I didn’t put this post up yesterday because the one that I did put up had been nagging at my brain and insisted on being done first. Here’s a quick summary of what else happened in the last few days:
Thursday, March 20th, I’m sure you’ve heard, was the first day of Spring. I still haven’t figured out when (or why) that changed. For as long as I can remember, March 21st was the Official Beginning Of SpringÂ® and suddenly this year it’s on the 20th. What’s up with that? I know I wasn’t mistaken, because…
Friday, March 21st, was my grandmother’s birthday. She turned 106. There was actually no big fanfare or anything because we all quit celebrating her birthday about 20 years ago – right after her funeral.
Saturday, March 22nd, was my 44th birthday. I’ve always loved having that birthday for two reasons. First off, it worked out so that I was always on Spring Break on my birthday. From Kindergarten all the way through, I never once had to go to school on my birthday. The other thing that’s cool about having March 22nd for a birthday? It’s the same day as William Shatner’s. To a Star Trek geek like myself, things just don’t get much cooler.
Since I had to drive to Hot Springs on Friday to pick up Daughter Number Two for her Spring Break, she arranged something for my birthday. First, she took me to the National Cafe in downtown Hot Springs for lunch. That place is cool. They’ve got models of WWI and WWII airplanes hanging from the ceiling as well as similar memorabilia on the walls. The table where we sat was right next to where there was a bazooka, complete with a shell, mounted over a print depicting Baron Von Richtoven’s last fight. She told me that there used to be a sign over the bazooka saying that it was an Arkansas Deer Rifle. Sure, if you don’t like to eat deer meat and just want to blow the poor animal into fifty gazillion pieces.
After my Reuben sandwich (I love those things!!) she guided me up a twisty, turning, one-lane road up Hot Springs Mountain, to the observatory at the top. This was awesome (to borrow Daughter Number Three’s catchword). There are three floors. Floor one is at ground level and contains a small souvenir shop and an elevator. It costs $6 for a token to get through the turnstile between you and the elevator and, once you’re in the elevator, you discover that one wall is glass. After about ten seconds you’re looking out that glass wall and wishing you had bought some high risk life insurance because the second floor is twenty-two stories up.
Once you get out of the elevator (which has a recorded speech for you to listen to in an effort to distract you from the fact that the ground is falling away while you watch) the second floor is a small museum dedicated to Hot Springs and its famous landmarks, such as the natural springs the town was named after, the Majestic Hotel, the famous Bathhouse Row, and, of course, a video prattling on about how Bill Clinton grew up in Hot Springs before going on to become what my wife and I call “The Dope From Hope”.
The walls are the interesting part. They’re all glass.
The third floor is even more interesting. There are no museum pieces, no propaganda videos to look at, and no ceiling to speak of; just you, the wind, and walls that stop at about shoulder height.
I was warned to bring my camera on this trip (without being told why), and I’m very glad I did. Here are the pics I took (Standard “click-to-enlarge” rule applies):
The cars parked at the base of the observation tower look almost like toys.
This is looking South. I’m not sure exactly what these buildings are now, but I rather like the pyramid-wanna-be thing toward the center. In the extreme upper right of the picture you can see the end of the runway at Hot Springs Airport.
The long building that is connected to its neighbor is the Arkansas School for Math, Science, and the Arts. the darker colored building next to that is the Magestic Hotel and in the foreground is the Arlington. I’m not happy with the reflection from the window I was shooting through, but I left my polarizing filter at home.
This is a better shot of The Arlington Hotel and a few of the shops on Main Street Hot Springs. Some of the buildings on Main Street are over 100 years old and in their day must’ve been beautiful. Now, except for a restaurant in the lobby, the beautiful building across from The Arlington sits empty with broken windows.
One last shot looking South. In this picture you can clearly see the runway at the local airport. Makes me want to go fire up Microsoft Flight Simulator and see if Hot Springs Mountain is included in the simulation.