Chapter 5. Hot Springs, AR

September 11, 2012

On our way to Hot Springs, we got lost.  The check in center for where we were camping closed 2 minutes before we got there.   We were both tired, and we seemed to be up a creek with no paddle.  So we randomly plugged in a nearby state park, hoping that it would lock it’s gates at 8pm like Mt. Mitchell in Asheville (seriously, what the hell Mt. Mitchell?) and blindly meandered roughly northernly from Hot Springs.  And then there was an ART CHURCH.


I really wish the internet had better pictures of this place.

That’s right: an Art Church, an old church that functions as a gallery, a performance space, and a set of studios in a once-condemned church that was purchased for the price of the stained glass doomed to be hauled out of it.  Awesome.   We met Alex and Erin who were just about the nicest folks in the world, fine artists, and avid campers who were able to give us multiple options on where to camp.  I can’t even describe how inspiring it was to find this place when we thought we had nothing going and the satisfaction that comes from being right about a hunch that I could saunter into anything called an Art Church, cry “sanctuary” and be given sincere help.

…and even if they couldn’t have given me sanctuary, I could have received these beautiful hog heart lamps.

We got to camp just in time to set our tent up in the last half hour of daylight (something Arthur and I are becoming pros at).  We headed into town to check out Hot Springs, a city not even on our radar, but a convenient stopping point between Asheville and our frantic rush to Texas; we figured that we might as well look around.  We started with a drink at Maxine’s, a former brothel house  where one of the town’s three hipster-bartenders informed us that we had arrived a day late for the poetry open mic, so we caught a bite to eat at a fusion restaurant (fusion of what, I do not know.  Seemed like Mexican food to me, but the waiter told us they didn’t have guacamole because they’re “a fusion restaurant” and instead offered to light cheese on fire on our table with 151, he concluded our post meal chat with a “Namaste.”  We tipped better than we should have).   We also had the distinct pleasure of walking past 478 motorcycles because of this:

it’s blurry because it emphasizes the idea that motorcycles are fast, not because I’m a bad photographer.


Just to give it due consideration, I don’t think I’ll be heading back to Hot Springs to start an art bar.  The town just seemed too small to support it, I counted maybe 10 people that didn’t have a motorcycles to every 30 that did, and the town still didn’t feel crowded, we were able to get fast service at the Pancake Shop the next morning, despite the theoretical two-wheeled inundation.  I do regret not being able to participate in their gallery walk the next day, and missing out on the poetry reading.  Hot Springs does have something going for it to be sure, and I’m over the moon about the existence of the Art Church, if you’re in the area, you should drop in tell them how awesome I think they are, and to check out bath row, where all the gangsters used to come to relax.  true story.


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