Posted by: carogouin | August 18, 2009

“boyhood home of William Jefferson Clinton”

After a stop at Cracker Barrel, where we rented our first (and I think last) audio book, John Grisham kept us company for the next 3 hours as we drove to Hot Springs, Arkansas, boyhood home of the 42nd President of the United States William Jefferson Clinton. We were pleasantly surprised with the more moderate climate of Hot Springs and immediately headed downtown for a stroll along “Bathhouse Row”, where bath houses lined Spring Street – remnants of “The Golden Age of Bathing”. Yes, we too were shocked that bathing merited its own golden age (apparently a health spa craze of the late 19th and early 20th centuries). These bathhouses were renovated in the early 1900s, since the previous wooden structures were prone to rot and fires, but they are now all historic sites except for one remaining functional bathhouse, the “Buckstaff”. We tested the waters, and they are indeed hot and very un-refreshing in 90 degree weather.

Later that evening we replenished our food supply and settled into our cozy spot at the KAO campground (voted #1 KAO campground in the US a couple years ago) with free wifi, pristine showers, a laundromat, an outdoor kitchen, etc. Our healthy avocado and salmon salad completed the picture. The next day we toured downtown a bit more and drove up to the Hot Springs National Park Tower for a bird’s eyes view of “the boyhood home of 42nd President of the United States William Jefferson Clinton” – quite the prideful city.

at the buckstaff bathhouse

At the Buckstaff bathhouse.

Indeed the hot springs are hot.

Indeed the hot springs are hot.

Beautiful views from the Hot Springs tower.

Beautiful views from the Hot Springs tower.

Not everyone was thrilled to be up so high...

Not everyone was thrilled to be up so high...

 In an attempt to escape the heat even more, we drove into the mountains of western Arkansas to Ouachita [wosh-i-taw] National Forest for a 2-night stay. There we found a great mountain bike trail (Womble trail) where I made my debut as a mountain biker! The terrain wasn’t too rough and Pat was very patient with me. The trail must have been a bit neglected, since Pat kept riding into big spider webs. We even saw a skunk meandering under the blazing sun – not a good sign for a nocturnal animal. We retired that evening to the Charlton campground and cooked an excellent dinner on our camping stove (pasta with marinara sauce, sautéed mushrooms and asiago cheese).

The next day was reserved for doing absolutely nothing. Maybe it was a laziness induced by the loads of Benadryl cream I lathered on my legs that morning (just a common heat rash), but it turned out to be an afternoon of pure sloth hanging out in our hammocks by the swimming hole, reading books, napping and chatting with the locals. Although Pat finished the day with a short trail ride through the Arkansas hill country.

Another nice spot to setup our home.

Another nice spot to setup our home.

the womble trail - our first mountain bike ride was great!

The womble trail - our first mountain bike ride was great!

Caro's first mountain bike ride, she's a natural.

Caro's first mountain bike ride - she's a natural.

enjoying our downtime

Enjoying our downtime.

A refreshing swimming hole

A refreshing swimming hole

We woke up early the next morning and started our 8-hour trek to visit friends in Austin, Texas!



  1. I like your writing Caroline. I like the parts about food . . . avocado and salmon salad . . . yummy . . . people love to read about food.

  2. Salut Caro et Patrick! Compared to your adventure, Kim and I are leaving today for a much smaller one: Le P’tit Train du Nord. Biking from Mont-Laurier to St-Jérôme (200 km) over a 5 day period . Our challenge was to limit our luggage to our saddlebags. It appears that we will have rain most of the time, a test for our rain gears. At least we will benefit from B&Bs along the way, hot showers, comfortable beds and good food: dinners and breakfasts.

  3. Looking good guys. With all the pictures taken of the tent, I’m curious to see pictures of the inside…and view looking out.

  4. Oh Caroline you’re a pro! And no report of scrapes or bruises so I assume no crashing. I can only dream of such a ride…

  5. Congrats Caro! You look like a pro! I miss you both already!

  6. Pat and Caroline, Great reading the new blog! It has already brought back fun memories. I stopped by Hot Springs Arkansas driving back from Colorado when Clinton was president. I asked the lady at the gas station if this was where clinton grew up. She said yeah, but very unenthusiatically. Then I asked her how she liked him. Her response was “I not for anybody who is for queers”. True story. My buddies and I asked her how she really fealt, she sneared, we laughed and then we high tailed it out of there…..

  7. Glad to you are enjoying Arkansas. I spent the first 13 years of my life there. The Ouachita Mountains were home to our Boy Scout camp. Camping trips, mile swim, towel fights, bug bites all great memories. My brother lives in North Little Rock and has participated in races on the Womble . If you see Bill say Hello for me

  8. I agree the writing is really excellent, I love the detail. Thanks for the pronunciation tip for “Ouachita”.

    I check your blog every day…looking forward to the next post!

  9. Oh my goodness, your adventures sound absolutely wonderful! I love the pictures and stories:-) It sounds like you are doing a wonderful job of meeting the locals, checking out the natural terrain and enjoying every minute.
    PS-Thank you for your birthday call with Faith! I am so sorry I missed it, but it was such a nice surprise!

  10. Hello adventurers!
    Looks like lots of fun!
    From biking to bathing, and hot springing to “hammocking”, pretty cool!
    We had fun with Alexandre over the weekend. Now gearing up for our 6th annual Golf Scramble on Saturday! The weather should be cooler!
    Thinking of you. Enjoy!

  11. keep up the good blogging! 🙂

    seeing as how caroline has begun her foray into the world of biking-on-paths-other-than-flat, i thought you both might enjoy this video:

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