Bathhouse Row

This was my first time to visit the historic Bathhouse Row in Hot Springs, AR. Tiffany, Katarina and I had a wonderful stroll down, up and back down Bathhouse Row. We were late to town and ended up only having a few minutes in the National Park Visitors Center. It was still worth the visit and gave us a glimpse of what once was at Bathhouse Row.

The beautiful old structures had gilded fronts and architecture honoring the Spanish missions and the ancient Roman bathhouses. The interior was dominated by marble, brass, and steel.

The thought that returned to me again and again, when we visited each ornate structure, was “how this must have looked like in its heyday!”. Looking at the historical visitation records it may not be impressive that 265,000 people visited in 1926, but considering the limitations on transportation at that time, Bathhouse Row would have been a magnificent sight. I imagine it full of people and energy, just bursting to the seams with excitement. In one of the bathhouses, it was written that ladies had waited for hours for an available bath.

I felt like Bathhouse row was just a frame of what it used to be. Walking amongst the buildings was like looking at an old photograph, quiet and lonely now, which had once been beautiful and bustling.

I want to visit Hot Springs again, I want to breathe more of it, and I want to be in the history of it.

Out front of The Arlington, that old castle of Hot Springs Arkansas

I Found You!

Parenthood has forever changed me, kind of like marriage did.

Back when I was a single man, I had so much time alone. Evening after evening, if I didn’t have plans with friends, I went to sleep in silence. I often ate my supper alone. I watched the television program that I wanted to, or listened to the music that I wanted to (I must have played Emotionalism a couple hundred times). My bathroom cabinet was stocked only with products that I used. The blankets and sheets on my bed were the blankets and sheets that I chose. Yes I was limited by budget and location, but other than that I had full autonomy. I could get anything I wanted from the local Salvation Army, and decorate my apartment in the best way I saw fit.

After marrying, I found a forever date. Dinner out – now always for two. I get to consider someone else in every decision.

Now that we have a baby, the dynamic has changed again.

It’s a whole new level of taking another into consideration.

Even when my wife and I step out on the porch for a few minutes of coffee and contemplation, and our little one is happily playing with her cousin and auntie Emily, she will find us. She is not easily dissuaded.

Where does the pressure come from?

I spent a month living in a hunt camp in Haliburton Forest. 14 students, 3 techinicians, 2 cooks, and 2 proffessors lived together without running water or much electricity (a single solar pannel and bank of old car batteries gave us a lightbulb at night for a couple hours). We worked long hours (often 14 hour days) and slept in bunk beds with cheap vinyl mattresses. We had an experience that I think will stick with me forever, and I will write more about that in days to come. What I am reminded of most about that experience, was the lack of pressure.

Sure we had plenty of drama living in such close proximity to one another. We had problems. We had sickness and at times we had unhappy people, but I don’t remember anyone saying they “under pressure” or that they “couldn’t relax” .

Even with small clouds of mosquitoes in the evenings, it was an unbelievably cathartic experience to live as intimately as we did with the circadian and estival rythm of The Living Forest.

Many days I yearn to be there again.

How To Leave Well?

When is the best time to leave?

How do you say goodbye?

When you’re having a wonderful time, but you must end it soon, how do you do so graciously?

On a couple of occasions, I have quietly gone without saying any goodbyes, and I avoided the immediate pain that way. There is an absolutely beautiful wedding arc in the BBC production of Sherlock, and Holmes himself leaves that way.

That made it much easier for me. My uncle Gordon was known for that, he never said goodbyes, just slipped away. For a while I had planned to make that my life routine. In the summer of 2010 I worked on a Resort Ranch with my dear friend Audra. She teared up when I told her I planned leave that way, and she said would really hurt her if I did that.

The last twelve days we spent in Ohio, and it was a flurry of visits to so many people we dearly miss and don’t get to see enough. We said goodbyes dozens of times over and it was no fun.

There is something beautiful in a goodbye. They hurt. That very pain reminds us that we are still connected to them. That we care about them. I don’t ever want to be happy about saying goodbye to old friends or family. Yes I want to be happy for them, and for the better places they are heading, but not happy about our paths diverging.

In The Neighbourhood

We traveled from Bladensburg to Gallipolis Ohio today. I have made that trek dozens of times before, but I went a different way today.

On one of our windy country roads, we saw signs for Ravenwood Castle only a few miles away. It brought back memories for my wife and I.

Four years ago we visited this charming location.

Just before proposing to my girlfriend, we stopped in at the castle and I tried to subtly inquire about Ravenwood as a venue for “events”. My thinly veiled attempt was thoroughly pierced by the receptionist, who quickly asked “Like a wedding? Are you two getting married? Congratulations!”…. I am still trying to play it cool, when she says “oh we are having a wedding reception right now, try some of the cake!”.

Today we laughed about that trip, and about how awkward Tiffany felt at that time as we were not yet betrothed. We decided to visit again and look around.

Coming here with our daughter is unbelievably different, and we want to bring her here when she is a little older, when she can all dress up like royalty, and Katarina can feel like a Princess in her castle.

P. Graham Dunn

I got to spend over an hour in the P. Graham Dunn shop today. The cheery decor and inviting charm were overflowing the unbelievably large facility. Elegance seemed the hallmark of the entire store.

Ten thousand photo frames and painted wooden signs adorned the displays and walls. Twine, wire, crystal, leather, ceramic, copper and slate were also commonly incorporated into the products. Not once did I like at something and feel it to be baroque.

Harry, the general manager of the twenty thousand foot retail store, introduced himself soon after we entered. He chatted with us for twenty minutes and told us about the P. Graham Dunn story, and of his own life journey.

This mug was the only thing we ended up purchasing, but we had a great time visiting.