We had never stayed at a truck stop before. I always thought it would be a very loud place to sleep with truckers coming and going and their generators running all night. Fortunately that wasn’t the case. I barely noticed the generator of the truck beside us, and there wasn’t a great deal of coming and going. We had a great night’s sleep. Charlie and I were so glad we had stopped when we did with that rain coming down as hard as it was. We still had 45 minutes or so to go before we reached Harrisburg, but that was OK.
After driving for a little while, we stopped for some breakfast. It was Saturday, so we bought the kids a treat for breakfast. Unfortunately, we had blown another fuse, so we spent some time changing the fuse and trying to once again diagnose the problem. Without making any real progress on the diagnosis, we got back on the road heading south. The fuses seemed to be holding for longer periods of time, so hopefully we woudn’t be stopping constantly. The van seemed to prefer to be on the interstate as there was less braking for stop lights and such. Harder braking seemed to trigger blown fuses. We drove for several hours without any incidents.
We weren’t really sure if we were going to push to get ourselves all the way home today or not. One thing was for sure, Charlie and I wanted to stop and do something fun. Some of the kids were pushing to get home, but we knew some fun would be good for everyone after several challenging days, so we decided to stop at Luray Caverns. We figured out that Alex had been a baby the last time we were there, so that was almost 12 years ago. Even the older three kids didn’t really remember going – Ryon maybe a tiny bit. The one thing they really remembered were some maze shirts that we had purchased there that they wore for years. We found a place to park that was out of the way. We wanted to have a picnic lunch, but couldn’t really find a place to picnic without hauling it quite a long distance. The caverns were incredibly busy. Of course, we were there on a Saturday during the summer, so what else should be expect? We decided that instead of eating lunch right then, we would just take some snacks with us and go get in line for tickets. I thought we would probably be purchasing tickets for a specific time to enter the caverns later in the afternoon and didn’t want our time to be later than it needed to be.
Fortunately, after spending 30 minutes or so in line, we purchased our tickets and got right into the next line to enter the caverns. No “come back at the appointed time” tickets. We entered the caverns at discovered that this wasn’t really going to be a tour led by a tour-guide. It was really a self-guided tour with tour guides placed throughout the caverns to answer questions. I was a little disappointed as I feel that you are able to learn a great deal more about a cave when you have a tour guide along the way, and we had certainly paid enough money for tickets to have a tour guide. However, it turned out OK. We were really encouraged to move along quickly so that everyone else behind us could move through the caverns quickly too. It just so happened that this was the weekend of the anniversary of the modern-day discovery of Luray Caverns, so they had used candles in a couple areas of the cave to illuminate the caverns and give us a small indication of what it would have been like to explore the caverns by candlelight. That was an unusual twist that I have never really experienced. We were able to ask some questions, and the guides did volunteer a little bit of information. Although the caverns were beautiful, that was definitely not my favorite cavern tour by any stretch of the imagination.
After the cavern tour, we went off to explore our way through the hedge maze that they have at Luray Caverns. Damien and Dominic were particularly excited at wandering through a maze.
As we entered, we were given a small sheet of paper and told to find the four stops along the way at which we could stamp our paper to receive a special message. We split up into different groups and hurried through the maze. Well, at least we tried to hurry. Isaac and I were partners.
We found the second stamp first, and then had to go back to find the first stamp. We had a great time trying to find our way through the maze and made it to the middle of the maze before we ever found our first stamp. This thing had us doing a lot of laughing and exploring. We had a wonderful time.
Afterwards, the kids really wanted to go to the gift shop. We had not really given them any opportunities to buy any souvenirs from this trip, so we let them spend some time in the gift shops. Charlie had to go back to the van to replace yet another fuse and was going to try another fix, so he took AnaClaire back with him while Nicholas and I took the little boys and went off to the gift shops. The older kids went off together to see what they could find. After purchasing a couple maze books and T-shirts, Nicholas took the little boys back to the camper to fix lunch while I went to track down the other kids whom I knew would take the rest of the afternoon if I didn’t speed them up.
We finally finished our shopping, ate lunch, put a bandaid on the camper/van combo and got back on the road. The van was doing well enough that we decided to just push for home that evening and pulled into our driveway just before midnight. Yet another long day, but we made it home safely. Although I love being on the road and seeing our beautiful country (as well as other countries now 🙂 ), even I was glad to be home! Thank you God for this special opportunity that we had to spend time together and see more of our country, but most especially, thank you for helping us to get home safely!