Our Visit to Hot Springs Bath House Row (Scary)

We really had no idea what to expect.  We were headed from Ohio to east Texas (1449 mile trip) where our winter workamping job would be and looked for places to stay along the way.

We had just been to the Branson, MO area where we stayed at the Escapees RV Club Turkey Creek RV Park.  We spent a couple nights there enjoyed a great pizza dinner at “Mr. G’s” and then of course (since you’re in Branson) took in one of the shows on the strip.

Kathy’s personal deep dish Chicago Style pizza (Chicken, spinach, garlic alfredo sauce)
Smaller family pizza and sub joint in downtown Branson, MO

So we looked at the map and decided that Hot Springs, Arkansas is where we should be heading.  I read the reviews online and found that the Lake Catherine State Park was reviewed as being a nicer campground than the National Park, so off went went.  We were not disappointed!

Our site backed up to the lake

Lake Catherine was beautiful.  The day we got there, it was super hot and humid so once we got things hooked up, we changed into our suits and jumped into the lake to cool off … how refreshing!  Later that evening we could sit out and watch the ducks and geese along the edge of the lake along with hearing the screams of joy from the children jumping into the water from the adjacent dock.  We’ll definitely be stopping back at Lake Catherine State Park next time we find ourselves in the Little Rock / Hot Springs area.

We stayed at Lake Catherine SP for two nights because we wanted to spend time in Hot Springs.  We really had no idea what to expect.  I looked online (again) and found the National Park site told us that (depending on how much time we had) what we could see in; an hour or so, a half day, or a whole day.  We headed to downtown Hot Springs to hit the Visitor Center and pick up a map.

“Bathhouse Row” is where you’ll find 8 of the early hot spring bath houses built between 1892 and 1923 still standing and two of them actually still in operation.  The ones that are not still operating have become museums, gift shops, etc.

drawing, map of Bathhouse Row today with park land shown in green, private property in the city as tan, parking lots as yellow, streets as white, bathhouse buildings leased in dark purple and the Maurice Bathhouse which is not yet leased as light purple. It shows hot spring water fountains as red dots.
Map of Bathhouse Row
Lamar Bathhouse, now a gift shop operated by the Parks Department
The Ozark Bathhouse is now an art museum
This is the Arlington Hotel where Al Capone and other famous folks stayed when they visited the bathouses
The Hot Springs NPS Administration Building
Hot Spring water (at 143 degrees) bubbles over at many locations along the streets and promenade of bathouse row
The former Army-Navy Hospital (the 2nd one to be built on this site) which is now the Arkansas Career Training Institute

The spring water comes out of the ground at 143 degrees, (over 700,000 gallons a week!) and is collected at the base of the mountain just above Bathhouse Row into spring collection boxes.  You can see these boxes along side the Promenade that runs just along behind the bathhouses.

At the top of this picture is the Promenade level and if you look closely, you can see the steam rising from the water as it comes to the surface. It then cascades down to a pool, where it looks inviting, but still too hot to submerge your hand
The hot water pool at the bottom of the small waterfall
The Promenade runs the full length behind the bathhouses. The spring collection boxes are to the left (above) and the right (below) the Promenade
Here’s just a few of the many spring water collection boxes

The Fordyce Bathhouse was built between 1914-1916 and is now a museum that provides free guided tours.  Park Ranger Kevin was our tour guide and he showed us all the rooms used along with a lot of the equipment used for treatment of the aches and pains of the patients.  Although some of the standard hot water bathing could be taken in by anyone, there were other treatment regimes that had to be prescribed by a medical doctor.  The Fordyce doctor was on the 3rd floor and patients could see him for an exam and interview after which the doctor could prescribe a treatment program for that patients ailment(s).

Upon entry, patients were assigned an attendant who would be with them throughout their visit.  This was for the safety of the patient to make sure they weren’t “overdoing it” and to make sure all the proper procedures were followed and laws and regulations controlling hot springs baths were (are) followed.

Fordyce Attendant

Kevin told us that the attendants, although paid a very small wage, were often tipped very well by their patients.  If an attendant was good at their job, it was very often the case that the patient would request that attendant by name when they set their appointment.  It was also very common to find that there were families of attendants, generation after generation.  For local folks, although the work was hard (on your feet all day in sweltering heat and humidity), the tips were good and the work was steady.

