We had a wonderful fall trip! We packed a lot into 3 days but it was an absolute blast and I wouldn’t have changed much at all. This was Eric and I’s first time at Luray and Natural Bridge since we were little kids so it was really special to get to go back.
We left at 9 am on Friday morning which is basically a miracle for us. We did have to drop Zable off at Eric’s parents house on the way and so in total we were in the car almost 3 hours…which turned out to be exactly 1 hour too long. We had a very unhappy baby reminding us. I ended up climbing in the back seat to feed him his bottle which did seem to make him a bit happier. It HAD been a while since breakfast (7 AM) so in retrospect we probably should’ve given him a snack or his bottle sooner. Despite that, Flynn was super happy when we got him out of his car seat and he went straight to the jogging stroller for our tour. Even though the parking lot looked busy we walked straight in without a wait (and by the time we left there was quite a line – score for us!)
The caverns were even better than I remembered.
Flynn was very vocal but happy to be enjoying the caverns!
But seriously, our baby looks like a baby gap model here – what is he even doing?
After Luray, we had planned to stop in Harrisonburg for lunch but it was a little later in the day than we thought it would be and we were HUNGRY. So we stopped in downtown Luray at 55 East Main Brew House and Grill which was literally a local version of a chipotle’s. What’s not to like. Unfortunately, in the short 10 minutes to get to the restaurant, Flynn fell asleep and missed out on lunch.
We arrived at Carter Mountain around 4 pm which was about perfect since most folks were leaving at that point in the day. Since Flynn hadn’t eaten since 11 AM (!), we fed him lunch while we snacked on…YUP!
I had to kick some annoying teenagers off of the apple to get this adorable pic. So worth it. Then we hiked all the way to get the Fuji because they
sound cool taste the best.
Many Fujis died here.
We kept with our tradition and picked exactly TWO apples. (because let’s be real, we came for the donuts and the cute pictures)
And then, just because Flynn has recently started LOVING this, we did some daddy-son throw pictures.
Then it was time for a beer break. Three Notch’d had a cool vibe, unfortunately by that point, Flynn was getting pretty tired and grumpy. So I mostly walked around with him in the Ergo while Eric quickly drank his flight. My favorite was this espresso stout:
Pacing, pacing, pacing. #momlife
By that point, we were wanting to enjoy a meal without walking a baby around a restaurant and that didn’t really seem possible. So we headed straight to Wintergreen. We got take out from Wild Wolf which was absolutely delicious and Flynn enjoyed his dinner as well. Then it was bath time and bed time. We were able to put his pack n play in another room from ours which helped him sleep until 7. Then we pretty much repeated our morning from Friday and were out of the house again by 9. We had driven up the mountain in the rain after dark so we were pleasantly surprised when we came out of the house to discover that it looked amazing out!
The pictures can’t do it justice. It was stunning. Then, we took the beautiful drive down the blue ridge parkway on our way to Roanoke. The leaves were beautifully yellow and orange and the drive felt dream-like. Then, we came to this unexpected overlook called 20 minute cliff which was an almost 180 degree view of the valley. It was breathtaking.
Again, no picture can do it justice because you don’t get that panoramic view in just one picture. It was ridiculous. The rest of the drive was rainy and it started to get foggy out. I was a little worried that our hike would be a bust. Fortunately, Flynn had a nice long nap and woke up happy. He drank most of his bottle as we stopped for some gas and sandwiches for our hike.
By the time we started the hike, it was drizzling and chillier than I expected. I was a little concerned that Flynn would get cold because we didn’t have a coat for him and he refused to wear his hat.
But he seemed to really enjoy it and just babbled and stared all around. It was his first time riding on my back and I think he liked being able to see better.
Flynn loved going over creeks and would just stare down at the water the whole time.
The first 1.5 miles were like this: just a steady incline, not bad! Except for the fact that my quads were not used to it (after all, my exercise routine involves jogging 2 miles a week and breastfeeding – not good prep for hiking it turns out) and I have super weak ankles so by the time we got to the serious stuff I was feeling it.
So the last 0.7 mile or so gets really steep and rocky. There is even a warning sign that says you may want to turn back now if you’re not prepared. But man, I wanted to see a good view! So there we were carefully choosing our foot placement on these giant boulders and using our hands some to climb up (Eric was my walking stick). I even slipped one time but luckily caught myself before falling. We’re talking like legit rock climbing. Because it had been raining the rocks were slick making it more challenging, especially coming down. I was determined that we would make it to the top but we got to this one very steep rock and as we did a group of 10 or so people were making their way down, so we pulled off to the side. Most of them had a very hard time coming down and there were a few near falls. I asked one of them if we were getting close to the top and he kind of laughed and said no, in fact the last part of the hike took them the same amount of time as the first mile and a half. If Flynn weren’t on my back we would have done it in a heartbeat – ankles be damned! But after we talked about it a few minutes we decided it wasn’t a good idea. I have no doubt we could’ve made it up, but I was more worried about coming down because it was so slick and I didn’t want to fall and hurt Flynn on my back. So we turned around and headed back. So we will have to conquer Dragon’s Tooth another day…
By that point, Flynn was getting quite chilly and I was getting pretty hot, despite the rain. So I took my jacket off and we wrapped it around Flynn to keep him dry. He must’ve liked it because within a few minutes he was snoozing away.
