Alex was hiding a secret from me about going somewhere for New Years Eve. But, like with all secrets, Alex could not hold it in. He told me about two weeks ago we were going on a romantic getaway to Hot Springs for New Years! We booked a suite on Hotwire.com for $60-something a night for two nights. It turns out to be Baymont Suites and, BONUS, the suites have hot tubs in the rooms!
Pulling off of I-30 onto Random Creepy highway was a trip. Right on the corner there is a rock shop. Many tables are on display with rocks the size of cantaloupes. Across the street there is a Furniture, Bait and Pawn shop. After a 15 minute curvy drive we entered the ghetto. I believe Alex’s words were, “Are we in Mexico? Not the good part?” It was a bit trashy, literally. Trash lined the road and most of the stores were dilapidated. 15 minutes later on the curvy road, we emerged from Creepytown into Laketown. Our hotel was inconveniently at the most southern end of Hot Springs. No big deal; we ere out of the ghetto and it was places right on the lake. We checked in with smiles on our faces and the attendent hands us our room cards and receipt and stated, “Room 220.” I noticed on the receipt it read, “2 Queen.” Hmm… Not a suite. Alex said, “How much is it for an upgrade to one of the jacuzzi rooms?” The man responded, “Oh those sell out fast. We’re booked.” Yeah… those 3 other cars in the parking lot got them before we did… We thought $60 was too low for a suite. Oh well.
We threw down our bags, put on our coats and went out on the town for New Years Eve. We drove north toward the Arlington, the famous hotel in Hot Springs. Al Capone used to come here to gamble and hide out from the coppers. Hot Springs has really gone downhill. Most of the shops are abandoned. It is really sad. We parked nearby in a parking garage. It had parking meters in front of each spot. We looked for the sign that read, “Parking meters enforced 9-5,” but did not see it. Nor did we see the one that read, “Parking enforced 24 hours.” Hmm… There was one other car in the garage. Creepy. He did not pay the meter, or he stayed out too long because the light was blinking. Then we noticed he had a day-pass on his rearview mirror issued by this parking garage. We walked around looking for an attendant. None to be found. Weird. And creepy. So we put in 3 quarters, being the good citizens we are, and left.
It was night, so, of course, all of the neat shops are closed. We walked inside of the Arlington and see all of the over-60 crowd dressed in their evening wear, waiting on their black tie New Years Eve party to start. Unfortunately, we didn’t bring $150 or Al’s tux. So we went back outside and walked among the old bathhouses. Very cool! Just like the old bath houses in Sicily, only indoors. We walked around the park next to the Arlington and played in the hot springs and looked at Christmas lights. The water in the springs was 143 degrees, naturally! It just comes out of the mountain that hot.
I get earaches when it is really cold outside and that night I got one big time. It pretty much ruined the evening. We went back to the parking garage, with one hour remaining on our meter, and started the truck. Only 6:30. We saw signs advertising great Christmas light displays. We drove all throughout the stupid town looking, got lost, got found, and never found the lights. I had lost my appetite due to the earache, and we had nothing else to do before midnight, so we decided to go to a movie. We found the mall and drove around each entrance, looking for the movie theater. Hmm… No entrance for the theater. There has to be one, because we saw the sign. Across the street, we found it: “Mall Movie Theater.” Yes, that was the name. Not in the mall at all. 5 movies. We decided to see Sherlock Holmes at 6:45. We stood in the line that was out the door. These people, let me tell you. I did not realize I was a city snob until I noticed my lip was curling and I was sneering at these people in their camo and “suthern aksints.” Everyone in line was talking to each other, even though they didn’t know each other. Alex and I kept looking at each other, hoping no one would talk to us. Then this: a lady walked out and offered the mob in line a free ticket. She just gave it away, for no profit. We live in a different world. I was ashamed of my sneering.
