Happy Independence Day and a Visit to Luray Caverns!

When I first arrived in Washington DC, I was a month late for Independence Day. Although this day is the celebration of America’s independence from the British Empire, I always wanted to see the amazing fireworks at the Lincoln Memorial. I was lucky enough a year later to experience this on July 4th 2014. Albert and I had only arrived back in DC at 3am on July 4th (feeling the jet lag and everything!) so we didn’t head out to the National Mall until the afternoon. Near to the Smithsonian museums, a festival of countries was occurring with lots of food and drinks to try. IMG_4102 IMG_4103 We also found many people getting into the true American spirit: IMG_4106 Walking up through the National Mall there were thousands of people dressed in Red, White and Blue heading towards the Washington monument and Lincoln Memorial. By the time we arrived there, many people had already set up their blankets and were getting the best spot. IMG_4120 IMG_4121 Seated next to us were a group of International students from across the world who were travelling the US. They had definitely picked the perfect weekend for DC! Albert was in shock however that he was spending the most American day of the year surrounded by “foreigners!”
By the time the sun started to set, the National mall was packed. We had been given a free Funnel cake, and had seen a guy propose to his girlfriend just beside where we were sitting, which produced a lot of applause! IMG_4142 IMG_4144 IMG_4146 The fireworks were set to start around 8:30 when the sun had completely set, and although I stated in an earlier blog post that the Disney fire works were the best i’d ever seen, July 4th was a big competitor! Putting on our glow sticks, we were ready! IMG_4172 IMG_4173
IMG_4187 IMG_4183 IMG_4224 IMG_4282 IMG_4283 IMG_4306 The firework display lasted for about 30 minutes (which killed the battery on Albert’s phone who decided to record it all) and was stunning. With music playing in the background, and a lot of ooohs and ahhs, this was an amazing event.
Walking back through DC to get home, I thought how lucky I was to be in such an amazing city for this day. All across the country people were celebrating, but I was pretty happy I was in DC! IMG_4317

Luray Caverns:
Although we were feeling the jet lag after 4th July (California has a 3 hour time difference) I only had a few weekends left until I left DC, so Albert and I headed to Virginia to see the Luray Caverns.
Discovered in 1878, Campbell, three other men, and his 13-year-old nephew, Quint, were exploring the area, looking for a cave. With the help of local photographer Benton Stebbins, the men dug away loose rocks for four hours before, candle in hand, Campbell and Quint slid down a rope into the cave. They could scarcely believe what they saw. The party had discovered the largest series of caverns in the East, an eerie world of stalactites and stalagmites seen by the light of a candle.

Heading into the caves, I was reminded of a trip to Lanzerote when we visited a volcano that had some incredible views. And this was just like it: IMG_1407 IMG_1422 IMG_1446  There is also a part of the caverns called the Dream Lake, which has an almost mirror like appearance. IMG_1455 Albert decided that he was going to be a professional photographer for the day, so there weren’t many photographs of us! IMG_1484 IMG_1541 There was also a Wishing well which donates all money thrown in to a different charity each year. IMG_1630 The Caverns were very cool, and there was a lot of history there, including the bones of a young girl who had been buried nearby and her body had falled into the caves. Outside we visited the Luray Caverns museum, and attempted to find some gold (we were out of luck!) IMG_1689 IMG_1690 It was a great mini trip out, and an awesome way to spend Independence Day weekend!

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