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Cat Air

Alice in Maryland: Day 4 (25/04)

Lori took the day off work and the two of us went to Luray Caverns, about two hours' drive away. We made a proper road trip of it, taking it easy and stopping at a Sheetz for refreshments. We crossed the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers and passed motels which looked unchanged since the 1960s. I saw a church sign that read MAY DROPLETS OF GOD'S MERCY AND LOVE SHOWER YOUR SPIRITUAL GARDEN, which I rather liked, and another that read MOTHER MARY WAS PRO-LIFE - THANK GOD, which I didn't. We were both delighted to spot a genuine tacky roadside attraction, the 'educational prehistoric forest' of Dinosaur Land, and we stopped to photograph the fibreglass monsters.

Distracted by dinos, we took a wrong turning which led us past flowering orchards and drystone walls. We reached the caverns in time to book on the next tour, and soon we were following our guide down into the depths.

The caves were were discovered in 1878 and became a major tourist attraction soon afterwards. It must have been scary stuff in the days when they were lit by candles and visitors exited via a narrow passageway rather than the gift shop. These days, the stalactites and stalagmites are lit by unwavering beams and remain beautiful, creepy and impressive. There are vast floor-to-ceiling columns and strange little lumps; there are random natural shapes which the human eye and brain transform into ghosts and fried eggs. I loved the shallow pool of water so clear and still that the reflection of the stalactites above looked like underwater stalagmites mirroring the ceiling, and a formation called the Fishmarket because the hanging rocks look like fish drying above a stall. The undeniable highlight, however, was the Stalac-Pipe Organ: stalactites rigged and wired to produce a note when struck, so you get an eerie surround-sound performance of a jolly, patriotic tune at the press of a button.

As well as the main attraction, there was a small motor museum and a vast gift shop containing precisely nothing I wanted (though I was tempted by a cuddly possum). We took a moment to admire the view before hitting the road again.

Things I Ate
From Sheetz, a hot dog with many toppings, ordered by touchscreen, and Old Bay Crab-flavoured crisps.

Dinosaur Land
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Comments

Oh, nice fiberglass dino! :) Those roadside attractions sure are a rather curious bit of Americana, but also a rather charming one.

MAY GOD'S MERCY AND LOVE SHOWER YOUR SPIRITUAL GARDEN

*snrk* That's certainly rather... flowery.
Ooh, you've reminded me - just looked up the actual spiritual garden quote in my diary and it's even better! Correcting now...
*looks* Oh, yes, that's even better indeed! ^^
Dinosaur Land has nothing on The Gnome Reserve.

http://www.gnomereserve.co.uk/

Wowzers. I'm not into gnomes myself but there was one in the garden at my hosts' place - perhaps I'll visit The Gnome Reserve and drop them a postcard...
I love Luray. So cool.

I also love Sheetz. :-)
I'd never heard of Sheetz - it was excellent!
Years ago, there was one halfway between my apartment and my job. Dinner! This was before the touchscreen days, so I would check off the toppings I wanted on my nachos (chili, cheese sour cream and jalapenos) or my chicken salad sandwich.
That is exactly what I would have on my nachos too! Well, maybe salsa instead of the chili.
As soon as I read 'we crossed the Potomac', I thought of the Civil War!
When you said 'dinosaur museum', my first though was it would be some kind of creationist thing, which would have a tableau featuring a poorly-executed waxwork Noah refusing a fibreglass dinosaur admittance to the Ark.

Which, embarrassingly, shows up my idiotic pre-conceptions about Americans.
I bet there is one like that. Apparently it's the done thing now to show Old Testament figures riding dinosaurs.

This museum had been around for 50 years, though, so I guess pre-dates the current weird creationist hysteria!
It was inside a fiberglass dinosaur (also gift shop) toward Palm Springs that I received about the only comment so far on my Associated Student Bodies shirt. The guy got the joke. (And still *the* best made t-shirts I've owned! The printing's lasted forever, and not a hint of a bad stitch, even after plenty of wear)

Am I alone in being almost unable to read "Luray" without adding a "B"? ^_^;

And now I'm thinking of a cautionary label "MAY CONTAIN DROPLETS OF GOD'S MERCY".

Okay, now my brain's trying to lead me toward the end of Evangelion. I think I shall apply strategic tequila. (Time off, yay!)
> Am I alone in being almost unable to read "Luray" without adding a "B"?

Actually I kept adding an X in the middle to turn it into one of my favourite Pokemon :)