I’ve been out here on my own on the Celebrate America Tour for less than a week and already I’ve learned a ton of invaluable lessons. The journey from our launch party in Northwest Arkansas to Hot Springs National park was a little bumpy as the team and I definitely went through some “Oh! I didn’t think of that..” moments immediately after the launch. Just learning the nuances of handling a new truck and camper has been full of adventures. All that said, I think Luna and I are starting to get the hang of life on the road.
Ugh…maybe I spoke too soon…
Traveling with Luna in this way has been its own experience. We’ve been on lots of great road trips together, but we’ve never been away from home for such an extensive time before. She’s been a champ though….super patient, but I think the constant motion and new environments set her on edge. She seems to be expressing that in a new level of protectiveness, which is compounded by all the new people interacting with us on our journey. I’m an introvert who keeps to himself around strangers, so she’s definitely not used to me talking to so many of them. I guess we’ll have to figure out how to manage our new found fame and notoriety.
We pulled into our RV park at Catherine’s Landing in Hot Springs, dropped the trailer and prepared for a little exploration of the town. On our way into the RV park, I met a couple, Don and Judy, who have been following us on Facebook. Don was super excited about meeting us…well about meeting Luna as he grew up with German Shepherds. She took to him like they were long lost pals and we sat and chatted for a good bit.
It’s these interactions that are becoming my favorite part of this journey. I think that with all the isolation and fear bred by the CoVid crisis, we are all just looking for a little kindness and some quality human interaction. Don and Judy were the perfect mix of that and our chat was soothing to my frazzled nerves. They respected social distance and remained masked but still reached out. They shared with me all the cool things to see and do both at Hot Springs National Park and in the town of Hot Springs in general. We talked about what Don termed as the “world’s best BBQ” at a local joint call McClards and they even told me about a local pet store that might have something to help calm Luna’s anxiety.
Luna and I called it a night and got an early start exploring Hot Springs the next morning. We started the day out at the coolest pet shop in Hot Springs, Barkansas Pet Supply! Lisa, the owner, made the stop magical and truly charmed Luna with her sweet demeanor. She treated me, and every other customer that walked through the doors like we were the most important people in the world. She made sure that Luna had all the supplies she needed and even suggested a few things we hadn’t thought about. A CBD chew or two and Luna is cool as a cucumber.
Exploring the town of Hot Springs is almost as interesting as the park itself. Hot Springs National Park is considered an “urban park” because it is nestled smack dab in the middle of downtown Hot Springs. It is a really surreal experience to approach a trail head in the middle of a bustling town, with all the smells from the local restaurants and food trucks floating on the air. There is free parking here for the park and lots of interesting architecture to check out in the town itself.
The whole area has a long and…shall we say colorful?…. history that began long before Hot Springs became an official “Reservation” in 1832. American Indians came here for thousands of years to mine novaculite for their tools. The Dunbar-Hunter Expedition came in 1804, sent by President Thomas Jefferson to explore the southern reaches of the Louisiana Purchase. Once the springs were discovered, a bustling town grew up around them to provide services for health seekers. The resultant bathing industry led to Hot Springs becoming known as the “American Spa.” It’s even rumored that Al Capone ran bootleg through a series of underground tunnels beneath the city….Luna tried to hunt for them, we found this guy…but no buried treasure.