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Posts tagged ‘North Carolina 2014 Vacation’

North Carolina Vacation – Day 4 of 9: Biltmore Estate Revisited

We returned to Biltmore Estate on Day 4  (May 14) of our North Carolina vacation, using the next-day passes that we purchased the day before. We followed a trail from parking lot A to the marble statue of Diana.

Statue of Diana

Diana

Diana sits high on a hill with a sweeping vista of Biltmore House and the Blue Ridge Mountains.

We walked down to Biltmore House taking more pictures along the way.

View of Biltmore House from Diana statue

Once we reached the roadway in front of Biltmore House, we walked over to the Italian Garden.

the Italian Garden

We returned to Biltmore House and caught the shuttle bus back to Parking Lot A. Our next destination was Antler Hill Farm, Village and Winery – the subject of my next blog post.

 

North Carolina Vacation – Day 3 of 9 (Biltmore Estates: Geese, Sheep and Horses)

We spent Days 3 and 4 (May 13 and May 14) of our North Carolina vacation at Biltmore Estates in Asheville NC. After admiring Biltmore House and the Library and South Terraces, the Walled Garden and Conservatory, and the Azalea Garden and Bass Pond, we returned to our car by shuttle bus and drove through the estate grounds to the lagoon.

the Lagoon

At the lagoon, we spread a blanket on the ground under the shade of a tree.  The photograph of the lagoon shown above was our view, as we ate a picnic lunch.  Our picnic fare was the same as other days: tuna salad and crackers, peaches and a couple sugar-free chocolate chip cookies.  We should go on a picnic more often.  Lunch was so relaxing.  After lunch, I entertained myself by watching and photographing the many geese and baby geese at the lagoon.

We drove to the other side of the lagoon and were rewarded with a magnificent view of the backside of the Biltmore House.

Lagoon view of Biltmore House

While on the shuttle bus ride, the driver pointed out two barns, one housing sheep and the other housing horses.  We stopped at both barns on our drive through the estate.

The sheep and lambs were in the pasture grazing.

Sheep

Sheep

Sheep

Sheep

Carriage and trail rides are available at the horse barns.  We didn’t go on a ride; however, we did enjoy looking at the horses.

Two Horses

Carriage & Trail Ride Barns

A farrier was in the barn shoeing this horse.

This is a smart dog.  It is staying out of the way of the horse’s hoofs!

We returned to our hotel around 2:30 pm, where we relaxed until it was time to leave for dinner.

Dinner was at Cracker Barrel Restaurant.  We met our friends, Karen and Pete, at the restaurant.  Pete and Bob used to be coworkers.  Karen and Pete moved to North Carolina several years ago.  Whenever we visit this part of North Carolina, we make arrangements to meet Karen and Pete for dinner.  Dinner was good, as was the conversation.  Karen and I are Facebook friends, and we keep in touch there.  However, nothing compares to a face-to-face conversation.   Much of the conversation centered around Bob’s workplace and coworkers that Bob and Pete both knew.  Before leaving the restaurant, Pete gave me a painting of two Carolina Wrens.  We now own three Pete Ferry original paintings!

imageThis covered bridge scene was the first painting that Pete gave to us.
Pete mailed this painting to us.

 imagePete gave us this painting of the ocean last year, when he and Karen visited us at our home.

imageThis is the newest addition to our Pete Ferry original paintings.

Pete is a talented painter.  His paintings are gorgeous!  Thank you, Pete, for your wonderful gifts.  We will treasure them always!

We returned to the hotel around 6:30 pm.  We spent the rest of the evening relaxing in our room.  Before retiring for the night, we watched a movie on Amazon Prime (Bob packed the ROKU).  The movie that we watched was called “Flight of the Phoenix”.  The movie was about survivors of a plane crash in the Mongolian desert working together to build a new plane.  We enjoyed the movie.  Hugh Laurie was one of the characters in the movie.  It was interesting to see him cast in a different role than that which he was cast in the TV show “House”.

 

 

North Carolina Vacation – Day 3 of 9 (Biltmore Estates: Azalea Garden and Bass Pond)

As I wrote in the last two blog posts, we spent Days 3 and 4 (May 13 and May 14) at Biltmore Estates in Asheville NC. After admiring Biltmore House and the Library and South Terraces and the Walled Garden and Conservatory, we walked through the Azalea Garden to Bass Pond.

Azalea Garden

Azalea Garden

Azalea Garden

Azalea Garden

The walk from the Conservatory to Bass Pond is approximately 1/3 mile.

Bass Pond

Bass Pond Boat House

We would have walked around Bass Pond to a waterfall on the other side of the pond; however, the trails were closed.

