Sunday, April 24, 2022

Earth Day(-ish) Trip to Natural Bridge, Red River Gorge, Daniel Boone Natural Forest, Central-Eastern Kentucky

*edited - content added. 

So we had planned this trip last weekend, Easter weekend, but unfortunately, I hurt my back, so we postponed it until this weekend, which turned out to be a better weekend, as last weekend was cold and rainy anyway PLUS it was Earth Day :)

(No worries about my back.  I don't know what I did, it's just I have scoliosis that has progressed from my lumbar spine to my mid-thoracic spine and sometimes it flares.  Usually when I haven't exercised for a few days, or in this case, it most likely means it's time for a new mattress!)

Anyway, we usually go just to get out of the increasingly tree-deprived city and to commune with nature rather than people, but there were a lot of fun people at the main attraction, Natural Bridge, yesterday, which I'll tell you about as we go  :)

It's been an unusually cold Spring, here, so most of the trees didn't have leaves and many flowers and flowering trees either already briefly bloomed or had yet to bloom, but still a fun trip :)

First, a little video of the trip up to Natural Bridge via sky lift.  

(I say "sky lift" as opposed to "ski lift," because there's no place to ski, and they call it a sky lift :)

We usually hike, but decided since our backs were not cooperating lately, to take the sky lift, which I'd taken down, but not up.  At first, I felt very lazy, but it was cool to see from a different angle. 

It's super slow, so not very exciting stuff here, but a relaxing ride, and gives you an idea of the kind of  stupid stuff that goes through our heads that Mark and I talk about, to entertain ourselves/make each other laugh :)

Also, a little known fact about me is that in addition to being a bird nerd, I also toyed with the idea of becoming a geologist when I was a kid, after finding quartz and fossils at my local creek, thus my discussion with Mark about what the possible ribbon of red coursing through the rock was, being that Mark is also a bit of a geology nerd ;)

My guess was iron?

Also, Red River Gorge is a nationally protected geological park with many different kinds of interesting geological formations, a couple of which I may post pictures of here, so just skip if not your thing ;) 

The bridge is just a short trip from the landing, and the first thing you do is walk across the top ...

The bridge is comprised of entirely of sandstone, which makes for interesting swirls of color ... 

And of course, everyone takes the obligatory selfie or two along the way ...

(**Mark would like me to preface these pics by letting you all know that these were taken just before I cut his hair today.  Also, I would like to add that I'm not wearing any make-up because I knew I'd sweat it all off, so just be forewarned, and try not to be too frightened lol)

Unless of course you manage to make friends with those around you and one of them offers to take one for you and you do the same for them :)

Speaking of which, on our trip back across, we met one of two bridal parties, very different from each other :) 

I didn't get any pics of the first party at all - because, ya know, it's a private thing for them.

The first party was of local sorority girls from EKU (where my parents went to college) on a bachelorette party to the gorge, which I thought was a very cool idea :)

They were all in sorority T-shirts and khakis, but one had a small bridal veil, while the others worn banner ribbons (like pageant ribbons) across their shoulder and hip, stating they were bridesmaids for the couple, the year, and their sorority letters.

They were each taking pictures, always with one left out to take the photo, so I decided to reward this particularly sorority behavior, for their nature appreciation for Earth Day/bachelorette party by offering to take a picture for them, so that they could all be in the photo :)

Now, to get underneath the bridge and the full bridge view, you have to take many sandstone steps down, which Mark chose not to do, this trip, as steps in particular are killer on his slipped disc.

So I decided to go, taking picture along the way, to include thin-man's alley, through the cooler  sandstone and limestone mix crevice, to get to the actual arch  ...

This pass is like a natural air conditioner, it drops about 15 degrees, in here (which was a nice change from the unusual 86-degree weather we had yesterday (after previously having 33-degree weather just two days before).

Then you reach your final destination - the Natural Bridge - the largest of the sandstone bridges in the area ...

I noticed one of the trees above was growing directly off the side of the bridge, from the sandstone, which I thought was interesting ... 

