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Friday, April 20, 2012

Day Trip

Its great living in an area where there is so much to do. There are museums, parks, farms, etc., We have visited and seen many of them with our kids. Most of them we have visited places several times like Frying Pan Park or Udvar Hazy Museum. Last weekend my husband surprised me with planning his own trip (I usually plan all outings) and it was a place neither of us have ever been before.  I love exploring new places so I was pumped to see what he had in store for us. I also LOVED the fact that I didn't have to plan a darn thing.

Our trip ended up being going to the Natural Bridge in central Virginia. It is a decent drive, but there were so many activities we could do it would certainly be worth it. Once we arrived we had the option of taking 100+ stairs or taking the shuttle down to the bottom of the hill. I looked at my four year old, the double stroller and the baby and knew the shuttle would be absolutely necessary so we could save as much energy as possible for the day that lay ahead.  We arrived after a two minute ride, set up the stroller and I was absolutely amazed by what I saw in front of me.  I have never seen it before and viewing images of it just doesn't do it justice. The bridge was peaceful, beautiful and just awe inspiring. There were also several snakes swimming up and down the stream or resting on the rocks. Thankfully there was a nice wall separating us and them. Further down the path we visited an Indian village and  a cave that my son absolutely loved. I told him that we had to be careful about the trolls living underneath the bridge that lead to the various landmarks on the Natural Bridge map, which made his eyes full of wonder. I love his imagination and told him that if he sang a song then the troll would let us cross. My four year old belted out a tune, holding his hands in the air like a preaching gospel singer and filled the woods with lyrics from the Peter Pan play. The troll fib proved to be a good idea because you just can't ask for cuteness like that.  My son was a tad disappointed that we couldn't fully explore the cave, but thankfully my husband bought a package that included a cavern tour.

After the beauty of the Natural Bridge, we headed off to the cavern which was very close by. He loved every bit of it. There was no fear or complaint about the steps, the slippery parts of the path or the cold. He did make a few comments that we probably should have brought jackets, but after coming in from the warm Spring air it really was a welcome relief. The tour guide thankfully was patient and answered all of my sons questions about why this or why that about the cavern. He really did have some interesting questions! Although if you have a four year old we know the why stage. It can be a bit tedious at times because the questions never seem to end. I try answering all of them until they get to a silly state and my son is knowingly teasing me.

After our cavern tour, we headed off to finish our last place for the day. We went to the Safari park where you can drive your car through a park, look and feed (if you buy a bucket of food) animals. You can feed any animal with exception of some long horn cattle, Zebras and bison. I let the four year ride in my lap, so I could help him with the feed and give him the most optimal view of the animals. The animals know the drill and certainly are ready for you when you go into the park. We laughed as we fed the llamas but I absolutely refused to feed larger animals. This is just a personal preference as I think some of them are a bit aggressive for me and for my four year old to handle. My husband did not share the same preferences and fed some emu's and a ostrich. It was all fine and good until he was feeding two emus at a time and one emu got angry with the other emu and they started a pecking war at each other. That was quite amusing. My husband decided to stay out of that fight and rolled up the window. One emu noticed this and wanted his food and started pecking at the window. The memory of watching this enormous bird pecking at our window still cracks me up.  We headed further into the park and fed more animals. My son, husband and I never laughed so hard. The animals were cute and the thrill of it was just fun. At another point in the road my husband decided to feed a female moose. This animal was too large for me, so the windows went up. The moose was enjoying its feed until another female moose saw this moose indulging on food that she potentially could have so she charged the moose. The other moose did not want to back down so they started hoofing each other and kicked the car with their hoof. Note, don't bring your most prized car to the park. The hoofing was one thing, but if you roll up your window you do accumulate animal sludge from their nose/mouth on your windows and car. I would also advise to be careful of the damn camels. One car in front of us was feeding a camel and the camel stole the bucket right out of the lady's hand and dumped it into its mouth. The passenger of the car put its fist up and drove on. It was pretty hilarious. However, if you ever drive up to a camel (at least the ones that they had) there was NO way in heck I was opening my window to something thats head is as big as the car window itself. I also know these things spit. Llamas do too but they aren't quite as impressive on their height or body mass. I don't know if anyone has ever got spit on but I'd rather not take the risk.  However we ended the Safari Park laughing until our stomachs hurt. I can't recommend visiting this place enough. My husband will say his favorite part of the whole trip is watching Zaichik and I laugh hysterically. I think it made his day.

The area had plenty of other activities and places to see as well. There was a wax museum, a dinosaur park and some haunted something or other. The drive is far from Northern Virginia but you can never run out of things to do.  I recommend visiting this area to anyone regardless if you have kids, older kids or very young kids. My one year old even got something out of it as she loved seeing the animals and didn't mind snoozing on the stroller ride through the Natural Bridge site. The best part about the Natural Bridge/Cavern tour is any kid four and under is free!  If you need an idea of where to go during a stay-cation or just a day trip on the weekend, this is a must see.

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