Friday, June 17, 2011

Vacationing in Virginia: Our Photo Album, Part 2

Flashback Friday this week is a continuation from Part 1, found here...

Day 3: 

We wanted to go to Williamsburg today, but it was raining (actually storming) there, so we hung around the Harrisonburg area. Maybe twenty minutes away we found the Grand Caverns in the town of Grottoes. I have such great memories of touring caverns as a kid. They always fascinated me.

I'm telling you. Are the colors in this state not dreamy?

First of all, I loved that it was such a kid-friendly place. The waiting area was highly educational, as one would expect, but they thought of all ages, which I totally appreciated. It kept us busy until our tour time and then again afterward!

Our tour guide was amazing and full of extremely interesting tidbits. The thing about these caverns is that they were discovered back in 1804, not long after the founding of our country. And because of their location, many famous people, founding fathers and such, visited these caverns! In fact, the Victorians (the crazy things) used to have actual BALLS here, complete with food, musicians, gaudy dancing gowns, etc. This was once the main entrance.

Yes! They crawled down INTO a dark hole in the ground, slid down rock face, and clambered about in the dark so that they could have a ball in the damp and freezing cold underground, lit only by candle and torchlight! Like I said, crazy. The women would bring along their fancy gowns and change once inside. I don't know why, but the thought of that just floored me.

In the "Grand Ballroom," there was a spot for the musicians to stand, which actually looked like an orchestra pit! And behind the little boys in this picture, you can see there was a naturally-occurring spot just perfect for the buffet of elaborate food. (Seriously!)

I just totally dig this kind of stuff. (Go ahead, say it: Nerd.)

We learned about limestone...

cave algae...

draperies (when water zigzags evenly down only one side of a stalactite)...

soda straws (tiny hollow "straws" from which water slowly drips and deposits calcite on the straw's tip; the very early beginnings of stalactites)...

and flowstone...

Grand Caverns is also known for its astounding amount of "shields." No one knows for sure how shields are formed, but they are fairly rare. And beautifully amazing. Grand Caverns has hundreds! This one also has draperies coming down from it.

Of course, we saw our fair share of stalagmites as well. But this one takes the cake. This one stands alone down a very long corridor on a steady decline down from the ballroom I spoke of before. People who toured the caverns when it was first discovered named this one "George Washington's Ghost," as he had just died only five years before and because, by candlelight from the end of the corridor, it looked JUST like General Washington standing down there. Freak-ay! But also pretty cool. Here are the kids standing with the great General W. Take note he has a wee friend on his shoulder!


My favorite part was looking in the reflecting pools. Just amazing. I tried my best to get pictures, but I was warned it would be crazy difficult.

This is what the pools look like with flash photography. Ugh.

From this angle, you can sort of see that the pools reflect what's above them.

With CONSIDERABLE adjustments made, I managed these. What's awesome is that because of the vast expanse of the caverns, it seems that instead of seeing a reflection, you are actually looking DOWN into a pit below. Only in real life, the view is crystal clear, making it quite deceptive.

Eh. You'll just have to go see for yourself.

Our guide had us looking for "eggs" (actually beginnings of stalagmites) throughout the tour.

But who knew we'd see the chicken that laid all those eggs?!

Also quite interesting was that soldiers of the Civil War (on BOTH sides...and at the SAME time) would come tour the caverns when on furlough. Many of them left their autographs on the cavern walls! (This one reads "1864"!)

This tour definitely intrigued Noah. He took a ton of nearly pitch-black photos on my iPhone!

We highly recommend this place! Go marvel at God's creativity. I mean, wow.

I can't promise you'll have along a cutie like THIS, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't at least TRY to muddle through it without him. (Of course, I wouldn't.)

And then...because we had been looking at cold stone all day, we just had to wrap things up with...what else, but Cold Stone!? The love of ice cream definitely runs in the family.

Day 4:

This morning we headed to Colonial Williamsburg. It was quite a drive, so we left the littlest man with Aunt Wendy and headed out with only three tag-alongs. With all the driving and then walking we did, it was a good thing.

There was SO. MUCH. to see here. We could not possibly get to it all. Not even close! This area is simply not meant to be seen on a "day trip." However, I loved every minute of it. Especially the chapel. The kids weren't quite as into it as their weird mommy, but at least Noah and Saylor were impressed with THIS name:

Wait. Can you see it? "General George Washington."

Of course, that was only one of many esteemed, famous, important names in our history found here. People who worshipped here. In this church. So long ago.

Did you know Martha Washington was married to Daniel P. Custis before becoming the first First Lady of the United States?? Yup. In fact, she had four children with Daniel before she was widowed and later married good ol' George.

Anyway, this place gave me cold chills.

Notice Gabe is "praying" in Thomas "T.J." Jefferson's pew!  ;)

Then it was on to the College of William and Mary where we toured the Wren Building, the oldest academic building still in use in the United States today.

But not before a quick pic by the way-cool cannon!

And...a wild (squirrel) chase! *sigh* Boys.

Finally we entered.

In the chapel.

This was once the dining hall.

The classroom.

Once a student, always a student.

Saylor wanted her picture made with Queen Anne.

This poor building was burned down three times and then rebuilt using what was salvageable of the old walls. See the holes in the brick here? These are actual bullet holes made during the Civil War!

What a beautiful place to go to college.

The town is just lovely.

People are dressed up and going about "life" as it once was.

Historic buildings are literally everywhere. I could spend days combing this place. (And, y'all, I was not into history growing up!)

The shops, of course, were lots of fun. It seems we enjoyed the hats, especially.

Ha! Noah and Gabe are twinkies!

After a while, though, certain of the younger generation started to wear down on us.

Started to lose patience.

Oh, yeah? I'll show you!!


You gotta watch out for the wrath of a momma scorned for her camera usage.

Right, Daddy?

After a lot of walking, a bite of food, and some general hanging around, we ended our visit with, sadly, no time left for Jamestown.

Hmm...I must have bribed them for these smiles as we walked toward the car for another long drive.

Must have.

Stay tuned for the final installment. Almost done, I promise!


  1. What a wonderful vacation you guys had together! Love all the pictures. And your family is beautiful, Lori. blessings on your day!

  2. Stephanie McKissickJune 30, 2011 at 12:33 PM

    You should hand the camera to your hubby occasionally so YOU are in the pics! We went to Williamsburg on the 4th of July once. It was very patriotic! Fife and Drum parade just before was very cool.


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