We arose somewhat earlier this morning so as not to be tardy for our spa date (and, quite frankly, to allow ourselves ample time to linger over whatever delights Jennifer was providing for us to break our fast; priorities must be observed, after all…).
Back downtown we betook ourselves to the Quapaw, got checked in and supplied with robes, towels and shoes (for me; Gary had his new sandals from yesterday’s shopping), then were ushered back to the locker rooms to prepare for our Swedish massage. After ascending to the second floor by elevator and stairs (I’ll let you decide who chose which method) where the massage therapists hold court, we met April (who looked enough like our Connecticut friend Becky to be her sister!) and Rachel, whose task it was to make us forget that the rest of the world existed. I don’t know about Gary, but I could have happily stayed collapsed and motionless on that massage table for the rest of the day and considered it time well spent! But we had plans to take a dip in the indoor pools (and I’m sure that April and Rachel had other clients in need of their healing magic), so we pulled our limp selves together and found our ways back to the dressing rooms.
The water in the indoor pools is maintained at approximately 104 degrees Fahrenheit, and makes for the quintessential follow-up to the miraculous massage. The three shallow lounge pools, with underwater benches and jets along the perimeters, foster intimate exchanges as well the more casual variety with new acquaintances. Each pool boasts a wide-mouth fountain continuously replenishing its contents, under which bathers take turns sitting with the water (and relaxed, contented grins) playing over their faces. There is also a lap pool up above the soak pools, where someone with more initiative and energy than I had could actually swim or get some water-walking in.
All too soon we were dried off and back out in the real world (sigh) and off to investigate some other residential portions of Hot Springs. Prospect Avenue was the most consistently agreeable neighborhood we had seen thus far, and Gary made notes of quite a few homes that would be added to the wish list we had sent Chris earlier in the week. After heading back to the Manor to quickly finish up some chores (like posting to this blog – hello!), our next destination was lunch at the Higdon Place Cafe. A smidgen off the beaten track for tourists, the Cafe had come highly recommended by our Duck driver Kevin, who lauded not only the food but the prices as well. We pretty much had the place to ourselves, arriving as we did well after the conclusion of the lunch rush, and thus had time to engage in entertaining dialogue with our server, another native Hot Springer. It’s always fascinating to get an inside peek at the political workings and machinations in other parts of the country, and we got the proverbial earful about local shenanigans during this conversation.
From Higdon Square it was off to a totally different part of the Hot Springs area, Hot Springs Village, an enormous (12 miles long) gated community to the north (via some circuitous routes) of Hot Springs. This was to be the last excursion of the day, and again devoted to the search for an amenable place to retire in this gorgeous hunk of country. We stopped into the ReMax Office located just inside the Village’s eastern gate and were lucky enough to be able to visit with Modine, who has lived here since the 1980s; she supplied us with information about the community along with a large detailed map. We then worked our way back to the western end of the Village, taking the occasional side road to survey some of the waterfront homes on Lakes Balboa and Coronado. This is what I have been looking for! The lakes (and there are more than just the two we skirted) allow boats but not jet skis, and there are several kayaking clubs, along with nine exquisitely manicured golf courses. All the roads in the Village feature bicycle lanes; given the endlessly rolling hills we encountered on our drive, these would provide an excellent way to stay in shape!
By the time we ended our Village outing it was well after 5:00, so we set our sights back on Hilltop Manor (and the much-anticipated treat that appears every afternoon at 4:00 on the sideboard in the Manor’s lobby!). Stopping at the entrance to the National Park campgrounds just a short jog past the Manor’s driveway, Gary was able to photograph a Sherman tank that lives there, maintained by the local chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart. Then it was back to the cozy ambience of our room in the Manor – home at last! (I do SO love the freedom of a travel adventure; one never needs to feel guilty about taking time to do absolutely nothing…)