I Feel Like John Denver

“…Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River…”

Today I spent most of the day driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway. It’s the same idea as the Natchez  Trace that my sister and I drove last Fall. It’s  a National Park Service roadway that winds for 480 miles through the Blue Ridge Mountains. I didn’t drive it all. After 6 hours of mountain roads, I was ready to hit the highway again.

       

There’s lots of scenic views, of course. And I stopped at Mabry’s Mill, said to be the most photographed mill in the country. It is located in a small settlement of 1800’s era farm buildings. Open to the public as a living museum. Of course, as is my luck, it’s too early in the year for any of them to be open. I really need to come back in the summer.

        

I did do some hiking. This bridge spans the Round Meadow Creek and the path led down the side of a gorge. And up again, “pant, pant.”

         

Then tonight I am camping for the first time on this trip. Even here in the South the past week hasn’t been warm enough, so I was staying in motels. I’m settled in the Shenandoah Valley in a lovely campground. Going to watch a movie and then bed.

Another Bucket List item – Check!

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What a glorious day! I’m in Asheville, NC and today I went to the Biltmore Estate. I’ve wanted to see it forever… or at least since grade school.

The grounds are amazing. You drive for 2 miles just to get to the house. Ha! A “House” that has  250 rooms. When you buy a ticket they give you a time that you have to wait for to get in. So many people are going through they don’t want to have a crowd jam.

It was built in the 1890’s by George Vanderbilt, grandson of Cornelius, the railroad magnate. It is still owned by the Vanderbilt family, but was opened to the public in 1930 and was named a National Historic Landmark in 1963.

The tour is self-done. You just wander through the building on a set route with a guidebook or a recording device that tells you what the room is and facts about it. There are also human guides throughout who can answer questions. There’s a special exhibit right now of costumes from movies that were chosen because the stories are from some of George Vanderbilt’s favorite books. He was quite a reader. Thousands of books all over the house as well as a huge library.

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Then I went through the gardens. There are many different ones, including roses, azaleas, and shrubs. There’s a bass pond that you reach by walking through a wooded glen with a bubbling brook. Beautiful. A conservatory houses an orchid room, a tropical room, and more.

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After that, I went to the Antler Hill area which was where the farm workers lived. It’s now an entertainment spot with a farm, a winery, and cafes. I did the wine tasting and bought a bottle of Biltmore wine that is made right there on the estate. Had a delicious lunch of crab cakes and peanut butter pie. And coffee. A large coffee. heh

Entrance to all of the areas is included in the price of the ticket to enter the estate. Pricy, but oh so worth it.