March 16, 2011

Patchie [Explores]

Our first full day in Luray we ate breakfast at a little restaurant downtown and watched as the news in Japan unfolded. It was horrifying and sad and hard to take in. My heart goes out to all who are over there, have loved ones over there, or have had their lives personally affected by the tragedy.

Our plan was to hit the Luray Caverns this day. We assumed since it was a weekday it would be less crowded, and we were 100% correct. We arrived at about 12:30 to eight or nine school buses in the parking lot, but since most school dismiss by 3 they had already gone through the caverns and were on their way out. Perfect! We wound up in a group of six, and because of that had a live tour as opposed to having to listen to the headphones they passed out.

It was breathtaking. Pictures do not do it justice. I can't imagine what it would have been like to discover it. Everything outside looks so ordinary, and all this is hiding under the ground. It does cost to get in, but everyone should do it once. Living in this area it's like a rite of passage, and it took me until my mid-20's to get there but it was worth the wait. And going in the off season meant a smaller more intimate group, which made it even better.

Most things I've read say it is cool down there, and when it's 90 degrees outside I'm sure it is (the caves stay at a steady 52 degrees year round). But since it was only in the 40's outside, it felt warm! I only kept my jacket on because I didn't want to try to juggle it along with the 2 different cameras I was using. But it is humid. I came out with some wickedly frizzy hair.

These pictures are all of some of the smaller things, but you can't imagine how big it is down there. You walk it all and the paths are paved and some spots are a little steep (going downhill), but we had no issues. The lights are all on timers and because I was lagging behind the group to take photos here and there I almost got caught in the dark once or twice, and boy is it dark.
There is also the Stalagmite Organ, which uses the pitched of different stalagmites in the caverns to creat music. This might have been The Boy's favorite part. But apparently tons of people have gotten married in that room, and they used to hold balls and dances down there. I bet it was amazing!

We hit the Luray Museum afterwards which was right across the parking lot, but all of the outdoor stuff was still closed. But The Boy and I found a kitty, so we were satisfied.

Our next order of business since we had a good chunk of the day left was to find a vineyard. We looked at local attractions on the GPS, selected the closest vineyard, and away we went! We were excited, neither of us had ever been to a vineyard or done a wine tasting. The Boy is responsible for turning me into a wine drinker, so I'm still a newbie. We had a nice drive through the mountains, turned onto a dirt road, and got a little wary. Five miles later we arrived at our destination which...totally didn't exist. And it didn't show any sign of ever existing.

Determined, we went to Wal Mart and bought a bottle of wine for the room. We win!

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