Monday, March 18, 2019


65 and sunny. All weekend. It doesn't get any better than that for a road trip to Hot Springs, Arkansas for my best friend's birthday, and of course The World's Shortest St. Patrick's Day Parade!

Dawn, Krista, Angie & me
This was my third road trip of the year in my quest to visit more of the wonderful things around me. I made that promise to myself back in January. It was definitely the most ambitious trip so far.

Friday night, my friend Dawn and I packed up the car and hit the road. Hot Springs is about three hours from home, and as I learned, a super easy drive to get there, especially when you have a partner in crime to sing House of Pain with! It was St. Paddy's weekend, after all!

My biggest goal for the weekend was to go hiking in Hot Springs National Park. After a delicious breakfast at The Pancake Shop with what might be the world's best freshly squeezed orange juice, Dawn was off to a spa appointment, and my camera and I hit the trail.

The Arlington Hotel sits right across the street from a steaming hot spring and the entrance to the park.

Beyond this hot spring, the rest of the park is up. I mean literally. Up. So up I went.

There were stairs on what's called the Tufa Terrace Trail before you really get into dirt trails and towering trees. But once you hit the dirt, it's another world and I found what I crave so much. Peace, quiet, chirping birds, the occasional passing hiker with a friendly smile. It's still a little early for the trees to be full, the ground lush, but I can see it coming.

Walks like these help me clear my head. My mind sifts through all the clutter, discards it, and suddenly I'm light on my feet. I can hear my breathing again, feel my heart beating in my chest. Things that bring me stress don't seem as important. I start to identify birds by their song. On this day, robins chattered and a pair of house finches whistled a sweet and repetitive tune. Mockingbirds did their thing.

Before I knew it the Mountain Tower was in sight. At that point I made a new deal with myself. My legs were starting to feel the burn of this uphill climb, and I knew a second hike was in the cards for Sunday, so I skipped the tower in favor of another day when the trees were greener. Yes, I will be back here at least one more time this year!

I am really proud of myself. Five months ago, this hike would have been too much. Too far, too strenuous. Too much UP! But this past Saturday, I was THERE for it! I was thrilled to be outside in the crisp late winter air, smelling the damp dirt, feeling the steam from the hot springs, and pushing myself higher purely for the sake of enjoyment. And I could do it. And I could have kept going.

Of all the things they bottle and sell in Hot Springs, I wish I could package up that feeling for anyone who doesn't know.

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