We finally made the trip up to Asheville this weekend to visit Biltmore Estate, the largest private residence in America. The mansion itself boggled my mind. It’s still hard for me to come to grips with the sheer magnitude of this place – especially coming from the era in which it was built. Once we cleared the forest and the estate came into full view, that was it – I was officially mesmerized.
Photography is only permitted outside of the house, otherwise I would have some fabulous pictures to share. To me the tour was eerily amazing. I use the word eerie because as I walked through this huge mansion, it’s almost like I could still feel the presence of the Vanderbilts who lived here. I couldn’t help but place myself back in that time, when everything seemed so much simpler – although this most brilliant architecture is anything but simple. I found myself wondering what a normal day consisted of for Mrs. Vanderbilt – what she did after she woke, what she ate for lunch, what she did during the day in that big house, what rooms were her favorites. As I walked through the lush gardens, I imagined her there admiring the beautiful roses. I thought of the grief she must have felt when her husband died unexpectedly leaving her with a young daughter. Walking through the basement in the servants quarters, I imagined the young servants and what their lives might have been like. As we continued to climb stairs, gaining story after story, the long hallways brought to mind their only daughter Cornelia and how it must have been to grow up in a house like this. An image formed of the little girl running down one of the many long hallways and bounding into the endless amount of rooms. I wondered if she’d ever gotten lost in there. These ‘thoughts’ still run rampant in my head – I now realize a visit here lingers with you long after you’ve left the estate.
After touring the house and gardens, we ventured over to the village and winery, and even happened upon a Tiffany Lamp gallery. I was very happy for the opportunity to see all these gorgeous lamps in person. It reminded me of an art gallery because everyone was so silent except for whispers. Again, cameras weren’t allowed in there because they want you to visit in person. My mom has wanted one of these lamps for so long, I’d love to be the person to get her one someday.
Since the leaves are so beautiful this time of year, we decided to drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway for a leisurely ride over to Grandfather Mountain. The weather couldn’t have been better, and the scenic views were breathtaking – it was a lot to take in.
We’ve taken tons of pictures at the above overlook. I like it best because it comes complete with views on both sides – across the road is a beautiful field with a tremendous view of it’s own. It would be a great spot to picnic.
I love the mountains. I learn something new every time I visit – but this particular trip will probably hold the record for a long time to come.
Since the ole’ anniversary’s over with now, guess I can spill the beans about what I got Keith. Pack up the kids – we’re goin’ to Biltmore! (just kidding about the kid part.)
Yep, I said we.
This was my present to him, two tickets to The Biltmore House. I suppose it might sound a little self-serving (or a lot, depending on who you are)… but just what do you get a guy who’s got everything (including me)? 😀
I pondered what to get him for months. Here’s the lowdown on said conversation(s) with myself.
Me: Electronics? Guys always like electronics…
Inner Self: He’s already got everything. Besides, I’d need at least two grand or more to impress him in that area.
Me: Clothing? Maybe some fall wear?
Inner Self: I’ve gotten him apparel as a filler for every occasion for two years. He’s gotta be so sick of it by now.
Inner Self: C’mon Bon, really? What, a nice necklace (already has)… a bracelet (won’t wear one)… a watch (has five or more)… hey how ’bout a ring?? (Smacks self in forehead) Now what kind of an impression would that lead to? Talk about self-serving…
Enter ‘trip’ thoughts.
Inner Self: We were planning that anyway.
Que the Biltmore House. We’d talked about going there but had never made any final plans. Not only is it expensive – but devoting one lone day to seeing everything just isn’t going to cut it. At least eight full hours are needed there, maybe more for the winery and gardens – and it’s about a 2 1/2-hour trip one way. So an overnight stay would definitely be in order.
Neither of us have ever been before – I’d never have considered it if he had. Two native Carolinians who’ve never been to Biltmore usually make for interesting conversations with some of the older locals. Whenever we feel like pushing it a step further so as to to appear sheltered, we’ll throw in the fact that neither of us have ever been to Charleston, either.
The poor babes, they really do need to get out more. These places have been around since the arc.
It’s probably the closest we’ll ever come to being in a castle. I’m ready to be mesmerized and enchanted…