How I Almost Destroyed the Natural Bridge in Virginia


Natural Bridge, VA - Still Standing!

I am my father’s son. By that, I don’t mean that I’m a superhero in disguise, but that I’m a minor disaster magnet. I’ve been told that this is to help develop character, but having been told enough times that I’m a “real character,” I didn’t think I needed any more. Ah, well.

So, there we were in our Urban Assault Vehicle (also known as the RV), heading down to Tennessee to visit some of my wife’s five million cousins and spend a little time and money supporting the tourist traps in Gatlinburg. We decided to make the drive in two days, making an overnight stop at Natural Bridge, Virginia. Almost literally.

You see, we were toodling along the road leading to the Jellystone Campground that we had picked out (which, by the way, was very nice when we finally got there), but missed a turn. As you know from some of my previous posts, missing turns happens. Quite a lot, actually. And usually with interesting results.

In this case, we were just going to keep going on State Route 11 and loop back around…somewhere. The fun part was that we’d be going right over the top of Natural Bridge, a beautiful rock formation that is, literally, a bridge.

Unfortunately, as we started around the turn toward the bridge, I spied a sign that said, “Weight Restriction 20 tons”.

Now, while I somehow made it through calculus in college (which isn’t saying a lot, since that was the same year that a dog graduated from my university), I’m not a math genius. But I know that 46,000 pounds – the gross vehicle weight rating of our RV – is 23 tons. That would be three tons more than 20. While I also know the RV isn’t loaded up to 46,000 pounds, it’s close enough that I didn’t really feel like chancing it on a margin of a ton or two. Collapsing the bridge and flying the RV into the chasm on a one-way trip into the ground just isn’t on my bucket list.

I stepped on the brakes, catapulting all loose objects, including two teenagers, forward in a symphony of caterwauling.

Then came the fun part: getting turned around. We were stopped, heading uphill, with the car attached and a nasty tree scraping the roof of the RV. I got out and detached the car, and Jan drove it back down the hill where we were supposed to turn. Then I got on top of the RV and did my Flying Wallenda routine, snapping off branches and tossing them to the ground without following after them.

Free of the offending branches, I started backing The Beast back down the road. Fortunately, there was very little traffic, and I managed to navigate backwards the hundred yards or so to a parking lot where I backed in and was able to turn back the other way to follow Jan.

Except for the idiot woman who was bound and determined to turn into the drive that my 46,000,000 pound RV was occupying. And she was coming from the direction (left) that I needed to turn. She just sat there, right in the way, with her blinker on, glaring at me. She could easily have backed up ten yards, or pulled forward just past the entrance and waited for me to turn. But noooOOOOOoooo.

It’s this sort of thing that really makes me wonder about our future as a species. I think I also deserve extra chocolate for dessert for not laying on the air horn. At that range, I think it would’ve blasted her Subaru over the far guard rail. I was sorely tempted.

At last, seeing that I wasn’t going to budge, she angrily pulled forward…and made a U-turn! This was apparently a case of monkey-see, monkey-do: she wanted to turn into the drive to do the same thing I was (turn around), when she could’ve just turned in the road, like she finally did. Fire photon torpedoes, Mr. Sulu!

After that, it was a smooth drive to the Jellystone campground (which, by the way, is an absolute steal for Passport America members). And the Natural Bridge was left standing for future generations to enjoy.


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5 thoughts on “How I Almost Destroyed the Natural Bridge in Virginia

  • Robert and Elaine Hill

    Brilliant – we can so relate to both the turning around and the irritation caused by other road users not being aware of the restrictions when driving an RV! Our other pet hate is cars parked in RV only parking spots!

    • Michael Hicks Post author

      Yes, people constantly reaffirm that Darwin was completely wrong. Sometimes I think there should be a dozer blade attachment for the front of the RV, sort of like what they put on the front of tanks sometimes, so we could just remove some of these idiots from the gene pool! You think it’s smart to pull in front of a 23 ton RV with your Honda Fit? Say sayonara to your DNA, buddy! 😉