A bit about us...

We are a modern family of three, living on less than two acres with a 3,000 square foot garden that meets our produce needs and allows us to share with friends and neighbors. Our laying flock of chickens seems to expand each year as we raise chicks each Spring to replace older hens. This blog is more of a journal, if you will, for us to chronicle and share our experiences in the yard, garden and kitchen. It is our hope that along the way a few folks might learn something, be entertained, or simply enjoy sharing in our stories and the lessons we learn on a daily basis. I named the blog after the times when I am the happiest, when I am elbow deep in earth.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Road Trip to Virginia Days 3 and 4 - Barbeque and Luray Caverns

August 3 and 4, 2012

Having arrived late at night, we decided on a low key morning at home. I had some sewing to do for a gift basket order that needed to be sent, so my sewing machine made the trip with us and I spent a relaxed morning working with it.

Some of our favorite clients (not that we should have favorites, but hey!) offered to have a little gathering for us so we could finally meet some more of them in person. We brought sweetcorn and cantaloupe from Michigan and a big gift basket of canned goods for our hosts.  They provided an awesome spread of food, grilling chicken along with our corn and other treats.  We had an absolutely wonderful time visiting with everyone and getting to know them.  We ate and then as the evening cooled a bit, we retired to sit poolside to chat some more.  As we sat, we heard a pack of coyotes yip and howl which generated a bit of excitement.  Their home is set in a "subdivision" of sorts, backing up to some rather wild landscape just into West Virginia from Virginia.  If it hadn't been for the lengthy drive back to Virginia to Shane's mom's, we would have continued to stay and chat deeper into the night.  We sure hated to leave when we were having such a good time, but so it goes. It was some time after midnight when we arrived "home" and fell into bed.

The next morning (Day 4), I finished the basket and readied it for shipment (special thanks to my spectacular Mom-In-Law-to-be who took care of the final baking I needed, the night before while we partied the night away). We had settled on spending the day with family, but weren't sure what we were going to do until the notion struck us to visit Luray Caverns. It was a pricey stop, but OH SO worth it!  Gracious, was that an awesome experience. Mom-In-Law-to-be was not feeling well from the ride, so she stayed above ground while we explored below.  Our good camera took sub-par pictures, but my silly little iPhone shined in the strange and difficult lighting of the cave.

There was a remarkable place called Dream Lake inside the cave.

Here's what Wikipedia has to say about it:
"There is a spring of water called Dream Lake that has an almost mirror like appearance. Stalactites are reflected in the water making them appear to be stalagmites. This illusion is often so convincing that people are unable to see the real bottom. It looks quite deep, as the stalactites are higher above the water, but at its deepest point the water is only around 20 inches deep. The lake is connected to a spring that continues deeper into the caverns."

The formations in the cave are beyond words, beautiful.  Here's some more educational stuff from Wikipedia to go with my pictures, since I know very little about how caves are formed!

"As with other limestone or "solution" caves, formations at Luray Caverns result from a solution of calcium carbonate giving up some of its carbon dioxide, thus allowing a precipitation of lime to form. This precipitation begins as a thin deposit ring of crystallized calcite, but continues to collect, creating stalactites and other types of dripstone and flowstone."

"Formations at Luray Caverns are white in color if the calcium carbonate is in its pure form. Other colors reflect impurities in the calcite resulting from elements absorbed from the soil or rock layers: reds and yellows due to iron and iron-stained clays; black from manganese dioxide; blues and greens from solutions of copper compounds. Luray Caverns remains an active cave where new formation deposits accumulate at the rate of about one cubic inch every 120 years."

This formation they call the Giant Redwood, but the guide in the area said he thought it looked more like a wooly mammoth and I agree!

This formation was really neat since the light passed through it. These translucent bits are part of a formation called draperies. The guide in this area told us to note it. It would be the "bacon" for the "eggs" we would see later. In person, the brown striations did look a lot like bacon....

There was an enormous piece that was laying on its side.  It's hard to see in the picture, but if you use the people for scale, you get the idea.  They believe this piece once hung from the ceiling and fell a thousand years ago (give or take!).