 On our way back from Bass Pond to Biltmore House and from there to our car, we came across a shuttle bus (near the Conservatory). We rode the shuttle bus to parking lot A. We planned to eat a picnic lunch at the parking lot inside our car and then head over to Antler Hill Village and Winery. Our plans changed, though, while on the shuttle bus ride. While on the shuttle bus ride, the driver pointed out a lagoon and two barns, one housing sheep and the other housing horses.  The driver suggested having a picnic at the lagoon and told us that there was a lovely view of the back of Biltmore House from the lagoon.  We  decided to save the Antler Hill Village and Winery visit for the next day, using our next-day tickets that we had purchased earlier in the day.

On our drive from Parking Lot A to the lagoon, we passed by Bass Pond.  We stopped at the far end of Bass Pond where we saw and photographed the waterfall.

Bass Pond Waterfall

The remainder of our day at Biltmore Estate on May 13th was spent picnicking at the lagoon and checking out the sheep and horse barns — the subject of my next blog post.

North Carolina Vacation – Day 3 of 9 (Biltmore Estates: Walled Garden and Conservatory)

As I wrote in my previous blog post, we spent Days 3 and 4 (May 13 and May 14) at Biltmore Estates in Asheville NC. After admiring Biltmore House and the Library and South Terraces, we walked through the Shrub Garden to the Walled Garden and Conservatory.  The Walled Garden is a four-acre formal garden featuring flowerbeds of seasonal color.  A Rose Garden is showcased in the lower half of the Walled Garden, with the glass-roofed Conservatory as a backdrop.

Walled Garden

Rose Garden

Rose Garden

Rose Garden and Conservatory

The Conservatory houses tropical plants to include exotic orchids, ferns and palms.

Conservatory1 Conservatory2

Conservatory Flower

Conservatory Flower

Conservatory Flower

I will share more photographs from our visit to Biltmore Estates in my next blog post.

North Carolina Vacation – Day 3 of 9 (Biltmore Estates: the House and the Library & South Terraces)

We spent Days 3 and 4 (May 13 and May 14) at Biltmore Estates in Asheville NC.  A little more than a week before leaving on vacation, we purchased tickets online for admission to Biltmore Estates.  Ordering tickets online at least 7 days in advance provided a 15% discount on the ticket price.  Even with the discount, the price for admission to Biltmore Estates is pricey (but well worth the cost).  I paid $94.16 for two tickets.  Admission includes a self-guided visit of Biltmore House, access to acres of historic gardens, access to Antler Hill Village, admission to “The Vanderbilts at Home and Abroad” exhibit, and a free wine tasting and guided Winery tour.

We visited Biltmore Estate one time before. Our first visit was 6 years ago, in May 2008. We were in North Carolina that year to attend the South Eastern Vulcan Riders and Owners Club (SEVROC) motorcycle rally, the same reason that brought us to North Carolina this year. Neither Bob nor I was interested in touring Biltmore House a second time. We were interested only in seeing the grounds again, in a more leisurely fashion.  On our visit in 2008 we attempted to see everything on the estate in one day.  By the end of the day, we were exhausted and didn’t come anywhere close to seeing everything on the estate.   We didn’t see everything on the estate this year either; however, we had a much more relaxing visit! This blog post and several more posts to follow will provide details and photographs of our visit to Biltmore Estates.

Biltmore Estates was a short drive from the Best Western of Asheville Biltmore East, our hotel while staying in Asheville.  After passing through the entrance gate, it is a 3-mile drive to Biltmore House. We were directed to Parking Lot A. Signs at the parking lot indicated it was an 8-minute walk to Biltmore House. A shuttle bus was already at the parking lot, so we chose to ride the bus to Biltmore House.  I realized, upon reaching Biltmore House, that I had forgotten to put on suntan lotion.  We walked back to our car.   After putting on suntan lotion, we walked back to Biltmore House.  By the way, we easily made the walk to Biltmore House in 8 minutes or less.

Biltmore House

Biltmore House is America’s largest home.  George Vanderbilt commissioned its construction in 1889.  The 250-room French Renaissance chateau was completed six years later and officially opened to friends and family on Christmas Eve 1895.  Three years later, George Vanderbilt brought his bride Edith Stuyvesant Dresser to Biltmore, and in 1900, their only child Cornelia was born here.  George Vanderbilt died in 1914.  In 1924 Cornelia married the Honorable John Francis Amherst Cecil.  The young couple made Biltmore their home.  The Cecils opened Biltmore House to the public in 1930, in response to requests to increase area tourism and to bring in money to preserve the estate.  Biltmore Estates remains a family business to this date.

