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

RV Park Review – Pere Marquette Oaks RV “Condo” Resort (Michigan)

Summer’s over and our 4 month workamping gig has come to an end.  We had a great experience at a wonderful park in a beautiful area of the country and I wanted to share a little info with you in hopes that you might have an opportunity to spend some time in this often “skipped” area of our country.

Pere Marquette Oaks RV Resort is located in west central Michigan just about 3 miles south of the town of Baldwin.  “PMO” as it’s referred to by its friends is just about an hour north of Grand Rapids and less than 45 minutes from the Lake Michigan shore city of Ludington.

PMO is a condominium RV park where the “campers” actually own their lot and pay annual dues to the association for maintenance and amenities.  Some of the owners who may be out of town in their RV actually rent out their lot to visitors to the area.  The park has a full-time rental manager to handle these rentals and welcome visitors to the park and to the area.  Sue can be reached at 616-901-4060.

All the lots at PMO are large (at least 50′ x 100′) and all are full hook-up sites with concrete paved and level sites that include free wifi and 36 channels of cable TV.  There are just over 100 sites with asphalt paved streets lined with massive oak trees that offer lots of shade.

Other amenities include a modern clubhouse that offers a fully equipped kitchen, large flat screen TV and plenty of round tables and chairs so that folks can use the room for football parties, card games, or larger family gatherings.

The most popular amenities in the park are definitely the heated pool and hot tub.  Lots of adults and children make good use of these amenities during hot weather.  The picnic pavilion adjacent to the pool provides a great place for gathering and enjoying one of the many pot-luck meals that seem to pop up over the season.

Visitors to the park will find lots of opportunity to meet plenty of other like minded people as they walk or bicycle around the park.  Typically the holiday long weekends (Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day) are the busiest and the most fun in the park.  Although there is no “Activities Director”, folks at the park take it upon themselves to plan activities that attract everyone to attend and participate.

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Overnight rate (for 2017) is only $45 per night and Sue (616-901-4060) will be happy to get you a spot for a night and she can give you all the details about seasonal rates and ownership opportunities as well.

I encourage you to take the opportunity to stay at PM (Pere Marquette) Oaks RV Resort.  Not only are you less than an hour away from Lake Michigan and the beautiful Ludington State Park, but you’re only minutes away from Big Star Lake where you can canoe, kayak, or jet ski and you will be just a hop, skip, and a jump from the famous Pere Marquette River which is one of the premier Rainbow Trout and Steelhead streams in the Midwest.  If you want something a little different, Lake County boasts 47 trout streams and 153 lakes, so there’s surely someplace right for you.

Kathy and I will be heading back to PMO in the spring of 2018 for another workamping season and who knows, … maybe we’ll see you there!

Wishing you smooth roads and sunny skies …

 

 

 

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

Riding A “Cable” Ferry at Lake Charlevoix

Our road trip a few weeks ago took us up M-22 and M-119 through Charlevoix and Petoskey and on up to the Mackinac Bridge and across to St. Ignace.  On our way back down into the Lower Peninsula, we needed to head to Kalkaska on M-66 to visit my parents grave.

This return trip took us to a delightful little Village of Ironton where there is a ferry that crosses the “narrows” of Lake Charlevoix giving riders a shortcut from Boyne City to Charlevoix.

As we had already spent a thoroughly enjoyable time in Charlevoix the previous night, we instead crossed on the ferry and headed south on M-66 to Kalkaska.

To get a better look at the area and be able to zoom in or out, click on this interactive map link

 I thought the ferry was so cool.  A ferry boat has been crossing this narrows since 1883, with this present vessel being placed into service in 1925.  On most boats, ferry or otherwise, the captain (or pilot) not only controls the engine speed and direction, but also steers the boat by use of a rudder and/or bow thruster engines/props.

With this ferry however, the craft is “driven” by propellers on each end (from one small diesel motor that runs in both directions) but the direction that the boat travels is guided along by a 3/4″ diameter steel cable that is secured at the ferry dock at each end.  There is no steering and there is no rudder.

Back in the “old days” the passengers provided the power by pulling the boat along using hand-over-hand power on the cable.

“How do boats navigate the narrows” you ask?  There is enough slack in the cable so that it is only above the surface of the water at each end and at the ferry boat itself.  Otherwise the cable drops to a depth of about 25′ so that other watercraft can safely navigate.

The Ironton Ferry Boat

Looking Across The Narrows of Lake Charlevoix at Ironton
Waiting In Line to Board
The Ferry Rate Chart
The Ferry Has Departed
Placard Detailing The History of The Ferry

We are continually amazed and delighted at the opportunities that this workamping lifestyle affords us.  Although we were both born and raised in Michigan, we continue to be pleasantly surprised with all that this beautiful Water-Winter-Wonderland has to offer.

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

Workamping at Pere Marquette RV Park – Baldwin Mich

We’re coming to the end of our first year as full-time RV’ers and Kathy and I have taken stock of the decision we made to leave the stix-n-bricks world of home ownership and hit the road as Workampers.

We left our family and friends back in Ohio on Labor Day 2016 and headed west to Arizona for our first Workamping experience.  This position was for Sept 15th to March 15th, 2017.  I’ve written many posts about our experiences while working in Arizona, you can find them elsewhere on this blog.  Here’s a link to a post on our workamping experience there.

We had a great time and made some great new friendships there and we’d like to go back to Arizona again in the near future.  If you’re contemplating visiting Arizona, we highly recommend the central portion of the state near cities like Cottonwood, Camp Verde, Clarkdale, Sedona, & Jerome.

Central Arizona – Not too hot in the summer, not too cold in the winter

These spots are far enough north of Phoenix to be a little cooler and less looking like desert, but in the winter you’re far enough south of cities like Flagstaff so the chances of snow are pretty slim.

Our 2nd and most recent gig is where we’re presently working and about to depart from (Sept 15th).  We’ve had the pleasure of working at Pere Marquette Oaks RV Resort in (of all places) BALDWIN, Michigan.

Baldwin, MI

This video below takes you on a bicycle tour of the park.  It’s a beautiful lush green RV park full of towering oak trees, an in-ground heated pool, hot tub, picnic pavilion, laundry room, and club house.

We don’t have to park new arrivals, answer the phone, or take reservations.  There is a rental manager for that.  Kathy and I are responsible for maintaining the rest rooms, showers, pool, hot tub, club house and laundry areas.

Take the tour and find out a little more.

Although it’s only been a year, we’ve come to realize that we are really enjoying this lifestyle change.  We have sold our home in Ohio (to our daughter and son-in-law), and will be registering as Texas residents this winter when we are there for our next (winter) workamping position.  Texas is viewed by “those in the know” as one of the 3 best states to domicile in for full-time RV’ers.

We hope to continue this lifestyle as long as our health allows and recommend to anyone considering some sort of lifestyle change to think about hitting the road in an RV and workamping along the way, both to help keep active and contribute to the household budget.  We look for employers/positions that ask for about 10-20 hours per week in exchange for a full hook-up site along with water, sewer, electric, cable, wifi, and laundry allowance.  We don’t want to work 40 hours+, we’ve been there / done that.

Thanks for reading … don’t be afraid to ask questions …we’d love to hear from you.

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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