Natural Bridge, off Interstate 81 in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley, claims to be one of the
Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Actually, it is one of at least nineteen different
sites to have claimed a place on this not-so-exclusive list. (A list of the Nineteen
Natural Wonders of the World can be found at the bottom of this page.)
Compelled by a desire to see this wonder of nature, Alexander visited the Shenandoah Valley during the first week of October in 1997. It was his second trip to Virginia. (Earlier in the year, he visited Virginia Beach.) As before, he and his parents met up with his young cousin Joseph, now a robust 8˝ months old, and Joseph's parents, who are somewhat older.
The Natural Bridge
Alex and his family hiked the Cedar Creek Trail, which passes beneath the mighty bridge. Above, Alexander poses in front of the Natural Bridge with, from left to right: his mother; his cousin Joey; and his father.
According to legend, the bridge was discovered by the Monacan Indians in the 16th Century. While fleeing the Shawnees and the Powhatans, the Monocans came to the edge of a deep abyss. They were doomed! Suddenly they noticed a majestic natural bridge spanning the 200-foot gorge. In gratitude for this gift from above, they dropped to their knees and prayed.
A sign posted along the Cedar Creek Trail adds that the Monocans sent their women and children across the bridge first, in order to test its strength. The bridge, obviously, did not crumble. Once the women and children proved that it was safe to proceed, the brave male warriors followed. The sign does not indicate why the Shawnees and Powhatans did not continue their pursuit by simply crossing the bridge themselves. Perhaps they did not have any women and children with them.
The Natural Bench
Back at the hotel
Of course, the trip to Natural Bridge was more than just natural wonders, hiking trails, and Indian folklore. There was also plenty of time to crawl around on the floor and examine brightly-colored plastic objects. Here we see Alex and Joey playing on the floor of Joey's hotel room, in the Days Inn in Raphine, Virginia. The two cousins got along well, although, if they both grabbed the same toy at the same time, they would tend to snarl at each other. The hotel had comfortable, spacious rooms. Outdoor balconies provided a lovely view of the mountains and the Interstate. The low point of the stay, however, was when Joey's mother discovered a pile of dog poop in the hallway. (The front desk swiftly had the offending pile removed.)
Finally, the time came to bid farewell to the Shenandoah Valley. Everybody headed for home a little bit wiser, and filled with fond memories that would last a lifetime.