Saturday, June 20, 2009

Hot Springs National Park Convention-Part 1: Arrival

Arriving home after conventions is a pleasure and relief--something about the relaxed, safe sanctuary of home once more!

I always enjoy conventions, seminars and other gatherings of people with common interests. This week I attended the 75th convention for municipal officials of the Arkansas Municipal League (AML). According to AML, there are 500 incorporated cities and towns in Arkansas, all members of the League.

AML offers many services and programs to its members. However, its major service is lobbyist for its members' best interests to the state legislature and other entities. AML is a member of the National League of Cities which also acts as lobbyist at the federal level.

With that boring history, for bloggies not familiar with state and local government, here is my tale of first half - day at convention in two parts.

Welcomed by heat and humidity, our city planning commission chairperson (also a personal friend) and I arrived in Hot Springs mid-afternoon. We stopped at the Hot Springs multi-purpose, beautiful convention center, to register and pickup our usual packet of information and goodies. I'm fond of the goodies like very nice quality pens, an official AML lapel pin and AML "ball" caps.

The first interesting incident of the day was at registration where we met one of our city aldermen, 60ish in age, dressed in a BRIGHT yellow polo shirt, plain shorts and orange clogs. He told us he needed to find Wal-Mart as he did not have any clean underwear. Too much information for us. I could say more, but wish to avoid confrontation and litigation.

We extricated ourselves from this conversation and checked in the historic Arlington Hotel. Its location near the famous Bath House Row keeps this hotel in business despite antiquated fixtures, elevators, and rooms.

The swimming pool and outdoor hot tub are accessed from the 7th floor. As strange as that might seem, one side of the hotel backs up to a mountain. The pool and outdoor gigantic hot tub are built into the side of the mountain at that level.

There are old photographs of past grandeur, beautiful old murals, elevators which still have clock-like pointers showing current up or down movement, indoor and outdoor mezzanines,and underground shopping area.

The Arlington Hotel was Al Capone's vacation hangout! One 4th floor suite has a plaque claiming to be his personal rooms where he had interest in a speakeasy across the street. Some historians say Capone started his gangster career in Hot Springs, which became a mecca for "healing waters" in which to bathe or imbibe.

Despite this history and grandeur, I was unimpressed with my large room which bothered my allergies, asthma and COPD. The HVAC was room wall unit with room thermostat. I never could get the room cold enough.

I worried about the older electrical outlets. The bathroom had tiled floor and tub enclosure; fixtures were old. However, there was no mold or mildew.

Carpets, tapestry, and bed coverings were old. The bed was comfortable and plenty of pillows. Mahogany finished furniture was in good condition.

Transportation was provided by an impressive public transportation system. Although called trolley cars, the mini-buses were air-conditioned, and comfortable for short trips to and from Convention Center about eight blocks away. AML and Hot Springs provided a special bus to shuttle between hotels and the center.

Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto was the first European to see what Native Americans referred to as the Valley of the Vapors when he and his men reached the area in 1541. Hot Springs became the first national park. See Discovery and Protection for additional history.

[photographs from on-line web sites of Arlington Hotel, Arkansas Municipal League, Hot Springs Convention Center]

Part 2: Dining with the Wined and Soused


Carol @ TheWritersPorch said...

I have visited Hot Springs many times and always stayed at the Arlington. I have a favorite fall memory of running fast from the exit door past the pool to the hot tub on a cool fall morning. The steam from the tub was rising against the mountain, it was early and
I was alone in the big tub. I looked up through the clear plastic roof and saw what appeared to be a glowing angel! I can see it as clear today as then! !( 1997)

Sweetie Pie said...

I'm glad you made it back home, and it sounds like you had a great time. I wouldn't worry much about the 2.5. It will be gone in a flash!! I think my cruise weight is finally going away (about time...) since I had a nice week of being on track. I still have work to do, but then, I guess I always will. :-)

I just read Carol's comment above, and it is similar to what I was going to say myself. We usually stayed at the Arlington in the fall, and the hot tub outside is so nice when it is chilly out. I once got up and hiked a few of the trails behind the mountain too, and it was so cool to see the steam rising up from various hotspot on the hillside. Those are some nice memories that I have. Having said that, the Arlington, well, it is pretty old. That can be charming, for sure, but not if it bothers your breathing!

I'm also pretty sure that the hot tub wasn't very appealing on a humid Arkansas day. Yuck! Today was one of those weather days here in northern Virginia. It felt like a sauna outside!

I'm looking forward to hearing about your dinner! I hope the man with no clean undies was there. He sounds like a card! Oh dear. Ha!!

Silver said...

The comfort of being home again. I know that feeling. Glad to know you had a good time away. Got me laughing about that guy who was looking for Wal-Mart as he needed.. you're right. That is a little more than i need info for a person i'm meeting for the first time!


Amber Star said...

Oh the Wal-Mart is on the other side of town. When we were there a couple of years ago it was down a bit and across the street.

I don't miss the seminars, meetinds, or other stuff associtated with work. :)

Glad you are getting rested.