Hot Springs

Hello!  I've been a bad blogger this week, but I'm ready to make it up to you.  The video of Lolli vs The Bedspread in the last post was a test.  I was trying to use the Tumblr feature of this site and I'm  happy to report that it worked and was very easy to figure out.  You may not have thought Lolli digging at the bedspread was entertaining at all, but it cracks me up.  She seriously did that for ten minutes straight, and I promise, no bacon was hidden anywhere. This past weekend Doc and I joined some of our friends for a weekend getaway in Hot Springs, Arkansas.  Let me start the recap by pointing you over to Allison's blog.  She has beaten me to the punch and has already written about our trip and included a lot of pictures that I don't have.  The Cooks and the Earls headed out of town in the early afternoon.  Unfortunately, they got in major traffic from a head-on collison between two trucks on I40.  Luckily for us, they alerted us of the stand-still traffic so we could dodge it.  We left in the late afternoon and took some scenic routes through farmlands. 

Doc and I didn't go directly to Hot Springs, though.  We decided to stop in Little Rock to grab dinner with our friends Sarah and Charlie.  They took us to a tasty Mexican restaurant where we had delicious margaritas and some of the best salsa ever.  It rivals the yummy salsa I had in New York.  Sadly, our evening with the Kinsers was short and sweet since we still had an hour left of our drive to go.  We said our goodbyes and hit the road.

In Hot Springs we stayed at the renowned Arlington Hotel.  The hotel sits in the middle of downtown and is full of old Southern charm.  When we arrived late Friday night a band was playing in the main lobby.  The National Guard was holding its annual conference in Hot Springs so the place was packed!  We found our friends sitting at a table watching all the older couples dance the night away. 

You can't stay in Hot Springs without eating at The Pancake Shop.  It's conveniently located right across the street from The Arlington so it made sense that it was our first stop Saturday morning.  This small diner-esque restaurant is always jam-packed on the weekends but our wait for a table didn't last long.  While the others stood outside, I wandered into the shop next door and snapped this picture with my phone.

A shelf full of the cutest little (and big!) sock monkeys I've ever seen.  I think I've formed a new obsession.  Just recently I purchased a handfull of sock monkey ornaments and after seeing these I'm dreaming of decorating a sock monkey themed nursery for a child that doesn't even exist.  It was all I could do not to grab a handful of these and head to the cash register.  Luckily, Doc came in and rescued me (and my bank account) because our table was ready.

The Pancake Shopis known for their buttermilk pancakes.  Doc gave them a go but I stuck with regular pancakes with blueberries.  Yummo!  I only had one complaint about our meal at the Pancake Shop - no sprite!  When the waitress came for our drink orders and I told her sprite, she said the only soft drinks they served were coke, diet coke, and dr. pepper.  Who doesn't serve sprite?!?  So I said to heck with it - we were on vacation after all - and I ordered my first coke in over a year.  Then I texted my mom this picture:

Talk about caffeine overload.  Doc and I only drink coffee when we're on vacation;it's like a special treat for us.  Pair that cup of sugary coffee goodness with the coke I had just ordered and I was surely setting myself up for a doozy of a caffeine-induced panic attack.  Fortunately, I managed to practice a little self-restraint and only had a couple of drinks from the coke.  (But the first big gulp of it?  To die for.  I had forgotten how fizzy and delicious cokes could be.  Now I must suppress that memory and go back to my no-caffeine-drinking ways.)

After breakfast we made a quick stop back at the hotel to grab cameras, purses, and whatnot.  It was around then that we noticed something funny about Darrin and Doc.  Can you see it?

No, it's not their cut-off heads.  That's just a little something my blog likes to do.  It's their matching shorts!  Ok, technically they're not exactly the same - Doc's had pleats while Darrin's were flat front - but that is definitely the same madras fabric.  Straight up twinkified.   

Here I am with my half of the twinkies on the front steps of our hotel.  I'm sporting two birthday presents - the dress came from my parents and the necklace came from the Cooks.

(Again with the cut-off heads.  Grrrr.)

Once we had regrouped, we walked down the street to Ride the Ducks of Hot Springs!  Technically we only rode one duck, but that's the name of the company.  The duck was parked outside of the Josephine Tussaud Wax Museum and we had to go inside to buy our tickets.  If I had any concerns at all about riding in a vehicle that operated on both land and water, they all disappeared as we bought our tickets.  Why?  Because Jesus himself was watching over us.

We were the first people aboard our duck - Miss Judy - so we got the prime seats in the back.  They were slightly elevated over the others so we had a much better view. 

Right after those pictures were taken Jenny and I decided to switch sides.  Doc told me to be careful if I decided to rest my hand on his leg to make sure I got the right person's leg.  It was just so confusing with all that madras!

Our duck tour started right down the middle of Bathhouse Row where we learned that only two of the bathhouses are still in operation as bathhouses.  We also drove past the World's Shortest Street In Everday Use.  At just 98 feet long, it hosts the World's Shortest St. Patrick's Day Parade each year.  This past year the parade was led by John Corbett of Sex and the City fame.  (Um, hello!  Anyone feel like going with me to the parade next year?!?)  We zipped past other attractions in Hot Springs and finally made our way to Lake Hamilton.  Here's what our view from the back of the boat was like.

This might've been one of my favorite parts of the trip.  The weather was beautiful and it was so peaceful out on the water.  I really think if our captain would've put his mic down for a few minutes I could've closed my eyes and drifted off to dream land.  But since that wasn't the case, I decided to take in all the beautiful scenery.  I've decided that I could live here:

We said hello to some geese as we made our way out of the water.

I used a stop at a red light as a photo opportunity. 

