In addition to having spicey adventures, we added our imaginations. After crashing the car into the side of a mountain in Kentucky (this was a different trip heading back to the Twin Cities from seeing my sister in Virginia), we pretended we were Thelma & Louise and rented a shiny red convertible to see the Ozarks while our car was being repaired. (Don’t ask who was driving.) Watching the wind rush thru El’s rosy-blond hair, the sun streaming in, El at the wheel, made it love at first sight all over again that has lasted forever. And imagining we were on the lam, righteous tho guilty, just ahead of the law, made it really fun.
Only the Ozarks are not highly recommended by us to anyone. Those are fake lakes! Man-made lakes. There’s way more fishermen than sunbathers. And Branson is totally plastic. We can’t find a place we even want to spend one night at. But when we’re almost out of Hot Springs, Arkansas, we spy this hotel swimming pool on the fifth floor built into a mountain side. “We’re staying here!”
Turns-out to be the grandest Grand Old Hotel in America. A place where Al Capone vacationed because his sentries could be posted on the wide two-sided veranda to watch for unwelcome visitors, as there is no approach from the rear. An exquisite lobby with plush dark green and deep purple couches. An oakwood bar with full length mirrors and crystal chandeliers. A full length billiards table in a sunny room overlooking the town with red felt, gold spittoons, black velvet curtains, and even a guy who was longing to play pool and regale us with his kind of stories while his wife took the treatment.
But it is the swimming pool that makes this the grandest of them all. Hot Springs is literally a town of hot springs. People come from all over America to get cured of whatever ails them, and enjoy the best French cooking north of New Orleans. The public bath houses are all still there, still in use, as are the great Creole restaurants. And the baths are not man-made. All that needed to be done was put a roof on top, sides around, sink a silver tub into the natural waters, and turn the meter on.
To get to the hotel swimming pool, you take the gold-mirrored elevator to 5, then a cat walk to the mountain side, walk up a flight of flagstone steps, and you’re at the highest natural hot spring in Hot Springs, and a three level swimming pool. First you enjoy the view in a steaming hot springs, then you take a slide into a deep cold water, avoid the diving board area, and gently float down one more level to an Olympic-sized (warm) swimming pool with enough sunbathers to make any man happy. By the second day we have decided instead we’re Hillary & Bill hosting a fundraiser for our Minnesota lobbyist buddies, jetting them down, asking thousands in donations – it’s that Grand. Oh Boy, we’re in love!
Tomorrow: “If he can do it, I can do it”