Saturday, June 30, 2012

Biltmore Forest and Lunch at McDonalds

We took a drive to Biltmore Forest Village.  It is a planned residential community with a rich cultural history. The Town was planned by the best professional planners of their day.  Mr. C. D. Beadle who had associated with the firm of Frederick Law Olmsted of Boston, planned the protection, preservation, and perfection of the natural beauty of the area that is now known as Biltmore Forest.  He was involved in the design of New York's Central Park, the U. S. Capitol grounds in Washington D.C., and the grounds of the Biltmore Estate.  And you could drive through, no entry gate or guard.  Most of the homes had large lawns and many trees.  Here are some pictures that I copied from real estate ads as we couldn't get good pictures of the homes.

This will at least give you an idea of what the homes look like.

We did some pictures of the golf course.  This is the clubhouse.

The putting green.

A water hole.

And a cart path.

After our drive we went to Biltmore Village for lunch at McDonald's.

Believe me I have never seen a McDonald's like this. The ceiling was awesome.

They even had a player piano.

The dining room.

Prices are the same, but it is a very nice place to dine.  Dining at McDonald's.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Blue Ridge Parkway

Our friends Jackie and Chico had to head back to the Chicago area, for our last day we decided to take a drive up the Blue Ridge Mountain.

We stopped at the Welcome Center and picked up maps and saw a great video on the construction of the parkway.  If you are not taking the opportunity to stop at these centers you are missing out. 

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a product of the New Deal's efforts to provide jobs to the unemployed of the Great Depression.  Construction began in September 1935 at Cumberland Knob near the North Carolina and Virginia state line. 

The idea was to create a link between the Shenandoah National Park to the edge of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  Completed in 1983, the Parkway's history has been highlighted by documentarian Ken Burns in the six-part "The National Parks: America's Best Idea" series originally aired on PBS.  Can you see the blue haze that gives the parkway it's name?

We stopped at Cragger Gardens about half way up. Usually in June and July you can view the pink and purple blooms of rhododendron. Unfortunately, we saw non on this trip.

We did see incredible views of the valley and river below.

And we drove through this almost hidden tunnel. Can you find it?

We were headed to Mount Mitchell.  Mount Mitchell is the highest peak of the Appalachian Mountains and the highest peak in the eastern United States.  It was the highest point in any state of the United States until Texas joined the union in 1845.
Jacki and Jackie made it part way up the trail.  Bob and Chico made it to the top.

This is the observation deck, we don't know any of the people.

This was the view from the top.

The top of Mount Mitchell's elevation is 6,684 feet.

Jackie and Jacki waited at a Ranger Station and the Ranger showed us some prints, this one was a bear print and some skulls, this one was also of a bear.

On the drive down we stopped at the Folk Art Center. There were beautiful hand made fabrics, jewelry, pottery, clothing, quilts, on and on.  However, I guess I didn't get any pictures.  What talented people!

The next day we said goodbye to our friends.  We will miss their company but we will see them down the road.

Cross One Off the Buckets List

When we went to Myrtle Beach with Jackie and Chico Garvis, on the boardwalk, we passed a zip line.  Jackie made the comment that zip lining was on her bucket list.  We tried to encourage her to give it a try, but this zip line only went over a parking lot and that wasn't exactly what she had envisioned.   
BUT when we got to Asheville, at the Visitor Center, Jackie picked up some information on zip lining there.
One day we went over to check the zip line place out.  You zip lined on several different lines as your skills progress. There was safety equipment and the instructors seemed very knowledgeable.  Jackie signed up for the next day.  Chico drove her and they returned a few hours later with pictures and videos.

Chico sent me a picture for our blog.  We are so proud of you Jackie.  I could never get up the nerve to zip line.  I think Chico has more pictures and maybe even a video, ask him to see them.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Biltmore Gardens

The Biltmore had acres of beautiful gardens and grounds designed by renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Omsted.  Who also designed Central Park in New York City.

Here is a few pictures of the formal Italian garden.

The Spring Garden.

This is the Conservatory.

Inside were potted plants 

and orchids.

On our way out, we passed the Bass Pond and the 20 foot high Dam on Four Mile Creek.
There was still more to see, Antler Village and Winery, which will have to wait for our next visit.  I can't wait.


Biltmore House is a Chateauesque-styled mansion in Asheville, North Carolina, build by George Washington Vanderbilt II between 1889 and 1895.

Left Wing

Center Front

Right Wing

Couldn't get the whole house in one picture.  The Biltmore is the largest privately-owned home in the United States, at 175,000 square feet and has 250 room.  Still owned by one of Vanderbilt's descendants, it stands today as one of the most prominent remaining examples of the Gilded Age, and acres of significant gardens.  On our tour, we were able to see 70 some rooms, but no pictures were allowed.  I can't describe the house to you.  We bought and audio tour and it is well worth the money.  This was a highlight of our trip this season for me.  I recommend this to everyone.  Here is a link that will give you additional information: Biltmore Vacation.
Jackie and Jacki welcome you to Biltmore.

We were allowed to take pictures on the veranda.  Here is the back veranda.

There were details everywhere in the ceiling and the door.

Even a buzzer to buzz for your servants.

Bob and Chico tried out being rich.

Check out the view from these seats.

We had lunch in the stables.
Pretty nice for a stable.  Food was great too!.

A few more details we noticed as we left. We don't know who these people are but we love all the windows.

Some details around the front entrance.

They also had an ice cream store.  The ice cream is made from the milk they get from their dairy cows.  Next blog, the Biltmore Gardens.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Grove Park Inn

We took the trolley several days later to see The Grove Park Inn. Framed by the Blue Ridge and the Great Smoky Mountain ranges.  The Grove Park Inn is two miles from downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

This is a view of the back of the Inn.  The lower red roof is where the Terrace Restaurant is, known for great viewing of sunset.

Beautiful view.

Listed on the National Register and Historic Places, the hotel is an important example of the Arts and Crafts style.
Inside a stone fireplace.

The Grove Park Inn was conceptualized by Edwin Wiley Grove with the help of his son-in-law Fred Loring Seely.  Seely was married to Evelyn Grove, Edwin's daughter.  Grove owned Paris Medicine Company.  It's primary money-making product was Grove's Chill Tonic, which was a tasty syrup elixir containing quinine.  This formula would help tame the raging chills brought on by malaria.  At one time the number of bottles of Grove's Chill Tonic outsold a famous brand of cola.

This is a picture of the grounds, which also includes a Donald Ross signature golf course and an award winning spa.

Saving the best for last, our next blog is our visit to the Biltmore.