Ready for more about the Birthday Mystery Trip? Okay then. The next stop, which was also the final stop on this trip turned out to be Asheville NC where instead of staying in a hotel which is what we normally do, Tim rented an entire house! It was a lovely place, set back from the road and nestled into a lovely, green copse. This was the view from the kitchen table. Not exactly a hardship, right? Green lawns, a pretty little creek, trees galore and although you cannot really see them here, many different sorts of ducks and geese which turned out to be very entertaining to watch.
We arrived, once again, in late afternoon and once we hauled our crap into our temporary digs we set out for town to find food. Asheville is adorable. It's a college town so there is a specific and creative vibe to it but there is also the edge of history which has been beautifully preserved. Our landlord made several restaurant recommendations, which was very kind, and we checked out one of those, The Twisted Laurel. He did not steer us wrong. The food was excellent. We ate outside and watched the world go by before returning to the house. We finished the evening by watching the ducks until it was too dark to see them anymore.
The next day we decided to go to the Asheville Botanic Garden. It was beautiful but I question the name. It was actually more of a Nature Preserve with lovely bridges, a stream, hiking trails, loads of trees and a few clumps of interesting native flowers here and there. We hiked up and down trails for hours, taking photos and enjoying such a beautiful and peaceful environment.
Once it got too hot to be out in the sunshine anymore, we drove around the general area for awhile admiring the small towns, making note of various restaurants, getting the feel for the place. Every time we crested a hill and I saw those beautiful mountains in the distance I thought of Colorado.
Eventually we made the way back to "our" place to clean up and change for our fancy dinner and, unknown to me at the time, my BIG surprise (which I wrote about on Tuesday). That evening, after dinner and finding out about the kids being there, eating, talking, laughing, and in my case, crying, we all six of us, went to the house and got the kids settled into their rooms. Nobody wanted the evening to end and we stayed up way too late, catching up! Eventually we had to end the day and rest up because Friday was BILTMORE DAY!
Ever since the first time I heard about Biltmore House, which was a Very long time ago, I have wanted to see it. I have a "thing" for history and design and houses old and new and a preserved old grand home like this just fit perfectly into my particular niche. Julie has an even bigger passion for this sort of thing than I do, which is impressive ;) Biltmore did not disappoint. We had reservations ahead which were very wisely made for early on a weekday so while there were other people there, it wasn't massively crowded. I cannot begin to describe how amazing this house is. Jessie kept comparing it very accurately, to scenes from the TV mini-series "Outlander". I think even the guys were captivated by it. It's really difficult to describe the grandeur, the attention to detail, the magnificence of this home. And it actually was a real honest to goodness home for this family for three generations! Mind boggling!
I was both surprised and pleased with how much of the house we had access to. The tour just went on and on and ON! And still we only saw a small fraction of the 250 rooms and 8,000 acres that comprise Biltmore House. We only saw a small part of the gardens which were gorgeous, naturally. There was a Chihuly exhibit on the grounds as well. Perfectly suited to it's setting!
Afterwards we ate at a lovely buffet restaurant on the grounds and wandered around the "village" area. There were yet more gardens, more Chihuly glass, shops, a small petting zoo, a little Vanderbilt museum and a stables area that offered horseback riding (which we did not do).
Overwhelmed with the enormity of what we saw, weary from the walking and reeling from processing it all, we retreated back to the house for more talking and laughing, puzzle working, movie watching and ultimately pizza eating.
We had only one day left of our adventure and we needed to conserve our energy. I'll wrap up the trip tomorrow so if you have been enjoying coming along for the ride, I'll see you again soon :) If this isn't your thing, that's just fine. I promise that next week I will have moved on to the next idea swimming around in my noggin.
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.