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Alex Moiseyev photo and video

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Day four - caverns and maze

Day was quite rainy, but we have beaten the weather because our plans included visiting Luray Caverns, which took most of the day.
Caverns themselves are huge - much bigger and more interesting than any other I have seen. They are heavily "improved" to make a commercial tourist attraction, but except walkways and neutral lighting interiors were kept as much intact as possible.

One of the unusual features offered by caverns - stalactite "organ" - musical instrument in which sounds are produced by hitting a stalactite with a small hammer. It is not as large as real pipe organ - it has only 39 notes, but it is enough to make some music, and it sounds great. We really did hear it - there is no live performance for ordinary tourist groups, but there is "MIDI" recording that reproduces one melody, and reproduction is "live" in a sense that instrument is in action - we could even see one of those hammers hitting a stalactite. During special evants (like weddings) they do live performances as well.
Some technical details: admission for 5 people was about $100, there are only guided tours but they depart every 15-20 minutes. It is not physically challenging, although tour finishes with climbing ~70 steps up. Total distance of the tour is about 1 - 1.5 miles,  vertical distance is ~ 200 feet up and down. Temperature inside is 52F, but with high humidity and no wind at all it feels OK and I have to take off sweater after 1/3rd of the way, so do not bother about getting cold.
Beside caverns themselves attraction includes car and carriage museum, garden maze and local history museum. Kids also get a chance to mine some "gemstones" from artificially enriched sand. Plus all four attractions have their own (sigh) gift shops, so it was enough to keep us busy for 4 hours.
On return to the campground we have found it was heavily hit by rain, and our fire ring is filled with water. It took several hours for the soil to absorb water, but we still were able to start the fire later that night. Other than that, rain and wet grounds did not bother us at all (thanks to the camper), but some people who were staying in tents were not that lucky - we have seen a family in a laundry room that had to wash and dry everything including sleeping bags etc. At least campground has plenty of laundry capacity to handle that :)

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