Hearne: ‘Hogified’ in Hot Springs

Sad-Arkansas-Fan1-400x282“I got a buddy who says, you can’t come to Arkansas without getting ‘hogified.'”

Overheard at the most disorganized Starbucks I’ve ever seen¬† in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Yep, it’s Spring Break and I’m living large in the land of the broke.

I’ll lay down more specifics when the smoke clears, but for now I want to share some first impressions lest any of you stumble down here with gross misconceptions about the land of Mountain Valley Water.

You know, like I did.

arlington-hotelYears ago – and I do mean years – I recall cruising up to Excelsior Springs to visit a girlfriend who unbelievably had snagged a job there.

That was my first encounter with the historic Elms Hotel – grand-but-empty, the victim of changing times and tastes, it presented a haunting visage.

Multiply that tenfold and you’ll begin to understand the state of affairs here in Hot Springs. The difference being that the once mighty Arlington Hotel -far mightier than The Elms ever was – never got out of the game and continues to hold court as the town’s grand hotel.

Cast about elsewhere downtown and you’ll find plenty of deserted art deco palaces of the past in this once-thriving Mecca of bath houses and gambling saloons. A Mecca that these days is hanging on for dear life in a region far less affluent than that of The Elms near Kansas City.

It’s really kinda sad.

464406_283567851713014_1215979995_oYet in many ways the town is thriving – dirty and run down – but still thriving.

You may recall that I got trapped in Topeka for a few months last summer. And in no way was that a fun or enlightening experience.

Yet for all Topeka’s infinite flaws, at least it was clean.

clint7Which is far from the case in Hot Springs.

If you come down with visions of Bill Clinton growing up here or Al Capone visiting to try to find relief from the pain of his chronic, long untreated syphilis in the town’s soothing mineral baths, I’ve got some advice.

Don’t kid yourselves – those days are long gone.

There are plenty decent places to eat here – far more than you’ll find in Topeka or Excelsior Springs – but only three of the once myriad bath house experiences remain, their glitz and the glam in the rear view mirror.

503375What awaits today after a nine or so hour drive, is a slew of rundown, cheesy hotels (along with a small handful of halfway decent ones), a horse racing track populated mostly by senior citizens and some of the best catfish restaurants you’re likely to find anywhere.

May I suggest Mr. Whiskers?

There’s a Madame Tussaud‘s wax museum where you’ll find Missouri born actor Steve McQueen sitting on a late model Honda motorcycle. Talk about sacrileges, Steve McQueen wouldn’t have been caught dead on a Honda! Worse yet,¬† none of the wax figures even faintly resemble the real life characters they purport to be.

ARHOTwax_dk1958You can visit Mountain Valley Spring Water’s corporate HQ, museum and gift shop, and the town is loaded with goofy souvenir shops more than happy to part you with your hard earned tourist bucks for stuff you’ll shake your head in disbelief at once you get back home.

So I don’t know. I’m not going to tell you not to come here, I just want you to think about it first.

Before you embark, ask yourself these questions:

Do you like catfish and does getting “hogified” sound appealing?

 

 

 

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10 Responses to Hearne: ‘Hogified’ in Hot Springs

  1. Super Dave says:

    Come on you’re messing with us right? You really want an answer to those two questions?

  2. expat says:

    Yeah Steve McQueen would never ride a Honda

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J8nJvgSlSiM

    • the dude says:

      McQueen liked Hondas.
      Anyone that knows jack squat about motorcycles respects Honda- they make quality bikes, have for quite some time now.

    • admin says:

      Uh, McQueen rode a Honda for a Japanese TV commercial because he was paid to.

  3. balbonis moleskine says:

    Eureka Springs (and Beaver Lake area) is the nicer one. Hot Springs is the tourist trap.

    Please tell me you are going to go to the Clinton Presidential library. It looks like, I’m not kidding here in the least, a ‘double wide’.
    http://www.clintonpresidentialcenter.org/

    • smartman says:

      Ditto on Eureka Springs. Highly recommend The Grand Treehouse Resort.

      Hot Springs makes Ray Pec look like New Haven, CT.

  4. Glenn says:

    Many people of Eureka Springs have worked hard to make the town back into a tourist destination. The shopping up the hill is first rate…real bookstores, jewelry stores, a terrific toy store..funky clothing stores…..what disturbs me is the 1905 Basin Hotel, which should be the gem of downtown…yet they consistently hire young people who don’t care about customer service. Historic hotels can be both informative and fun to stay in….sadly not the Basin Hotel. It takes triple the work to keep up a heavily traveled historic hotel…it can be done…it’s just not at the Basin. My tuppence.

  5. DARREN says:

    HEARNE, ENJOY YOUR WORK. HOWEVER CAN YOU DIAL G L A Z E R? YOU NEED TOO, THE SITE IS DULL WITHOUT HIM. SERIOUSLY. HE LIGHTS IT UP FOR TKC. YOU TRIED WITH MANKOW AND RANDY BUT NOT THE SAME. YOU KNOW IT. THE OTHER NEW GUYS HAVE NO CREDIBILITY. WHAT HAVE THEY DONE IN PUBLIC LIFE TO MATTER? SORRY ITS JUST TRUE. MAYBE GET GLAZER FOR A ONCE A WEEK ARTICLE OR ONCE A MONTH. WOULD HELP. OR HIRE JOHNNY DARE. YOU NEED A STAR. I DO LIKE YOUR WORK HEARNE.

    • the dude says:

      Dear DARREN,

      Please go away until you can learn the subtle nuance of this thing called caps lock. Go to tonykc if you want to listen to that balloonhead babble on and have crap ghostwritten for him. We don’t really care to have him here since it means harlinator will be there too. We definitely don’t want juanny dare on here either.

  6. admin says:

    For what it’s worth, McQueen liked classic Harleys and Triumphs and reportedly – most of all perhaps – vintage Indian bikes.

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