Posts Tagged ‘Arkansas’

From Tennessee to Arkansas

From Tupelo we all headed to Memphis Tennessee, what was supposed to be our first stop.  I had been to Memphis before (and of course they have more Elvis) and I knew the little downtown area would be a good little tourist trip for everyone. We were going to check into the hotel, get a few hours of sleep, and then take in the sights before crashing for the night.  In my head this seemed like a perfectly reasonable plan but unfortunately it was foiled by the lamest of lame hotels.

Helpful trip note: Do not stay at the motel 8 by the river in Memphis Tennessee. You will regret paying for said hotel.

We were excited to check into the hotel and get some sleep. We’d been on the road at this point for about 18 hours and we were more than exhausted. It took forever to navigate through Memphis and the roads were bumpy, torn up, and riddle with pot holes. So, the hotel was a sight for sore eyes.

We pulled into the packed parking lot and had some problems finding somewhere to park our cars. The lot was thin and the parking lines were so close together that you had to squeeze between cars to get out of the doors.  Regardless, we just wanted to check into the hotel which I had pre-booked on hotels.com prior to arriving. 

I went to the office and checked in, and the people working at the desk were very friendly to us. They put us on the second floor and we immediately lugged all of our things and the three dogs up the stairs and to the room.  When I opened the door a stench the likes of which I hadn’t smelled since I’d visited New Orleans after hurricane Katrina wafted from the room. It was reminiscent of mildew, rotting things, and body odor. The smell made me not want to enter the room but being the glutton for punishment I am, I went inside to inspect the room anyway.

The room was wet, and I don’t mean the carpet was wet. I mean, the beds were damp, the towels were damp, and the carpet, walls, and ceiling were damp.  There was black mold growing up the baseboards of the room as well as on the ceiling.  There was a dead roach in the bathtub and the stands were filthy. I immediately went back down to the office to complain.

The lady in the office apologized and gave us another room up on the third flood.  So, we hauled all of our things up yet another floor and cautiously opened the door to that room.  It reeked as well but this time I didn’t bother to go inside the room to look around. Instead I went back to the office, complained yet again, and was given yet another room- this time on the fourth floor.

Having had two bad rooms I decided to go up to the fourth floor and check the room before we dragging all of our things up yet another flight of stairs and it’s a good thing I did. The room wasn’t wet or covered in mildew like the previous ones but it reeked of perfume.  It smelled like the cleaning lady just sprayed everything in the entire room with perfume to mask the actual smell of the room. The odor was so strong that it made my eyes water and my throat hurt.

Once again, I headed back to the office but with a different idea in mind.  I wanted my money back and I wasn’t going to take no for an answer. I had been up for about nineteen hours at this point and I was beyond grumpy and extremely tired of lugging all my stuff and my dogs up and down the stairs.  I explained to the lady behind the desk that I didn’t think the hotel was habitable and that no matter how many rooms they gave me to try I didn’t think I would find one that I could stay in. She told me I had to call hotels.com to get my money back because I had booked through them but that she would tell them that the rooms were unsatisfactory and even she thought I should get my money back. 

I called them right away and I spent about thirty minutes on the phone explaining to them that I wanted my money back and why.  Unfortunately for the unlucky person who took my call I was in no mood to negotiate or take no for an answer and I eventually got my way. They refunded my money and we packed up all of our things and headed across the river into Arkansas looking for a room there.  We would have stayed somewhere else in Memphis but everything was booked, not dog friendly, or extremely expensive.

Two hours later, along the highway, we finally found a hotel that was big dog friendly. We passed tons of hotels, which we stopped at and asked about rooms, but could not find one that allowed dogs that weighed more than 30lbs. (A fact I found was going to haunt me throughout the entire trip.) We rushed our things inside the room and immediately hit the hay. We were so tired we didn’t even get anything to eat or bother to see what was on the television.  We slept the entire rest of the evening and all through the night.

The next morning we piled everything back into the cars and headed to Hot Springs Arkansas (childhood home of Bill Clinton). I had been to the town once before but hadn’t stopped to really do or see anything so this time I was determined to spend the whole day exploring.  We got a room at the Austin Hotel and Spa, a very nice dog friendly hotel in downtown Hot Springs and just a few blocks from the old bathhouse row where we were headed.

As soon as we got everything into the room, we fed the dogs, and then headed down to the bathhouse to bathe in the waters of the hot springs.  None of us had ever been to a bathhouse before so we didn’t know what to expect but, as it turned out, it was a lot cheaper than I thought it would be and you got a lot more than a bath.  It was only 60 dollars for a bath-massage combo, which turned out to be much more involved than it sounded.