And here's a little video I took of the sweep of it ...

No, that's not me, I was filming -  she is wearing a gray T-shirt and black shorts like me, but note she's wearing a khaki baseball cap and is younger.

It's this lady that kept getting in my shots, looking straight at my camera! lol

Ya know, not someone who just happened to be there, also looking or taking pictures, or accidentally popped in your shot unaware - she was one of those people - who either has no sense that other people are taking pictures or actually almost appears to want to be in your shot?  lol

And you'll notice she was in no hurry to move and isn't looking at anything by me and my camera.  In fact, I have three still pictures with that lady in them that I didn't publish lol.

Ah, well, overall, though fairly crowded most people behaved themselves, realized other people were also there, and were fun - but there's always at least one, isn't there?

Regardless, after I climbed back up, went back across, we decided to take the Laurel Branch trail to view the bridge from the nearest overlook ... 

Now, a cute story about the people in this last shot, including the guy acting like he's pouring a bottle of water on his head  lol ...

So this was an Indian family - meaning East India, not Native-American - and the girl filming is filming a wedding - but not for her goofy (step)brother, seen in the picture here, pretending to pour a bottle of water over on his head - but for her "Baba" (dad/father), in the striped shirt on the right -  smiling up at me.

I thought at first it was her parents' anniversary, but I noticed she called the man "Baba," but the woman, she called by her real name instead of "Ma'an" or "Mommy"  - and in fact, it was her widowed father getting remarried  - to a Hindi widow (woman with the arm around her stepdaughter, filming her son).

Although she was also wearing hiking clothes, she donned a red bindi, red arched dots over her eyebrows, and a henna hand tattoo -  signifying pending marriage :)

This is a significant cultural change, because remarriage - especially for female widows - is traditionally a no-no - but these two middle-agers were about to tie the knot :)

(If you've ever read the Ramayana, you will know that it is discouraged for widowed women especially to ever remarry, with Sita - Rama's widow - actually setting herself on fire after Rama's death - and many orthodox/conservative Hindi women still following suit.

However, not so in this Indian family :)

Pretty cool, huh?  

See, all cultures are re-evaluating what they want to keep and what has been counterproductive for them - some customs and traditions we want to keep, others we let blow away with the wind :)

In fact, the groom's daughter is the director of their "film," here, and later encourages them to stand together on a cliff and looking at each other, but it is clear the bride to be feels a bit on display, so the daughter turns on some music (which you can hear in the below clip).

At that point, the groom begins to mock Bollywood movies and dance and sing to her, which makes her laugh, and she joins in, in a little dance.

To which Mark and I laugh and probably heard on their video is me saying, "A do-it-yourself Bollywood film, I love it!"  to which they all laughed and then completely hammed it up on the video in Bollywood musical-drama style and dance, laughing the whole time lol.  They were fun :)

Then we wished them well and told them how cute they were as a couple and how much we loved their music.

Here's a sweeping, panoramic view from Laurel Branch lookout over to Natural Bridge on the right - and although I didn't take pictures/film the pending bride and groom, you can hear their music in the background, especially at the end, with his daughter loudly directly them in Hindi where to stand and what to do lol. 


After spending some time at the overlook and another quick hike, we made the sky lift trip down to the gift shop, to pick up some homemade fudge, some cinnamon and cherry candy sticks, a hand-carved wooden Christmas ornament (which is my thing, to get a tree ornament for whatever I go), and Mark got a Bigfoot sticker, because he finds Bigfoot hilarious :) 

I'm a little afraid of heights so the trip down gives me a pause (which is why I used to prefer rock-climbing rather than repelling lol), but it's all good :)


We arrived home just in time to see our neighbor's oldest son step out in a tux with his beautiful prom date on his arm - too cute!

(Also no pics, again, private)

"Ah, love is in the aaaiiiir ... " lol 

All in all, a fun Earth Day/Spring Day trip - hope you all are enjoying your Earth Day/Week and Spring, too  :)

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