Archive for May, 2010
On our way to Luray Caverns, we accidentally passed the enterance and had to find somewhere to turn around and go back. As Jed pulls into this driveway area, I notice these flowers off to the side of the road. They are some of the most beautiful Irises I have ever seen. I made Jed stop the car, took out his camera, and ran from flower to flower to take pictures of them. Literally running from flower to flower, until I was satisfied that I had gotten all the different types.
When I was a kid, I used to go around to my neighbors’ house and pick their flowers to make these beautiful boquet because they were so beautiful and I couldn’t imagine anyone appreciating them more that I did. I think I have finally found a healthier way to take the flowers, while leaving them for all to enjoy! Now you can enjoy them too!
As someone who now works in Washington, D.C., I’ll never forget the first time I visited the city. It was with a Close Up tour my junior year in high school, and I vividly remember how impressed I was by the city itself. Often times, the real thing pales in comparison to the simulacrum of movies and pictures which can make them seem literally larger than life. It’s the effect of seeing a celebrity in real life and realizing they are just a regular person… I mention this because, for me, Washington, D.C. surpassed my expectations.
Luray Caverns, just outside of Shenandoah National Park was a similar expectation-surpassing experience.
Given it’s proximity to D.C., I’m surprised that I hadn’t heard more about the caverns. D.C. residents, it seems, don’t get out of town very often. I’m always surprised by how few of them have visited places like Monticello or the Gettysburg Battlefield which are right in our back yards. Tiff and I had seen billboards on our trips to the Park, but with no world-of-mouth combined with a personal bias that things on the East Coast – from beaches to mountains to even caves – are poor replicas of their western counterparts accounted for low expectations. But it made the list of Nontraditional Things to Do in Washington D.C., and Ruth picked it for her visit, so off we went! And the Luray Caverns blew me away.
The three of us in front of one of the massive pillars. One of the things that really impressed was how huge these caverns were. The “rooms” started out small, but it seemed like each one was bigger than the last. I would never be a spelunker because I don’t like the idea of being trapped in a very tight place with no light. But I never felt like I was hundreds of feet under the ground.
Oddly enough, I can’t find a map of the cave layout – or even better a 3D model of it. It’d love to see what this thing looks like in space.
One of the reasons for feeling comfortable is that the caverns are well lit. By no means is it bright (I needed a stabilizing monopod to shoot without a flash), but the entire system of caves is wired for electricity. It feels a little bit like waiting in line for Splash Mountain (again with the simulacra), but it’s real!
One of my favorite features was a very shallow indoor pond that – because of how the light was set up – reflected the ceiling stalactites like a mirror. It was absolutely surreal to see, helping to account for why the pictures hardly look real. You have to look hard for the imperfections in the surface of the water for proof that it’s not some Photoshop trickery.
It’s fun to imagine this water being there for tens of thousands of years before man even knew the caves existed (by the way, there’s no natural entrance to the caves, they were discovered when settlers felt cold air coming through a tiny vent in the ground; that cold air was, and still is, used as air conditioning). It would have been totally pure; because the caves had no opening, there was no life – plant or animal – indigenous to the caverns.
It’s also hard to imagine the amount of time that went into these formations. Despite a new interest in preservation, Luray is a profit-based tour group and the impact of man is clearly visible throughout. From worn down formations to a concrete pathway, to electric lights to an organ that actually plays the stalactites and stalagmites, this cave is far from pristine nature.
Yet, it remains absolutely beautiful with a seemingly limitless variety of stone types and formations. There are a lot of pictures in the album; I think they’re all worth viewing.
Here’s the whole gallery. Enjoy!
Once a year, my sister Ruth comes into town for work. She’s in a similar line of work as me – Public Affairs for a Montana Association of Realtors – and they come to D.C. for a week of meetings and a day of lobbying. Again this year, she came down early and we got to spend a few days with her in Columbia.
We had a great dinner at Clyde’s – Ruth had lobster! – and then did brunch at Clyde’s the next day (they have a great happy hour with mimosas and bloody marries).
These are just some of the pictures. I’ll post more later this week from her selection of the Non-Traditional Things to Do in Washington, D.C...
Tiffany took the flower pictures, but she’ll post more on that later!
Mission Control, baby! Lots of cool info on screens and some interesting social team-related materials too (we work together, etc).