Monday, October 22, 2007

(Not so) Hot Springs, AR

Well, here we are in Hot Springs, Arkansas. I am trying to figure the most PC way to go ahead and say.... I think Hot Springs Arkansas is a massive let down. I guess I let my imagination run with the idea that this place was going to be a real hum dinger. Something to really get worked up about... I mean you've got thermal spring water, mountains, it's Bill Clinton's hometown, and ummmm.... some other groovy seeming Southern type stuff goin' on too. What more could you want from a place? As it turns out you could want lots more from a place. Lots more than a main street downtown crammed full of cheap t-shirt shops, the requisite tourist hole fudge shop and those bizarre stores that sell clown wigs and leather bikini bra tops. Bath House Row is actually pretty neat to see but the opposite side of the street is down right depressing to walk down. For me anyway. I mean is this what people want? Stores that sell t-shirts with bad jokes about fishing and drinking too much beer? Oh well... maybe I am being to rough on the place but I can say I won't be planning any return trips to the area any time soon, or... ever actually.

If it stops raining tomorrow (unlikely) we will head out to go hiking in the Ouachita Mountains and maybe that will heal me a bit from my town let down. Our mountain view from our campsite is quite nice and even though the fall color is minimal this year it would be nice to explore the landscape here a bit more. The national park has quite a few trails that sound pretty good for day hikes. The forecast is not looking to great for hiking though... we may end up spending another day holed up in the trailer reading and wrestling with Rudy.

We had planned on hanging out here for a week but we changed our mind and are hitting the road again on Wednesday to get down into Texas. We will spend 4 or 5 days in Dallas before landing in our spot down in Dripping Springs early next week.


Clay said...

Hi Bethany,
My name is Clay Hays and I live in Hot Springs, AR. I'm also the author/webmaster of and
First of all, you should know this is the first time I've ever felt a need to comment on someone's blog, much less actually read someone's blog other than my own! (This whole blog thing still blows my mind! In fact, I only have one because I try to be a savvy webmaster with sense enough to keep up with the times!)
I happened upon yours only because your latest entry popped up on my Google Alert for "Hot Springs, Arkansas" this morning. I must say, you made a fairly feeble attempt at a, how did you put it..."PC way" to say you think Hot Springs Arkansas is a massive let down. Hmm, then how is it we are the #1 tourist attraction in the entire state of Arkansas? I noticed you wrote "If it stops raining tomorrow (unlikely) we will head out to...we may end up spending another day holed up in the trailer reading and wrestling with Rudy". So is it possible that mother nature played a part in forming your opinion?
Because, once I read your bio and found that both you and Billy are artists, it was hard to believe you missed all the art galleries downtown because of a few t-shirt & souvenir shops! Which, by the way, are to be found at every tourist attraction! Did you know Hot Springs is #1 on the list of Places with
"Big City Art and Small Town Charm", and ranks #4 in the
Top Small Art Towns in America? So how exactly do artists miss that? I submit that it "rained on your parade" which had a severe adverse
affect on your overall outlook during your visit!
You also wrote, "Our mountain view from our campsite is quite nice and even though the fall color is minimal this year...". Hello! It's minimal because Arkansas is just now beginning our fall color cycle, and if you come back when it's actually time...well let's just say Billy will have no problem finding a subject view for his next “plein air” work.
Please note, I am not angry, but rather wish to extend an invitation to "try us again"! And perhaps it would be a good idea to check the forecast first!
Well, maybe a just tiny bit angry! But that's only because the launch of my new Community Portal also showed up on that same Google Alert. Under your rather negative entry! So, forever more you will be remembered as "the blog that stole my thunder"!! LOL

Bethany said...

Hi Clay! Wow, I don't know where to begin... First off you should know that I tend to write with a pretty sarcastic tone on this blog and I am a tough customer (not so easy to please) when it comes to towns claiming to be "an arts community." Having traveled all over the country for the past 7 years with one of our main goals being to visit small art towns I have a pretty skeptical opinion on this particular subject matter. Nowadays EVERY small town (no matter how small it seems) tries to stake it's claim as being "historic" or an arts community or some such thing. It's all part of the ridiculous capitalist landscape we live in!

My main point in my post was this... I had imagined Hot Springs in a much different way than what I actually discovered when I got there. I am ALWAYS disappointed when I find the main street area of a town flooded with crappy t-shirt shops. I used to live on Nantucket Island (you can't get any more artsy, quaint or historic than that) and even they have crappy t-shirt shops on Main St. It's inevitable... but it does not mean I have to like it! Would it not be much cooler to have several locally owned businesses selling local wares than a bunch of cheap screaming eagle t-shirts which were made in China? This is all pie in the sky dreaming on my part I know... but I hold out high hopes in this area when I visit new places because every now and again we actually stumble across a place that does have a really original and interesting downtown area. I am saying all this in the best humor... no hard feelings on my part at all.

I am sorry I upstaged you on the Google search... but this is what the wonderful world wide web boils down to! You have your website and opinion and I have mine! I am pretty sure I will not sway folks from visiting Hot Springs if that is what they have in mind.

Thanks for letting me know about the fall color... we just came from farther up North where there really was no good color to speak of this year due to the weird weather. I guessed the same may be the case down this way.

We did really find the landscape around Hot Springs to be beautiful (even in the rain)... but after walking around downtown to see what the town had to offer it just did not spark our personal interest enough to warrant a return visit (regardless of rain or shine.) If you ever visit my hometown of Rockford, Illinois and decide that you think it sucks feel free to blog about it like crazy and I promise you I won't mind one bit! Lol!

Best of luck to you Clay and keep up the great work on your promotion of Hot Springs! You may be the guy that makes a difference in keping the place on the map as a "Hot" spot to visit. :)