Thursday, October 15, 2009

VA/WV Vacation Day 2, Part 2: White's Mill/Ft Chiswell Animal Park

From Bristol Caverns we headed deeper into Virginia to White's Mill. There's lots of various grain mills around Virginia, but they were all pretty far out of our way and the one I wanted to go to the most (which also had a restaurant attached serving their products) would've added about 2.5-3 hours in the car. So, I settled for White's Mill in Abingdon, VA - settled being the key word!! Every trip has a disappointment and this one was ours! Luckily it was only about 15 minutes from Bristol Caverns and not far out of the way to our next stop. From the outside it was everything we expected, just an old mill.On the inside it was also old, but really rickety. It was 3 stories inside, with lots of old equipment. I felt like the floors and some of the stairs were not exactly the most stable. And the windows were full of wasps, so I really couldn't let Lilli touch anything or get down.
Brent had fun taking some pictures and exploring around, all I really wanted to do was walk across the street to the "White's Mill Mercantile" and buy some products! They still mill some grains here & had displayed grits, and I love buying local stuff to take back as gifts. So I started looking through the various items - and all the grains were shipped in from Indiana or New York! And all the jams and jellies - from Middle Tennessee! The shop was awful, so the only thing we got was a postcard. We did get some cute pictures of Lilli with their fall display, but other than that this mill was a waste of time!
From there it was time to head to Fort Chiswell Animal Park, in Max Meadow, VA. I was REALLY looking forward to this park because you got to ride a safari bus through the park and feed animals. They also have a petting zoo, and Lilli just LOVES animals! Once again we pulled up and were the only tourists out supporting America. We got our armbands (is that really necessary?!?) and our tour was set to go in about 10 minutes. Just as we were about to leave two other families showed up, which actually worked out great. More people = more food for the animals! While we were waiting for them to get checked in we explored the petting zoo. Brent said this was also his favorite activity because he could tell how much BOTH us girls loved the animals.... I guess he knows me pretty well! However, Brent made a new friend himself of the GOATS! These animals know the drill here - everyone is going to buy a little pouch of food (or three!) and they want to get it before the safari animals! This goat followed Brent EVERYWHERE around the petting zoo.He was persistent! And ANNOYING!
And then he brought some backup!
Which Lilli and I found to be HILARIOUS!
The goat show lasted for about 15 minutes and we were finally ready to board the safari bus!
The animals in the park KNOW the drill, and once that bus was pulled around for us the most aggressively hungry ones just stood there waiting for us to board! As we were getting on the tour guide warned me about the ostriches - "they really like bright colors so they might go for your baby" - HUH???? It was a beautiful day and in the 80's, so we had just changed her out of a long sleeve shirt that was better for the caves into this pink onesie, perfect for being an ostrich target! She also warned me they might go for my jewelry, too. I was already scared of the ostriches!

Hey lady, there's a camel in your window!

Sweet, unsuspecting Lilli, already in the cross-hares of an ostrich....
Before the bus even left the other passengers fed the camel, ostriches and llamas hanging out around the bus a ton of food. The ostriches would go NUTS and just peck like crazy at the bowls of food. This ostrich had a mouth full of camel hair, they will eat anything!!
The park was beautiful, nice rolling hills with wide open spaces for the animals to roam. At various points they would just congregate and wait for the bus to stop so they could get fed!

I waited until we got into the ride a little bit to feed the less aggressive animals! Brent and I have fed enough animals in our day to know that camels will get spit ALL OVER YOU, so I went for the less spitty/drooly animals, and stuck with ones shorter than the bus windows!Feeding a zebra - so cool!
Zebra shot:
The ride was so much fun, and our tour guide was great. You could tell they really loved these animals! Lilli loved it and just watched everything, towards the end of the ride she enjoyed a bottle so it was like a dinner cruise for her! Afterwards we played around in the petting zoo for a few more minutes before checking out the gift shop and heading on our way.

Statues = photo opp. Looking back I can't believe neither Brent or I climbed on top for a pic! Man, we've gotten old!!! (Or grown up??? I think I'll settle for distracted.)
Brent's old buddy The Goat.
Pretty Virginia scenery from our travels that day:
A storm front was moving in later that night...
From Max Meadows we headed north to our hotel in Lexington, VA. We stayed at a nice Country Inns and Suites that actually had real cribs for babies! Love it!! Their indoor pool was frigid though, so we got all dressed up and then didn't get in. This would also be when our vacation of "technical difficulties" began! Brent's hard drive on our lappy died right after we got back from dinner at a family restaurant/diner nearby, so he placed a call to Apple and pretty much determined there was nothing he could do from the road, but as luck would have it he had brought an extra hard drive so we were able to run it through our Mac and still use the computer to dump pics, etc. We did lose some of our pictures from our first day of vacation, but some he was able to recover. Since it was just a travel day there wasn't anything major on the main hard drive, but still! It took Lilli a little longer to go to sleep that night, but thankfully she likes sleeping in as much as the rest of us so we slept until around 7:30-8:30 (our time) every morning which was NICE!

Stay tuned for Day 3: Virginia Safari Park, Natural Bridge, and the GREENBRIER!!!

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