We walked to the right of the expansive green lawn to an information booth, where we purchased two next-day admission tickets for $10.00 each.  After paying for the next-day admission tickets, we continued walking to the right of Biltmore House through a courtyard to the location of public restrooms.  The next two photographs were taken on our way back through the Courtyard and as we walked across the front of Biltmore House.

Biltmore House
(view from Courtyard)

One Entrance to Biltmore House

To the left of Biltmore House are the Library Terrace and the South Terrace.

Library and South Terraces

The terraces provided the Vanderbilts and their guests a relaxing setting near the house.  The South Terrace was originally designed as a bowling green for playing the sport of lawn bowls.  On the South Terrace are several statues and a Teahouse.  Spectacular mountain views are provided from the South Terrace.  The Library Terrace provided shaded seating.

Steps from Library Terrace Lead Down to South Terrace

Steps from Library Terrace Lead Down to South Terrace

South Terrace

South Terrace

South Terrace

South Terrace

I believe that this canopied walkway is part of the Library and South Terraces.

While I was photographing the statues and admiring the magnificent view of the Blue Ridge Mountains from the South Terrace, Bob relaxed in the shade.  This walkway leads to the Shrub Garden.

.

Library Terrace

Library Terrace Wisteria

Looking back toward Biltmore House and Library Terrace from the Shrub Garden

I will share more photographs from our visit to Biltmore Estates in my next blog post.

North Carolina Vacation – Day 2 of 9

Day 2 (Monday, May 12) of our North Carolina vacation was a travel day.  We departed Oak Hill WV at 8:00 am, after a hot breakfast (complimentary) at our hotel. We arrived at the Best Western of Asheville Biltmore East in Asheville NC shortly before 2:00 pm. As was the case during yesterday’s travels, we had beautiful weather for traveling.  The sky was blue, with plenty of sunshine and no rain.  We had light to moderate traffic, with no delays in travel because of traffic.

We could have made the drive from Oak Hill WV to Asheville NC in 4 to 4 ½ hours, but we made several stops along the way. In addition to fuel stops, we made a few photo stops. We stopped at two rest areas in Tennessee and one in North Carolina.  All three rest areas were located in scenic areas and were well maintained.

The first Tennessee rest area that we stopped at welcomed us to the state. This rest area was located along Interstate 81 in Bristol TN.  We ate lunch at this rest area.

Tennessee Welcome Center

“Citizens” c. 1982

Lunch Break

We liked the sheltered picnic areas at the Tennessee Welcome Center.  Our picnic lunch included Bumble Bee tuna salad with crackers (ready to eat), no-sugar added diced peaches and a sugar free chocolate chip cookie.  We brought the makings for this picnic lunch for FIVE picnics!  Oh, see the box of creamer?  I brought the fixings for several cups of tea with us on this trip.  We did not bring a cooler with us.  The creamer did not require refrigeration; however,  it had to be stored below 80 degrees.  The temperature in the car would rise above 80 degrees very quickly, when stopped for more than a few minutes.  So, I had to bring the creamer with me when we stopped for lunch or photo opportunities.

The second Tennessee rest area that we stopped at was also a Welcome Center.  This rest area was located in Erwin TN along Interstate 26.  This rest area had beautiful mountain views and lots of land to stretch your legs.

Rest Area in Tennessee

Rest Area in Tennessee

Rest Area in Tennessee

 

We stopped at Metcalf Overlook in Tennessee, located along Interstate 26 near the North Carolina border.  I loved the tree-covered hills at this overlook.

The cows grazing in the field at the foot of the hills added a pastoral feel to the entire scene.

Metcalf Overlook

Our last stop before arriving at our hotel was at the North Carolina Welcome Center in Mars Hill NC.  What a beautiful rest area!

North Carolina Welcome Rest Area

North Carolina Welcome Rest Area

North Carolina Welcome Rest Area

As we were leaving this rest area, I noticed a trail behind the Visitors Center.  I read afterward that the trail provides beautiful views of Interstate 26 and the surrounding mountains.

 

As I wrote earlier, we arrived at our hotel in Asheville NC shortly before 2:00 pm.  I took note of the odometer reading upon reaching our hotel.  We put on approximately 650 miles on the car / motorcycle since leaving Warren PA on Sunday morning.   Our home for two nights was a large room with two queen beds, a desk and chair, a table and two chairs, microwave, refrigerator, dresser, nightstand, flat-screen TV and a large bathroom. Our room was located on the first floor at the back of the property.

