Friday, May 7, 2010

Natural Bridge, VA

We headed south (about a 4 hour drive) to Natural Bridge, VA for a long weekend. Our plans included the Natural Bridge Zoo, Safari Park, Natural Bridge (hiking) and a surprise find - Boxerwood Gardens.

Anything involving animals is a big hit with Nick & Isabel so they were geared up for this mini-vacation. The highlight though was our sleeping arrangements. We were staying in a renovated caboose.

We headed out super early Friday so we would arrive in VA with plenty of time to explore. Our first stop was the NB Zoo - a walk through zoo where you can get up close and personal with lots of animals. And we did!

After that we headed up the road a few miles to the Safari Park ( which combines walking and riding. You begin the trip by riding through the animal park in your car and feeding the animals out of buckets. The idea is to hold the bucket out your window and the animals kindly take a bite, say thank you and walk away. Not the way it always works. The zebras, especially, can be a little greedy. We had visited this park about 2 years ago and Isabel was so frightened she stayed in the back of the van. This go round she really got into it.
Finally we headed for the Caboose. This was definitely a neat place to stay ( The kids loved it. They were going to stay in the cupola but it was a little warm and the bees liked it as well so they camped on the floor.

We met Jingles - the neighbor's dog - who was a sweetheart. On Saturday we headed to the Natural Bridge. First we treked through the wax museum

and then we headed down the 139 (or so) steps to the Natural Bridge.
Along the trail there's a Monacan Indian Village and then the best part - the river. It was quite warm so the kids started out with feet in the river...

then legs...then bodies!After they got out we caught sight of some friends swimming nearby...We even got a science lesson out of the trip: frog eggs, pools of tadpoles and, of course, frogs!
Now, remember the 139+ steps down - you need to go back up to get to the car. Or - you can hop in the shuttle! Isabel wanted to walk so Santi and her headed up the stairs. Nick wanted to ride so I was kind enough to volunteer to ride with him. And wouldn't you know - Isabel and Santi beat us up to the top.

Saturday evening the kids got to experience their first drive in movie. We saw "How to Train Your Dragon." The place was packed but for less than $20 we got in and had snacks! What a bargain (

Sunday we took a trip down into the Natural Bridge Caverns. A cool place to see. At one point the leader (Tim) offered to turn off the lights so we could get a feel for how dark it is. Nick decided to take a photo:

Then on a recommendation we went to check out Boxerwood Gardens. What a fabulous find.

This place is the ultimate outdoor playground - with almost everything made from nature (there are a few manmade pieces like the sink and bathtub).

Isabel's mud-fins! Seats for resting...Water pump for getting wet and making mud...We were here for hours and by the time we left the kids were wet, dirty and smiling!
Monday we headed home via the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive.

A great trip - one we definitely recommend and would definitely do again!

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