“You love me and I love photography and the best photography will happen at sunrise,” I told George’s unresponsive back at 6:30 in the morning. He wanted none of it, but I persevered and by 7:10 we were on the road to the balloon festival, as the sky shifted from dark to light blue. Excited, I gathered my camera gear and skipped off to the ticket counter. The lovely festival ticket-taker informed us that there would be no balloon launch until noon, due to the high winds. I looked at George with apologetic eyes. I got him up for nothing!
What else was there to do but go to Luray Caverns? After a quick snap at the sun-just-peeking-over-the-hills landscape, we were off.
We didn’t get far before we crossed a really beautiful little bridge on a lovely river. My shots of that turned out like crap but here are two of George.
And one of this cool old building near some railroad tracks. I don’t get up to see the sunrise very often, but damn that is some beautiful light!
A little more driving and we were at the caverns! Luray Caverns is a pretty sweet tourist-trap type arrangement where you get a headset and listen to various parts of an audio tour while walking through these amazing natural caverns. This was my second visit and I still had a hell of a time photographing the place. It’s very dark and very contrasty and everything is this weird reddish-orange. I tried my best, though.
This is a formation called Pluto’s Ghost. It is enormous. I was far away.
Sweet rock formations. On the left, I completely see Fern Gully. On the right, bath towel. These formations take hundreds of thousands to millions of years to form. Ridiculous!
A part of the caverns where they encourage you to throw money. All the copper in the pennies turns the water green.
From there, we decided to visit wineries. This always seems like a great idea until I am at the wine-tasting counter, enjoying my wine tasting and then the person pouring looks at us expectantly and we have to buy a bottle of wine. That rapidly turns a reasonably cheap outing into a spending spree. We quit after the first one, where we bought a very tasty peppery cabernet franc (no, I didn’t know what that was either before the tasting). No photos of wine, just this vineyard dog. It’s cool to be a vineyard dog.
Having ditched the wine idea, we decided to take the rest of our afternoon driving around rural Western Virginia. This took us through Sperryville, home to the Copperfox distillery, makers of the fine Wasmund’s whiskey. I’m not a whiskey drinker myself, but George raves about the stuff. The distiller is somehow related to the lady that runs the massive antique store across the street. We had some fun and then I caught George in the most amazing light in the doorway.
Yes, this is the internet, you can stare. I won’t tell.
We ended up going to the Balloon Festival that afternoon, because if the wind died down, they’d launch for sunset. As we walked up, we could tell by the way the trees were blowing about that there would be no balloon action today. We strolled by the petting zoo, took some good deep breaths near the kettle corn vendor and that was about it. Oh, and we also saw these jack-o-lanterns. I imagine him saying this. “Thought you were gonna photograph some hot air balloons today, huh?” What a jerk.