Sunday, July 15, 2007

Cave into eons of history..

Dear All:

Been a long time since I posted something here.. Procrastination on my part, and umm.. I guess, pure indolence. We had been to quite a few places this summer, including KSC at Orlando, FL. Would come to write about it when I do :) Something now about what I intended to this time..

A nice sunny summer morning saw us driving to Shenandoah, VA for a nice ride on the Skyline Drive. This place is a ribbon road on the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Shenandoah National Park. This is some 105 miles from tip to tip. Packing a sandwich from Blimpies and honey mustard barbeque chicken wings from KFC, and home made brownies, and gathiya from India, we were all set with our picnic hamper. Starting at Fort Royal, we took the northern most entrance. This place has 75 outlooks on the west and east facing the Shenandoah valley. After a few stops at these points, we simply drove down enjoying the wind in our faces. Whoa! Suddenly, out of nowhere, we had a bear cub dash across the road! Another mile, and we spotted a crowd at the side of the road. Stepping out, we realised that there was a nice big black bear right behind a few trees in the wilderness! I guess, it must have been the mother bear of the cub we encountered. Was so keen to see some wild life, and Oh boy, did this make our day!

There were numerous picnic spots dotting the drive, and we halted at Elkwallow picnicking grounds. After a very serene meal, and a short run, we halted at "Dark Hollow Falls". This had a trail leading to a miniature waterfall. Was a nice soothing experience, with hiking, and rock climbing and log crossing! Took us some 50 miles on this drive, and we were done for the afternoon.

Driving back 20 miles, we caught 211 W, to get us to Luray Caverns which was our next stop. Luray Caverns are known for its mammoth stalactites and stalagmites which were built over centuries, right from the continental drift that formed the continents of America, Europe and Africa. Dripping water deposited calcium carbonate (lime) and iron oxide leading to creation of statactites (suspended conical structures), and the water fallen below evaporated to create stalagmites (conical structures jutting out from the floor). Over millions and millions of years, these grew to meet and form a column. Even today, you find dripping droplets and wet facades, indicating growth - dripstone. Evidently!

What a wonder! I could almost draw a parallel with Grand Canyon trip that we made before. The fact that something so enormous could be created over such a long time, makes one feel so insignificant in the circle of life and universe.

What an awesome experience this was! Till the next time... err.. last time I mean! ;)