I spent a few hours last Saturday working to get stuff ready for the upcoming gallery show, which meant a few hours spent cutting mat and foam boards (with a quick lunch trip to Whole Hog, of course). But I was able to get out and make a trip down to one of my favorite cities in the state - Hot Springs.
I managed to get there with some light left in the day, so I walked around the bathhouses in the National Park as the setting sun cast a warm glow on everything.
Hot Springs is a great city to visit for photography. Some of the best old buildings in the state sit within the city and the National Park. I'm amazed at the history of this city, which went from being a sleepy small town next to a few open springs to one of the premier tourist attractions in the country. In its heyday, Hot Spring was the Las Vegas of its era. Illegal casinos operated across the street from Bathhouse Row, with gangsters joining the crowds there looking to take the baths. I'd love to be able to travel back in time to Hot Springs back in the 1920's or 30's, perhaps rubbing shoulders with Al Capone at the old Southern Club. Sadly, the new car has no flux capacitor included.
As it began to get dark, I headed up to a parking deck just off of Central Avenue. I had an idea for a shot, with a view looking down onto Central Avenue, Bathhouse Row and the old Army and Navy Hospital. I was happy to see that the city was kind enough to put up some Christmas lights along a fountain that leads to Central Avenue, and I stood out there in the cold next to the camera waiting for it to get dark.
Luckily this is a public parking deck, so no security came out to see what I was doing.
After it got dark, I walked back over to Bathhouse Row and then over to the Arlington Hotel.
The Arlington Hotel has been operating in Hot Springs since 1875. The current hotel was built in 1924, and has been host to people ranging from Franklin Roosevelt to Babe Ruth to Yoko Ono. Al Capone would always stay in room 442, but would always rent out the entire floor for his buddies and bodyguards.
From here you can head up the hill to enjoy a nice view of the Arlington and the city. This was taken just above the display spring, one of the 47 hot springs in the National Park. It was cold out that night - about 39 degrees - and there was a lot of steam rising up in front of the camera when I was trying to take pictures.
I went back down the hill and walked Bathhouse Row again. I stopped at one of the two fountains near the Fordyce Bathhouse. Large amounts of steam were billowing out from the fountain, drifting over me and the camera before drifting off into the night sky.
A bit further down sits the Quapaw Bathhouse, which might be the most recognizable bathhouse because of its distinctive dome. This streetlight here was hitting the leaves on one of the many magnolia trees along Central Avenue.
I took a few more pictures along Bathhouse Row, then went back to the car to warm up. I wanted to hit a few more spots in Hot Springs, one of them being the county courthouse. I drove by and it was decked out in lights. But as I got out of the car, I was saddened to see the camera showing that the battery was low. I got a few shots there that didn't really turn out at all.
From there I went over to the neat old church just a few blocks away, the St. John the Baptist Catholic Church. This is a great old church, built in 1908. I went up there to quickly take some pictures before the battery died, standing in the parking lot and getting in the way of annoyed church visitors. I forgot that it was Saturday night and people were probably going there for Mass. Whoops, sorry!
On the way back home I made a quick stop in Benton to see the Saline County Courthouse decked out in its holiday lights. There wasn't much life left in the battery, so I didn't stay out there too long.
But I hope everyone who reads this (all 4 of you!) has a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, or a festive whatever!