We chose a great location for our 2-night stay. There were several restaurants in the immediate area to choose from, as well as plenty of shopping opportunities. We stopped at a couple of those shopping opportunities soon after arriving at our hotel. We purchased a Universal AC Adapter at Best Buy.  We communicate via Blue Tooth, while traveling.  Bob forgot to pack the charger for the Blue Tooth.  We walked into the Asheville Mall, looking for a restaurant.  We didn’t find a restaurant; however, I did find something interesting to photograph in the parking lot.

A “love, peace and harmony” van was parked at the Asheville Mall.

A “love, peace and harmony” van was parked at the Asheville Mall.

We ate dinner at Chili’s Restaurant, which was located a few hundred yards from the mall. We ordered from the 2 for $20 menu, which included one appetizer and an entree for each of us. We chose chips and salsa as an appetizer and ordered sirloin steak for our main entree. Bob ordered a 10 oz steak for $4.00 more. I ordered a 6 oz steak. Dinner was filling and very good.

We visited Biltmore Estates, while in Asheville NC — the subject of my next several blog posts.

North Carolina Vacation – Day 1 of 9

Our 9-day North Carolina vacation began on Sunday, May 11.  We traveled in separate vehicles. Bob rode the motorcycle, and I traveled by car. The amount of traveling planned for our vacation was  more than I could do on the back of a motorcycle.

Our first day of vacation was a traveling day.  We left home (Warren, PA) around 7:00 am. We were not sure how far we would get, so we didn’t make a hotel reservation for our first night’s lodging.   It was a good traveling day. It started out chilly but warmed up the farther south we traveled. Bob shed his leather chaps in Waynesburg PA, after about 3 ½ hours of travel. When we left Warren, it was sunny. It clouded up around Tidioute PA and stayed cloudy into the Pittsburgh PA area. It looked like rain might have been on the way, but it didn’t rain on us. The sun did come out again soon after leaving behind the Pittsburgh area; the sun stayed with us for rest of the day.

We made several stops along the way.  We made three fuel stops: one in Franklin PA, where Bob filled up; one in Waynesburg PA, where we both fueled up; and a third stop in Sutton WV, where Bob filled up. I wrote that we “both fueled up” in Waynesburg. I filled up; Bob didn’t.  The gas pump that I used ran normally, whereas the gas pump that Bob chose ran slowly.  In the amount of time it took me to fill up my car, Bob didn’t even get 3 gallons into his motorcycle gas tank.   The third fuel stop was because Bob didn’t fill up his gas tank in Waynesburg. In addition to fuel stops, we stopped for lunch at a rest area in West Virginia along Interstate 79 and made two photo stops.

Bob took this “selfie” at the rest area, after we had eaten lunch.

Our picnic lunch included Bumble Bee tuna salad with crackers (ready to eat), no-sugar added diced peaches and a sugar free chocolate chip cookie.  We brought the makings for this picnic lunch for FIVE picnics!

The two photo stops were made in West Virginia along Route 19.  The first photo stop was at a scenic overlook just north of Summerville WV.

A group of young men and one young lady asked Bob if they could have their picture taken on his motorcycle. He agreed, but cautioned each person to not touch the hot exhaust!

After the bystanders had their turn having their picture taken on the motorcycle, I had Bob ride to a different location at the overlook where I took his picture on the motorcycle.  I left my car at the first location and rode the motorcycle to my car.  It was the first time I had ever ridden the motorcycle without a helmet.  It was a very short ride, but it felt really odd not wearing a helmet!

 

The second photo stop was at the Canyon Rim Visitor Center.

A wooden boardwalk and a series of steps descend into the gorge. The boardwalk has two observation decks. We hiked down to the lower observation deck, which offered an unobstructed view of New River Bridge and the mile wide gorge it spans.

New River Gorge

New River Bridge is the longest steel arch span bridge in the western hemisphere.

We made it as far as Oak Hill WV, arriving there around 3:00 pm. We stayed overnight at the Comfort Inn, about 5 miles south of the Canyon Rim Visitor Center.  We would stay at this hotel again.  The hotel was reasonably priced; our room a bit cramped but comfortable and clean.  Our hotel room was on the second floor and faced the front.  Our view was Route 19.  We hoped that the traffic noise would not disturb our sleep; it didn’t.  I would, however, ask for a room in the back if the opportunity presents itself that we stay there again.  The complimentary breakfast included the basics: coffee, juice, milk, Danishes, and cold cereal but didn’t stop with those selection.  A hot breakfast of eggs, sausage, biscuits, sausage gravy, make-your-own waffles, milk, fresh fruits, and yogurts was provided as well.  When we left the next morning, we did not have to stop for breakfast somewhere else because this Comfort Inn provided a complete breakfast.

Here is a map of our first day travels.

We could have traveled a greater distance, but there was really no need to go further. Why hurry? We were on vacation!

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