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Seasons of Beauty in the Blue Ridge: Natural Life, History, Folk Culture and Music

Program Number: 10029RJ
Start and End Dates:
10/13/2013 - 10/18/2013; 10/12/2014 - 10/17/2014; 5/10/2015 - 5/15/2015; 10/18/2015 - 10/23/2015;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: Natural Bridge, Virginia
Price starting at: $629.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Natural History
Meals: 15; 5 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 5 Dinners    
Meal Options: Low Fat; Vegetarian; Low Salt    

Enjoy the noble beauty of one of our continent’s most striking mountain settings and discover how its natural wonders came to be as you investigate the primordial forces that sculpted the Blue Ridge, Alleghany and Shenandoah Valley landscapes. Study the web of life in the temperate highlands and the culture that draws from it. Hear stories of early settlers in this woodland setting and how their encounters with the wild frontier helped shape Blue Ridge folklore, language, music and customs. Experience this rich culture for yourself during sessions of Appalachian music performed on traditional instruments.




Highlights

• Encounter a mountaintop ecosystem during excursions on the famed Blue Ridge Parkway and experience spectacular scenic views at the Peaks of Otter.
• Discover Natural Bridge and its gorge and see why Thomas Jefferson called it the most "sublime" place on earth.
• At Warm Springs, take a relaxing soak in the mineral waters of a 1761 bathhouse, the oldest spa structure in the United States and the same one Jefferson used during his retirement in 1818.



Activity Particulars

Walking up to two miles at easy pace; uneven, grassy, hilly terrain. Elevations up to 4,000 feet on one field trip.




Date Specific Information

10-13-2013, 10-12-2014, 5-10-2015, 10-18-2015

Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.



Coordinated by Virginia Commonwealth University.




Natural Bridge

Considered one of the natural wonders of the world, Natural Bridge spans a deep gorge and caverns between the Blue Ridge and Alleghenies. This ancient limestone arch became a path for wildlife, a sacred site for Monacan Indians, a gateway for settlers and a curiosity for Europeans. Thomas Jefferson called it "the most sublime of nature's works."



Accommodations
Historic hotel from the pre-Interstate era, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains; ridge-side setting with trails, buffet breakfast.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Woody McKenzie

Woody and Marcia McKenzie are long-time residents of Virginia’s New River Valley and now live in Lynchburg. Woody builds instruments and is accomplished on guitar and mandolin, but fiddle is his greatest love. Marcia’s favorite instrument is her voice, but she plays the mandolin, guitar, clawhammer banjo, rhythm piano, drums and various whistles. Their repertoire of lively tunes, familiar ballads, sing-alongs and humorous novelty songs creates energetic entertainment.
 
Meals and Lodgings
   Natural Bridge Inn and Conference Center
  Natural Bridge 5 nights
 Natural Bridge Inn and Conference Center
Type: Hotel
  Description: You will have a pass for the length of the Road Scholar to visit Natural Bridge, the Natural Bridge Gorge, Natural Bridge Caverns, and the adjacent Wax Museum.
  Contact info: Route 11 at Rt 130
Natural Bridge, VA 24578 USA
phone: 800-533-1410
web: www.naturalbridgeva.com
  Room amenities: TV with cable, iron & ironing board, coffeepot, wireless high speed internet Wayport requires Ethernet Card, costs $9.95/day.
  Facility amenities: Indoor seasonal pool, tennis courts, Red Fox lounge, restaurant, gift shop, ice cream parlor and deli (separate building), Wax Museum (separate building), hiking trail through Natural Bridge Gorge.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior:  Advance registration required and stay is based on availability. Road Scholar rate varies by season.
  Check in time: 3:30 PM
  Additional nights after:  Advance registration required and stay is based on availability. Road Scholar rate varies by season.
  Check out time: 12:00 PM


