we are back from vacation. and what a great vacation it was!! i can't believe how much we crammed into 3 short days! if you ever have the opportunity to go to asheville and the biltmore house, GO! it is better than you can imagine.
we left on sunday morning. picked up hubby's mom, peggy, to go with us. i just love her and she is so much fun to be with. i'm glad she came. it took us about 2 hours to get to our first destination. since we couldn't get into the hotel until 3 we thought we would go to the Western North Carolina Nature Center on our way into asheville. it's not a big place, like a zoo, but there were lots of animals and hands on things for the kids to do and see. the weather was overcast so it was not too hot. all of the animals are rescues of one kind or another and are too humanized to be released back into the wild. sunday afternoon was a great day to go. there was hardly anyone there. they had a great underground room with cross sections of the earth so you could see what was in there. kinda gross but the kids liked it. there was a petting zoo and a butterfly house. monkey did not want to pet any animals but the rest of us did. when you enter the butterfly house, they spray your hand with sugar water so the butterflies will land on you. very cool! and we each got one to land on us. one even landed on the flower tattoo on my ankle!
there was a bobcat that was cracking us up! he had a mole (don't know if it was real or not) but he kept picking it up in his mouth and tossing it up in the air and jumping up to catch it. we stayed and watched him for a long time.
we went back to the hotel for some rest and relief from the humidity. i had packed some games for us to play. so big c, hubby and peggy played Quiddler while monkey and i played disney yahtzee and land before time matching game. then we played poker using legos for betting! the boys went swimming then we walked to dinner. ate too much and slept great!
monday was Biltmore House day!! we were all so excited! thank goodness our hotel had a breakfast bar. we ate big breakfasts so we would have lots of energy for all the walking we knew was coming up. we got to the gates of the estate and started driving. man it took us 10 minutes to get to the parking lot! the biltmore house sits on 8,000 acres of land. (which could explain why their driveway is so long!) we parked and started walking. you can take a bus but it was a beautiful day and we wanted to be out in it. as you walk up these are the gates for the road to lead right up to the house. you can go up these stairs and look out at the property.
this is what you see. note the moutains in the back ground.
we were so goofy with excitement people we looking at us. i have lived in NC for almost 30 years and never been to the biltmore. i could hardly contain myself. we started to cross the HUGE lawn to get to the actual house. on your left is the gardens. they were amazing. and in the middle of the yard is a big fountain where monkey saw a tadpole. he was thrilled. that's him with his propeller hat on.
the entrance is amazing. the hugeness of the place overwhelms you. i mean i know the place was big but come on! and people still live there!
i took lots of pictures of the outside but unfortunately you can't take pictures inside at all. except when you are on the first floor balcony. and i'm not talking a balcony like in a hotel. this thing was as long as my house!
and the breeze coming off of it was heavenly. we sat out there and gave monkey a granola bar. and just looked and admired. you have several options when you go tour the house. you can do it on your own, which we did, you can do an audio tour, or you can have a private tour guide, which hubby wants to do next time. they take you places you can't go on your own. you just follow the signs and start on the first floor. then you go up, up, up, then back down, then back up, then all the way to the basement, then back to the first floor. i bet the people that lived and worked there had great butts from climbing all those stairs all day long. we saw tons of bedrooms, some with famous paintings in them and HUGE furniture. we saw round rooms, oval rooms, libraries with 2 floors, the old kitchens, the indoor swimming pool, tower rooms, bathrooms, (which monkey always wanted to use), the servants bedrooms and the halloween room. and tons of other stuff. overwhelming. and that wasn't even the whole thing because they have lots of it blocked off for the family that still lives there.
after we went over the whole house we did some shopping in the gift shops, got a snack and headed over to the winery and the barnyard. the kids didn't enjoy the winery but peggy and i did!! did some wine tasting and buying! then we went to the barnyard. it's set up just like it was back in the old days except in the stalls they had the old farm equipment with pictures and examples of what they were used for. they had lots of thing set up for the kids to do. in the middle of it all was a huge grassy area with lots of old fashioned toys. horseshoes, croquet, wooden bowling, and this game with a hoop and sticks.
monkey and big c really enjoyed the games and toys. then we got ice cream and headed over to see the animals. we walked and monkey rolled down the hills. we got to pet some animals and hold a baby chicken. monkey wanted to sit on the tractor. we had to drive by the house just one more time to see it again. then we headed back to the hotel. we were officially done biltmoreing!
peggy took the boys to dinner that night so hubby and i got to go out by ourselves!! found a great mexican cantina and spent lots of time talking about our day. nice with no kids to interrupt!
tuesday we got up, had breakfast and packed up the car to come home. but we had one last stop to make. i found this place called Grovewood that had art galleries and an antique car muesum that was on our way out of town. and it was free. so we stopped there. the gardens were filled with cool art sculptures and neat things to look at.
(the second one is about Anansi the spider!) hubby really enjoyed the car muesum. i thought it was ok but i could have just walked through and been done. but he wanted to stop and study each and every car.
i did like the firetrucks though. then we went to the art area. there was a shop with the most beautiful things i had ever seen but i was so sure that monkey was going to break something that i took him out into the gardens so hubby and peggy could look to their hearts content.
there were tons of wooden things so hubby was in his element. i could see his wheels spinning in his mind on how to make the stuff he was looking at. it was a great finish to our trip.
ah but we weren't finished! peggy wanted to go into biltmore village to go to a yarn shop she had heard about. fine by me. i like to shop. and next to that store was a toy and book store. so monkey and i went in there and hubby and big c wandered around looking for something to see. i found some cool puzzle games for the boys and a great toy my little sandbox for monkey. hit the mcd's for a potty break and a happy meal and we were on our way home.
it was a wonderful mini-vacation. you should go. come stay with me and i'll go with you!
and just so you know...there were no Wookilars at the Bilmore House. sorry