We had been planning for some time to spend July 4th in Birmingham, to meet up with Mallory's family there, but they were unfotunately unable to make it. But since I had a three day weekend (and the kids were with their dad), we decided to go ahead and go SOMEWHERE, preferably within about a three-hour drive. I had not been to Hot Springs since right after my high school graduation, and Mallory had never been, so we decided to make the utterly boring drive over to Arkansas (the two hours between Memphis and Little Rock is some of the worst road and most boring farmland you can imagine).
They had some fabulous art galleries filled with works by very talented local artists...had we had more time and money, I'm sure we would have come home with a painting or two. But beyond that, I have to say I wasn't too impressed. Lots of junky, tourist-y shops. The Arlington, which is THE hotel in Hot Springs, was terribly dated looking inside, and I'm so glad we didn't decide to stay there (it was between that or a Hampton Inn, and I have to admit, the free breakfast at the Hampton won us over. That, and the fact that the room at the Arlington would have been a smoking room, which would have made us both ill). The bathhouses, which is what Hot Springs is known for, didn't hold much cachet, as the water temperature was advertised at 104 degrees...since we were walking around in 98 degree weather with high humidity most of the day, I don't think we really missed much by not partaking in the public bathing.
We really did have a nice time, though...we went to Oaklawn (the horse track), which has a small casino inside. Mallory had to drag me away from the video poker machines. And we ate lots of yummy food and just enjoyed each other's company and being away from home. Sunday, we decided we'd had enough of Hot Springs, so we went to Little Rock and toured the Clinton Presidential Museum (which I recommend to all Americans, regardless of political affiliation!) before stopping by to visit my college roommate Amy and her family. Fun weekend!