First they took us up to a room where we got undressed and they wrapped us up in sheets- toga style. Then we were sat in a waiting room while they prepared a tub for us. Then we were taken back to the baths where we were put into giant claw foot tubs that pumped hot mineral water through it like a spa tub on crack. Seriously, this thing could blow you across the room if you took the house out and sprayed it at someone. It mean business!

The water was super hot and it felt amazing. We sat in our tubs for about 15 minutes and then an attendant came and scrubbed our backs and legs with a little scrub glove.  Then, we were taken from the tubs to a waiting area where we were given iced mineral water to drink before being moved to the steam chamber.

The steam chamber was basically a large metal box that ran steaming hot spring water along the bottom to create a steam room.  Basically, it makes you sweat- A LOT. Then, they take you out of the box and put you on a table where they wrap your back, arms, and legs in soaking hot towels. Then you lay down and they place an iced towel on your head so you don’t overheat and you lay there and relax for another 10 minutes.

Once you are thoroughly warmed they unwrap you and they take to you to something called a sitz tub. This is a little booth where you sit in a puddle of really hot mineral water (supposedly it is really good for your undercarriage parts).  Anyway, you marinate your goods for five minutes and then they put you in a needle shower to rinse you off.  This is basically a shower with a whole lot of shower heads that blast you with steaming water.

Finally, they re-toga you and you go to a room where you get a massage for another 15 minutes.  Talk about r-n-r.  It was amazing and I couldn’t believe how cheap it was! 

*Men be warned, Alan said his trip through the bathhouse was not as relaxing or fun as ours had been.  He said he felt ‘cheated’ after he heard our stories of what we went through.*

~Photo Op~

After all that amazing relaxation, of course something had to go wrong. The dogs, which were back at the room still, ate the super expensive and nice hotel room. There were shreds of carpet all over the floor and they had eaten the underneath padding from all the chairs. I was astounded that they had even managed to make such a mess in the short time we had been gone!

I ran around the room checking the carpet and what I found was a chunk of it missing in the corner behind the table. It was like 2 inches wide by 5 inches long and frayed badly.  I was so mad I could have exploded. There was much yelling, some breath holding, more than a fair share of clenched fists, and some steam rolling from my ears.

Then, my mom says the most amazing thing: “We could just cut a piece of carpet out from under the bed and put it in the hole and hope they don’t notice.”  My eyes went wide, my breath was held, and I thought ‘that might actually work.’  So I said: “Ok, let’s do it!”

Nix used my knife to cut out a section of carpet from under the bed, where we knew they never checked because we found some MnM’s under there from before World War I, and I cleaned up the frayed edges of the hole in the carpet and picked up all the tell-tale pieces from the floor.  Then I fit the patch into the hole and super-glued it down.  Then I trimmed the bottoms out of the chairs so there were no pieces handing down.

It ended up being passable, or at least I think it was. The hotel never said anything about it and they didn’t charge us a fee for anything. 

Well, after all the hard work I was starving so Nix, Alan, and I headed out to get something to eat while mom stayed at the hotel, relaxed, and kept an eye on the dogs for us. We ended up going to this little Italian place across the street called Bellas. The restaurant has a very authentic atmosphere but that ended up being the only good thing about the place.  The prices were insane and the food was less than good.  in fact, it was bad, really bad. The servers acted as though they were too good to serve us and we had to wait forever for our food and drink refills even thought the restaurant wasn’t that busy.

I had ordered some to go food, which we waited a while on as well, for my mom.  At least, that turned out to be ok. Of course, it was just spaghetti with meat sauce. I asked mom if she liked it and she said yes, so she was either being nice and saying she liked it or it had been much better than my food. I hope it was the latter.

The next day we took the dogs for a walk in the park by downtown even though it was raining a bit.  The area was just so nice that we couldn’t have left without going for a little walk before hand.  There were lots of little shops, museums, and restaurants, and they have a neat little fountain in the middle of downtown where you can bottle your own hot spring water to take with you.

All in all, the place is a 10 on my list of places to visit if you can.  The bathhouse alone was worth the trip but fortunately everything else there was pretty awesome too (except for that restaurant). I suggest this place to anyone looking for a relaxing vacation that doesn’t involve a beach and though we didn’t go, I know there is a huge park up on the mountain where you can walk all kinds of trails or go mountain climbing and things. I’d visited it the last time I’d been there.

We were all sad to check out, but we had to be on our way to Heavener Oklahoma that afternoon.

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