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
3:00-5:00 PM in hotel lobby for Road Scholar registration. You will be staying at Natural Bridge Inn and Conference Center that night.
  End of Program:
Program ends after early lunch at 11:30 AM. Room checkout is 12:00 noon. You will be staying at Natural Bridge Inn and Conference Center the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required. None
  Required innoculations:
Yes: Those allergic to bees should carry their own bee sting kit as field trip sites are remote and immediate medical assistance may not be available.
  Parking availability:
Parking at hotel is free for the length of the program.
Transportation
To Start of Program
  Location:  Natural Bridge
  Nearest city or town:  Lexington, Buena Vista, Glasgow
  Nearest highway: I-81
  Nearest airport:  Roanoke
  From End of Program
  Location: Natural Bridge
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details
 

Roanoke Regional Airport

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Commercial Van/Shuttle
Roanoke Airport Transportation Seervice
phone: 800-288-1958
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

Sedan for 1-3 is $76 each way; 3 or more by van is $38 each, each way
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

1 hour 

 

Distance:

 

50 miles

   

Natural Bridge is best reached by private car. Car rentals at Roanoke Regional Airport include Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Hertz and National/Alamo. Website for airport is www.roanokeregionalairport.com, choose "Terminal Services."

 
Driving Directions
  From the East on I-64, from Richmond, Norfolk, VA Beach, Williamsburg Take I-64 west to I-81 south (64 joins 81 below Staunton). Follow I-81 to exit 180 or 175; either exit allows you to get on Rt. 11 and follow the signs to Natural Bridge. Alternative travel: Use any exit on I-81 to get off and follow Rt. 11 South. Rt. 11 is 4-lane divided highway with less traffic and more scenery. The Blue Ridge Parkway is also parallel to I-81 but this is a leisurely road to follow as speeds are only 40-45 mph and exits are far apart. The hotel will be obvious on your right, approximately 15 minutes south of Lexington. Use the second entry and bear right to park in front of the hotel to unload your luggage.
  From the North on I-81, from Maryland, Washington DC Follow I-81 south to exit 180 or 175; either exit allows you to get on Rt. 11 and follow the signs to Natural Bridge. Alternative route: Use any exit on I-81 to get off and follow Rt. 11 South. Rt. 11 is 4-lane divided highway, with less traffic and more scenery. The Skyline and Blue Ridge Parkway is also parallel to I-81but this is a leisurely road to follow as speeds are only 40-45 mph and exits are far apart. The hotel will be obvious on your right, approximately 15 minutes south of Lexington. Use the second entry and bear right to park in front of the hotel to unload your luggage.
  From the South on I-81, from Roanoke Follow I-81 North to Exit 175 and follow the signs to Natural Bridge, which is located on Rt 11 at Rt 130.
  From the West on I-64, from West Virginia Follow I-64 to I-81 South to Exit 175 and follow the signs to Natural Bridge, which is located on Rt. 11 at Rt. 130.


Required innoculations:

Yes: Those allergic to bees should carry their own bee sting kit as field trip sites are remote and immediate medical assistance may not be available.

Elevation Note: Field trip to Peaks of Otter goes through a mountain pass at approximately 4000 ft.

Equipment Requirements: Comfortable walking shoes for field trips.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.


Daily Schedule

Day 1: Arrival/Registration/Social hour/Orientation
(Sunday, October 13)
   
 Afternoon: Welcome to Natural Bridge! Register for your room after 3:30 at the desk in the hotel lobby. Register for your program and get your program folder between 3-5:00 PM in the Red Fox Lounge. Enjoy a Social Hour from 5-6 pm in the Red Fox Lounge (with cash bar) - this is a great time to meet your fellow participants in a relaxing atmosphere.
 Dinner: Dinner in the hotel
 Evening: 0rientation and introductions in the classroom.
   
Accommodations: Natural Bridge Inn and Conference Center
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Natural History and Folklore of the Shenandoah Valley
(Monday, October 14)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast in the hotel
 Morning: This is a tentative schedule. Classes and field trip may be rearranged slightly to accommodate instructors' availability. This is one of our most popular programs, and the foliage throughout this mountain valley is usually breathtaking at this time of year. Enjoy views of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and explore portions of the famous Parkway in this program. Classes on Natural History focus on the plants, animals, geology and geography of the Shenandoah Valley and the spectacular Blue Ridge and Alleghenies that surround the Valley - and that we will explore on field trips. Class this morning begins with Natural History.
 Lunch: Lunch in the hotel
 Afternoon: Afternoon class: "Folklore of the Shenandoah Valley" discusses the history of those settlers who peopled the Valley -- and some of the tales that began years ago and are still told today.
 Dinner: Dinner in the hotel
 Evening: This evening is a perfect opportunity to experience the "Drama of Creation," a splendid laser-light and music show that takes place at the Bridge after dark.
   