Some of the equipment was pretty scary looking (electro-therapy, needle showers, heat-lamp boxes, ice block boxes, spring water enema table, etc.)  Yet, people in need flocked to the bathhouses seeking relief from their pain.  Remember, there were not the pharmaceuticals that are out there now and medical technology was still in the dark ages.

The Fordyce Bathhouse front lobby (notice all the marble) where patients came for their appointment
The ladies “first room” after leaving the Dressing Room. This is where the “needle shower”, the hot tubs, the sun-ray box and the ice box are located
The ladies “cooling room” after initial treatment (bath, shower, heat, ice) where they come to relax and cool down
The “Needle” shower. Hundreds of very fine sprays of hot water pummel your skin and joints
This is the SCARY room. From left to right … tub for electro therapy, water enema table, ICE BLOCK box, Sun-Ray Heat Lamp Box, water cannons
The Sun-Ray box on the right gets close to 200 degrees, after that then right into sitting on top of a block of ice in the ICE BOX
The mens private bath rooms (see the needle shower behind Ranger Kevin?). This is quite a bit more ornate than the ladies side of the building (statue in the center)
Stained glass skylight too!
One of the doctors therapy rooms (Run!)
The lounge on the 2nd floor adjacent to the ladies dressing rooms
Rows and rows of dressing rooms. One side of the 2nd floor for men, the other side of the 2nd floor for the ladies.

 

We also took a drive up “Mountain Road” where we were able to take an elevator up to the top of the lookout tower where you could see all over town and for miles beyond.

View from atop the Lookout Tower

We had a great time, learned a lot and would definitely go back again to both the state park campground and the downtown area of Hot Springs.

 

 

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Review – Lake Vandalia Campground

As afternoon came we pulled in to a Walmart parking lot where we could get free (strong) wifi and brought up our Allstays app to find a place to stay for the night.

We were lucky enough to choose Lake Vandalia Campground at Vandalia, Illinois.

Lake Vandalia, Illinois

This is a city park with a huge lake, beach area with concession stand and about 100+ electric only sites.  There is a dump station that’s free to use for registered guests.  Water hydrants are available, but you might need a couple hundred feet of hose.  We carry 90 gallons in our fresh water tank, so we had no worries.

The fee was only $15 (senior discount) and we were lucky enough to be one of only about 3 or 4 campers there for the night.  We backed in to our spot, set up our chairs at the edge of the lake, cooked brats on the charcoal grill and had a peaceful and cool night listening to the light rain that started about midnight.

Oh, and Kathy made Acorn Squash in her Instant Pot …. I didn’t think I would like it, but you know … put enough butter and brown sugar on about anything and it’ll taste good!  I gotta admit …. it was yummy.

Acorn Squash from the Instant Pot
Our site for the night, backed right up to the lake
View of the lake from our easy chairs

All in all, it was another great place to camp for the night … and inexpensive to boot!

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Our Trip Home – The Long Way …

So as our 4 month workamping gig in Baldwin, Michigan wrapped up, our plan was to come back “home” to visit the kids and grand kids for a week or so and then head toward Livingston, Texas where we will start our fall/winter workamping assignment on October 15th.

Ordinarily, we would just make the 6 hour drive direct from Baldwin, MI to Mt. Gilead, OH but … since we had time on our hands and a desire to see more of Michigan, we decided to head north instead.

Our goal was to get back up into the U.P. and this time head further north and further west.  We headed out and spent our first night at the casino in Manistique (free camping w/ electric), visited the lighthouse on the jetty at the mouth of the Manistique River, and the next morning headed out US-2 where we had a great breakfast in a wonderful little family diner at Big Bay De Noc.  After breakfast we headed on up US-41 through Marquette, Negaunee, and Ishpiming where Chuck said we just had to stop at “Da Yoopers Tourist Trap”.

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Here’s a short video of our walk out on the Jetty at the mouth of the Manistique River where it meets Lake Michigan.

We continued on US-41 from Ishpiming (and we didn’t buy a thing at “Da Yooper Trap”), on up and THROUGH Alberta where we passed the Ford Forestry Center of Michigan.  We didn’t have time to stop and check it out, it was getting late in the day and we had found out at about noon that there were only about 6 spots left at the state park at Copper Harbor, so we had to keep “movin’ on down the road”.  Hopefully next year when we are back up at Baldwin, we can take a few days to go up into the U.P. again and check out this historic site.