We came across something I never could have conceived of while touring the caverns.  It was called a The Great Stalacpipe Organ.  The short story is, it's an organ that plays by hammers tapping stalactites to produce certain tones.  Here's the Wiki page to read more about it.  They play it every so many minutes so visitors can experience the sound.  It was truly a unique experience on its own.

See the tiny little mallet that strikes the stalactite?  Maybe not, since it's tough to make out.  But I assure you, it's there! :-)

Everywhere we looked there was something cool, beautiful, strange or fascinating.  Lexi enjoyed this trip underground for nearly the whole walk. We lost her attention about ten minutes before we ended the journey. I thought that was remarkable given that it likely looked pretty much the same to her everywhere she looked, and she had tolerated the lengthy ride there very well.

The Wishing Well is an eerily green pool where people toss their dough to make wishes. Each year, the pool is drained and the money collected to make other wishes come true - it's donated entirely to charities. The color of the water comes from the patina of all those copper pennies that sit in the water.  The formations in the pool are stained green from the water too.

Here are those eggs they told us about. The "yolk" is made of the crystal inside of fallen stalactites.

Here is another picture that really shows the crystal formations, but on a small scale.

When we emerged, Mom-In-Law-to-be was waiting on a bench for us, feeling much better. We explored the gift shop and spent some time outside in the sun before heading to the Garden Maze for a little fun.
Lexi and her Grandma took in the landscape while I played with my camera.

There was a line of old woven chairs that caught my attention and the ornamental plantings of grass made for a neat foreground shot.

I took a ton of pictures, but these are a couple I actually liked.
Of course, there was the obligatory posed picture of the family...

And some pretty posies...

...then came the laughter and fun for the day. As we approached the Garden Maze, I wondered just how tough it could really be. It proved to be more than we bargained for. There are four goals, or spots to find, hidden within the maze of arborvitae. The idea is to find all four goals, collecting a stamp at each stand to prove your find.

One nice bonus was the misters that sprayed through the hedge in select areas to help cool you while you searched. We told Lexi it was dragon's breath when she came to them for the first time. She did not buy our line a bit. She had a blast burning off energy running ahead of us and trying to spook us as we rounded corners.

In the center of the maze was a lovely little fountain area that could be seen from the raised gazebo toward the back of the maze.

We made it a point to pass by it to really check it out while we were inside as well.  I kept hearing the water, but struggled to find it at first.

Oh look, some silly kids playing in the maze, making faces at me and acting like paparazzi. :-)

Here's one of the great white hunters I encountered in my search.

There were signs and clues and tons of fun things to see as we walked in what seemed like circles.  There were flowerbeds, hanging baskets and water features scattered about in unexpected places and as decoration when you'd find yourself in a dead-end.

Of course, we stopped at the gift shop on our way out and picked up a book of mazes for Lexi.  It seemed like a fitting souvenir and she just loves them.  Win!  There were hanging baskets of mandevilla like this one all over the place.  I just kept thinking about the challenge of finding them to keep them watered!

Uh oh...
We stopped for dinner at a cool diner on the way home and Lexi gave her daddy a glimpse of what life will be like in just a few short years... she made fast friends with a boy!!!

Here's a little tidbit from our drive home on Sunday from Virginia (technically day 5, but I had to include it). We saw this van with the little sticker stick-babies.  We were a little surprised at the number of them -12!  There is no significance to this, just entertaining to us. We wondered if maybe it was a famous tv family as we went along our way.

Look at all those stick kids!
We had a phenomenal trip.  It was all too short and a tremendous amount of time in the car, but we are so blessed as a family since we really enjoy spending time together.  Road trips are great fun for all of us and it truly gave us a chance to connect in a way that isn't possible during the course of our normal routine in the work week.  The added bonus to this trip is that Shane and I found some places we would really love to return to when Lexi is a little older, or if we wanted to take a weekend away for just the two of us.

No comments:

Post a Comment