We all slept in. Seriously. I think we got going around 9:00 AM.
Emma had been a little disappointed in the accommodations when we first arrived. When she hears "cabin," she thinks of the luxury vacation home cabins that we travel to with my husband's family for Thanksmas - our funny conglomeration of Thanksgiving and Christmas, but on neither day. Instead, this is a quaint, lakeside cabin, nearly unchanged since my mom used to clean the cabins here in the sixties. I really adore the tongue-in-groove pine walls, the old-fashioned cabinetry and the giant kitchen sink. What used to be a view of the woods from my window, though, is now a view of a newly-built McMansion. I would say it was hardly a nice trade. Also, we are two houses down from the Clinton's' property. So, I guess my mom was telling the truth when she said she grew up with Mr. Prez. There's a big sign when you enter Hot Springs that says "Boyhood Home of President Bill Clinton."
Once we ambled outside, we met two of the nicest dogs ever. This is Izzie. She's an expert fisher and stands in the water, waiting patiently, until it's time to pounce.
This is Bam. Yeah. Bam. And it suits her. Her person said she's a "knucklehead." She'll never catch any fish with all that splashing, but she splashes obsessively and loves to play fetch. As soon as she figured out that Emma and I would throw the stick, she followed us around the property. She even waited on the porch of our cabin for Emma once she came back inside!
My mom listened to Otis Redding on this dock ("Sittin' on the dock of the bay...") and I fished here when I was about Emma's age and my family came down for a visit (it was "down" for us at the time. We hadn't yet moved to Florida). The weather warmed up nicely once the sun came out.
My grandma's friend was so surprised to see her. Her son hadn't told her we were coming! We didn't know it was a secret, but it was such a perfect moment. Happy tears all round. And he had a surprise for us too. Tickets to the race track!
My mom has always loved horses and has told us many times of her own horse she had when she lived here, and how she practically lived at the track, having the privilege of warming up the horses and other technical things which I do not understand. She knew right where to go, what to do and where the best seats were. She showed Emma how to pick a good horse, a likely candidate for winning, by looking at his muscles and size and other technical things which I also do not understand.
Emma picked her favorite, but I think it was a decision based mostly on the horse's accessories. She decided she liked numbers 7 & 8.
It was such a colorful, lively experience.
We watched them post and then shifted Emma up a bit so she could see better over the rail. And they were off.
It was a very exciting race, with both of her horses doing well. In the end, it was number 7 that won. Forgive me, I don't remember its name.
After the races, we headed to downtown Hot Springs to see the, well, hot springs and such. The springs really are hot - about 143 degrees. And there are fountains everywhere for you to sample the water.
There are a few exposed springs that you can get down and touch. There's an odd sort of bright green algae growing on the submerged rocks.
This one seemed a bit like a fairy hollow. Of course, my fairy took a liking to it. She would have liked to stay there for the rest of our vacation.
She took the camera from me, wanting to tell some story of her own, with pictures. Here's a self-portrait of the artist:
For her story, she asked me to take a picture of hands being washed in the hot spring.
The mineral deposits on the rocks, mixed with the mosses and tiny greenery were so pretty.
During the 19th century, bath houses sprang up around the, uh, springs. And we toured the most wonderful facility - a bath house museum! Imagine for a moment, what heaven might be like for a bathing connoisseur such as myself. It might be something like this gorgeous room, with a fountain in the center, lined with stalls.
Each stall contains a vintage porcelain bathtub, a changing room and a chair.
There are showers!
There is a sitz bath room!
There is a steam box room!
And beautiful instruments for water delivery and regulation line the walls.
There is a hydrotherapy room, full of frightening apparatus and even a cooling room in which to lie down and recover from the rigors of the hot mineral bath.
Cold compresses of chilled mineral water were applied to various ailing body parts, promising a return to health and wholeness.
We purchased souvenir bottles to fill with water at the public fountains and returned to the lodge. We sketched on the dock and ate a simple supper.
Emma and I grabbed a tripod and my camera (she said she felt like we were professional photographers), rushing to the dock to catch the last of the sunset. Izzy and Bam came out to meet us, fetching sticks that we threw into the lake. Boats raced by and their wakes splashed against the dock.
And the sun went down. And the moon came up.
And another day with my best girls ended.
My mom's been planning a big surprise for me on this trip. I finally found out what it is. But I shan't tell you until tomorrow!