Posted by: Jessie | May 18, 2011

Blue Ridge Parkway Trip: Asheville, NC

After having wet hands on the ride the night before, the first thing I wanted to do in Asheville was to go shopping for some waterproof gloves.  Eric got on the internet and found a Triumph dealership, he called, and they said they had gloves.  Eric’s GPS took us straight there.  We each found a pair of waterproof gloves we liked.  I chose the Triumph Adventure Glove and Eric chose the Alpinestars Drystar glove.  These seem to be magical gloves, since it has not rained on us since we bought them!

Our next stop was the Biltmore.  Wow.  It is huge.  We wandered through the house and followed the self-guided house tour and saw amazing things.  They had a swimming pool in the basement.  In 1895.  With underwater electric lighting.  I had no idea they had the technology to build indoor swimming pools in 1895.  Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside.  It was like a castle.  It was like a museum.  It was opulent.  We also took the Rooftop Tour, which told us about the architect and the design of the house.  We got to go out on the roofs and into the observation room and saw some really interesting things that we would not have seen otherwise. 

We had lunch in a restaurant that was built in what used to be the stables.  The Biltmore stables were more than four times bigger than our house in Cincinnati.  The walls were glazed brick, the floor was tile.  The stalls were wrought iron.  It was beautiful.  The servants lived on the second floor of the stables.

We walked the gardens then went up the Antler Hill Village to tour the winery and have dinner at Cedric’s Tavern.  The winery is new, it was added in the 80’s (I think) and is in what used to be the dairy barn.  Biltmore has gone through a lot of changes in the last hundred years. 

The Biltmore was built by George Vanderbilt.  It was his life’s work.  When he bought the estate it was 125,000 acres of used-up farm land.  There were practically no trees, and hardly anything growing.  George Vanderbilt hired Frederick Law Olmsted to design the gardens.  One of George Vanderbilt’s goals was to restore the forest and he hired Gifford Pinchot and Carl Schenck to help him with this.  The Biltmore became known as the Cradle of Forestry.   In 1914 I85,000 acres were sold to the federal government and became the Pisgah National Forest.  Another one of George Vanderbilt’s goals is that the Biltmore become self-sufficient.  On the estate there was a successful dairy, poultry farms and cattle farms.

Now the Biltmore Estate is a National Historic Landmark and tourist attraction.  They have different exhibits coming and going, like a museum.  It was a charming way to spend the day.  I’m sure if we lived near Asheville, we would probably visit the Biltmore Estate several times a year.

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  1. We rode thru Asheville on our way to the Deals Gap area. I’d really like to go back some day to see the Biltmore.

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