After leaving my home away from home, I ended up in western Virginia. I had planned to continue down the coast, but Hurricane Matthew forced me to take a pretty huge detour into the mountains. I spent the night at Dixie Caverns, a tourist attraction right off of the highway.
By close to the highway I mean that I may as well have spent the night in the median of said highway. It was so incredibly loud because of trucks using engine brakes all night that I'm fairly certain I didn't get any sleep at all. The overnight rate was incredibly low and in this case, I got what I paid for. This is a good place for RV campers; tent campers shouldn't bother!
I did take a tour through the caverns, which are amazing. There's a big hill behind the main building that looks like nothing much until you go inside. The cavern was discovered by a dog named Dixie and a couple of kids in the 1920s, hence the name.
My guide - I was the only tourist - was nice enough, but seemed pretty bored by the whole thing. He gave me information about the caverns, but seemed so disconnected from the whole thing that after a while I was hoping the tour would just end.
That being said, this is an incredible place! Every single one of those formations started as a tiny little straw that the water dripped through, adding more minerals to the outside until the straw closed and the water ran over the outside. Each of the formations is incredibly heavy (I got to hold one!)
Visitors in the 20s and 30s had to crawl through the original hole at the top of the cavern and were rewarded with the tip of a stalactite or stalagmite to take as a souvenir. These days you can see the tips regenerating, but it's going to be a while since it takes about 100 years for them to grow an inch.
After a breakfast that consisted mostly of Very Strong Coffee, I beat a hasty retreat to the mountains of North Carolina.