As we drove through L’Anse and around L’Anse Bay staying on US-41 we were now finally just inside the Keweenaw Peninsula and heading further north to Copper Harbor.

L’Anse, MI and the Keweenaw Bay

Staying on 41, we drove through the college town of Houghton, MI – home to Michigan Technological University.  So many “kids” walking the streets to and from class.  They all look so young ….

Crossing the Portage River over the lift bridge and on into the sister city of Hancock, MI.  You can get a really great “live” view of the lift bridge by following this link where we stayed on 41 and stopped to visit the Upper Peninsula Firefighters Memorial in Calumet.

Great museum of firefighting apparatus and memorabilia in Calumet, MI

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We finally made it to our destination for the night, Fort Wilkins Historic State Park at Copper Harbor at the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula. 

The State Park was really nice and there was lots to see not only at the park (the historic fort) but also in the Copper Harbor area so we decided that we would stay at least two nights here.

Kathy had heard about “The Jam Pot” so we headed south on M-26 where we bought a muffin and some of their spiced peach jam.  Had that for lunch and it was yummy.

We went to the top of Brockway Mountain to the lookout where we could see down to all of Copper Harbor, Fort Wilkins, and Lake Fannie Hooe.  We continued on down M-26 through Eagle Harbor and Eagle River where we saw lots of waterfalls.

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When our stay at Copper Harbor was over, we headed back down US-41 and across MI-28 through Ironwood and on into Wisconsin where we spent a night at a really nice campground-type RV park and we were lucky enough to get a spot looking out onto Indian Lake with full hook-up for only $30/nite!

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Leaving Woodruff, Wisconsin we continued south and stayed at Hickory Hollow RV Park in Utica, Illinois the next night then down to Blue Lake Campground in Cherubusco, IN the following night before heading out to the RV Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Indiana.

Located just off I-80 at Elkhart, IN

Admission to the RV/MH Hall of Fame is $12 for adults, $10 for those over 60 years of age.  It’s a walk-through self guided museum that resembles (somewhat) a campground.  Many of the units welcome walk-throughs but some were roped off so you could only look through the doors and windows.  If you were to stop and read every placard at every RV, the tour would very likely last nearly all day.

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Although the drive from west central Michigan (Ludington area) to the Keweenaw Peninsula was a long one, it was worth it.  We saw a smattering of what the area has to offer, and hopefully next year when we’re back up at the RV park, we can take a few days to make the trip north again to discover more.

In the meantime, we’re currently back in Ohio for a few days until we head out to our next workamping gig in Livingston, TX.  More on that to come later.

For now, it’s rollin’ on down the road for us.

 

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Waterfalls in Michigan – Really?

Kathy and I were both born and spent our early years in Michigan on the west side of Detroit and then spent our school years in Redford Township where we met in high school, got married shortly after we graduated and started a family of our own.  I’ll tell you about those early years some other time.

Our vacation travels as a young family consisted of driving on up to the Kalkaska area of Michigan’s lower peninsula where my folks had moved after Dad’s retirement from Ford Motor Company in Dearborn.  It would always be a “low budget” trip.  We would be able to stay close to home (about 4 hours away), the kids would have some time with Papa and Nana, and Kathy and I might even be able to sneak away for a couple hours alone while we got free baby sitting from my folks.  All in all, it was a “win-win” for all of us.  We had fun back then.

And although we spent a lot of time up in this neck of the woods, we had no idea there were so many waterfalls in Michigan.  Workamping here at Pere Marquette Oaks RV Resort gives us every other week (7 days straight) off so we can do what we want.  Kathy thought it would be fun to go on up to the U.P. (Upper Peninsula).  As we researched our potential trip, we found that Michigan boasts being home to nearly 200 waterfalls and all but 2 are located in the UP!  We had been up to Tahquamenon Falls years ago, but we thought that was it.  Boy were we wrong!

We loosely planned our road trip to take up 3 days time.  We decided to not take the coach and stay in motels 2 nights so we had more mobility and easier entry to some of the sites where the falls might be located.  It was a good thing we decided this as many of the sites had small access roads and/or parking areas with not much turnaround room.

