In the morning, we slept as long as we wanted (10AM) since we could cook our breakfast any time and take it easy until we were ready to go to Luray Caverns. This was really a wonderful thing. Not only were we not under any rush or timeline, but we could eat in stages, starting with some delicious organic coffee. We then started preparing breakfast which consisted of oat bran muffins (as easy as dumping the dry ingredients with oil and an egg in to a mixing bowl, mixing, and distributing in to the muffin tin nearby), elderberry jam, blackberries, bacon, grape juice (which was surprisingly delicious) and eggs from the farm. It turned out great, except for overcooking the bacon slightly to burn off the fat.
After breakfast we set out for Luray Caverns, the highest rated caverns in the Shenandoah’s. It took us an hour to get there and the scenery was splendid. Moreover, being a Tuesday, there was very little traffic and no crowds at the caverns (and very few children). The entry fee was steep ($28/per person), but we were also paying for natural air conditioning for 2 hours which helped ease the pain. Luray Caverns was discovered in the 19th century and was approximately 450 million years old. Stalagmites (from the floor) and stalactites (from the ceiling) grew at a rate of 1 square inch every 100 years or so, allowing scientists to easily date various parts of the cave. Our guide of Luray Caverns, a young lady named Fiona, was delightful, and she not only knew her stuff, but really cared about preservation. She explained various features of the cave including Pluto’s ghost, a central and large formation in the cave, the Skeleton’s Gorge, the redwood tree (former waterfall), translucent draperies, oysters on the half-shell, and the somewhat gimmicky stalagpipe organ (exactly what it sounds like) that was wired to play music. It was a nice tour and worth a visit if you’re in the neighborhood on a quiet day.
We returned to Brightwood a different way than we came, this time going through the main street on Luray and retracing our way through Sperrysville, a really cute one-horse town that reminded us of La Veta, Colorado, with some art galleries, nice restaurants, and B&Bs until finding a slightly more north route back to farm. We returned around 4PM, just enough time to put in a two-hour wander/hike through the 100 acre farm, which was mostly forest. Bushwhacking and all with a walking stick cum spider web repellant, we forded the river and ultimately found a logger’s trail on the other side that we took to the far edge of the farm up against the larger Robinson river. We sang Disney and La La Land songs the whole way to keep our spirits up through the sometimes dense and unmanageable thicket and tried to avoid poison ivy and ticks, which we ultimately did.
Upon reaching the cabin on another route back over the stream and up the scrambling up the hill, it started to rain. We marveled at our timing and enjoyed this view for a bit, right outside the cabin.
We showered hard to get nature off of us and then read and re-packed our suitcases a bit in preparation for our final day (there were some delicate items we decided to take back from the rental property) before setting out to Ruckersville for Mexican food at El Agave. It was mediocre. The highlight was the vegetarian fajitas, and me discovering that tequila and soda is a tasty drink. Oh, and we also fell in love with the salsa decanter they brought us with the chips (we always have the problem of ratio – too many chips to salsa…and this solved the problem!). Our final two nights we did not do an amazing job with food, but did manage to still have a really good time. We thought there was probably a missed opportunity at the farm to sell a cook-your-own-dinner box – unfortunately, the Vidals, who were in the midst of selling the property and downsizing to a smaller form down the way, would probably have to leave that idea to the next owner.
The rest of the evening we again spent reading (I finally finished my Ray Dalio book) and puzzling (we found a stash of games under one of the couches), and turned in a bit early, around 11PM, in anticipation of Brendan getting up early to help Susan feed the animals.