Colourful Fall 2012

Driving about 1900 miles to spend an extended weekend with a bunch of old friends, soaking in the scenic beauty along the Blue Ridge Parkway, hand-feeding camels and lamas (among others!) and of course, the majestic Luray Caverns – Fall 2012 couldn’t have been better!

Virginia trip map

As with most awesome plans, this one wasn’t planned too much in advance. Once the logistics were in place, Amar and I left home on a Friday and headed to Columbus, OH. He would stay there for the weekend with his friend while I continued ahead. After a nice homely dinner (thanks to Amar’s sweet friend for the elaborate ‘bhaaji-poli-varan-bhaat’ menu) I took off for Cleveland, OH. After crashing at Trupti’s place for the night, she and I started early morning for Blacksburg, VA where we would meet up with the rest of the gang. Mohit, Ravi and their friend from Raleigh had already reached Kshitija’s place in Blacksburg that morning, which was to be our meeting point and base for two days. Saloni was in Blacksburg itself and joined us there.

The gang

The gang

Now, anyone who knows Kshitija for some time will vouch what a warm person she is and being the senior most among us in college, she could just as easily pull our leg and yell at us – all with affection though! 🙂 She and Mandar (her hubby) were great hosts and we were all welcomed with a delicious Italian lunch, with Eggplant Parmesan, et al. Simply delicious.

After that hearty lunch, all of us headed out to Blue Ridge Parkway, which is basically a long, hilly and winding stretch of road with dense vegetation on either side. It is famous for its scenic beauty, specially during the fall months when the leaves display vivid colours.

Fall break - Virginia (02)

Fall break - Virginia (05)

Fall break - Virginia (16)

Once it got dark, we headed back to Kshitija’s place, only after grabbing dinner at a local grill restaurant. Needless to say, we were the loudest group there, having a gala time reliving old college stories and catching up on new gossip. Mohit and Ravi went back to Raleigh the same night.

The plan for the next day was for Trupti, Saloni and me to check out the Virginia Safari Park and later the Luray Caverns. Although we had originally planned to visit just Luray Caverns, the safari was something Kshitija and Mandar recommended we not miss. And it was definitely worth it!

Fall break - Virginia (42)

The safari is basically a drive-through in a big protected area with most of the animals roaming around freely. These guys are so used to human presence that they in fact scramble to get to the car to feast on the food pellets which can be bought at the gate.

Fall break - Virginia (17)

Fall break - Virginia (25)

Fall break - Virginia (23)

Of course, some of them we didn’t dare go close to, like the Bison whose weight was probably close to the weight of the car. In any case, we were in no mood to find out who was stronger!

Fall break - Virginia (37)

Then there were these lovely antelopes and their kids who were initially shying away a little but eventually came closer to lick the ground clean of any food pellets we threw out. They would have probably poked their heads in the car too but there was no way I wanted those big horns inside my car!

Fall break - Virginia (35)

In all it was an amazing new experience for all of us and I would highly recommend this safari to anyone visiting the area.

After the safari we were on our way to the famous Luray Caverns – an intricate cave system with beautiful stalactites and stalagmites that had formed over a very long period of time. Words simply don’t do justice to describe this phenomenal place…

Yes, there is a lake in between and the bottom half is indeed just a reflection!

Yes, there is a lake in between and the bottom half is indeed just a reflection!

Fall break - Virginia (51)

Fall break - Virginia (52)

Fall break - Virginia (55)

Obviously the lighting is artificial but extreme care has been taken to preserve the natural feel of the area and the lighting only enhances these amazing formations. Again, a must-visit place for anyone in this area (in fact, worth going there specifically for the caverns too).

In all the weekend was totally fun and a much needed break with old pals.

Click here to view the entire album.

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