I cannot even tell you how tangled my hair was in the picture above.  It started early that morning when I realized I forgot to pack our travel bath products.  The tiny bottles that the hotel offered were just bath gel and shampoo.  No conditioner for my thin stringy hair.  Then, after an hour long open-air ride, it was just a hot tangled mess.  I seriously almost started crying when I tried to brush it.

As we made our way back downtown to park, we passed this fine establishment.  Not only can you get chicken at Chicken World, but you can also get pork, veggies, fruit, beef, and seafood.  Why even name it Chicken World?  They're chicken and lots more!

Our afternoon was spent at Oaklawn watching the horses race. 

This was my first time to go to the horse races so I didn't really know what to expect.  For those of you reading this that have never been, the inside looks like this:

Rows of seats facing a big floor-to-ceiling window.  Just past the windows is more seating/standing room and then the horse track. 

We started inside so that we could grab some lunch.  I was starving!  Even though Oaklawn is known for their reuben sandwiches, I opted for a corn dog.  Best decision ever - I think it was the tastiest corn dog I've ever eaten.  Or maybe I was just that hungry.

Darrin was excited for the races to begin!

Allison and Jenny were too. 

After scarfing down my corn dog and hushing up my growling stomach, I could finally get excited about the races too.

Allison and Chris had been to Oaklawn several times before, so they explained how everything worked.  If I heard correctly, the racing horses are escorted to their starting stalls by their boy/girlfriend to help get them "revved" up for the race.  In the  pictures below, the person in red is riding the boy/girlfriend and the jockeys are riding the excited racers.

Everything from there is pretty self-explanatory.  They line up in their stalls and then take off around the track.  You can place all kinds of different bets for Win, Place, and Show.  Here's some of the horses after just rounding the corner on the far side of the track.  (Our money was probably on the one in the rear.)

This is the best I could get of them coming around front to the finish line.  They were so fast!

We placed several $2 bets on each race.  And we did a really good job of losing just about every one of them.  Unlike Charlie Sheen, we were not winning. 

We eventually got kicked out of the seats we didn't pay for, so we headed outside for an upclose view.  In this shot of Doc, you can see everything you possibly need to see at the track - the big video screen, the scoreboard, the Oaklawn bushes, and the finish line.  In case you still couldn't tell where this picture was taken, Doc displayed his big Oaklawn cup that the boys may or may not have poured bourbon into.

(Looks like the big screen got cut off.  It's there in the real picture, I promise.) 

There was time to kill before the next race so you know what that meant - photo op!  We have good looking friends.

When it came time for the race to start, I fixed my lens on the finish line.  I was determined to get the photo-finish.  You know, in case it was really close and they needed to see things from my perspective.  I didn't even get close to catching the shot; the horses were so fast that my finger didn't even push the camera trigger until they were long gone!  I did stand on my tippy-toes, though, to get a shot of a couple winning horses after their race.  I like the picture below of the horse getting rinsed off because you can see his tongue sticking out.  It's like he's mocking all the losers.  "Na-na-a-boo-boo, I beat you! Ptttthhh!"

And this horse still has his jockey on him.  Tee hee, he's so tiny.

We wandered through a tunnel that took us under the race track and spit us out on the open lawn in the middle.  This was my favorite spot, not because you could really get a good view of the races at all, but because the sun was out and I was desperate for a tan!  These guys were apparently pretty desperate, too.

I kicked off my flip flops and walked barefoot in the grass.  Ah, spring! 

We could still place bets at a window outside.  Darrin ended up being the big winner of the day off a total fluke.  Doc gave him the horse numbers to bet on, Darrin misheard him and told the lady wrong, and he ended up cashing in $155!  In the words of Napolean Dynamite, Lucky!

Chris brought back a caterpillar from one of his trips to the betting counter.  I took it from his hands and put it on my arm.  The caterpillar and I had a contest to see who could get their hair to stand up higher.

We decided to beat the crowd and called it quits before the last race.  When the taxi dropped us off at our hotel we walked across the street to one of the hot springs. 

Obviously, these springs are where the town gets its name and the water that comes from them is 140 degrees!  In case you're wondering, that's really, really hot.  Our wild and crazy husbands decided to each stick a foot in. 

You can't really tell much from the picture above, but Doc stuck in his left foot and it turned pretty red.  I bet it wasn't in there for more than 1.5 seconds before he grabbed at it like it was on fire.  He said later that night that his foot felt sun-burned.

This was before the foot-burning occurred.  Doc was still feeling happy-go-lucky and content just sitting by the warm water.

We could feel the steam rising off the water.

I don't think these two ever take a bad picture.

That goes for the Earls too.

We had dinner at Belle Arti that night.  I decided to leave the big heavy camera back in the room, but had I known about the fabulously dressed prom-goers we were seated next to, I would've definitely brought it along.  When did high school guys stop wearing plain black tuxes?  I mean, back in my day it was trendy to get a vest and/or tie that matched your date's dress, but the guys still went with the black tux.  I don't think there was a single one at the table beside us.  They were white or had funky hats or canes or something crazy like that.  And the girls!  My goodness!  I'm pretty sure one girl in particular might not have gotten her mother's approval when she bought her dress.  That, or her mother is veeeerrrry different from my mother.  I could see her whole back!  Like seriously, ALL of it.  And she had an I Dream Of Jeannie ponytail.   Unacceptable.  There was one girl at the table that had on an appropriate dress and her hairstyle was really cute - something I would definitely wear.  I wanted to pull her aside and let her know that she looked the best, but I refrained. 

The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful.  We had drinks back at the hotel before retiring for the night and we headed out pretty early Sunday morning.  We did stop at a water fountain on our way out, though, so that Chris could fill up some bottles of water.  The water is from the springs so it's hot and apparently lots of people come fill up jugs and bottles to take it home with them.  And the best part?  It's free!