

It’s spring break, and we’re staying home for the first time in years. We have an epic road trip planned this summer and vacation days are being stockpiled for the adventure. I’m antsy to hit the highways, Interstates and (sometimes) unpaved county roads to discover new places in the USA. Even though we’re months away from our next major family road trip, I’ve already started packing in my head. I have lists tucked away in notebooks for items to pack.... [Read More]

Read more
Broken Dryer and a Clothesline
By     |    Mar 31, 2015
Posted in: uncategorized     |    Comments Off on Broken Dryer and a Clothesline

Broken Dryer and a Clothesline

Laundry is one of my least favorite household chores. It’s never-ending, multiplied by six. It turns out, laundry without a functioning dryer is flat-out ridiculous. My dryer decided to quit blowing hot air Sunday in the middle of a giant load of jeans with another large load of clothes in the washing machine. I know there are far worse problems to have, but I was annoyed. A call Monday morning to a repair man ended with an appointment on Wednesday... [Read More]

Read more