Sunday, November 26, 2017

Christmas at the Biltmore Estate


It’s been a dream in the making. A wait of 5 + years to see the largest privately owned house in the United States. And with that, welcome to the Biltmore Estate. A house of 250 rooms with 35 bedrooms for family and guests and 43 bathrooms. Construction began in 1889 and continued into 1896. It was opened up to family and friends on Christmas Eve 1895. I can just imagine the remarks of awe and wonder at such a luxurious home. No expense was spared with such an intensive display of wealth. The construction of the main house required 1,000 workers and 60 stonemasons. Vanderbilt went overseas to bring home furnishings such as tapestries, hundreds of carpets, linins, and other decorative objects.


Upon entering, your first stop will be the Winter Garden. I highly recommend the audio tour which will walk you through the Biltmore, describing the history and background of the various rooms, kitchens, dining halls, and other areas.


The banquet hall is the largest room in the house. It measures 42 feet wide and 72 feet long, with 70-foot barrel-vaulted ceilings. My visit was at the end of October and already Christmas was in the air. Ladders were in place to hang garland and ornaments. The tree in the banquet hall is a 35-ft. live Fraser fir. In addition to this large tree, more than 100 Christmas trees are placed around the mansion with the largest tree being 55 ft. out in the front of the estate.


This additional dining area is elaborate with the upholstery and decor.


The Salon


The music room


The library which demonstrates Mr. Vanderbilt’s deep appreciation and love for books.


The Tapestry Gallery


Christmas trees! Two out ofover a  hundred.


Imagine being able to walk out on your porch each day to see this view.


View down the stair well from the third floor.


Bowling Alley


The pool which is empty due to a leak.


The gymnasium.


There are three kitchens with this being the main one.

Outdoors at the Biltmore Estate





The gardens and Conservatory are another highlight of the estate. The Conservatory was compleeted in 1895 and features a variety of exotic plants. The Conservatory hosts small ceremonies and receptions of 10 – 75 guests. It is a romantic setting for weddings, but be prepared as the estimated cost for 100 guest is between $44,612 and $45,665.





I hope you enjoyed these photos from my tour of Biltmore and will get to visit for yourself one day. By booking in advance, you could get a discount so check out their tickets online.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Camping in Grandfather Mountain


There I stood, at the edge of the cliff daring to look out into the wilderness with thousands of feet from where we were to the ground. The air was chilly, but with the frequent movement it was almost nonexistent or at least it seemed so. I just wanted to take it all in. It was like all the stress and anxiety was washed away and there I was feeling God’s presence in the most miraculous way. It had taken climbing steep hills and over large boulders to reach the top, but worth every step. And then as we looked out into the distance, a cloud was encircling the moutain. You could see the breeze pushing it around.



mountain 10

Foscoe point

Grandfather Mountain State Park is known for the South’s most severe weather and most challenging terrain, but eight of us convened out on this trip with at least 35 pounds on our back and some around 45. We were courageous. The adventure seeker outers. It was my first time camping in a tent. I cherish the times my grandparents would take us camping in their airstream, but there is something way different when sleeping in a tent, cooking food on a small propane stove, filtering your own water from a stream, and the other little various things that we take for granted in city life. Camping takes us back to our roots. How we used to live before all the fancy appliances.


Picture to the left is us filtering our water and photo to the right is how we cooked our food on a portable propane tank cooker.


Conclusion to day one was experiencing a sunset at Grandfather mountain. The oranges and pinks lit up the sky and as the light grew dimmer, the stars grew brighter. Stars beyond our ability to comprehend with the distance and multitude of them all. What looked to be a satellite slowly went across the sky and then as we looked across the horizon, not only did we see the stars clearly, but also small lights coming from the city below.


The next day was even more adventurous. We found this trail and thought that this couldn’t possibly be a trail with the dangerous nature of it, but sure enough it was and as you can see the blue streak on the rock declared that it was. So despite the strenousness of the trail, half our group ventured forward into the unknown up what was quite a steep mountain. It was most assuredly worth it and though we didn’t have time to reach the swinging bridge, we shared the views and splendor of reaching the peak. It was an adventure of a life time and though the views and sites of a trip are astounding, the people you share it with is even more part of the memorability of the journey.

“Life is a journey, not a destination.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson