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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Why Would We Go To Natural Bridge??

Cynthia and I have been saying for 2 years that we wanted to go to Natural Bridge for the day. We had not been since we were small children. It is less than an hour away. Thousands visit it every week. Finally we took the time to make the short drive July 3 since we were both off work that Friday. We were at a birthday party the night before and invited Debbie, knowing she would add to the fun. She spoke to her sister on the phone from my car and she decided to join us. She lives 20 minutes from The Bridge and had never been there. Literally everyone we spoke to asked us why we were going to Natural in, why on earth would you go there? Well, because. We want to. Want is.

So now we have a foursome, 2 sisters and 2 sisters. Cynthia and I...

and Debbie and Dianah.

Turns out it was a great foursome. Debbie is a hoot.

Dianah is one of the sweetest people you will ever meet.
And Cynthia is always up to something.

So off we go to see the Natural Bridge (of Virginia, not Kentucky).

We had barely started when the laughter began. We laughed all day.

You barely start your walk when you get your first glimpse of The Bridge. You can see all the photos you want, but there is something about being in a place. Experiencing the thing. Seeing it your way.

Natural Bridge is a rock formation that was formed when a cavern collapsed leaving the natural arch that stands 215 feet tall and 90 feet wide. In 1750, George Washington surveyed the site for Lord Fairfax and carved his initials into the rock.

Five years later, Thomas Jefferson purchased 157 acres of land including the Natural Bridge from King George III of England for 20 shillings. It has remained privately owned. Thomas Jefferson built a two room log cabin in the late 1700s; one room was reserved for guests. This was the start of the area becoming a retreat. Jefferson’s heirs sold the retreat in the 1800s and the new owner took the retreat to resort status.

None of us realized there was more to see than The Bridge. The Cedar Creek Nature Trail, about a mile long, provides a wonderful walk that takes you past the Ancient Arbor Vitae Tree, a 1500 year old tree that is 56 inches wide, Saltpeter Cave, The Lost River and Lace Falls. You can also explore the Monacan Indian Village, a reconstruction of life there from 300 years ago.

Arbor Vitae Tree: Before this tree died in 1980, this more than 1500 year old specimen of the Arbor Vitae tree, meaning tree of life, was the largest known in the world. Native Americans used the foliage as a source of vitamin C to prevent scurvy.

Salt Petre Cave: The information provided by the cave says that during the war of 1812 and the Civil War (1861-1865), earth from the Saltpetre Cave was mined for the bird and bat droppings that it contained, to make gunpowder. The earth was saturated with cold water and left in hoppers for a day or two. Once boiled in iron kettles, the mixture of earth and water, called "soak", was filtered through wood ashes, producing a clear solution named nitrate of potassium. Boiled for a second time, the liquid was converted into crystallized salts or "saltpetre", and used to make gunpowder.

Lost River: Legend has it that several unsuccessful attempts were made to locate the underground channels of the Lost River. Colored dyes and flotation devices of all types have failed to determine the source and final destination of this mysterious subterranean river.

You can also explore the Monacan Indian Village, a reconstruction of life there from 300 years ago.

Lace Waterfalls: The information given next to the waterfalls states that the headwaters of Cedar Creek originates from high on the south end of the first ridge of the Alleghany Mountains, 180 miles away. At this point, Cedar Creek plunges 50 feet to the creek bed. After flowing under the Natural Bridge, it continues southeast and enters the James River about a mile away.

You have to have your picture taken in front of the falls. Everybody does. So we did.

And we watched a couple of others...Sears could not have produced a better photo...

We saw other stuff, too...

This couple laughed with us and took our picture in front of the pee place...

Once we finished this wonderful walkabout, we went to the Wax Museum. They said you can take pictures, so Cynthia and I did. Laughter is contagious...especially among the men who were watching us.

Then there was the wax man we all fell in love with....

On the way home, we stopped by Foamhenge. No, I am not making this up. Foamhenge…constructed of foam…is an exact replica of Stonehenge in Great Britain. I'm serious.

So why did we go to Natural Bridge? Because we could...we ain't dead yet. Because the world has so much to offer and we want to see as much as we can. The day turned out far better than we could have imagined. We bonded. We laughed. We left the rest of the world behind for the day and relished in the tranquility this place offered. We talked and laughed with strangers...people we will never see again. We went to Natural Bridge to take a bite of life. Our hunger was satisfied.

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