In 2004, our family vacation was to Arkansas.  Hot Springs was the second stop on that journey, Crater of Diamonds was the first stop- it was awesome.  While in Hot Springs, we stayed at the Arlington Hotel.  We were smitten and have wanted to go back ever since.
The Arlington Hotel as viewed from our hike.
So, this past week we skipped town for a mini-vacation before our busy season with the nursery really gets rolling.  The older two were so excited when we told them we were going and began to tell the younger two how great this trip was going to be.  It was pleasantly surprising to see how much they remembered and what they remembered.  Jonathan was 3 and Sierra was 5, so understandably they didn’t remember a whole lot.  However, once there one of the younger two would say, “Oh, I remember that, that was here?”
We didn’t even try not to look like tourists.  This is on the main street.
The Arlington Hotel is a landmark in Hot Springs, in his day Al Capone was a frequent guest.  The hotel still has that feel of a bygone era- one gentleman we met described Hot Springs as “the town that time forgot”- that pretty much sums it up.  I found out about this place from my good friends and former employers who took their kiddos there on vacation. Kids from both families believe the pool at this hotel to be second to none.  After all, how cool is a double decker pool hanging off the side of a mountain?!  The hot tub was great too, and heated by the hot springs.
They go together like peas and carrots. 
We left Friday morning and reached Hot Springs by afternoon.  The first order of business after check-in is always to swim.  That we did, well some of us swam, those with all of our faculties just sat in the hot tub.  Then we dressed for dinner.  It was great fun getting dressed up and walking down the busy street to a really nice Italian place for a wonderful dinner.  Everything we wanted to do was in walking distance, even the national park is across the street.
The upper level  of a really cool pool.
Of all the hot tubs I have been in, this is my favorite!
Beautiful Ladies and a beautiful meal.
On Saturday after a really good breakfast at Granny’s Kitchen, we set out to find the old fellow blowing glass in Santa’s Workshop.  Tony and I could remember finding him near the Alligator Farm- another attraction that is fantastic for the family- but that was about all the details we could recall.  As we headed to the alligator farm, we passed Dryden pottery.  We stopped in and took in the really fine art of clay pottery going on there.  We choose a lovely vase as our souvenir and asked the grandson of the founder about the glass blower.  I am sad to report that Old Bill, as he was called, had passed away and his shop was no more.  We were pretty bummed, Savannah and Sierra had planned to get their keepsakes at his shop.  Old Bill will never know that his handmade ornaments go on our tree every year and his picture is in our scrapbook- he lives on.  He was Savannah’s favorite memory from the first trip.  To be some one’s favorite memory would, in my opinion, be a sign of a life well spent.
The World’s Largest Wheel-thrown Vase by Dryden

With the task of finding the glass blower completed, however sadly, we set off to see the rest of the shops.  Lunch was simple burgers and fries and then, more swimming.  I must have given birth to 4 tadpoles, because they could live in the water.  When the swimming was finished, Tony, Sierra, Jonathan and I went hiking.  Seeing the hot springs running out of the mountain into little pools was a wonder.  The water coming out averages 140 degrees.  Jonathan is a rock hound and he had a ball finding many crystals along the paths.  His backpack was considerably heavier on the return hike.  The views from the top of the mountain were incredible.

The rock hound
With all the hiking and swimming, we had worked up quite an appetite.  Papa John’s delivered pizza for the kids and Tony and I headed out for dinner alone.  There are certainly some perks to traveling with older kids.  We had a wonderful dinner at The Porterhouse.  The last time we came, we enjoyed a date night as well, but that was because we had brought along our cousin, Stephanie, who was an awesome nanny!  Our nephew, Stephen was with us, too.  All those kids prompted many a person to ask “Are all those yours?”

Sunday was time to head home.  We were ready and sad at the same time.  I was a bit grumpy.  Our sleep had been interrupted due to a fraternity booking a lot of rooms.  It seems pie beta stupid had some pressing business to attend to at very early/late hours.  Anyway, it was a great trip overall.  If you are looking for a family friendly vacation spot, Hot Springs tops my list.  No need to worry about frat parties in the summer- they only come out at spring break!

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