On Monday, we headed out to Luray Caverns, billed as "the largest and most popular caverns in Eastern America." The parking lot was chock-full of RVs, and the line to get in included numerous wearers of fanny packs, many of whom appeared daunted at reports that the tour required a 1.25 mile walk, and included about 70 stairs.
We saw several interesting formations. This one is called "Pluto's Ghost" because it looked as if it was following the original cave discoverers as they explored the cave by candlelight in the 19th century.
I found these to be rather amusing.
We also saw and heard The Great Stalacpipe Organ, which is wired to various individual rocks that create the proper notes when played. Kind of like the different levels of water in the glass making different notes. Reportedly this took Mr. Leland Sprinkle (who coincidentally hailed from our town of Springfield, VA) three years to put together in the 1950s. It automatically plays a Christian hymn for each tour group.
After an hour below ground, we emerged and headed over to the "Car and Carriage Museum" (admission free with Luray Cavern ticket). Saw some old cars and bought a lemonade.
Then we checked out the Luray Garden Maze. The goal in the maze is not only to find your way to the exit, but also to find four clues that reveal the maze theme. We found it a bit odd that the music being piped into the maze included the theme songs from "What's Happenin' " and "The Rockford Files." But we pressed on. We found clue #1 with no problem. It was the letter "A." Behind the clue was a small poster of the movie "Labrynth." We moved on. Then, we hit a dry spell, ultimately finding clue #3: "ing." A small obscure movie poster sat at that clue. We briefly debated going back, but instead I stopped a kid we'd seen run past us about four times already, and I asked him what #2 was. "Maze!" he said and dashed off. We began to see the same people again and again, and a small community began to develop. We tossed tips to each other: "dead end." We stood around in groups reading the cheat boards that were posted every so often. We collectively wondered if we'd already been to this part of the maze.
Below, Steve peeks around a corner.
We eventually found clue #4: "Movies." So the theme was: A Maze ing Movies. Steve and I stood there, unimpressed. We discussed the fact that the music we'd heard throughout was clearly a CD of TV themes, and the ratty old movie posters seemed so random. The theme maintenance in this maze was half-hearted at best. We eventually moved on, finally finding the exit.
Next, we drove over the next mountain range to New Market, VA, to see the New Market Battlefield, upon which 250+ Virginia Military Institute cadets fought in the Civil War. We arrived back at the cabin around 5:30 p.m. We stood on the front porch as Steve began checking his pockets. He checked again.
No key. We started checking all the windows and doors, which unfortunately were locked. Wendy was inside, and she trotted up to one of the sliding glass doors, chew treat in her mouth. She wagged her tail at us, waiting expectantly.
For a brief moment, the crazy part of my brain thought: "How can we get Wendy to unlock the door for us?" My sane self answered quickly: "There's no way."
We went around back to the bedroom deck. Steve tried to climb up on it, but it started looking very fragile and we switched spots. Steve boosted me up, and I then realized that the railing was not nailed to the house where I was standing. It was nailed only to another deck railing. My position was precarious, at best. I edged around the outside of the deck to the opposite side, which was in fact attached securely to the house, and I climbed over. Of course, the bedroom door was locked as well.
But there was one last hope. About eight inches from the deck, over a 10-foot drop, was the bathroom window, which we'd left open. However, it only opened halfway, and the opening was parallel to and below the deck railing. This didn't leave much space for me to maneuver.
As Steve went back around the front of the cabin to consider other options, I removed the screen and climbed back over the railing. There was no way I was calling the cabin owner to tell her we'd lost the key. I stepped one foot in the window and lowered myself in, sliding slowly and gracelessly down into the bathtub.
I walked to the front door and unlocked it, and then summoned Steve, who was still looking for another way in. I fed Wendy, and all was well.
My only injury was bruising around my bellybutton. I think I propped myself against the window before sliding in.
That night, we perused the local newspaper, and decided to check out the cloggers at the Shenandoah National Park's Skyline Lodge on Tuesday night. It was not what we expected. Story to come.