This week has been a week highlighted with driving. Loren and I began it with a three nights’ stay at an AirBnB in Hot Springs National Park, in Arkansas. It gave us a full down-day after the two previous drive days from Washington DC to Tennessee then on to arrive in Hot Springs, Arkansas. While there we took two hikes in the park,
and, spent time at one of the spas. The historic bath houses have been restored from yesteryear. Our AirBnB host recommended one in particular along Bathhouse Row where we soaked in the naturally hot mineral waters. It was interesting to learn here how, historically, combining a soak with “trail walking” was what the doctors ordered back in the day. For us, it was a good respite, one we would recommend.
It was fun to find the town gaily decorated for the holidays. On our last evening, we attended the local Pocket Community Theater‘s irreverent comedy of “Radio TBS” (for Trailer Park Broadcasting Scandals), where our AirBnB host ran sound for the show.
The next day we marveled at how huge the state of Texas is to navigate. We stopped partway to stay overnight along the interstate, at Big Spring, Texas. I was surprised to discover a similarly named city – Big Springs, Texas, also exists. That one is further off the route we were taking. The one notable experience here was the sound I heard through our motel room doorway near dusk. It sounded familiar and seemed like the unique calls of Sand Hill Cranes. I stepped outside and confirmed several flocks of them were indeed flying overhead. In the morning, Loren enjoyed his first-ever Texan shaped waffle in the included breakfast.
The next day, after driving by miles and miles of open land dotted with small settlements and cotton fields, we found simply going the city of El Paso, Texas, to be a long haul. At one point when we stopped for gas, I received a text from our mobile services provider, offering information for Mexico. I had to take a screenshot of it to convince myself that we actually might have unknowingly crossed the border, though our credit card company did not block that particular charge for gas.
Finally, we arrived in New Mexico to stay two nights in Truth or Consequences. They too were brightly decorated for the holidays.
There’s an interesting story about how this town changed its name from Hot Springs, New Mexico. In part it was to distinguish itself from other Hot Springs in the states of Arkansas, California and Montana, when an opportunity came in the form of a contest offered by an historic radio show of the same name — which by the way turned into a television show from Loren’s and my youth. If you are interested in the full story, you can read more about it here:
What was more important to Loren however was to take in another couple of soaks. Truth or Consequences offers a spa on the banks of the Rio Grande River that we visited twice. Once we soaked in their several common pools during the day, the other time we indulged in a private hot bath in the evening, in a room named Sky in Italian.
In between soaks we went on another “trail walk” to take in the dramatic landscape along the “Big River.” I especially delighted in the path’s name: Truth or Consequences Healing Waters Trail.
Then our itinerary was to drive, drive, drive through western New Mexico, on through Arizona, and into southern California. All along the way we were warned about how to drive through dust storms by a variety of road signs. I learned the gist of it is to:
1. Pull off the road
2. Turn off the engine
3. Turn off the lights
4. Keep feet off the brakes, and,
5. Stay buckled, until the dust settles.
I am grateful that we did not experience any need to exercise these rules.
When we arrived at the border of Arizona and California — where we had planned to spend the night, it was early and the sun was still out. We decided to drive further to have a shorter drive the next day. It took us several more hours though to drive through Los Angeles, but we stayed in a bedroom memorably named, “Van Gogh,” in Santa Clarita.
Our efforts to continue the drive had made it worthwhile, as the commute direction would have likely impeded our progress. Instead the next day’s drive was most pleasant mainly through California’s agricultural Central Valley. We have now arrived in northern California, just in time for Christmas. We wish you and yours all the best of the holidays!