We invited our new friends Chuck and Joanne to come along with

The Fantastic Foursome

us and we all had a great time.  They’ve retired from the Grand Rapids area and as a family they’ve done lots of camping over the years and they had some ideas on where we could go and what we could see.

Although we wanted to see LOTS of falls, we knew that time, money, and our “rear ends” in the car would tell us that 3 days out would be about all we could handle.

Here’s a map showing our 3 day route up and back.  If you want to see an interactive map where you can zoom and pan for yourself, click here.

Besides the numerous falls we saw, and the pasties and smoked fish we ate, there was something we learned that I had no idea existed.  I knew that folks who lived in the Upper Peninsula were known as “Yoopers”, but I had no idea that those of us who were born in or lived in the Lower Peninsula were known as “Trolls”.

I couldn’t imagine why I would be called a “Troll”, until a Yooper shared with me it’s because we live “below the bridge”!  Now it all makes perfect sense.

“UP” Road Trip Map

Here’s a slide show of some of the high points of our trip.  I’m including a few short videos too.

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Here’s the video montage of our UP Falls Tour to go along with some of the pictures in the slide show above.

All in all, we had a great time seeing beautiful sites with great friends and looking forward to our next adventure.  So long for now from your friends “The Trolls”.

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Honoring Our Veterans at The Park

Today was another special day here at Pere Marquette Oaks RV Park.  It’s the Fourth of July holiday weekend and all our regular residents are here along with all the rental lots taken with first-time and return visitors.  Many of the guests are relatives of some of our full time residents.  Lots of little ones having tons of fun.

The day started out with our 2nd Annual 4th of July Bicycle and Golf Cart Parade.  Children started decorating their bikes last night, while Grandmas and Grandpas decorated their golf carts, scooters and such with all kinds of red, white, and blue banners, flags and other regalia.  We even had marching music blaring to keep the ranks in file.

We paraded throughout the park while throngs of on-lookers waved and cheered (and smiled) at the clever decorations.  Awards were given for the best entries in each class.

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After the parade, all the participants and spectators gathered around the new flagpole for the dedication of the plaques honoring our Veterans.  Both the flagpole and these plaques were donated by Bill VanDeVusse and Lee Presley and we all thank them for their generosity.

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And after the dedication, we all gathered in the pavilion for cookies, cake, punch, and Popsicles.  It was a wonderful cap to a great early afternoon.  I have to apologize for not getting any pictures of everyone during refreshments in the pavilion … I guess I was to busy stuffing my face with all the delicious goodies to think about picking up the camera, (duh!)

After the refreshments, many of the residents and visitors enjoyed some basking in the sun, playing in the pool, or relaxing in the hot tub.

A special shout out of THANKS goes to Chris for organizing the parade, Marianne and Mike for installing the plaques and the recognition of our Veterans, and finally Jean, Marianne, Sally, and Sue for getting all the goodies donated and the hall set up and serving everyone.

It’s always good when friends come together … can’t wait for the next opportunity!

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Honoring Our Veterans at The Park

This post is late … we’ve been having too much fun here outside and have not been up to date on posting pictures to the blog.

I wanted to share with you how we were all able to honor our Veterans here at the park a few weeks ago on the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

Last year, the association bought a new aluminum flagpole and it was installed last fall.  This spring flowers were planted at the base of the pole and on Saturday May 27th, we all gathered around, dedicated the new American Flag and honored residents (and visitors) of the park who have served protecting our freedoms.

The Veteran’s names were called out along with their branch of service, their rank and years served.  There were about 40 names called off and those who were present stood and were applauded for their service.  After the service, the Veterans gathered in the clubhouse for refreshments and a time to talk with others that served.

We are all blessed to have had these men and women risk, and in some cases give their lives to protect our freedoms.  This ceremony is just one small way we can give back and let them know their sacrifice has not gone unnoticed or unappreciated.

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We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

They Certainly Know How to Party!

This was our first experience at the Bloody Mary Party, but others in the park had been talking about the upcoming event for weeks.  Everyone looks forward to the annual gathering hosted by Bill & Lee.

We weren’t disappointed … lots of food, lots of drink (open bar / self serve), and LOTS of friendly talk and laughs.  This crowd knows how to party!

Fortunately, since the guests all live here in the park, there was no danger of DUI since we could all walk home.

Here’s a few snaps from the party … Thanks again go out to Bill and Lee for their gracious hospitality.

 

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy
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