We hit the road for a scheduled trip to Hot Springs, Arkansas last Monday morning right after we finished writing our Korner. We had given the 24-hour stomach virus that hit us Saturday night the appropriate amount of time to go away and felt pretty good as we tossed our luggage in the trunk and headed northeast.

The sky was blue without a cloud and the weather was rather nippy, so we brought along our winter jackets. Our route was simple, up 96 to 59 to IH 30 and then north to Hot Springs, where we arrived by mid-afternoon.

We had a three-day, two night package at the historical Hamilton House Estate, a neat bed-and-breakfast villa retreat located on a peninsula surrounded by Lake Hamilton.

We stayed in the Van Lyell Room which was named for the original owner of the Hamilton House, who was the owner and president of the Coca-Cola firm and served on the Oaklawn Racing Commission.

The house, which was completed in 1931, was patterned after an Italian villa and has a unique 70-foot tunnel from which sunbathers can access the lake and grotto area. The rumor is the tunnel was built so that Al Capone, who came to Hot Springs often for the mineral baths, had a quick escape from the law or his enemies. Another rumor is that the tunnel was for Van Lyell’s young wife, who enjoyed taking a moon-light skinny-dip in Lake Hamilton.

Tuesday was our birthday and wife Susan’s gift was a trip to the historic bath house in the middle of downtown Hot Springs that was built in 1911 and frequented by people from all over the world who had arthritis and other aches and pains. Even Capone got relief from his syphilis condition by bathing in the hot mineral water.

After taking a whirlpool bath, steam bath and massage, Susan informed me that the last part of the birthday package was a pedicure, which we thought was exclusive for women only. And we felt strange being the only male out of the 17 people in the nail boutique.

We read a football publication while getting our pedicure and some of the women began talking about the sport. Of course, nearly everyone in Hot Springs is an Arkansas Razorback fan, which wasn’t so surprising. But what really blew us away was that the NFL team of choice there was the Tennessee Titans, probably because it’s the closest pro team to Arkansas.

Those gals were hysterically excited about the Titans’ come-from-behind 31-21 victory over Peyton Manning’s Indianapolis Colts on Monday Night Football to remain the only undefeated NFL team. And they correctly predicted Tennessee would be 8-0 after Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers. But they never mentioned it would take an overtime period to produce the 19-16 victory.

While sitting down waiting for the technician to finish Susan’s pedicure, a nice-looking young lady came over to my chair and asked which shade of red nail polish we thought was most appropriate for the Nebraska-Oklahoma game. We pointed to the one that most closely resembled Oklahoma Sooner red and she let everyone in the nail salon know that she is a Nebraska Cornhusker fan and quickly bought the other red nail polish.

The lady really didn’t want to know who we thought would win that game, she just wanted to buy the Cornhusker-red colored nail polish. She left in a huff and as she was opening the door to leave she muttered something about No. 1 Texas getting upset by Texas Tech.

 The three days we were there the local televised sports shows continuously predicted how the Razorbacks were going to knock Tulsa from the ranks of the undefeated. Saturday it happened as Arkansas upset Tulsa 30-23. One optimistic wag even went on to predict the Razorbacks would reach .500 by taking care of South Carolina this coming Saturday and get some of their respectability back.

On our way out of Hot Springs Wednesday morning we stopped at Garvan Woodland Gardens mainly to see how our Shangri-La compares to one that is funded by the University of Arkansas. Except for the hilly terrain in Arkansas, ours is as picturesque as theirs.

KWICKIES…The Texas-Texas Tech shootout Saturday night featured two games in one with the Red Raiders winning the battle in the trenches in the first half and the Longhorns’ offensive line winning the second half. It was that game-winning catch with one second left that made the big difference.

Saturday’s tough loss knocked the Texas Longhorns from the top spot to No. 4 in this week’s College Bowl Series standings. No. 1 was taken over by Alabama with Texas Tech moving up to No. 2 and Penn State No. 3.

Anyone who possibly thought the Dallas Cowboys’ 34-14 blowout loss to lowly St. Louis two weeks ago was a fluke got a taste of reality Sunday when the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants practically scored at will against the Pokes. The team that everyone thought would be in the Super Bowl next February won’t even finish the season at .500 unless some drastic changes are made—and we don’t mean firing Wade Phillips, which will probably happen when owner Jerry Jones starts searching for a scapegoat.

Even though the 2008 high school football season still has one more week to go, several playoff-bound schools from District 21-3A already know who their first-round opponent will be. The district champion West Orange-Stark Mustangs will face Coldspring of District 22-3A again this year and Hardin-Jefferson will play undefeated Cleveland in Class 3A Division II games. Silsbee will play Huffman or Splendora of District 22-3A in a Class 3A Division I game.

JUST BETWEEN US…The rumor that the Beaumont NBC affiliate KBTV Channel 4 will become a Fox Broadcasting Co. affiliate starting Jan. 1, 2009 appears to be true, according to Sunday’s edition of a Beaumont daily newspaper. But a spokesperson for NBC Universal promised that Southeast Texas football fans will not miss out on the Super Bowl in February, set to be broadcast by NBC. “We are currently evaluating our options and being thoughtful to the area’s residents,” the spokesperson said. “Rest assured the Super Bowl and all of our other great programming will continue to be seen in the Beaumont community.”