Spelunking?

I last left you after two days of exploring the Washington DC area.  After that post, we toured the International Spy Museum, but they don’t allow photography in the museum.  You will just have to go there yourself.

We headed back to the house – exhausted, hot (the heat there seems to hover in the air and there is no breeze so the whole city is like a sauna), and sore, and relaxed for a while.  Odin and our host went out for a drive in his nice Mercedes something or other and Ellette and I cooled off and played with the birds.  Kitty, the Cockatoo (I realize I said cockateel the other day – I was incorrect), would not leave me alone and did not like the fact that I was on the computer and not paying attention to him.

After the boys returned, Bryan offered us a late night tour of the National Mall.

The cooler night air was refreshing, but we were all tired.  Poor Ellette was carried for most of the trip.

Despite being near midnight, there were still a number of people out visiting the monuments.  I am relieved we did not go during the day, because heat and crowds is not my thing.  The press of bodies and noise would have made me feel claustrophobic and irritable.

This was as far as we got.  Ellette, at this point, was practically sleeping like a monkey, clinging to Odin’s back as we made our way back to the car.  The driver was nearly falling asleep standing up, and my muscles were beginning to retaliate.

Sunday dawned as our last day of vacation, and there were several ideas of what we could do.  Ellette really wanted to go swimming, but the nearest swimming area was 3 hours in the opposite direction of home.  Odin tried to call his aunt in West Virginia, since it was near some swimming holes and sort of on our way home.  We couldn’t reach her, however.  The idea of finding something relatively along our route back to Chicago was appealing, however, and Odin kept looking for places while I perused tourist guides for the area.

That’s when we found Luray Caverns.  Words cannot even begin to describe what it was like.  When we arrived, there was a large tourist center set up, with a labyrinth and a museum next door.  The parking lot was packed.  We looked at each other with concerned glances – what did we get ourselves into?  How many people were here?  Was it worth it?

It was.  Hands down – best experience ever.

This was an 18″ pool that was reflecting the ceiling.  Simply breathtaking.

Stalactites form crystals on the inside which resonate when tapped.  This organ was hooked up to a series of wires and hammers that played a song on the stalactites.  Someone had gone through and methodically located over 50 tones in order to set this up.  It was pretty cool.  Unfortunately, there were a few people in our group who were disrespectful and talked through the whole thing (I don’t know if you know this about caverns – but they echo.  A lot).

We decided to try out the labyrinth, which was also a lot of fun.  There were four goals we had to find (spelled out ‘Discover a Secret Garden’ – I know, original), which sent us all over trying to find our way.  There was a fountain in the center that we had the hardest time locating.

Eventually we found it.

We made it back to Chicago on Monday and spent the evening relaxing and bathing.  The rest of my week is going to be taken over by prep work for the Custer Street Festival this weekend.  If you are in the area, you should come check it out.  It’s a pretty awesome festival.  And this year, my friend Rebecca with The Complete Fool has a booth, almost right next to mine.  It’s going to be fantastic.

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