Clayton was able to come home for a whole week leading up to Labor Day and Sabrina’s husband, Lance had just returned from his deployment so we all went to a local steakhouse to celebrate. The steakhouse bartender, John Mayer (yup, real name) had recently won a cocktail competition so Sabrina asked him to make her a drink similar to a concoction I had her test a couple weeks before. Side note: I am working on my cocktail skills this summer – if you didn’t have a reason to visit before, now you do.
Non-musical John Mayer delivered a tasty, peach-bourbon mixture served in a copper mug and told Sabrina that if she liked it, she could name it. Without missing a beat she replied, “My name is Sabrina, so let’s call it The Teenage Witch” – if you come visit, we’ll take you to the steakhouse where you can try the cocktail, but don’t be fooled when you’re served a “Teen Aged Witch” instead. Great mixologist, questionable hearing.
Over the long weekend, we crossed multiple items off our bucket list. The first being, live horse racing at Louisiana Downs. We arrived minutes before the second to last race of the evening and scrambled to place our bets. Without completely understanding the rules and strategy, I quickly bid on the name that I liked best. One lap and $10 later, we Googled proper betting strategy. Despite being more educated and feeling less rushed, I still came out a loser after the final race of the night.
As we were gearing up to leave, we looked around and saw an oddly large gathering of dachshunds. We soon learned that they would be holding a race of their own, about 1/100th of the distance that the horses run but at least 100x more adorable. Losing $20 on the horse races was well worth getting to see a herd of weiner dogs race to the finish.
On Friday after work, we went to my friend Erin’s house on Lake Bistineau. She and her husband own three labs, have paddle boards and kayaks and their backdoor is less than 100 feet from the lake – it’s like a private summer camp.
As Erin and I were preparing to take off on the paddle boards, it was evident that Tex wanted to join. As a first-timer, I quickly got my bearings and balance from continuously helping Tex climb on … just to have him immediately jump off. He would swim over to Erin, as if to check on her, before swimming back to me and scrambling to get his paws on the board.
After 30 minutes of providing a personal diving board to Tex, we paddled back to shore to drop him with Clayton so we could explore and I could try my hand at standing. I don’t know if it was the fact that the water was extremely calm, the air was warm and the sun was setting – but I totally understand what all the hype is about. I LOVED it.
On the final day of the holiday weekend, we took a road trip to Hot Springs, Arkansas. The entire town is built around 47 springs that supply naturally heated water for thermal baths – the town-center being: Bathhouse Row, a collection of spas, shops, restaurants and hotels. The national park is the smallest and oldest park in the National Park System, dating back to 1832 it beats Yellowstone by 40 years.
Many of the buildings that line Bathhouse Row honor the original bathhouses from the early 1900’s. The first bathhouses were wooden structures that would burn, rot or collapse from exposure to the water and steam. During the 1920’s – 50’s Hot Springs was a popular vacation spot for health-seekers, but changes in medicine and vacation travel led to a sharp decline in the 60’s and many of the spas closed their doors until a revitalization movement in the 80’s. Today, they mostly operate as spas offering a tub bath, steam cabinet, hot and cold packs, whirlpool and massage – the main draw being the naturally hot, mineral-rich water.
Since we brought Tex with us, we were unable to experience the spa services and instead opted to sweat our tails off hiking around the town and surrounding trails. While the mountains of Hot Springs can’t compete with Alaska (I mean, what can?) it was still nice to get a break from flat landscape.
We refueled at a Mexican restaurant for lunch because they had a dog-friendly patio. Following their directions, we parked at the top of a parking garage and followed a staircase that appeared to be descending into a back alley of the main street but after reaching the landing, we were greeted by a hidden nook, tucked into the rock-face and covered by a canopy of trees. As you can imagine, Tex enjoyed the break too.
After a full day, we stopped at the cold springs to sample the famous water. If Tex wasn’t a water-snob before (we’re fans of Brita in this house) he is now.