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Flag of United States  , Arkansas
Friday, February 22, 2008

It was with some reluctance that we left Texas, we have spent longer in this state than any other to date, but it will be the parks that we remember particularly and as we drove out of Atlanta State park on a grey misty morning the farewell said it all. We are heading for Memphis, so we chose an arbitrary overnight campsite about half way to our destination. Crossing our 28th state line we entered Arkansas, famed most I suppose because of the Clintons and they make the most of it!
 We settled in "On Cloud Nine" at the top of the 'mountain' in a place called Hot Springs. 

Every now and then we stumble into a real gem without actually meaning to and Hot Springs is definitely one of these. Our host Anna spent a few minutes describing what we might do during our stay - little had we realised just what a treat lay in store. Once in the town its significance became apparent. As we wandered along Bathhouse Row it wasn't difficult to imagine strolling here when the town was in its Victorian heyday. I suppose we should have guessed its significance from the name, but to be truthful we never gave it a thought. Yes - the town is full of hot springs, steaming away at every corner!!  

The visitors centre is housed in the restored Fordyce bathhouse where you can wander in and out of the rooms where people came to take the therapeutic waters and receive various treatments. Bathing was very popular.This was considered so important that it became the very first area 'designated to protect a natural resource' in 1832 in fact it's America's first resort.
Take a look at these links...

 And what's more it is still an important centre for hydrotherapy; the Army/Navy Hospital a rehabilitation centre that stands behind Bathhouse Row has a 'penthouse' floor that is exclusively for guests such as President Regan. Fortunately the Row itself was saved from demolition and redevelopment in the 80's and it still undergoing extensive renovation.
We sampled the water - freely available to all - in fact something like 700,000 gallons are 'consumed' each day, but I have to say it was - just like hot water.
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