It’s going to be a long one, so bear with me. I had a lot of subject material to cover ;-)
We began our trip driving the roughly 2.5 hours north to Annapolis, Maryland. We arrived just in time to wait for the next 40 minute harbor tour. A school field trip with over 100 kids booked the cruise right before we got there, so Mom and I wandered around the shops and enjoyed the sights for a little bit.
Wouldn’t you love to own one of these houses?
I mistakenly sat on the wrong side as we passed by the Naval Academy. I thought we would pass by it again on the way back, but we didn’t, so I got what I could from a distance.
The Martha Ann can be rented for a measly $78,000 a week. Whose in with me? ;-)
We then walked around the Naval Academy for a short while. A very short while. Mom just wanted to say she had stepped foot on it. We stopped by the gift shop and that was about it. I’m practically shaming my family by posting naval pictures in the first place. Grandfather was in the Air Force and Dad was in the Army (CORRECTION! Dad was in the Air Force as well! Sorry Dad!!). However, my cousin IS a bona-fide Navy Seal, so technically we have a Navy boy in the family!
Mom makes a good John Paul Jones, no?
FEAR THE GOAT!!
Dinner was at the Chart House, one of our favorite restaurants. And no vacation of mine would be complete without either a sunrise or a sunset!
The next day we woke up and drove two hours to Luray, Virginia to do some spelunking!
Arrow drawn to show people, just to show some perspective.
This is called Dream Lake. All of the spikes pointing up are a perfect reflection of the stalactites above. The water is perfectly still so it reflects a mirror image from above.
All of this image is the water, of the reflection.
This formation reminded me of a fish.
If you look closely at the spotlight bottom left-center, then look just to the right of it, that is a man in a hat looking up at our platform. The two brown circular things in the very bottom corners are the tops of people’s heads. Again, perspective.
This was my favorite room.
The white formation is made from pure calcite and was named “Titania’s Veil,” after Shakespeare’s Fairy Queen from his play A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Our tour guide pointed out that this formation, if you look at it a certain way, reminds some people of a shaggy dog. The head is on the left, the split down the middle separates the two legs and the shaggy tail is on the right. See it?
These formations are called “Totem Poles,” as the cluster of differently shaped stalactites and stalagmites look like totem poles.
This formation is known as Saracen’s Tent. It is said to look like a drapery folded by hand. It is one of the most perfectly formed stone drapery structures in the world. I included the shot with people in it to show the sheer magnitude of it.
Our tour guide pointed out that this reminded people of a fallen redwood tree. In the next shot, from a slightly different angle, I’ve highlighted where the column broke off from the ceiling.
Just to prove I was there.
And there’s Mom!
It actually played music!
More people bottom right.
These are known as the Fried Eggs…very appropriate.
After Luray, we drove about an hour and a half to Lexington. We had dinner then drove to the Natural Bridge to watch the Drama of Creation. It was a bit cold, but was unique and very interesting to see.
I was happy to see that I captured some of the stars before the show started.
There’s Dad on the left!
I started the adventure by going into the butterfly room while the ‘rents went straight down to the bridge.
This one actually landed on my hip and I shot it straight down. I also had two land on my shoulders, one on each, at the exact same time!
I would have stayed longer but they were misting the room and kept it humid, so my lens fogged up every five seconds.
But the ones I was able to capture were very pretty!
Next I made my way down to the bridge and the nature trail.
It’s Springtime so I, of course, had to take pictures of flowers!
Finally, I made it back to the Natural Bridge!
There’s Mom and Dad patiently waiting for me.
George Washington helped to survey the Natural Bridge and he climbed up 25 feet to carve his initials into the rock face. The below is as it appears, but I darkened the initials in the next one to see them better.
On my nature hike I found many interesting things.
Including the fact that the waterfall was much further than the kid behind the desk said it was. He said it was about a quarter of a mile from the bridge. It was more like a mile away. Which wasn’t bad at all, but Dad stayed behind and I knew I had lost Mom about half a mile ago, so I was trying to hoof it so they weren’t just sitting around too long waiting for me.
Found Mom on my way back!
We think this is a pitcher plant.
One last look back.
We then went over to the Natural Bridge Caverns. By then, the folks were pretty spent so I did this adventure solo. And it was a good thing too. The guide warned our group ahead of time that this would involve a strenuous climb, lots of slippery steps, air pressure changes and that anyone with a heart condition or an inner ear infection might actually want to sit it out (you would think they would post those warnings BEFORE you bought the tickets). And yes, that tunnel is as steep as it looks!
Our tour guide let us experience cave darkness. Holy schnikies!!
Out of the two, Luray was definitely the more impressive caven experience. But the Natural Bridge was spectacular, the nature hike was beautiful and calming, but I would skip the caverns next time. There were a couple of other caverns sprinkled near and around Shenandoah that I didn’t know were there. That just means I’ll have to go back and do some more exploring ;-)
I got to ride shotgun on the way home and I kept the camera going. I love red barns, cows grazing in green valleys, blue skies and white puffy clouds. It was the perfect day and we were on the perfect highway to combine such loves !
If you look closely, there is a huge house up there!
We stopped at a rest stop to enjoy the view.