Sunday, August 26, 2012

Natural High

Beth and Cortney... Yeah,
they're stayin' alive.

Little boosts my spirits more than spending an activity-packed, slightly long weekend with some of the finest maniacal mutants the unnatural world has ever produced. So, on Thursday evening, Ms. Kimberly and I packed up and hit the road, bound for Skeeryvilletown, VA (a.k.a. Waynesboro) — the lair of the dreaded Cortney Skinner-Elizabeth Massie pair. From Greensboro, we had a pleasant drive up U.S. 29, and then, just shy of Waynesboro, we turned off onto Route 6 to make our way up the dark, treacherous bulk of Afton Mountain. (It's nearly as scary as traveling on the Jerry Falwell Memorial Highway.) Safely at our destination, we spent the remainder of the evening sipping Barbera wine from NC's Brandon Hills Vineyards, catching up on all things that required catching up on.

'Tis far better to have a Friday off work than to go to work. It was up relatively early and off to Starbucks for breakfast — an insidious, potentially contagious Massie-Skinner tradition. Then off for some geocaching — we targeted about a dozen. The highlight of the day just might have been a visit to Veritas Vineyards on Afton Mountain, where we enjoyed a picnic lunch on the sprawling, scenic grounds, in the company of the vineyard's very friendly and well-behaved dog. Brugger and I sampled some of the vineyard's dry reds; Mr. Skinner fulfilled his daily requirement of stainless steel with an unoaked Chardonnay; and Ms. Massie overdid it with a carbonated, dark amber vintage from an altogether different establishment, a.k.a. Pepsi.

In the early evening, the four of us met maven, Nanci Kalanta; her sinister spouse, Phil; and horror author Matthew Warner at El Puerto Mexican Restaurant for a lively and very satisfying dinner. (El Puerto's tacos diablo, advertised as very hot, proved delicious but did require a few extra shots of habanero sauce to suit my palette.) As might be expected in this company, much horror and hilarity ensued.

Then... oh, my lord... back to the ranch to watch the short film Abed, made by Jenny Lasko, Philip Nutman, and Ryan Lieske, based on Beth's short story, which originally appeared in the anthology Still Dead (edited by John Skipp and Craig Spector, Bantam, 1992). Truly, the most graphic, sanity-stretching zombie film my innocent little eyes have ever beheld. Not sure I'll ever be quite the same, and there's certainly no knowing the long-term ramifications for my sex life. The antidote for this brain-searing horror was 1973's snake-fest, Ssssssss, starring Dirk Benedict, Heather Menzies, Strother Martin, Richard B. Shull, and Tim O'Connor. I had seen this at the theater when it came out all those happy years ago, and back then, it kind of messed up my poor little mind. This time, the only casualty might have been Brugger's good sense.

Alas, as all fun things must end, yesterday morning, after yet another Starbucks' breakfast and a handful of local caches, Kimberly and I ventured southward to Natural Bridge, VA, to view one of the most spectacular natural formations in the world. I had been there a number of times in the past, the first being the summer of 1974; this was Brugger's first visit. It's still as breathtaking as it was the first time I saw it. It rises 215 feet above Cedar Creek, made of solid gray limestone, 40 feet thick and 100 feet wide, spanning a gorge of 90 feet. The bridge itself is estimated to weight about 72 million pounds, and is in the neighborhood of 500 million years old. In 1750, George Washington carved his initials in the rock wall beneath the bridge, and they can still be clearly seen today. Thomas Jefferson purchased the bridge and 157 surrounding acres from King George III in the year 1774, for twenty shillings of "good and lawful money" (a little over $2 in today's currency). There are certainly more tourist attractions around the bridge than when I was a kid — such as a wax museum and a Styrofoam replica of Stonehenge called "Foamhenge" — but the natural grandeur of the place is still beyond impressive. Photographs cannot do the bridge justice.

Our lunch was at the nearby Pink Cadillac Diner, which does indeed feature a pink Cadillac out front (along with a geocache), a giant statue of King Kong, a bronze Elvis, and lots of other gaudy goodies. Damn good meatloaf.

And today, it was out to the trail to place a new geocache. It might be a tough one. It's called Darth Fox....

Click images to enlarge.
Ahh, nuts.
Creeple people at Veritas Vineyards, Afton Mountain, VA
At El Puerto Mexican Restaurant: this very scary man would not leave us alone
Brugger playing the bizarro Fay Wray.
Apt sign at the Pink Cadillac Diner.
Creepy creepers at the McCormick Farm, near "Don't Fear the Reaper" (GC28RCC)


HemlockMan said...

Cool. I've never been to Natural Bridge. Looks like it was a wee bit crowded with tourists.

Keith said...

Sounds like a great weekend get away! Nice narrative and great pics.

johnpeters said...

Sounds like a wonderful weekend. There's this place on Afton Mountain, or at least there used to be a place, called The University of Science and Philsophy. Actually, it was a place where a bit of a cultish group grew up, but the mansion there is incredible. Don't know if it's still open to the public, but if it is, you should try that some time.

As you say, Natural Bridge is incredible. Haven't been there in a long time, but your blog reminded of the past trips. Did you guys go down into the caverns?

Mark Rainey said...

We didn't do the caverns this time around. I did when I was a kid, and I remember enjoying them. After having gone spelunking in a live cave, I'm not sure touristy caves are quite gonna cut it. ;)

johnpeters said...

Well, you could always slip off away from the group when the tour guide isn't looking. I hear there are still a few explorers missing in those caves...