I remember thinking, "why in the world do they call it Hot Springs when the water is so darn COLD?" My earliest memory of childhood adventure is camping with my grandparents in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
It seems like only yesterday that my grandpa pushed me into the freezing cold spring at the Charlton Recreation Area for the first time. "It's easier if you just get it done all at once- like a Band-Aid," he'd say. And he was right. My older siblings and I would swim in that freezing cold spring for hours, until my grandma would call us back to our tent site for supper. With purple lips and wrinkled fingertips, we'd slowly slink out of the water, sulking. Our only comfort was grandma's reassurance that we could come again tomorrow.
|That freezing cold water I was telling you about.|
Back at our little campground, we'd roast marshmallows for smores and listen to my grandpa tell outrageous stories about his Native American lineage or his service in the military. While I sometimes pretended to be miserable because there was no television or too many mosquitoes, I honestly loved every second. I loved the simplicity and complexity of the forest. I loved that every kid in the campground with a bike was an immediate new best friend. I loved the freedom of exploring the park on my own and the togetherness of sharing a one-room tent with my entire family. I loved the moments that turned into stories and have become memories. I love that even though my siblings and I live very different lives now-a-days and are often far apart, we will always have the memories of those camping trips in Hot Springs.
My grandpa passed away many years ago and my grandma finds it harder and harder to travel, but I will forever remember them as they were all those years ago in Hot Springs, Arkansas- lighthearted and adventurous, telling stories and making jokes, learning us and teaching us. I look forward to one day taking my nieces and nephews and future children back there, and telling them stories about their great-grandma and great-grandpa and how much fun we had in the good ole' days.
|Grandpa Bill is the handsomest fella on the back row, and the only person in this photo not smiling.|
|Sweet Grandma Betty is the lovely lady in the red picnic-blanket style flannel shirt.|