Hot hot hot Springs National Park, AR

dsc_0423-1.jpgI take it back — I can see why we had no trouble getting a campsite at Gulpha Gorge this weekend.  The peak season was probably a few weeks ago, when the heat/humidity combination hadn’t yet hit.  But there’s a nice little creek running past the campground that, while shallow, seems worthy of a dip on hot days such as we have been having.

Being Sunday, the campground cleared out and now we are sitting mostly alone, which feels more comfortable for us. We’ve typically traveled in the off-seasons and are used to mostly vacant campgrounds. I like the extra peacefulness of empty campgrounds.

We decided to take it easy all day, since we’re facing several more days of intense driving.  The first stop was The Pancake Shop, a popular downtown restaurant.  Of course, we all had omelettes.  I’ll warn you that the cheese omelette  does not mislead in its description.  I think I ate enough cheese that I’m now well prepped for a couple of weeks among the Wisconsin cheese-heads — a useful acclimation, since we are indeed headed to Wisconsin this week.

dsc_0389.jpgdsc_0408.jpgThe historic district of Hot Springs does have lots of little attractions, including an Arkansas Walk of Fame, several water-jug filling stations, the Grand Promenade, some tiny parks, outdoor sculpture exhibits, and (as I mentioned before) quite a variety of architecture.  A fair warning to those who are seeking a cool drink:  the water fountains produce cool-ish water, but the filling stations come right from the springs and are hot.  We wandered around, sipped the water, and saw it all, and then dropped back into the blissfully air-conditioned interior of the National Park Visitor Center for the Junior Ranger Program.

dsc_0419.jpgThis has to be one of the easiest badges to get.  Today’s program was simply to make an insect out of colored pipe cleaners.  They don’t seem to go in for heavy history lessons here.  Emma chose the most difficult insect to make, a praying mantis, and the result was pretty good.  The Hot Springs park also offers the best arrangement of kid swag I can recall: a badge, a button, a patch, and a certificate for every Junior Ranger.  There’s no relationship between the difficult of the program and the quality of the goodies at national parks, but I suppose that teaches a life lesson of sorts: Life is like a box of chocolates.  Or something like that.

Today promises to be rather dull.  We have nothing on the agenda except to cover a lot of miles.  I don’t know how far we’ll get but we aren’t off to a promising start since it is already 9 a.m. and the trailer isn’t ready for towing.  We will drive until it seems like it’s time to stop, and there we’ll be.  This is why we usually take a month or two to get from coast to coast.  The fun is in getting there, but only if you’ve got time to stop.  I’m very much looking forward to arriving in Wisconsin, when we will finally be back on the original schedule and able to hang out for about 10 days.

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