traveling adventures

Giggles, laughter, squeals of delight rang through the car last weekend as we traveled in upstate Arkansas with two little girls.
“Grandpa, are we going to go down that long hill again?” the youngest asked, her voice quaking with fear and anticipation.
We knew exactly what she meant. We had encountered it on our way over the roller coaster road into the Ozark Mountains.
After several hairpin turns up a mountain, we rounded a corner at the crest of the hill and came out at the top of an awesome perfect “V” . The road went straight down a long hill and then straight up the next. The girls screamed at the sight. The little one’s lip trembled with fear.
“It’s a roller coaster. Raise your hands and scream,” I lifted my hands as we soared down.
Screaming and yelling, wide-eyed children, accompanied our descent and rise.
At the top of the next hill they begged, “let’s do it again.”
“There will be plenty of hills between here and Hot Springs,” we assured them.
And there were, especially since we planned a circuitous trip home to fit in a hospital visit in Hot Springs.
After visiting with the hospitalized one, we toured the National Park at Hot Springs, pointing out the steaming water and cold water fountains to the children. We filled a jug with hot water and checked out a couple of the accessible pools and streams of heated water.
“Will it burn me, if I touch it?”
“No, it’s only about 100 degrees.”
She found a sign and informed us that the water was 146 degrees Fahrenheit or 53 degrees Celsius. Warm enough for a bath, but not hot enough to burn.
Eyes wide, the youngest bent down to touch the water flowing over the slick, lichen covered rocks and giggled at the idea of hot water flowing from the rocks.
“I’m going to put my foot in it,” her older sister giggled.
“Don’t step down, it is slippery,” Grandpa cautioned.
“I won’t.” She cautiously stuck her toe into the little stream and jumped back laughing at having given her toe a mineral bath.
We drove up the one-way street to the top of the mountain and looked over the tree-laden community, surrounded by ridges of mountains covered with wisps of clouds and steam.
Back on the street, the clock and stomachs dictated meal time. I announced that we would have a meal that could only be prepared in Hot Springs.
We stopped by a store and picked up Styrofoam cups filled with dried vegetables and noodle soup and took them back to Bath House Row.
We chose the hottest water fountain we could find. The girls pulled back the seal on their soup just enough to let water into the cup. They giggled and grinned at the idea of making hot soup without a stove or microwave. Holding the filled cups shut, they carefully made their way back to the car.
While the noodles softened in the heated water, we found spoons and forks and paper towels. Then perched on their car seats, the girls sipped and spooned up soup, relishing their simple meal.
Back home and ready for bed, they declared it the best day ever.
(Joan Hershberger is a reporter at the News-Times.)