Category Archives: National Parks

Luray Caverns (Luray, VA)

WHEN:

June 5, 2011

CONDITIONS:

87 degrees and partly cloudy but humid

ABOUT THE TRIP:

“Luray, Luray, Luray, Luray, if we go to Luray, will you stop saying Luray?!” says Dave.  “Yes, I will!”  And so that is how we ended up going to Luray.  It wasn’t as early of a start as we had liked because we were gulping down margaritas and were having a bit too much fun at Dave’s graduation party last night.  Congrats again Dave on your MBA!  So we headed out at around 9:30 am.  We arrived at Luray around 11:30 am.  I have to reserve a moment of silence for the poor little squirrel who Dave desperately tried to avert.  The beeping horn and the split second decision as to which way to turn the wheel just wasn’t enough to prevent well…you know.  RIP Ricky the Squirrel.

We thought for sure that we were going to end up in a long line, but we purchased our tickets and stood in line for less than 5 minutes!  Our tour group consisted of roughly 20 people.  We hung out in the back of the group in order to properly document the event.  We gave up hearing the tour guides spiel in order to show you what we saw!!  You’re welcome!  The cave was spectacular.  Can we say, Stalagmites, Stalactites, and Helictites oh my!  This place is a must-see and a true geological gem.  Our tour was about an hour long and afterwards we headed over to the Car and Carriage Museum as well as the Frontier Museum across the street.  The car museum was cool.  It’s a fast walk-through and they have a rare and substantial collection.  The Frontier Museum nicely displayed and housed the typical furniture/clothing/tools/weapons of the 19th and early 20th century.  Other than the museum, there’s not much else to see.  There are the obligatory parent tourist traps, i.e the $7.00/person Garden Maze and the $7.00 “mine for gold and gems” at the museum.  I would have liked to walk the maze, but c’mon–$7.00?

WHAT WE BROUGHT:

[listcheck]

  • Canon Powershot SD1000
  • 1 Camelbak without the bladder
  • 2 PBJs
  • a bag of almonds
  • Water
  • Sunglasses
  • Fleeces (the caves are a constant 54 degrees)
  • Sneakers
  • Comfy clothes

[/listcheck]

HIGHLIGHTS:

Obviously the cave!  Dream Lake was definitely our favorite site on the tour.  The water is perfectly still which creates a mirrored image of the stalactites above.  The bellies of the cave (the really large and open parts) were also spectacular sites.

[info] Bring a light jacket, sweater, or hoodie as it gets chilly in the cave! [/info]

LIVE AND LEARN:

Had we left earlier, we may have tried to squeeze a hike in as we were in Shenandoah, but other than that, we have no regrets!


SHOW ME THE DOUGH:

Fuel cost: 180 miles round trip = $24.00
Tickets X 2= $34.50.  (HINT: We used our Giant card and got one of our tickets for half off!)
1 magnet= $3.14

GRAND TOTAL: $61.14


PHOTOS:

Gettysburg

Gettysburg

About the Trip

Originally, Dave and I had plans to go to the beach.  Then we had plans to go hiking, then mountain biking, and then we finally settled on a day trip to Gettysburg.  It is approximately 1.5 hours away from the DC area.  Upon arrival, we entered the Visitor’s Center via a walking path that was surrounded by beautiful wildflowers and berry trees.  We opted to take the auto tour so that we could go at our own pace and do our own thing, so we purchased the “Travel Brains-Gettysburg Field Guide.   The guide came with 2 CDs and a guidebook, which was great for me because I am very visual and it provided excellent sketches of the battlefield formations that occurred during July 1st through July 3, 1863.  We followed the CD, which took us to 17 different stops, which included—McPherson Ridge, Oak Hill, Oak Ridge, North Carolina Memorial, Virginia Memorial, Pitzer Woods, Warfield Ridge, Little Round Top, Devil’s Den, The Wheatfield, The Peach Orchard, Trostle Farm, Father Corby, Pennsylvania Memorial, Spangler’s Spring, Culp’s Hill, and High Water Mark.  At the end of our tour, we parked at the old Visitor’s Center and walked through the Gettysburg National Cemetery, which is where Abraham Lincoln made his famous “Gettysburg Address.”

It took us approximately 5 hours to complete the tour and this is because we stopped at every single stop to take pictures and tour the area.  On our way home, we splurged and stopped at a highly recommended BBQ joint, “Chubby’s BBQ,” which is located in Emmitsburg, MD.

