Tuesday 10/4/11 - Someone here at the park mentioned Natural Bridges www.NaturalBridgeVA.com being one of the wonders of the world was right down the road....who knew, we had never heard of it but decided we should go and see it as we were this close. Because it has been so cold and rainy we wanted to wait for a nice day and today was it. Finally, the sun came out and made it all the way up to 71 degrees so we packed a lunch and headed south on I-81 for about an hour.
Natural Bridge is an actual town and they have their own post office. Actually, it's an entire complex of hotel, Natural Bridge Caverns that descend 34 stories and they are billed as the deepest caverns on the East coast. They have a zoo, wax museum, a antique toy museum and a large indoor butterfly exhibit. Will really enjoyed this as he had never been inside a live butterfly display. They were all over the walls, ceilings and floor (unfortunately, when they hit the floor they are getting ready to die as they only live 5 to 7 days.) We even saw them being hatched....this was really something to see.
But we came to see "The Bridge" so instead of climbing down the 137 steps we waited for the shuttle bus to take us down. We noted as we were waiting for the shuttle it listed the things to see along the path from The Bridge to Lace Falls (the very end) was 1,300 yards....13 football fields. As we got off the shuttle bus right at a darling cafe you walk along a large creek that runs under the Natural Bridge and all along the path to Lace Falls. As we started down that path I was totally unprepared for what the Bridge looked like....it is over 215 feet tall.....an arch of rock formed with trees growing out the side at the top. You see a fence up at the top and learn that is highway 11 that runs over the bridge into the Natural Bridge parking lot entrance with the walls spanning over 90 feet. It is a magnificent sight and overwhelming when you first see it. I understand at night they have a light show down there which must be something to see......of course, we never stay out after dark! Lucky for us it was just 1 pm and they were having a young man give a talk on the bridge that was very interesting. First off it is privately owned....there have been 18 owners and President Thomas Jefferson was one of them. The first owner paid $4.00 the last owner between 30 & 40 million (now that's inflation!) It was discovered by the Monacan Indians, was a travel stop for Civil War soldiers and was once surveyed by a young George Washington. George even carved his initials into the rock and they have it covered in glass with a white frame around it so you can see where it is (I got a picture of it.)
After the talk, we headed up the trail to see a wonderful display of what a Monacan Indian village looked like, a cave with an underground river that you can hear but they have never been able to determine where the water comes from. Heading for that "last football field" of the 1,300 yards we came upon Lace Waterfall which was a small by comparison of what we have seen, but a beautiful 50 foot drop and about 25 feet wide that flows into the James River. The entire outing was a wonderful photo op with my NEW Canon camera, which I love and is so easy to work (thanks, Nancy!) The trip back down the 13 football fields was so much easier....it was down hill and took no time getting back. We had a wonderful day and very grateful for all these experiences.
Much love to all family and friends