Enjoying the strangest National Park

Trip Start Apr 20, 2012
Trip End Sep 01, 2012

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What I did
Hot Springs National Park

Flag of United States  , Arkansas
Friday, May 18, 2012

Today was all about relaxing, enjoying the Park and not doing any major driving. So we loaded up after a leisurely start that included a wee scooter for the kids and some time chatting and relaxing over hot drinks for Tim and Jess. Off we went about 5 minutes down the road to Hot Springs National Park. Well…..what a surprise awaited us there as this is a National Park like no other. The Park boundary runs down one side of Main Street. One side is National Park and the other is Downtown Hot Springs (that's the name of the town). All along the Park side of the boundary are all of the Historic Bathhouses that used to compete with each other for the business of the visitors. One is set up as a National Park Visitor Center and Museum and all of the rest exist as either Museums or appeared to be closed. One cool aspect of the Park, however, is all of the fountains which pump HOT water out to be touched, tasted, sampled and enjoyed. At this point, I need to explain to the Kiwis reading this blog that this is nothing like the hot springs and thermal resorts that we are all accustomed to. The water is definitely piping hot, but it is not sulfurous at all and is quite safe to drink. In fact, it is so good to drink that in multiple locations throughout the park and on its borders, there are free filling stations where you can fill your bottles and containers with the water and take it away. It has been heated by slowly dripping close to the earth's core and then it (while superheated) travels quickly back to the surface, so quickly that little of the heat is lost. Apparently, it takes close to 400 years for the water to slowly drip through the rocks before it returns to the surface. All day long, there was a steady stream of people pulling up their cars and unloading bottles and bottles and happily filling them. I have to admit, that after being forced to suffer the normal American water, which is treated, flourided, chlorinated and whatever else they do to it, I can understand the allure of having clean pure water to drink. All this reinforces how lucky we are in NZ, especially in Canterbury and particularly in Cust to have such wonderful clean, clear water to enjoy. I certainly, for one, will not take it for granted again!!! While we explored the park the kids completed yet another Junior Ranger activity book and earned badges to their 6th National Park. 
After a thorough exploration of this tiny and developed downtown park, we headed out into the town of Hot Springs. We had to get the oil changed in Odie,  she is all fine and holding up very well so far. Then we stopped at a drive-in for take out lunch. You pull into a parking spot, press a button and order the food, and shortly after that, the food is delivered by a person on roller skates (sometimes) and they park a tray on the car window. It was quite fun for the kids, although the food was not of the most impressive quality. Then we played a round of mini-golf. it was nice to be on a hill and in a breeze as the temperature was between 30-32 degrees celsius, grabbed an ice cream and headed back to our campsite. The kids went for a relaxing swim in the river that runs through the campground and then it was dinner and bed. Much more to come tomorrow no doubt.
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