Wow, it's been awhile - I've been traveling and seeing some beautiful sights!
While the midwest got "hammered" by a really big storm that brought ice, snow and sub-zero temperatures to many states, I was in Hot Springs Arkansas - a little town that is rich in history and beauty - and only got cold temperatures and some flurries!
Hot Springs is just that - hot springs that come up from the ground and are over 4,000 years old! The indians used to come to "the waters" to bath and claimed they had medicinal & therapeutic qualities. Back in the early 1920s, bathhouses were built along the main street where the springs ran. A few of those houses are still in existence - only 2 still used for the original purpose - a couple you can tour to see what it was like to use the bathhouses back then. All of the houses are very "regal" looking, each with a story to tell. Bathhouse Row, as it's called, is a National Historic Landmark!
Found out that one of the oldest hotels, The Majestic (built in the 1800s), housed the legendary gangster Al Capone! His 'suite of rooms' supposedly had fake walls where he could escape if need be. The Majestic is said to be haunted with the spirits of many who have passed through or died in that hotel.....specifically spotted was a young lady in a white dress who oftentimes sits at a window. There's been stories of hearing children running up and down the halls; of a frightened little boy who was actually seen peering around a column of the hotel; of a big man with a deep voice named Fred who was shot in the hotel.
How do I know this? I was told (after asking!) by the security guard who had been working there over a year-and-a-half (he saw many of the spirits) and by two people who worked at the other old and equally famous hotel, The Arlington - which is where my hubby and I stayed! Ruben and Ms.GiGi were our masseurs who used to work at the Majestic before it closed. (The Majestic was recently bought and will be converted to condominiums) By the way, should you stay at The Arlington, make sure to get a mineral bath and a massage and ask for those two people - they have magic hands!!)
Al Capone also stayed at The Arlington where again he had a suite of rooms AND his own set of elevators (those are used now by the staff). We were treated to a tour of his rooms which are being renovated for modern day use. His rooms always had to be looking out the front of the hotel so he could keep an eye on his "investments", meaning the casinos he owned! Supposedly, he dug a tunnel underneath The Arlington for a "quick getaway" but no one has found it yet - or if they have, they're not talking! Oh how I wish the walls could talk because I know there would be stories galore!!
There was so much more to see - Mount Ida, Oak Lawn (live horse racing arena), The Pancake House, The Gangster Museum - so you'll NEVER be bored!
The mountains around Hot Springs are beautiful, even in the rain and fog. But what really took my breath away was the ride back home to Illinois....as we reached the boarder of Arkansas, the trees and bushes and grasses were coated with ice, making it look like a crystal-covered landscape!
I loved how the sunlight danced off the branches of the trees as we sped past - how each individual reed along the side of the road stood at attention like a sentry with the sunlight bouncing off, how the snow-covered fields glistened like field full of diamonds. The pictures I tried to snap with my camera phone just did NOT do it justice!
The rivers, the mountains, the hot springs....The old buildings, the people, the stories.....you don't have to travel far to find the past and the present together - just take a trip to Hot Springs, Arkansas.
(Do I sound like a travel brochure or what?! I think a disclaimer should go here!)