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Open Road: Destination=Newton, New Hampshire

By on April 20, 2015 in U.S. Travel with 3 Comments

Clover South Carolina“Keeping to the main road is easy, but people love to get sidetracked.”

After a few wonderful days in Clover, South Carolina, the time had come for me to get back on the road. With a long day ahead of me, I got an early start. I took one last wistful look at the lake, thinking about bunny ears, fruity cocktails, and puppies. I rolled down the window, turned up the volume to Dave Mathews’ Crash, and off I went onto the open road.

Gina Pacelli and Katherine Leonard with Bunny Ears     Tangerine Martini


According to my GPS, my estimated travel time to Newton, New Hampshire, where my sister lives, was 14 hours. I planned on driving straight through, unless I got tired or distracted by some unexpected temptation.

I made two quick stops; one for food, the other for gas. I hate fast food, with the exception of an occasional McDonald’s Sausage McMuffin with Egg during road trips. I got this special treat to supplement the nuts, water, and chia seeds I had packed for snacking.

My trip was uneventful, until I hit Virginia. I started seeing signs for caverns and the Natural Bridge. I could feel a bubble of curiosity starting to form inside my being. I knew I had a long day of driving ahead of me, but I was also in need of an energy boost. When I saw the bridge was only a mile or two off the highway, the bubble burst. I could not contain myself. I had to explore. After all, what is a road trip without a little adventure?

I entered Virginia’s Natural Bridge Park and Historic Hotel, where I purchased a ticket. I utilized my AAA card to get a small discount.

As I trekked down the 137 steps, I knew my sneakers were more suitable than the flip flops on my feet. The signs advised “slippery when wet” and “non-skid shoes recommended,” but I was not ready to give them up just yet.

When I got to the Natural Bridge, I was in awe of its beauty. I walked the path to check out the bridge from all angles. I actually did not need the ticket I purchased, but the money I spent went to a great cause. The bridge was magnificent and powerful.

Natural Bridge in Virginia

I continued to walk along the Cedar Creek nature trail. I had promised myself to avoid venturing off into the woods by myself on this road trip. But the path was so inviting. The flow of the stream soothed my soul, and the nature surrounding me was peaceful. I wanted to continue along, so I did. I guess my wanderlust gene and thirst for adventure will always win. I am thankful for that.

Natural Bridge Park in Virginia

Natural Bridge Park

I continued along the stream, stopping at all of the marks. I saw the Monacan Indian village, the lost river, the entrance to a Saltpeter cave, and a small waterfall. The quick hike revitalized me for the rest of my drive.

By the time I got back to my car, I had worked up an appetite. Since I had taken this little nature walk and eaten a super unhealthy breakfast, I decided to skip stopping for a meal. Instead, I mixed some chia seeds in water and continued on. (Thanks for the recommendation, Mandi!)

I wanted to explore the caverns, but I also wanted to reach my sister’s at a reasonable hour. For this reason, I decided to skip the caverns… until I happened to pass them on the way to the highway. I instantly changed my mind. After all, the best part about doing a solo road trip is being able to stop just because something randomly peaks your interest.

I signed up for a tour of the Caverns at Natural Bridge. I was reminded of my time in Bermuda with Brenda when we visited the caves. The caverns set me back to an estimated time of arrival of 11:30 p.m.

Natural Bridge Caverns

As I continued along, I kept seeing more signs for caverns. I was glad I stopped when I did. I would have eventually succumbed to the temptation, and the ones I saw are the deepest caverns on the East Coast. The were also the most convenient for me to see. My curiosity was satisfied, and I could continue along my way without regret.

I ended up getting in a little later than expected, which was closer to 1:00 a.m. But, when will I be in the middle of Virginia on some random road without a care in the world? I spent the night at my sister’s exhausted but happy. My time in Clover and on the open road was exactly what I needed to recharge and prepare myself for the next chapter of my life.

Travel Tip: Present your AAA membership card to receive a discount on your Natural Bridge and/or cavern ticket(s).

More blogs from this trip:


Have you visited the Natural Bridge or Natural Bridge Caverns? If so, share your story in the comments section below.

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