Just to check in,

this has probably been my most glorious visit to the Smokey Mountains ever, and I’ve only been here one full day.

Yesterday, driving day, I crossed half of Indiana, through Kentucky and Tennessee, and landed in Maggie Valley, North Carolina. For those of you who don’t know, I’m here with my parents and twenty of their closest biker friends. (A. Yes, I am the only one under 40. B. Yes, I am with a group of 40+ year old bikers.)

We’re renting two (enormous) cabins that are literally on the mountain. You have to drive four miles up to get to where we are (of course, they’re razorbacks all the way, so we’re probably only about two miles up, laterally). Our cabins are glorious—swanky, but still with a rustic feel. However, it’s not the cabins that are amazing.

Today I went to the Biltmore Estate, which is the largest castle in America, and also one of few that still belongs to family hands (AKA not sold to the state). George Vanderbilt opened up Biltmore on Christmas Eve of 1895, and it has been fully functional ever since. The castle has 150 rooms, and I got to see 50 of them. It was just…the coolest thing ever. I will probably make a mega-post about it when I get home, after I’ve loaded my pictures onto my computer.

Tomorrow I’m most likely headed to Grandfather’s Mountain for hiking (and the main attraction, which is a swinging footbridge, one mile [directly laterally, that is] up the mountain. At the peak, I think). Depending on how early of a start I get, I might even do a waterfall tour around Transylvania County.

More to come tomorrow, I’m sure!



Travels: Biltmore Estates (Asheville, NC)

My girlfriend and I decided we wanted to do something special for ourselves on our 1st year anniversary. As we thought about different events, social settings, and travels we both agreed that it would be nice to go to Asheville, North Carolina to visit the infamous Biltmore Estates. We planned to go from January 1st- January 3rd to enjoy our vacation there and just to travel the area.

Upon arrival in Asheville, we did a couple of new things within the area. We ate at at a Vietnamese restaurant called “Pho R Us” which was a very interesting name to give a restaurant but the service and food quality was amazing. We also checked out the movies from the highly positive review movie: Django which was a fantastic film. We later ate at a large Chinese restaurant that claimed to be the biggest Chinese buffets in the area called Asiana. Like all Chinese buffets it had it’s variety of food selections, but what stuck me the most about this Chinese buffet had to be the huge space! It had a enormous interior! We later when to a Korean restaurant called Stonebowl where we wanted to try one of their signature/traditional meals which was the claypot stonebowl special which consisted of your choice of meat/seafood, rice, and egg. What I liked most about our experience there was the atmosphere and the appetizers that included kimchi, seaweed, and others. But what had to be the highlight of our vacation was our travel to the Biltmore Estates!

I have once been to the bilmore estates with family about 4 years ago and remembered some of living spaces within the home. It was during the spring that I went there and I remembered seeing the beautiful outdoor garden. Beautiful is just an understatement to describe it…. This time coming with my girlfriend it was a bit different because it’s the winter time and being outdoors around the estates was unbearable especially since it was around 30 degrees with the wind blowing. However upon our arrival i remember walking away the parking lot when we got to the estates and reaching the top of the hill that allowed you to see the vast, magnificence of the house! It was a beautiful sight from up there! My girlfriend and I decided to take a couple of pics from that view and decended to stairs to make our walk towards the gigantic home. The story goes that in 1895, a man by the name of George Vanderbilt created biltmore as an escape from everyday life for family and friends. The place is an 8,000-acre estate with 4 floors including a basement and 200+ rooms! The home was definitely breathtaking.

Upon arriving the the home I remember looking up at the vast building and got this feeling of history and power that oozed from the house. I told myself that I wanted something like this for me and my family one day. When we enter the home we decided to do a recording tour of the home which described to the history of every room of the home. This was a great plus to traveling around the humongous home. I remember traveling around the home and noticed that the home had a specific room for everything such as a room specifically just for dinning, etc. The floor that stood out to me most was the basement. You into the basement into a room called the Halloween room which was a room to display images of the construction of the home in the beginning stages back in the 1800’s but was once a gathering room to throw parties at the estates. The basement also included a recreational area which included a small gym that included the state of the art fitness gadgets back them and i remember seeing the enormous pool that had lights on the bottom. The basement also included the kitchen where all the maids and cooks would go about making meals and according to the tour guide info, there were lots of meals cooked throughout the days. They had rooms where the chef and maids live as well. After touring the home for about an hour and a half we decided to explore the extension of the house which was the small shops and restaurants around the corner. After about 30 minutes of looking around we decided to go the winery and give the free wine tasting a try. If it’s anything free I am willing to check it out! When we got to winery i was amazed of how big the actual estates was. I was like wow! The estates is a big vacation in itself if you visit everything it offers… We got into the winery and there were already visors sampling wine over at the bar and we had to wait a little be to be assigned a bar. Once we got to the bar we were given a wine guide that displayed the wines they had for sampling. I’m not too much of wine person so I struggled with the pronouncation of certain wines… a lot…. But the bartender was a gentleman about it and showed extreme hospitality we helping up choose wines. I remember the red wines were much too strong for taste, the dry’s we in between and the sweet/rose wines where better for my tasting. I really enjoyed to samplings and after we decided to shop wining the winery to buy some to go.

We ended our great visit by eating supper at Asiana again which I didn’t mind at the time. The overall experience of re-visiting Asheville and the Biltmore Estates was refreshing! The Estates was quite larger than I thought four years ago and now that I explored the city of Asheville more than last time, I would like to re-visit this historical place!

Downtown Asheville, NC!

The fiance and I recently drove up to Asheville, NC for a day trip. I love living in a city where there’s so much to do locally and nearby! Asheville is only 2 hours away from home, so it was perfect for a short trip (in the cold). I’m no stranger to cold. I grew up in the north east, so I wasn’t fazed. I had on a wool turtleneck, so I was ready to go! Warm boots and a hat will never fail you!  …

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