Asheville, North Carolina
6/23/17 to 6/29/17
Friday 6/23/17 We left our campground in Orlando around 10:00 AM and headed north. The next place we wanted to see was The Biltmore Estate in Ashville, NC which was 588 miles away. Since we're in no hurry we broke up the trip with a couple of stops. The first day we traveled about 254 miles. This was just an overnight stay so we picked a campground that was just off the interstate in Tifton, GA. The place was called I-75 RV park and was right across the street from where we stayed on June 30th on the way down to Florida. It wasn't much of a campsite but was very convenient. Easy off the freeway and easy on the next morning. We set up the trailer, ran out to get gas, something to eat and just relaxed the rest of the night.
Saturday 6/24/17 We left Tifton, Georgia around 10:00 AM and headed for Anderson, South Carolina. I booked a couple of nights at a KOA. (Kampgrounds of America) which was a 288-mile drive. We stopped here because it's close to Piedmont, SC. Where Rose's brother John and his wife Sue live. Rose emailed John a couple of days ago and asked if we could stop by a visit since we were so close.
The campground was pretty nice, although we had problems with the electric going out a few times.
Sunday 6/25/17 We were meeting up with John and Sue on Monday so I stopped in at the office of the KOA and asked if there were any walking trails nearby. They suggested we check out the South Carolina Botanical Gardens. The South Carolina Botanical Gardens are 295 acres of natural landscapes, display gardens, and miles of streams and nature trails. There is also The Bob Campbell Geology Museum on site. This is part of Clemson University and is located right next to the campus.
A very nice place and well maintained. We walked the trails for a couple of hours enjoying the peace and quiet. We also visited the Geology Museum and Visitors Center.
We've been on the road for over a month and the truck was getting pretty dirty. So after the Botanical Gardens, we found a car wash and gave it a bath.
Monday 6/26/17 Around 11 AM we headed into Piedmont, which is near Greenville, South Carolina to visit with Rose's brother John and his wife Sue. We had a nice tour of their beautiful home and backyard pool and gardens. Since we don't see John and Sue very often most of the day was spent sitting around talking. We did go into Greenville for a couple of hours, had lunch and walked around downtown and the park. Greenville is rated as one of America's Best Downtowns. Featuring a one-of-a-kind "floating" suspension bridge and it's set against the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains. Greenville boasts a thriving arts scene, hundreds of restaurants, shops and boutiques, popular annual festivals, numerous historic sites and museums housing significant art collections. It's a very nice town in a beautiful part of the country. Below are some of the pictures of downtown and the park.
Tuesday 6/27/17 We packed up and left the Andreson KOA around 11:00 AM and headed to Asheville, North Carolina. I reserved three nights at Bear Creek RV Park and Campground. We didn't have very far to go so we arrived right around 1:00 PM. Bear Creek was a nice place but they put the trailers pretty close to each other. What was different about this place was that it's located on a hillside. They placed us on the upper level and our trailer was backed up to a split rail fence. On the other side of the fence was a drop-off. Looking out our back window we could see the tops of the trailers below.
Wednesday 6/28/17 Today we visited the Biltmore Estates. I copied the paragraph below from Wikipedia.
Biltmore Estate is a large private estate and tourist attraction near Asheville, North Carolina. Biltmore House, the main residence, is a Châteauesque-style mansion built by George Washington Vanderbilt II between 1889 and 1895 and is the largest privately owned house in the United States, at 178,926 square feet of floor space. Still owned by George Vanderbilt's descendants, it stands today as one of the most prominent remaining examples of the Gilded Age. Construction of the house began in 1889 and continued well into 1896. In order to facilitate such a large project, a woodworking factory and brick kiln, which produced 32,000 bricks a day, were built onsite, and a three-mile railroad spur was constructed to bring materials to the building site. Construction on the main house required the labor of well over 1,000 workers and 60 stonemasons. Vanderbilt went on extensive buying trips overseas as construction on the house was in progress. He returned to North Carolina with thousands of furnishings for his newly built home including tapestries, hundreds of carpets, prints, linens, and decorative objects, all dating between the 15th century and the late 19th century. Biltmore has a total of 250 rooms in the house including 33 bedrooms for family and guests, 43 bathrooms, 65 fireplaces, three kitchens and 19th-century novelties such as electric elevators, forced-air heating, centrally controlled clocks, fire alarms, and a call-bell system. The Banquet Hall is the largest room in the house, measuring 42 feet wide and 72 feet long, with a 70-foot-high barrel-vaulted ceiling. The table could seat 64 guests surrounded by rare Flemish tapestries and a triple fireplace that spans one end of the hall.
