To Hot Springs, just because…

I seem to have been neglecting my duties for the last couple of months! Actually, I haven’t been doing any interesting trips, mostly shooting locally and getting used to some new equipment I got at the beginning of this month. I’ll post some of the pictures in the next couple of weeks. But first I’ll tell you about a quick trip I made last week.

I decided a few weeks ago that I needed to take a road trip to Hot Springs, Arkansas. Why? Well, why not? I had been up there just after Christmas with family and I was not pleased with the photos I took (in part because the weather was most uncooperative!). I wanted to spend some time there by myself and scout around for views and locations. So I did!

I was tired of the interstate, and I hadn’t seen much of southwest Arkansas, so I went south from Texarkana and caught a smaller road. For a while I wasn’t sure what state I was in – I passed through Garland ( I live in Garland, TX), Lewisville (Lewisville, TX is just north of Dallas), Magnolia (Magnolia, TX is down near Houston), and El Dorado ( I passed though Eldorado, TX on the way to Sonora in my last blog post). I also passed through Stamps, Ar, but I’ve never been to Stamps, TX! It’s out East, near Lake O’ The Pines, a corner of Texas I haven’t passed through in a while.

One reason I went through Magnolia and El Dorado is that they are county seats , and thus have County Courthouses. If you’ve read my previous posts, you may have noticed a trend. 🙂

The Columbia County Courthouse in Magnolia (1905)

El Dorado’s Union County Courthouse (1927)

It turns out that small towns in Arkansas look a lot like small towns in Texas. The trees are a little taller, I think. As in Texas, it seems like the smaller towns are getting smaller and the larger ones are getting larger. Many of the towns that seem to be doing well have murals on the downtown buildings, like this one from Magnolia:

I’m not sure the direction of causality there. Magnolia had a number of nice murals, but most of them had cars in front of them!

One small town I stopped by was the birthplace of a well-known singer.

Since I wanted to make Hot Springs before sunset, I didn’t make any more stops. It was a pleasant journey, through smaller towns, woods, and farmland.

I got to Hot Springs shortly before sunset and headed toward West Mountain. This shot is from Prospect Ave. just up from Central Ave. That’s the Hot Springs Rehabilitation Center on the right (I think) and the Mountain Tower in Hot Springs National Park (I’m sure!).

Hot Springs had always seemed like a small town to me, but standing up on that mountain after sunset…

I’ve been to Hot Springs a few times over the years. We have family up in Arkansas, though not around Hot Springs. We visited a few times, went to the horse races a few times, went to Bathhouse Row, hiked a little up in the National Park. And now my brother-in-law and his fiancee have a lake house you can rent on VRBO (LAKE ACCESS ON LAKE HAMILTON COVE – Royal). That one sleeps 10, probably a bit much for just me, so I stayed in the small auxiliary house just up the block from it. Quite comfy for just me!

I spent the next 36 hours or so roaming Hot Springs and its environs, looking for shots in different places and at different times of day – with mixed success. For example, I wanted night shots of empty streets along Bathhouse Row, but even 5:30 on a Tuesday morning or 2AM on a Wednesday didn’t get me a quiet street. And this was before racing season started!

I did find one decent shot without traffic or parked cars! I’m not sure the vintage of those buildings, but they’re classic. This is Central Avenue just up from the bathhouses.

Oh, and did I mention the temperature? It was chilly! It dropped below freezing as the sun went down on Monday and didn’t get back up over it until Wednesday morning. Fortunately, I had layers. And more layers. Unfortunately, the fancy gloves I got were…not warm. They may have to go back.

Here we have Your Humble Narrator posing for a 15-second exposure in front of the stairs leading to the Grand Promenade. Those are bathhouses on either side of me. I was lucky no cars drove by! If my face doesn’t look clear, it’s just possible I was shivering… 🙂

Anyway, I’ll stop yapping and show you a few of the photos I got, inside and outside of Hot Springs!

That’s the Tower in the National Park again, the statue of Triple-Crown-Winner American Pharaoh outside of Oaklawn (where he won the Arkansas Derby before he went on to those other races), some of the local not-so-wildlife, and the dam that created Lake Ouachita from the Lake Hamilton side. Next trip I’ll get to the dam that creates Lake Hamilton. And Garvan Gardens. And…a bunch of other stuff!

I did get in a little hiking – just up to the Balanced Rock in the National Park. Alltrails will tell you the way!

So, the weather moved in Wednesday morning, a little snow and freezing rain. It warmed up to the mid-30s (around 1 or 2 degrees for you Celsius types!) so the roads were wet but not icy. I drove back down to Magnolia and caught US 82 back to Texas. I stopped here & there for interesting old buildings, mostly defunct gas stations (I like them, though my wife often finds them depressing). I don’t post those as a rule, I’m trying to develop a project… Here are a couple of other things I passed:

It was dark by the time I got back to Texas, so I just kept cruising down 82 – until I reached Paris! Texas, that is…

And you can’t visit Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower! 🙂 But I couldn’t find Notre Dame…Odd.

About that time the outside temperature finally reached 40 degrees(about 4.5C). Practically tropical! And it was an uneventful drive back to my own warm bed…

It won’t be as long until my next post, I’ve been exploring the local scene and I have some things I want to share. See you soon!

One thought on “To Hot Springs, just because…

  1. After reading this blog and seeing all your interesting images, I have this excitement to go and do my own exploring of small towns and seeing the charms they possess.


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