You may remember that two weeks ago, to kick off what passes for a spring break in this neck of the woods, we stopped and did some touristy things on the way to the lake. The whole weekend ended up being a mini-vacation, full of things we don't typically do when we're "at home." We filled that Thursday with an all-day excursion at Natural Bridge, Virginia, just a short drive down the road from us.
If you're not familiar with the Natural Bridge area, it's quite an attraction around here. The bridge itself is the neatest part for me. It was formed when a cavern collapsed and left a bit behind. A major thoroughfare crosses the bridge, although you can't really see it from the road; it's been boarded up at the shoulder for safety reasons. I always, no matter how many times I see this, forget how breathtaking it is. It makes you feel tiny. They have an evening performance there, too, with lights and music. James and I did that once way back when we were dating, and it was pretty spectacular.
Andrew's favorite part of the bridge itself was getting dripped on by the water that falls continuously from the bridge. He strategically placed himself right under the drippiest parts.
George Washington carved his initials somewhere up the inside wall of the bridge when he was surveying the land. The initals are still there, which sort of blows my mind.
This little lagoon under the bridge was my favorite part. You can't see it in the picture, but there are some little rapids leading in, and then the water just pools up here. I wanted to swim in it, but I don't think that would have gone over well. I think I liked it because it reminded me of The Blue Lagoon and skinnydipping with Christopher Atkins. Wait, I digress.
The Natural Bridge Caverns is another cool feature. We live in a stretch of Virginia where caverns are plentiful, and there are others that are more impressive than the ones at Natural Bridge, but what I like about the ones at Natural Bridge is that they feel more like what I imagine caving (spelunking?) feels like...because they aren't so grand, and because they point out the entry points that the original discoverers used, it gives it a certain ambiance. It also felt at times like "Holy crap, if there's an earthquake, my ass is toast," but that's just my anxiety in overdrive.
Andrew was a little nervous going in, at first. We had to play the whole "This is going to be just like the Batcave!" card to make him feel better. Actually, he was pretty cautious the whole time, which is a good thing. I like a little healthy fear to exist. These steps made me nervous, because they were sort of wet and slippery, I had sandals on (like a dope), they were steep, and I fall down a lot. I imagined myself having to be hauled out of the depths of hell on a stretcher and dying from humiliation.
Some of the more impressive "straw" stalagtites in the cave. They are hollow tubes.
Andrew wasn't too excited to hear that bats actually live in this cave. He got a little freaked out when the tour guide told him that sometimes there were hundreds hanging out in there. But he was a little nonplussed to see this little rat hanging on the wall. I think he expected fangs and blood dripping from its mouth. It was hibernating, so it wasn't very exciting. (That was fine with me.)
I just happened to read on the website description that the caverns are 34 stories below the ground. If I had known that when I went in, I probably wouldn't have gone at all. Our tour guide for the 45-minute tour was a young guy, probably a high school or college student. He was lucky to make it out alive after turning out the lights on us (yes, he warned us) not once, but twice. There is no dark like the dark of underground, and it was all I could do not to "freak the freak out" as Victoria Justice sings. Yikes.
All in all, a great exploration, lots of exercise and people watching (the place was hopping), and proof that there are things to do around here when we really look for them.