Accommodations: Natural Bridge Inn and Conference Center
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Folklore/Walking Field Trip Through Natural Bridge Gorge/Natural History
(Tuesday, October 15)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast in the hotel
 Morning: Class this morning is on Natural History. After a coffee break, hear more about Folklore and the human history of the Valley.
 Lunch: Lunch in the hotel
 Afternoon: Put on some comfortable shoes and join our expert naturalist for a leisurely walk through Natural Bridge Gorge. You'll learn more about the unique plants, birds, animals and geology of this setting that Thomas Jefferson called one of the most sublime places on earth. We'll walk at an easy pace, with stops (and places to sit) to listen and look. From the Bridge itself, you'll walk approximately one mile through the Gorge to Lace Falls (and one mile to return). We'll learn about early human history at the working Monacan Indian Village. You'll be able to return to the hotel at any point - or sit a spell overlooking the Lost River (learn why it's "lost" on this walk!). Most of the walk is paved and handicapped-accessible, except for an unpaved path near the end of the trail to the Falls. There's a lot to learn, see, and enjoy, even if you go only part of the way.
 Dinner: Dinner in the hotel
 Evening: Evening class: Natural History
   
Accommodations: Natural Bridge Inn and Conference Center
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Natural History and Folklore/Free Afternoon/Drama of Creation
(Wednesday, October 16)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast in the hotel
 Morning: Classes on Natural History and Folklore
 Lunch: Lunch in the hotel
 Afternoon: Your time is your own after lunch. There's a lot to explore at Natural Bridge, including the Caverns, the Zoo (small but excellent), and the Wax Museum. You might also want to drive to the historic town of Lexington, only 15 minutes from Natural Bridge, to visit the bookstores, shops and ice cream parlors, the Stonewall Jackson cemetery, or one of the four excellent museums: the George C. Marshall Museum and the VMI Museum on the grounds of the Virginia Military Institute, the Stonewall Jackson House, and the Lee Chapel and Museum on the grounds of Washington and Lee University.
 Dinner: Dinner in the hotel
 Evening: Class: Folklore
   
Accommodations: Natural Bridge Inn and Conference Center
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Blue Ridge Parkway/Musical Entertainment
(Thursday, October 17)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast in the hotel
 Morning: Field trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway -- in our travels, we'll go to the very top of the mountain ridge that you see from the hotel. Expect spectacular views of the valley and the mountains!
 Lunch: Lunch
 Afternoon: Field trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway continues, through a mountain gap as we head for the Peaks of Otter. Vehicles do not go all the way up the mountain, but we'll explore the area with our naturalist and, if conditions permit and if you wish to do so, you'll be able to hike to the top of the mountain.
 Dinner: Dinner in the hotel
 Evening: A relaxing and delightful evening of "Music with the McKenzies," who use period instruments and music to impart Appalachian history.
   
Accommodations: Natural Bridge Inn and Conference Center
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Natural History and Folklore/Departure
(Friday, October 18)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast in the hotel
 Morning: After breakfast, enjoy your final classes on Natural History and Folklore. Early lunch at 11:30 AM allows you a head-start on your travel home. Room check-out is 12:00 noon.
 Lunch: Early lunch in the hotel, before departure
   
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Free Time Opportunities
 
  Natural Bridge The Caverns at Natural Bridge
Along with spectacular landscape, expect an entertaining tour through the caverns. On a 45 minute journey into the east coast's deepest commercial cavern, descend 34 stories into the earth, and learn how our striking underground world was carved and continues to grow. For additional information, visit www.naturalbridgeva.com
  The Natural Bridge Wax Museum
The Natural Bridge Wax Museum features scenes of Virginia and Natural Bridge history where the curtain opens on George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, the Confederacy, all perched on narrated sets. For additional information, visit www.naturalbridgeva.com
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.


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