15 minutes later, we had moved forward ten feet. We found out that tickets were being purchased at the concession stand, where people were also buying their popcorn. We had missed the previews, our favorite part, so we decided to see Avatar at 7pm. 10 minutes later and 3 people forward, we saw that Avatar was only shown in 3D and there was a $2.50 surcharge on top of each $8 ticket. At this point, we were sick of waiting, missed Avatar’s previews as well, and decided to try again tomorrow afternoon, when it would be half the price.
My appetite had resurfaced at this point and we chose Osaka Japanese Steakhouse. Japanese is my favorite style. We walk in and there are twenty people standing in the waiting area. Alex asks, “How much is the wait for two people?” She responds, “50 minutes to one hour for Hibachi, or I can seat you now for dining.” Um, hello, dining! We’ve seen the show before. There were only 3 other full tables. All those people wanted to wait an hour for the Hibachi show. Turns out, the menu is not the same. There wasn’t a single stir-fry option. Alex got day-old sticky sushi and I got a fried pounded chicken breast, served on lettuce leaves. Our waitress was horrible. She was impatient and asked Alex to stack the plates himself before handing them to her. Actually she didn’t ask. She just pointed, huffed, and pointed again. After the $22 bill for chicken and sushi, I gave this place 2 stars. I’m sure the Hibachi would have been good. I guess that’s why they were waiting: they knew.
The next morning we got up early and set out for the town. We stopped by Walmart and picked me up a beanie hat to combat the cold. We parked at another parking meter and went into the Arlington’s Starbucks and got some coffee. Alex got a normal up of coffee. I got a normal cup of hot chocolate. The bill? $7.38. Bad, Starbucks, bad. 1 star.
Walking through the town was a bit disappointing. Most shops were closed because it was New Years Day. Romancing the Stone was open, but we’ve got that in Dallas. We finally found an Antique store that was open. We walked in and an orange sun conure squawked at us. We tooled around and found a headboard and footboard made in the 1700s for $3000. As Alex inspected the furniture, he whispered, “This is fake!” He informed me plywood had not been invented in the 1700s and most definitely wouldn’t be the back panel of the headboard. Hmm… We continued on and found a couch from the same time period with wheels on the legs. Wheels. $4500 for a fake old couch. We decided to leave. Walking along the sidewalks was also interesting. Lots of joggers, saying, “Hi,” as they passed by. A man walking his dog asked us how our New Years Eve was. In Dallas, if you are walking and someone walking a dog is approaching, it is socially acceptable to squat down, pet and talk to the dog, but it is not acceptable to talk to the human. In Hot Springs, all social rules are out the window. It felt great.
We drove through the National Park and up to the lookout tower. Boo, closed on New Years Day. We walked back to the remaining open bath house. Closed.
We ate lunch at Bella Arti, an Italian Ristorante. I ordered Chicken and Vodka Cream sauce. Delicioso. Next we went back to the “Mall Move Theater” and saw Sherlock Holmes. It was blurry throughout and I fell asleep halfway through, but overall it was great! No, really. Don’t take that I fell asleep as a bad review. It was New Years Day. I stayed up late! Robert Downey Jr was great, as expected. Jude Law showed that he can play a variety of roles. Rachel McAdams… a little disappointing. She did an OK job, I just thought they should have cast someone more exotic for her role. A Catherine Zeta-Jones type. Lots of action and mystey. Very good. 4 stars. We wanted to see Avatar right after, but Alex snobbed out and said he wasn’t going to pay that much for a blurry 3D movie.
We went back to the hotel to regroup and that’s when it happened. I spent the rest of the evening revisiting my Vodka cream chicken. That kind of ruined the rest of the day. I fell asleep early and Alex watched TV. Sorry Alex.
The next morning, we decided we’d had it with Hot SPrings and got the heck outta there. Even with all of our mishaps, it was the best New Years Eve we’ve ever had. If you’re with the one you love, every day is a vacation. Cheesy, sorry. Happy New Year every one. I hope you get to spend it with your loved ones.