Saturday, May 23, 2015

Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, A heaven for nature lovers

Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, A heaven for nature lovers

Washington District of Colombia is a city of Government buildings, monuments and museums. But little away there is beautiful State of Virginia, the lover's Kingdom exists. It's a fall season. 100 miles drive to Shenandoah Valley in the heart of Appalachians, was a lasting memory of eternal beauty. Its sky line drive full of scenic views for miles, brilliant leaf colours of fall season on oak trees in Blue Ridge Mountains, streams, Lurey Caverns, Car & Carriage Caravan Museum, etc are unforgettable. The mountains in different leaf colours were looking like a big portrait painted with colours by God. It enters into you and you merge in it. Nature changes its colours in each season and each seasonal cycle in the year is different, bringing new reasons to return to the park. 

We were little late by a week but still could see the different leaf colours, yellow, red, maroon, etc. Many are turning brown. Due to uncertainty of weather this year and warmer Summer, the tree sensors confused little bit and therefore the time cycle for each tree to change colours of leaf had variation of few days. But believe me, you can feel the trees are talking to each other.  Human ears are yet to develop the sense to hear their joys and sorrows.

The visit of Luray Caverns in the park was an exciting experience. It was fun and educational. The separation of the American from continent of Europe and Africa, or the continental drift, occurred about 600 million years ago. A broad shallow depression from Alabama to Newfoundland was formed.  Then, for 400 million years, an ancient sea flooded the area that is now Appalachian Mountains. The formation of Luray Caverns began after the limestone of the Shenandoah Valley was formed as a result of the inland sea. It's a magnificent cave. The second  of my life but most beautiful. To make the tour interesting each formation has been given different names, including fish market, shady dog etc, so that children can also enjoy. The children of age 6-7 asking questions and after listening answer say, "it makes sense", was amazing. The Dream Lake, largest body of water in the caverns, however, its deepest point is not more than 18 to 20 inches deep. This pool of water makes a perfect reflection of the abundant stalactites hanging from the ceiling.  Saracent's Tent, one of the most perfectly formed drapery structures in the world.

Since 1954, visitors have tossed approximately 20 million coins into Luray Caverens Wishing Well, a large subterranean pool of water over six feet deep. Once in a year the coins are removed, cleaned and deposited in a special bank account for future distribution to charitable organisations. It is recognised as probably the world's most productive. The generous visitors have provided more than $400,000 through the Luray Caverens Wishing Well. Isn't it the unique way to promote Charity!

And a switched off for few moments, gave us immense peace of darkness in the caverns. 

And not to forget to see the Great Stalacpipe Organ, the world's largest musical instrument. Stalacties covering 3.5 acres of surrounding caverns produce tones of symphonic quality when electronically tapped by rubber-tipped mallets. Electronic mallets were wired throughout the caverns and connected to large four manual console. When a key is depressed, a tone occurs as the rubber-tipped plunger strikes the stalactite tuned to connect pitch. This most unique, one of a kind instrument was invented in 1954 by Mr. Leland W. Sprinkle of Springfield, Virginia, a mathematician and electronic scientist.

The tour to Luray Caverns was pleasant, peaceful and educative. 

Adjutant to Coffee Shop in the entrance there is Historic Car and Carriage Caravan is a Museum. It is tracing the history of America in an exhibit featuring over 140 items relating to transportation including cares, carriages, coaches and costumes dating to 1725. Seeing well maintained old cars in big numbers was a joy for us. A prize in the collection of authentically restored vehicles is the 1892 Benz, one of the oldest cars in the country still in operating condition.  Other highlights include a Conestoga Wagon, a 1908 Baker Electric, a 1913 Stanley Steamer, Rudolph Valentino's 1925 Rolls Royce and many more. 

After a break of 6 hours, coffee and French fries with little shopping of souvenirs filled the trip with further happiness. 

We did see the Luray Singing Tower situated in a park opposite Luray Caverns from a distance but missed seeing its 47 bells and their musical sounds. 

In 1936, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt dedicated Shenandoah National Park to "this and to succeeding generations for the recreation and the recreation" they would find here. Are you keen to recreate? 

Plan a trip in October if you wish to see the colours of Nature of Fall Season or in Summer if wishing to enjoy Spring. 

It was a memorable experience. Great Sunday in America!

3 November 2014, WDC. 

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