Sunday, June 26, 2022

Travel thoughts, more than slightly late

 Otter sculpture, Garvan Woodland Gardens

We've been back from our brief visit to the Land of No Snow for two months now. It always feels a little weird to visit a different season and then return to the tundra with its depressing sloppy April mix of mud and slush. May usually isn't a whole lot better -- if I recall correctly, our last spring snow in 2021 fell on May 15. Heading south we perked up when we realized we'd passed the snow line; on the return trip we groaned when remnant snowbanks began to appear around Rhinelander. By the time we got home, our driveway was, of course, still snow covered and the picnic table was still buried. 

It did turn out to be a late spring. Lilacs did not bloom until well after Memorial Day, neither did the creeping phlox.

Anyway, I've always liked Hot Springs, Arkansas -- it was one of my favorite places to visit for work back in my days with the National Park Service -- so would naturally would have liked to stay down there longer. 

One of the things parents always get warned about is trying to live their lives through their kids.Well, the Younger Daughter got a promotion and a transfer and is now duty stationed in Hot Springs. She's working on the Ouachita National Forest and eventually will be in an office in the forest headquarters (supervisor's office) in downtown Hot Springs. At the moment she's still teleworking -- the official move back into actual offices may take place around the end of June, beginning of July. If memory serves me right, she'll be right across the street from the National Park headquarters. Or maybe a block away, but not more than that. Does that count as me living vicariously? Or is it just a lucky coincidence? I'll vote for coincidence. 

Nifty garden train at Garvan Woodland Gardens  
I will take some credit for letting her know Hot Springs isn't a bad place to be -- we did a mother/daughter weekend trip there back in 2011 -- but I think the actual attraction for her (not counting the promotion) was the fact Arkansas is green. It's true the natural landscape can be hostile (briers and poison ivy [unofficial state flower of Arkansas], assorted snakes, wood ticks, chiggers) but it doesn't seem quite as determined to kill you in as painful a way as possible as the Arizona desert does. 

It was a quick trip, slightly over two weeks including the travel days down and back. Because The Kid has to work from home, we opted to stay at a hotel. She did take a week of vacation so we could play tourist (note photos from Garvan Woodland Gardens, a Hot Springs attraction), but we figured she'd be happier without us underfoot. Besides, we had Beelzebub with us and had no idea how he and Cupcake (Tammi's cat) would react to each other. If they never achieved an understanding, it would be a very tense two weeks, and if they became buddies then we'd get to feel guilty about splitting them up right away. So a hotel that was pet friendly seemed like the smart thing to do. 

I do not usually do hotel endorsements, but I've got to say the Hilton Home 2 Suites we patronized in Hot Springs was the type of hotel I would have killed for (figuratively speaking) when I had to travel for work. It had amazing work space (most of the time when I traveled for work I'd end up sitting on the floor with the laptop in order to have the phone cord reach an outlet -- we had to do a hardwire dial-up connection; no using public wifi), a full-size refrigerator (not one of those annoying dorm fridge things), a decent breakfast bar, and was clean and quiet. It also came equipped with basic kitchen supplies -- china, silverware, a couple microwavable casserole dishes, and a toaster. If I had to stay anywhere for more than a few days, I'd cheerfully stay at a Home 2 again. The rates were good, too. In fact, we paid a lot more for rooms that were not nearly as nice on our way to and from Hot Springs, with the most overpriced probably being the place we stayed in Poplar Bluff on the way down. Definitely more of a one-star type room with the added bonus of discovering during the night that the heat didn't work. We did get a partial refund when I mentioned the no heat problem during check out, but that's not going to get that particular Comfort Inn back on our list of places we're willing to stay. 

Not that we're likely to be staying in any motels any time soon. If everything goes as planned, the next time we're in Hot Springs it will be with the Bobber (the travel trailer) so we'll be thinking about campgrounds and not whether or not a hotel is worth whatever it might happen to cost.I really do not want to spend next winter in the U.P.


  1. Welcome back! I share your daughter's preference for green. LIving in Las Vegas now - no green here.

  2. I have avoided Arkansas since 1943....surprising to find it's a place I might want to visit.


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