We're back in Oklahoma.
The question of Where to next? answered itself last Wednesday, when Dana received word that a one-week (okay, maybe two) return trip to Oklahoma was in order.
So, Friday morning, we zipped up our backpacks once again, secured our traveling succulents in the backseat, and improvised a scenic route through Hot Springs, Arkansas, to add another national park to our repertoire.
Only, it wasn't so tidy as that.
When you're not actually on vacation, but your daily life has you traveling as though you are, it's surprisingly difficult to motivate yourself to explore. Think about all the ho-hum days you spend between vacations. The Saturdays you wander the farmers market, the Tuesday evening grocery runs, the lazy Friday nights watching Netflix on the couch. Living on the road means that those routines, those impulses to do the ordinary, autopilot stuff—they sort of creep in at inconvenient times. Like, on a Saturday morning at a national park. You know that being here, now, is an opportunity to experience something you might never again have the chance to experience—and yet, you can't remember the last time you had a perfectly aimless day.
Neither of us felt much like hiking up a mountain in relentless sun. Neither of us felt much like battling it out with other tourists for a first-come, first-served sitz bath, vapor cabinet, and needle shower experience. And neither of us felt much like sweating ourselves to sleep in a tent that night.
So, we didn't. Instead, we made a beeline for what seemed most interesting and low-key, an approach that appeals to us most Saturdays whether we're in the same city for weeks on end or find ourselves someplace new.
We wandered along Bathhouse Row and popped into the park's visitor center, located inside one of the historic buildings.
Like a concierge in drab, a park ranger greeted us at the front desk of the Fordyce Bathhouse. She said the facility operated throughout the first half of the 20th century; some folks came as a luxury while others arrived with medical prescriptions for a 21-day soak regimen. Upon entering the bathhouse, they'd check in, deposit any jewelry or other valuables in a brass safe deposit box, and get escorted to a private changing room to prepare for treatment.
A self-guided stroll took us through several marble-walled rooms, some lined with cool, metal recliners and others sectioned off into private stalls, a large porcelain tub in each; down a hallway with Zander machines behind plexiglass; past massage tables and light boxes, parlors filled with wicker rockers and billiard tables, and an airy gymnasium.
Prescription or not, the whole enterprise (well, aside from the electric baths and a service called a "mercury rub") sounded divine.
If we weren't going to lie down in a pair of crusty, ancient tubs and while away the afternoon pretending we were being restored by make-believe thermal spring water, it was time to find ice cream.
Naturally, my curiosity has led me to a very specific question for you to consider today:
What sounds like the very best, most delightful and restorative, you-read-my-mind prescription a doctor could write for you?
Hit 'reply' and share with me.
Consumed: a slice of Franz Park pizza (sliced tomatoes, basil, ricotta cheese, garlic olive oil) at Felix's Pizza Pub, Angel's Envy bourbon at Heavy Riff Brewing Company; vegan chocolate brownie and a salted caramel cupcake at SweetArt Bakeshop & Cafe; St. Louis style pizza at Imo's Pizza; marshmallow s'more ice cream at Kilwins
Visited: Lise & Matt (again—we're lucky)
Experienced: Hot Springs National Park
States traversed: Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma
File under hilariously perfect: a brand new Liberty gall bladder (just for you).
"After all, having the next ten days off school is an objectively better state of affairs than having only the next seven days off, yet as a kid I’m sure you felt a much greater sense of abundance on the Friday before a seven-day Spring break than on the tenth-last day of Summer holidays."
I spotted the world's prettiest thermostat wall plates throughout Fordyce Bathhouse. Though quite aged now, everything in the facility seemed considered, selected, and sumptuous, right down to the fixtures. We ran our hands over marble partitions; examined the quartz crystals that frame the spring, itself (in fact, they, too, were chosen for appearance—brought in from a local mine); studied floor mosaics; sat beside sculptures and fountains; and counted stained glass windows.