After pausing to let Brooke pose with the giant Cootie in front of the museum, we hightailed it over to Luray caverns so we could catch one of the last tours of the day. Luckily, we got there with just enough time to cavort about an enormous privet hedge maze that sits adjacent to the cavern.
It felt good for a while to dash about in the brisk afternoon air, scurrying down leafy corridors, pursuing the tantalizing nearness of other people's voices - surely only a turn or two away. Periodically, a way station would appear inquiring, "Are you lost??" I was only lost once, near the end, but by then I was weary or maybe just plain cold and had no compunction about revealing the path instead of determining it. My patience with maze working is apparently much better suited to navigating Central Market or such.
Our tour guide (who apparently was playing at 45 r.p.m. even though she was recorded at 33 1/3) introduced herself and whisked us efficiently through the cavern along with a tall quiet family from Curacao who were making their very first cave tour. Cave virgins! I bet all those rock jokes sounded fresh and funny to them and they were actually scared when the lights went out!
We paused along the way to enjoy the huge underground lake that forms a magnificent mirror of its surroundings and wandered past all sorts of beautiful formations, but a curious detraction began to nag at me as we walked along. Luray is one of the oldest show caverns in our nation. It opened to the public in the late 1800s, and in that non-eco-friendly era, visitors were encouraged to snap off a bit of the cavern to take home with them for a souvenir. Every single area within reaching distance of the path is scarred with stalagmite stubs and stalactite nubs, sort of like an acne incited by humans.
When we eventually arrived at the room containing the fabulous Stalacpipe Organ, my jaded distaste quickly fell away. I did have to work to disguise my impatience, however, doing my best to pay attention to our pert guide as she unspooled her well rehearsed and long winded introduction. Finally, finally the moment arrived. She pushed the magic button and tiny rubber mallets installed over a 3 1/2 acre area inside the cavern began to strike various stalactites in succession and combination, filling the cave with pure vibrating tones that coalesced into song. This amazing instrument (the world's largest, mind you) was conceived by Mr. Leland W. Sprinkle who was a mathematician and electronics geek at the nearby Pentagon. I love it when dorks create art! The organ is played live occasionally, especially at the frequent weddings that are held there, but this day we were serenaded by an invisible robot, more than adequately rendering some unmemorable standard of musicdom. It was lovely.