Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Biltmore - Asheville, NC

So we made it to Asheville, NC late Sunday night and stayed at the KOA. They had showers, and we took full advantage of them! Since Talladega didn't have showers we hadn't showered since we left TX, and that included two full days of nasty, sweat, sunscreen, plus a night in a tent and being rained on...and oh yah, rubber from the race car tires! Let's just say that shower was much appreciated! We went to bed and woke up to a rather nice campsite:

It seems on our vacations Matt always finds some kind of animals to feed!
We had a 2 hour private tour scheduled at the Biltmore at 10:00 a.m. and White Water Rafting in Tennessee (an hour drive away) at 1:15p.m. It was going to be tight, but we were going to make it! One of Matt's employee's told him about the McDonald's across the street from the Biltmore entrance and said we had to go there. I recalled seeing a "swanktastic" McDonalds from my trip there back in 2006. So, we planned to check it out...and this is what we found:

Not your run of the mill Mickey D's...that's for sure!!
 We then went across the street and waited for the Biltmore to open at 8:30, and then we started our own little tour through the entrance and the gardens before our tour started. It just happened to be the "Festival of Flowers" and let me just tell you they were SPECTACULAR!!! Everything was gorgeous!

Does this field look familiar? This is where they filmed the final battle scene in Braveheart!

The Interstate going through the property.

Largest home in America! Gorgeous too!

The entrance to the house, after a 2 mile drive down the driveway.

The typical tourist picture! =)
Isn't it amazing so far? I'm about to share just a few of the flower pictures, but here's some basic house knowledge. George Vanderbilt had this home built, it was completed in 1895 and has 250 rooms. It now sits on an 8,000 acre tract, but when he lived here, he had purchased a 20 mile radius around the house! There are too many interesting facts about this house, so if you want to know more, check out the website.

Look at these orchids!!

 The flowers were amazing and smelled heavenly! We enjoyed our walk through the garden and then went to see the outside decks/patios of the house:

View from the back of the house.

Matt approved of the "sweet retaining wall"!
We weren't allowed to take pictures inside, just outside and on the rooftop, so these are just a few:
That's the cantilevered staircase!
You can't really tell, but the raised details on this piece were all plated in Gold.

View across the courtyard from the roof.

Look at all the detail put into this...all hand carved!

If you ever get a chance to go and see this place, you must! Also, the private tour is worth every penny. You get one on one time with the guide and see so much more of the house that you wouldn't get to see otherwise. It was amazing!

So we finished at exactly noon and ran to the car and headed out for our rafting adventure. I had a voice mail and I checked it and it was the rafting company, our trip had been canceled due to not enough people. BOO! We were trying to work it out to do it the next morning or later that afternoon but it just wasn't going to happen. I was disappointed, because white water rafting in Tennessee was how this vacation got planned. So what did we do? Went to our handy dandy IPHONE and GOOGLED other places to go white water rafting. The first one that popped up I called immediately. Wouldn't you know that she was so sweet, said their trip was a better trip and they had one leaving in an hour and a half and we were an hour drive away. She gave me directions and said they would wait for us! How awesome? All things work out for good...

We were going on the Nalichucky River in North Easter Tennessee now...we made it in time, got our quick lesson and got on the river. For obvious reasons, there are no pictures of this trip. I wish you could have seen it though. We went through 8 miles of Class I-IV rapids and it was AWESOME! I was chunked from the boat twice, and took Matt with me on one trip. We had some bruises from the rocks, but it was worth it. If we hadn't have been swimmers and water inclined, I would have been nervous. You must go! And use USA Rafting out of Erwin, Tennessee. That took about 5 hours and we were starved, we hadn't eaten since McDonald's that morning. So we asked for a good place to eat and we were told Hog 'N Dogs, we were going to try the Carolina's version of Bar-B-Que. We were pleasantly surprised!

We shared all of this: Bar-B-Que Lasagna, Chopped Beef Sandwich (and the already devoured Bar-B-Que, Slaw Hot Dog).
If ever in Erwin, Tennessee, you MUST try this place! It was so good, and the people were SUPER friendly. As we walked in (looking like drowned rats) they were filming a commercial for the place...we'll have to check and see if we made it! It was another great day on our Road Trip Adventure! After dinner, we drove to Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg and went to the movies to see "The Avengers", it was good, and then we camped at the KOA in Pigeon Forge. Tomorrow I'll tell you all about Gatlinburg, Nashville, and The Grand 'Ole Opry, stay tuned!

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