Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Finding My Way Back

On my way home from the Philippine Consulate in Washington, D.C. this afternoon, I had to take a big detour to my friend's office to give her some goodies she asked me to pick up from a Filipino gourmet store.

Just before I was living Karen's office,  I spoke to both of my daughters since both of them wanted me—in similar but conflicting ways. Older daughter wanted me for my car cause she doesn't want to drive the Suburban because she said it's too big for her. Younger daughter wanted me as a driver to pick up her and her friend from their school. I managed to reconcile both of their demands, satisfying both of them, but not enough to make them feel that it was a win-win situation, and not enough for me to feel successful and skillful .

Few minutes of driving later I discovered that the directions that I printed off from Google Map were very precise, except the name of a street seemed to have been changed from the minute I printed out the directions two hours before to then. So I ended up using my GPS that I don't like using when I'm driving inside Washington DC because I have set my settings to "shortest distance, less traffic" but in this nation's capital there is only shortest distance but never less traffic and it once lead me in a dead end road. I didn't have enough time to figure out how to change my settings while waiting for red light to turn into Anyway I managed to find my way to the road I needed to get out of the city after almost an hour of driving around a feat I was proud of. Just as I realized that I had made it and it was smooth sailing, I looked to my right and saw the Iwo Jima Memorial looming very, very large. Through the trees I could make out the huge statue and I even managed a bit of rubber-necking to look at it from different angles.

Washington Memorial prism

Jefferson Memorial

As I drove along the George Washington Parkway I also passed and saw the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Monument. There’s something special about living near important sites or monuments that makes you feel a sense of pride for having that thing or place in your life. Its proximity somehow embraces you and raises you up ever so slightly from once in a while doldrums of your life and puts you, even momentarily, into a historical perspective.

                                                             US Veterans Admin. bldg

when was the last time you lost your way and ended up enjoying the beauty that surrounds you?
Are there places where you live that make you feel a part of history?

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Magic of Luray Caverns

The majestic Blue Ridge Mountain stands as a backdrop of the picturesque landscape while the early morning sun is casting its rays in the mountain ranges, valleys and horse farms along the state highway VA-55. This was the scenery that Michelle and I were enjoying as we drove to our destination that early Friday morning--the Luray Caverns.  Everything is like a classic show, slowly unfolding till you reach the climax. Luray caverns is one of the most amazing natural wonders I have ever seen in my life..and it is just in our backyard. It is about an hour and 15 minutes drive from our house...

I didn't take note of everything I heard from the portable tour guide that was given to us during the whole tour of the cave but what I've seen is forever etched in my mind. There are no words that can describe the beauty and wonder of nature at work but and I can share few things that really amazed me. 

There is a spring of water called Dream Lake that has an almost mirror like appearance. Stalactites are reflected in the water making them appear to be stalagmites. This illusion is so convincing that most people in our group were unable to see the real bottom. It looks quite deep, as the stalactites are higher above the water, but as what I've learned at its deepest point the water is only around 20 inches deep. The lake is connected to a spring that continues deeper into the caverns.

Another is the Wishing Well, a green pond with coins. Like Dream Lake, the well also gives an illusion, however it is reversed. The pond looks 3–4 feet deep but at its deepest point it is actually 6–7 feet deep.

For me, the climax of our Luray Cavern tour was listening to haunting sounds of the world's only Stalacpipe Organ. It is played from a regular-size organ, but its organ pipes are the stalactites themselves, spreading over 3.5 underground acres, and wired with little rubber mallets that tap stalactites of various sizes to produce tones similar to those of xylophones, tuning forks, or bells. The sound I heard was so magical, I was overwhelmed.

rock formation that looks like fried egg over easy

Stalactites cling to the ceiling and reflect in a pool of crystal clear water

these are what they call draperies

this is called Saracen's tent, one of the most well formed draperies

the wishing well's color is the result of chemical reaction between the coins, water, the stalactites and stalagmites

the world's only Stalacpipe Organ

                                              this column was formed after several hundred million years

I could not even start to tell you how beautiful that experience was and not even my camera was able to capture all the grand work of nature. My soul can only sing praises and thanksgiving to the One who made all these marvellous things...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

For so long I've been lonely
Drowning in my tears, soaking in misery
No one there to listen
Or help me face my deepest fears.

No one there to assure me
In times of doubt & confusion,
No one showed me rainbows
Every time I saw the rain.

No one there to care
And ease my broken heart,
No one to pick up the pieces
Every time I fell apart.

Then you came along
And took the time to know,
All the hurt and pain
That I tried hard not to show.

You took the time to realize
How much I've had to pay,
For every time I gave of me
There was something taken away.

You took the time to look inside
This heart as cold as stone,
You found that there was something there
No one else has ever known.

You found what I had been hiding
Brought it out to show the world,
That there was so much love inside
Of such an empty soul.

You knew what I was feeling
So you set my mind at ease,
Then you did the impossible -
You made me trust in love again.

So, now I'm going to take this time
To say "Thank You" for all you've done,
And hope you know I love you
More than anything, more than life itself.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Discovering Charlottesville

Sometimes, it's really good for the soul to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city and enjoy the bliss and simplicity of life. My recent trip to Charlottesville was a discovery of a place less crowded, marveling at the wonders of nature, and yet at the same time experiencing casual elegance and sophistication. I have been anxious to see this town that I've read as surrounded by farms, rolling hills, rivers and valleys and one of the must-see towns in Virginia. We started our drive early in the morning just after sunrise. We took route 29 that took us all the way to Charlottesville. It was really a beautiful drive, and soon as we passed the traffic of Northern Virginia, the trip started to be comfortable and rejuvenating. Along the way, we took some roads that lead us to some vineyards, elegant country estates and horse farms. Cruising down the country roads and byways is one of the most beautiful drives you can experience in the historic state of Virginia. Here are some of the photos I took along the way...

I was more elated when we finally got to Charlottesville downtown not only because we were starving but also because of the feel of style and sophistication. High end boutiques, cafes' and fine restaurants clustered along Main Street. You can choose to eat inside or under those big oak trees. We were already so hungry that we decided to have lunch in an Italian restaurant in one of their tables outside.  The food was really good, and yet reasonably priced. There were lots of people, mostly families having lunch, drinking wine or champagne. I was really impressed. You can tell that most of the crowds are intellectuals owing to the fact that Charlottesville is home to University Of Virginia, currently rated by U.S. News & World Report as #2 best public university in the United States and the only university in the United States to be designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, an honor it shares with nearby Monticello. Founded by Thomas Jefferson, conceived by 1800 and established in 1819, The University of Virginia is one of the eight original Public Ivies. I was amazed thinking that maybe someday, one of those students we saw strolling down the street or sitting in those tables with their families will be the future president, or a future Nobel prize winner. It was divine just sitting there, sipping chardonnay and watched the world went by.

One day is not enough to see everything in this historic town. But I felt grateful that I got a glimpse of this place's storied past and experienced the culture and magic that made Charlottesville unforgettable to me.