One finger poking out. He woke up with about 15 minutes left of the hike and was happy to look around some more. After that we were sore and tired so we traveled the 10 or less minutes to Parkway Brewing Co. in Salem. We scarfed down our last sandwich and then headed in for some beer. There’s a large room with tables set up and big garage doors for the walls. You can tell that in the summer they open everything up and spread out onto the patio. However, with the chilly day everything was closed up and we sat by the fire which was nice and toasty. We seemed to get there at just the right time because again, we had no wait but when we left it was pretty crowded.
Flynn was much happier this time and we actually got to sit and relax a bit.
We both liked the beer here better than Three Notch’d.
And I loved their art! Not something many people talk about – but yo, it’s important. Especially that mullet…
After resting up a bit we got in the car and went about 20 minutes down the road to Hotel Roanoke, which is right off of 581. We got there right before check in and settled into our room. Flynn got out and crawled around a bit since he hadn’t gotten much opportunity for it.
The hotel was gorgeous and had this super cool feel. You could tell most of the lobby was redone but kept very authentic to the time (late 1800s). There were so many old details, even in the bathrooms – like the light fixtures. I loved it! However, I kept seeing different things in the hotel and the font just reminded me so much of the Hollywood Tower Hotel (aka Tower or Terror in Disney World). But I mean that in the nicest way possible since I’m a Disney nerd.
Given that his nap was short during the hike, we knew Flynn was going to need a nap ASAP. We were afraid if we let him nap in the room he would nap through dinner and we’d be stuck since we couldn’t go out and grab food. So we threw him in the jogging stroller and headed out to explore downtown Roanoke which was just on the other side of the train tracks.
There was a nice covered bridge to cross the train tracks making the downtown area perfectly accessible.
It didn’t take long before Flynn was out of it. We enjoyed walking around and exploring. We loved the architecture!
After walking for a while, we stopped at Fork in the Market for some food. We sat outside because it was too small inside for our giant stroller. But they had heaters and we could even see through the window inside for LSU updates.
Someone woke up about 15 minutes after we sat down but he was pretty happy.
After having such a great night of sleep at Wintergreen we should have known that we were in for a special night. I nursed Flynn to sleep and then put him in his pack n play but he immediately woke up. He then proceeded to cry but I knew that if I picked him up the same thing would happen if I put him down again. So Eric and I went into the bathroom and hoped that he would settle down quickly. We didn’t feel too bad about him crying since it was not even 9 PM yet. He cried for about 15 minutes. We then crept out of the bathroom as stealthy as possible and slipped into bed. Everything was fine until 1:30 when Flynn woke up crying. I got him and attempted to feed him but he didn’t seem to get sleepy like he usually does after eating. So I sat and cuddled with him until he fell asleep which took 30 minutes or so. I then tried to take him to his crib and put him down but he woke up and was mad. If we were at home we would have let him cry it out and it may have taken only 5 minutes or so, but we didn’t think we should do that since it would’ve woken everyone else up nearby. So after contemplating cuddling him again to see if he would go back to sleep, I was thinking probably the same thing would end up happening where he would wake up as soon as I stood up again. So I looked at Eric and told him I thought we needed to put him in the bed. We were so determined to never let that happen but I don’t see how there was any other way. Flynn quickly cuddled down and seemed to enjoy being in the bed but both Eric and I slept awful. It took me about an hour to fall asleep because I kept thinking Flynn was going to crawl out of bed and chew through a cord or get smothered. What I did learn is that my child moves ALL AROUND when he is sleeping. He kept trying to roll over on top of me, putting his head on my head or kicking Eric. He was completely turned around when we got up the next morning. Eric and I both slept like crap. But perhaps slightly better than if he hadn’t been in the bed? Who knows. Let’s just say neither or us are in any kind of rush to stay at a hotel again.
Flynn got us up around 7 or so. We got showered and planned to get to Scrambled by 9 when they opened. We had about 30 minutes to kill so we went out walking to explore some more of Roanoke.
Breakfast was excellent. We had been craving some good ole brunch food so it was perfect. But Flynn was not as happy as he usually is so it wasn’t the most relaxed meal we’ve ever had.
After breakfast, we came back to the hotel and packed up and hit the road. I kid you not, Flynn was out in less than 5 minutes when we got into the car. He was soooo tired. Which explains why he was a grumpalump at breakfast. I guess he didn’t sleep well in the hotel either.
We arrived at Natural Bridge around 11 and Flynn had been napping a good 40 minutes or so at that point. There were a lot of steps to get down to the bridge level so we opted for the ergo. We fully expected him to wake up as soon as we got him out of the car seat, but instead he collapsed onto his dad’s back and snuggled in. Le sigh.
After just a short walk down steps, you are greeted by this view. Not too shabby.
Because you’ve just spent $25 a person to see this view which takes literally 5 minutes to fully look at, you feel the need to walk further. There is a fake Indian village and the promise of a waterfall at the end of the walk. Both of which aren’t worth it. But still, can you really turn around and go home after just 5 minutes? The walk was pretty and the leaves were gorgeous so it was worth it. But in any other season, I’m not so sure. The waterfall was really kinda bleh.
<-We walked over a mile for that
Flynn never did wake up at Natural Bridge. But you will find in the guest book, “Flynn Sandridge was here 10/11/15.”
Flynn woke up as we got to the car. We fed him his bottle and hit the road. He stayed awake until lunch in Waynesboro on the way back. After lunch he fell asleep again and slept til we got home.
The drive home was much more peaceful than the way there. I loved that our trip wound us through a different path so that we rarely crossed the same road twice.