Vagabond in America 2016 travel blog

Natural Bridge

Inside the caverns at Natural Bridge

Original, natural opening to the caverns

Virginia Safari Park

Very curious llama

Ostrich is interested in getting some food

Too short to get his head in the truck's window

Almost tall enough

This guy's just tall enough


Feeding the giraffe

Baby kangaroo with its mother

Not a baby kangaroo

My next stop was Natural Bridge, Virginia. This has been a tourist spot for as long as there have been tourists. It's been listed as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. It was formed when the roof of a cavern collapsed hundreds of years ago.

Legend says that George Washington visited here when he was a surveyor. The initials "G.W." carved on the bridge enhances the story but might just be a coincidence.

I've visited Natural Bridge several times, but not since 1984. It hasn't changed. There's still a walking path down to the Bridge. Just past the Bridge is a small waterfall.

What is new, to me, is that they've opened a nearby cavern to visitors. I joined one of the tours of the caverns. The trip was classic, including the obligatory moment when the guide turns off the lights, leaving the entire group in pitch black. What made this part of the tour a little different than it traditionally would be is that it wasn't pitch black. The glow from everyone's smart phones dimly illuminated the caves. Sigh. Modern technology.

Another new attraction capitalizing on the steady flow of tourists to the area was Virginia Safari Park. I had just recently visited Lion Country Safari in Florida and wasn't overly impressed. In Florida, we had to keep our windows closed on the drive-through portion of the park and the critters were often too far away to see well. Nonetheless, I decided to visit Virginia Safari Park.

I was quite pleasantly surprised. Rather than constantly reminding us tourists to keep our windows shut, here they encouraged you to open them. At the entrance they sold buckets of feed. The animals clearly understood the rules and congregated around the vehicles. Some of the aggressive animals even stuck their heads into my truck trying to get even more of the feed. Obviously, there were no lions in this park, just vegetarians.

The only animals out of reach behind fences were the camels. Apparently, they had become too aggressive and were stealing entire buckets of feed out of people's cars.

The walk-through portion of the park was very similar to the walk-through portion of Lion Country Safari. In both, you could hand-feed the animals. I particularly enjoyed going inside the enclosure for the budgies (a type of parakeet).

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