Guests of the estate could enjoy other activities that were found on the basement level, including an indoor 70,000-gallon heated swimming pool with underwater lighting, one of the nation's first bowling alleys installed in a private residence, and a gymnasium with once state-of-the-art fitness equipment. The service hub of the house is also located in the basement such as the main kitchen, pastry kitchen, rotisserie kitchen, walk-in refrigerators that provided an early form of mechanical refrigeration, the servants' dining hall, laundry rooms and additional bedrooms for staff.
I've got to say that this place was really amazing. The workmanship of the stone and woodwork was unbelievable. The gardens were beautiful. It's hard to imagine what these people's lives were like back then with so much money. And the rest with so little.
It cost $65.00 to tour the place and we also took the audio tour (an additional $20.00) which gives you a narrated recording as you walk to different areas of the house. Then later in the day, we took a guided tour highlighting the servants working areas. We spent the whole day here walking through the house, the gardens, and the trails on the property. Well worth a visit if you are anywhere near Asheville, NC.
Everything we saw in the Biltmore was amazing and we couldn't stop taking pictures. So there's a lot of them below!
Thursday 6/29/17 After yesterday's full day at the Biltmore we wanted to do some hiking in the woods. Searching for something nearby we found a short trail in the Pisgah National Forest. The Pisgah National Forest is a land of mile-high peaks, cascading waterfalls, and heavily forested slopes. Comprised of over 500,000 acres, the Pisgah is primarily a hardwood forest with whitewater rivers, waterfalls and hundreds of miles of trails. This national forest is home of the first tract of land purchased in 1911 which led to the creation of the national forests in the eastern United States. We decided on the Catawba Fall Trail. It's a short three mile round trip trail with a 100-foot tall waterfall at the end of the trail. It was a nice hike, mostly uphill to the falls and not too crowded. We were rewarded at the end with the waterfall. Although at this time of the year the water flow is low.
The hike to Catawba Falls only took half a day and we wanted to see more of the National Forest so I checked Google Maps on my phone and found a road that runs through the park. Looking at the map we were near the town of Old Fort, NC. We could drive on the main road for a while then turn left on a road named Curtis Creek Rd. Curtis Creek eventually ended at the Blue Ridge Parkway which runs along the ridge of the mountains and back to Asheville. So off we went for another adventure. Problem is that Google Maps doesn't tell you what type of road it is. Once we turned on to Curtis Creek it was a very narrow blacktop road. It was mostly uphill running along a creek. After a couple of miles, it turned into gravel then into dirt. The "road" was just wide enough for the truck and had pull offs every once and a while in case another car came the other way. It was a rutted, bumpy road, all uphill with switchbacks. We drove along at about 15 mph. We did see some tent campers and cars parked here and there through the deep woods. It was a slow but beautiful drive through the forest.
After about 45 minutes of this, we got to the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Blue Ridge Parkway is noted for its scenic beauty. The parkway runs for 469 miles through Virginia and North Carolina, linking the Shenandoah National Park to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It runs mostly along the spine of the Blue Ridge, a major mountain chain that is part of the Appalachian Mountains. The parkway is a blacktop, two-lane road with lots of curves and overlooks. We pulled over at least six different times to enjoy the views.
We stopped at Mount Mitchell State Park. Mount Mitchell is the highest peak east of the Mississippi. It's a short (300 yards) uphill hike to the observation tower from the parking lot. But as soon as we got there it started to cloud up and we couldn't get any good pictures from the top. On the way down there was a short nature trail that we hiked. Lots of ferns and moss on the trees.
We really enjoyed our time in Asheville, North Carolina. Western North Carolina is a beautiful part of the country. I'm sure we'll be back some time. Tomorrow we are heading to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee home of Dollywood and The Smoky Mountains.
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