The idea of this trip started months ago, as a long weekend for my husband and me to attend a family wedding. When we mentioned the trip to our friends, our three-day-weekend wedding trip was hijacked and it became a five-day trip for six humans and three dogs. More people (especially these people) = more FUN!
Friday was travel day. Asheville is about seven hours from here ... we drove down I-81 through the mountains of Virginia, a little bit of Tennessee, and into North Carolina.
Our dog-friendly cabin was very conveniently located ... fifteen minutes from downtown Asheville, twenty minutes from Biltmore. (Our friends brought their dogs along. Ruby and Winnie stayed with my parents.)
Every wonder what it's like to be on vacation with three greyhounds? Looks a lot like this most of the time.
Saturday was wedding day. The six of us bummed around the cabin for a while, then went to downtown Asheville for lunch at Creperie Bouchon ... yummmmm!! My husband and I left there to go back to the cabin to get dressed for the wedding, and our friends set out to explore downtown. The wedding was lovely (aren't ALL weddings lovely?). It was wonderful to be there and catch up with family that we should make an effort to see more often.
Sunday. We spent the morning at Biltmore, getting our bearings and touring the house. No photography allowed in the house, darn it ... so I took very few that day. (don't worry, we went back on Monday, and I have lots of photos ... keep reading.)
Sunday afternoon's activity was white water rafting. On each of our vacations together, our friend Kim takes it upon herself to find bigger and better ways try to kill us. She is the brains behind zip lining in West Virginia, race car driving in Las Vegas, wading into the Arctic Ocean in Barrow, Alaska, etc. Rafting on the French Broad river was tamer than I thought it would be. Our guide was great, the scenery was gorgeous, and we had SO much fun!
Monday was all about finishing what we started at Biltmore. Our first stop was the garden shop ... I bought a coffee mug to add to my collection, and I resisted the urge to buy any plants.
Had coffee in my new cup this morning.
The garden shop leads to the Conservatory.
From the Conservatory, we walked out into the garden itself.
You won't be surprised to hear that the Rose Garden was my first stop ... I wish I could tell you that I loved the rose garden, but I didn't. The shape of the paths and beds seem to have stayed true to the original design, which is wonderful, but the choice of roses to fill the beds was disappointing. There were WAY too many drifts of David Austin English roses, in my opinion. It reminded me of the plant choices in the rose garden at Kew in England ... which would be perfectly appropriate there. It made me feel like the Biltmore rose garden was a copy of something else, instead of its own unique entity.
That small, black-shirted person on the right is me.
The rest of the garden impressed me greatly. The long trellis/arbor that leads from the conservatory is covered with grapes and other vines, and it has beautiful containers hanging inside of it.
The perennial borders were VERY well designed, with a great eye for color and texture and drifts of plants within the borders.
After we finished in the garden, we went to finish our tour of the house itself. (We had had to break away about halfway through the tour the day before to be on time for white water rafting.) The house is absolutely jaw-droppingly gorgeous ... enormous and grand, and a family home full of personal treasures. I loved it!
Lions flanked the front entrance.
View from the back of the house, looking toward the south terrace and the mountains beyond.
Full view of the forest and mountains.
Our trip to Asheville came to an end way too soon, as we packed up and set out for home on Tuesday morning. There is so much to see and do there, and a return trip for us will definitely be planned in the near future.
No matter how much we enjoy being away and experiencing new places, it's always a thrill to be back home. The dogs were very glad to see us (though my mother said that she misses having them), and the cats are much happier with the return to their normal routines with the humans in the house ... I think they may have even missed the dogs, just a little.