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On the Mighty Ohio [Apr. 19th, 2009|10:17 pm]
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We are on the banks of the Ohio River, in a very nice campground north of Paducah, KY.  Upon learning that there were sites on the water I’d asked for one when I made our reservations.  After we got backed in, J and I turned our living room chairs around so that we could look out the large rear window at the river. And here we are, watching the squall line come on.

Blustery winds are blowing across the water, driving storm wrack against the pilings that protect the fishing dock.  I watch the small dramas of the river.  A big tug, white and red, casts a huge wake as it pushes ten barges upstream.  Logs float down on the current, now faster, now slower.  As the squall comes in we race to close the widows we’d opened to catch the breeze just a few minutes before.  The wind catches the vents and opens them wide before we get them closed, but we’re all snugged up before the rain starts dashing against the windows.  In a few minutes more the storm dies down again, but I know there’s more coming; the sky is very dark to the west.

We lucked out; we knew that the weather was going to be bad for the drive from northeast Arkansas to western Kentucky.  I was expecting to drive through thunderstorms the way we had coming into Arkansas, and was just hoping the worst of the storms would hold off while we set up.  Not only did they hold off, the skies were blue and sunny from the time we pulled out until we were set up here in Kentucky.  (Now that’s timing.)

Our week in Arkansas was a lot of fun.  After our muddy adventures at Crater of Diamonds State Park, we took a walk on the clean side at Hot Springs National Park.  The many hot springs in the area come up out of the ground at 143 degrees F, so the springs have been used for bathing as long as there have been people living here.  The National Park preserves the old bathhouse row in downtown Hot Springs as it was in the “Golden Age of Bathing” in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.  Their visitor center is the restored Fordyce Bathhouse, open for a self guided tour.  The stained glass ceiling panels and windows are beautiful, and it’s easy to picture the belle monde socializing and taking the waters as we walk through the luxurious rooms.  On the men’s side of the bath house (much fancier than the women’s side) is a statue of the explorer DeSoto, who was brought to the springs by the local Indians, according to local legend. 

We took the waters ourselves in the afternoon, in the Buckstaff Bathhouse, which has been in continuous operation since 1912.  Many of the fittings are original; deep porcelain tubs with nickel fittings, marble surrounds and white tile everywhere.  We were whirlpool bathed, loofa-ed, sitz bathed, steamed (in an old-time steam cabinet, with only my head sticking out and a towel around my neck), hot packed (reclining on couches as hot towels were applied to our achy bits -- I dozed off) and needle-showered in one of those showers with nozzles on all sides that date back to when they’d first thought of showers.  I had always wondered what that would feel like -- it was great.  And of course we were given quantities of spring water to drink.  After that, J went to the cooling room where large ceiling fans dried everyone off after all that hot water, while I went off to be massaged.  We emerged in the late afternoon pink, shiny, and smiling.

We spent the rest of the week visiting with family in central and northeast Arkansas, and had a lovely time.  We’ll be here in Smithland all this week for the AQS quilt show in Paducah, which starts on Tuesday.  After that it’s off to Chanute, KS for some warrantee work on the rig.

p.s.  The campground is Birdsville Resort and Campground, Smithland, KY.