Day 21, Sunday June 24
Hot Springs, Arkansas
3,140.5 miles by end of day
Not having been bothered by voracious raccoons or any other campers in the nearly deserted campground, I awoke refreshed at dawn. It is warm. The nighttime temperature is not below 68 degrees. I broke camp quickly. The camp host, a man with too much time on his hands, drove over to see how I was. I was as social as a bladder filled, uncaffeinated man can be. No matter, the Host did not have his hearing aid in and decided to cut the visit short.
I was on the road before 7 a.m. and in the little town of Crossett, Arkansas within 45 minutes. Coffee awaited. People just love to stop and chat. My being from New Hampshire gives them all a great laugh. I ask every clerk if I get a discount for being the most handsome man from New Hampshire they've ever met. To which comes the the universal refrain, "You be the only man from New Hampshire I have ever met!"
I need to throw this in before I forget: in Jackson, Mississippi, I saw gas for $2.99 a gallon.
Today I continued the zigzag route of 3-digit county roads, now through Arkansas. When I stopped at an intersection or fork in the road a car would often stop to ask if I needed assistance. One fellow pulled over and gave me a history lesson on all the roads in the county from Reconstruction to the present day. He was a torrent of road knowledge. None of it was helpful to me, but I think I helped relieve some information pressure that had been building in him.
Have I mentioned that the roads are like butter here? They are smooth, smooth, smooth. Some roadbeds were constructed of concrete and you can feel the seams below the light red macadam, but you almost have to hunt for faults. New England's friend Frost Heave has never visited the South.
My goal toady is Hot Springs National Park in the town (population 37,000) of Hot Springs, Arkansas. I will stay at least two days. The campsite fee is $5 as day. From here I will plan my route through the Ozark Mountains and then north to the Great Plains. To me the Plains begin on the Arkansas-Missouri border. While in Hot Springs I will try and see what a hot spring feels like in 100 degree weather. Question: how does a hot spring feel on sunburnt arms?
Answer: Wonderful. "Taking the bath" as the saying goes here, is a great experience. First was a soak in a large tub, with a hot soapy luffa sponge rubdown, then a sitz bath followed by the steam room. From there it was onto a table to be wrapped in very hot towels. I became mush. Then it was into the needle shower and a cool-down room. The process took one hour. Heaven. The room this all takes place in is lined in white Georgia marble. It speaks of another era.
Hot Springs, Arkansas is worth a visit.