WHAT WE BROUGHT

[listcheck]

  • Camelbak (3 liters)
  • CyberShot SD 1000
  • Credit card
  • Cell phones
  • Comfy clothes
  • Sneakers
  • Sunscreen
  • Sandwiches and snacks
  • GPS
  • Sunglasses

[/listcheck]

HIGHLIGHTS

Throughout the tour, there were a handful of observation towers and the views of the battlefield from above the trees were extraordinary.  After descending from the Observation Tower right outside of Pitzer Woods, we saw a truck drive by that was carrying an army of soldiers!  We have to say that it was hilarious to see Civil War soldiers hitching a ride in a pick up truck.  We drove behind them and pulled over and watched them get out of the truck.  I stuck my head out of the car and asked them where they were going.  They told me that they were hiking to Little Round Top and asked if I wanted to go with them.  I asked the leader of the group if I could take a picture of him.  As I was fumbling with the camera, he told me to hurry up because if he had to stand still any longer he was going to charge me $5.00 for his photograph.  I had a good laugh, then snapped a charming picture of him as seen below.

Upon our arrival to Spangler’s Spring, we were surprised to see a reenactment camp set up!  These particular reenactors were a part of the 21st Georgia Volunteer Infantry and are invited to travel to historical parks to educate the public about life during the Civil War.

I have to give props to all of the reenactors.  They do a superb job of bringing history to life.  As you gaze out at the barren open field, the reenactors really help you to envision the events that unfolded 147 years ago.

LIVE AND LEARN

Next time, we are going to visit the Visitor’s Center and see the Cyclorama and the museum, AND we want to hike the trail that runs through the park.  AND we are going to bring more water because towards the end of our trip, we had depleted our water supply…and that was 3 liters of water!
[info]When traveling in the summer, be sure to bring extra water![/info]


Show me the dough

“Travel Brains-Gettysburg Field Guide = $26.49 (tax included)

Chubby’s BBQ= $36.00

Fuel Cost:  Round trip of 164 miles = $16.40

GRAND TOTAL: $78.89


PHOTOS:

Wolf Trap National Park

Wolf Trap National Park

[confirmation]Experience level: 1/5 [/confirmation]

About the Trip

We did not feel like making the drive to the Delaware beaches and after Dave rejected all of my weekend ideas, I left Saturday’s plans in his hands.  Well, he came up with a wonderful idea of going to Wolf Trap National Park, which is located in Vienna, VA.  In the 3 years that we have lived here, we had never been before.  Shame on us!  It just so happened that Mamma Mia was playing too!  We went to the 2:00 pm matinee show and bought our tickets right at the box office.  We scored awesome seats, front center orchestra row O.  Not bad for last minute!  We arrived to the park approximately one hour before the show, so we had some downtime to hang out and do some exploring (although there wasn’t much to explore initially because we were confined to our little holding area.)

We loved when they rang the cowbells to alert us that it was time to take our seats.  It was quite reminiscent of herding cows back to the ranch for feeding time.  The show was spectacular.  We really enjoyed ourselves.  Sorry, but we obviously could not take any pictures of the show.

After the show, we walked down onto the trails that lead to the other outdoor theatres.   We wanted to kill some time and wait for all of the parking lots to clear out.  While walking on one of the trails, we came across some fallen trees and in trying to maneuver our way around them, we started seeing a lot of deer poo.  I started worrying about deer ticks and then Dave told me to look up and there standing before us was the most beautiful doe ever.  I know that we see deer from far away or on the side of the road, but seeing one up close is an entirely different experience.  They are the most peaceful creatures ever.  She let me get some pictures of her.  It was so hard though because she kept moving around, I didn’t have a good camera, and it was dark in the woods.  I started following her a little ways and she led me right to her two babies.  I crouched down and watched them gallivant about….it was an amazing sight to see.  Dave missed the whole thing!  He was standing on the trail waiting for me to come back.  Upon my return, we went back out to the main path and followed it around to the other side of the trail in hopes that we would run into the deer again….and we did.  Dave also spotted a fox from afar as well.  The pictures are kind of blurry since we were so far away, but it’ll give you a gist of what we saw.

[info]Don’t be afraid to explore the neighboring surroundings![/info]

WHAT WE BROUGHT

A thermos of water, Cannon SD 1000, snacks, and our wallets.

HIGHLIGHTS

Running into the family of deer and the lone fox, watching an amazing show, and visiting this wonderful park that is only 20 minutes away from our house.

LIVE AND LEARN

Aisle P is probably the best row to sit in.  There is a lot of leg room and it’s the first row that is elevated so you don’t have to worry about any obstructions AKA very tall people sitting in front of you.  We got to see how people set up shop on the lawn, so should we ever buy lawn seats for a show, we’ll know what to bring.


Show me the dough

2 tickets for matinee show=$55.00

GRAND TOTAL: $110.00


PHOTOS: