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March 25, 2008

Arkansas 2008

IMG_6193_editedHot Springs, AR, the city, sits around, between and inside Hot Springs National Park.  The naturally sterile water in the 47 springs is at a temperature of 143F.  The water (about 800,000 gallons a day) is purported to have medicinal properties and had been known to the American Indians long before Hernando de Soto visited the  springs in 1541.

IMG_6189By 1832 the springs had created so much tourism the federal government set aside the springs and surrounding area as the country’s first park-type federal reservation – it became a National Park in 1921.  There are still 8 bathhouses along Bathhouse Row although at the moment only 1 is still providing baths and massages.  Some of the hotels also provide baths.  The park Visitor Centre is in another one that can be toured and we saw at least 2 others that were under renovation and restoration, by the National Park Service.

We climbed the hill, then went up the Mountain Tower and looked down on the town, specifically on the Arlington Hotel. (see the top photo).  This is luxury accommodation that dates back to 1875 and the current hotel dates to 1924.  As with so many old buildings, fire destroyed the previous structure.  We had lunch in the lobby restaurant.

Hot Springs was the boyhood home of Bill Clinton and there was a very good display of memorabilia on the observation level of the Tower.  We drove past his house, but it is a private residence so we could only look. 

One afternoon we attended the thoroughbred races at Oaklawn Park.  That was great fun but we didn’t win anything.  I gather this is quite a well known racetrack.

IMG_6210_editedIt was a short 60 miles to Little Rock so we arrived quite early in the afternoon.  We had been hearing about the flooding along the rivers in Arkansas so were glad to be over the bridge that crosses the Arkansas River. Our campground was right on the water and as you can see the river was very high.
Texas and East 131

Little Rock is the capital of Arkansas and the capitol building, patterned after the US Capitol, is beautiful.  It was built between 1899 and 1915, the interior marble from various states and  the exterior limestone from Arkansas.  Since it was Sunday we were unable to take a guided tour but we were given access to the Governor’s Reception Room and the Senate and the House Chambers. 

That afternoon we visited the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum.  It is where the official records of the Clinton Presidency are kept. 

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 It also includes displays of  gifts received by the Clintons, exhibits relating to life in the White House, as well as a full-scale replica of the Cabinet Room and the Oval office. 

Texas and East 151_editedThere was a  special exhibition during the time that we were there.  It was a scale model of the White House, 60 ft long by 25 ft wide, constructed in a one-inch-to-one-foot scale.  It took 32 years to complete and includes hand-carved furniture, tiny paintings that replicate the original works of art,  actual working miniature televisions and clocks and of course hundreds of tiny lights.  There are even miniature place settings and wine glasses on the tables!

It was an excellent afternoon and we could have spent much more time looking at the exhibits.  Think we’ll stop again when we are down that way.

We had been hearing about the extensive flooding in northern Arkansas, with some of the Interstate and State Highways being closed.  We decided that we would get across the Mississippi into Tennessee before the flood waters peaked – just to be sure.  

IMG_6214_editedDidn’t have any problems as we travelled but the White River looked more like a lake – with trees growing in it – than a river and the Interstate Rest Area getting closer to the Mississippi was closed as water covered the exit road.  This picture was taken as we drove along the raised highway that went for miles.

Memphis – our next stop.

Bernie & Ross

Posted by Bernice at March 25, 2008 05:04 PM


Your pictures are just unbelievable.

We look forward to seeing you soon - we'll tell you all about the cruise.

Best regards,
J & A

Posted by: Jill & Alan at April 20, 2008 02:38 PM

Very interesting. I would love to see the Clinton library and museum. He, despite his wanderings, was by far a much better president then the one we have now. Our country was in far better condition. So incredible and sad about the floods in the southern states. I would hate to have my home under water. We have had a miserable Spring and it is still cold but I would take that any day over flooding. So, where are you off to next? Bette

Posted by: Bette Andrew at April 23, 2008 10:37 PM