Asheville 2003


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Note: This travelog was written in 2020, so many details have long been forgotten since we took the trip.

Friday, July 25, 2003: When we heard that Christine Kane would be performing in Asheville on our seventh anniversary, we knew that a weekend in North Carolina was in order. We left Indy in the morning and arrived in Berea, Kentucky around noon. We stopped at the Berea College student crafts store to do a little shopping.

We noticed this hand statue being installed, which prompted us to search the town for more.
Here's another.
An hour and a half later, we were at the Harlan Sanders Cafe and Museum in Corbin, Kentucky where we visited the original Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant.
Did we eat here? Probably, but who can remember?
An hour later, we were at the Cumberland Gap, ...
... and through the tunnel that whisked us through the mountain and into Tennessee.
Around 3:00 PM, we stopped at Veterans Overlook near Bean Station, Tennessee.
It offered a lovely view of Cherokee Reservoir.
Let's get a closer look, shall we?
Three hours later, we were checked into the Inn on Biltmore Estate, where we had this lovely view of downtown Asheville from our room.
We didn't get a picture of the outside of the building, so this faint drawing on the hotel stationery will have to do.
Ahhhh, remember when selfies involved camera timers and could include your entire body, not just what your outstretched arm could reach? Anyway, here's our room, ...
... and here's the bathroom.
We went down to the lobby for a bit ...
... and looked at the mountains in the dusk.
Right outside is an expansive lawn with Adirondack chairs set up facing the mountains and the winery below.
Later, as we entertained ourselves back in the library/bar area, we had a brilliant idea.
We wrote a note to our friends, Mandy and Dionne, who would be visiting this very place a month later. We hid it in one of these books and they found it when they visited.

Saturday, July 26, 2003: Today was our anniversary and we celebrated it with a lovely day on the Biltmore Estate.
We headed to the large garden. At this point, Debbie was just starting to become obsessed with gardening, so this was of great interest to her.
Let's go see what magical wonders await us.
This is probably where we learned the term, "espalier." That pretty tree has been trained to grow flat against the wall.
More pretty gardens.
Pretty flowers.
These hibiscus flowers matched plants we had in our garden at the time.
Ooooh! Clematis! This was Debbie's particular plant obsession.
These flowers are irresistible.
Wouldn't you agree?
Tom, please build Debbie a pergola like this.
Hibiscus - check, we have one of those.
Morning glories - check.
Bougainvillea? Nope, not hardy in our climate, unfortunately.
We went into one of the greenhouses to check out what was in there.
We found plants of a more tender nature in there.
Clearly, we need a greenhouse on our property too.
This is a cool plant.
We must have had a 9:45 or 10:00 AM tour, because this is where the pictures stop for a bit. Photography is not allowed in the Biltmore, so to jog our memories, Debbie scanned a couple of pictures of the mansion from the book we bought in the gift shop after our tour. Here's the dining room, obviously.
This library came right out of "Beauty and the Beast."
A private bowling alley? Why not, when you're incredibly wealthy?
We saw lots of rooms, including the kitchen, servants' quarters, bedrooms, staircases, etc. But this is the only room that remained in Debbie's head after 17 years prior to working on this page of memories: the swimming pool in the basement. A private, indoor swimming pool! That's a fantastic feature to have in a mansion.
The tour was over by 11:00 AM. We bought our souvenir picture book and drove through the grounds to the winery.
We didn't get any pictures of the winery for reasons unknown, so here's a picture of the tasting room from our souvenir book. We tasted a few wines and bought several bottles of wine to bring home with us.
In the afternoon, we got in our car to head to Bele Chere, Asheville's annual music festival. But first, we drove south just far enough to cross the border into South Carolina so Tom could check it off his list of states. We've since been back several times.
Bele Chere was held in downtown Asheville.
Food and art vendors lined the streets.
Here's a pair of pig sculptures. Those are turkey sculptures just a little further back on the path near the top of this photo.
After some shopping, a delicious dinner, and a lot of waiting, we finally got to see Christine Kane perform. We had a chance to speak with her before the show, and she was gracious as always.
Christine lived in Asheville and was a local favorite so the crowd to see her was fairly large. This was amazing to us because we were used to seeing her perform in our living room for our Bundlings House Concerts series the previous year and the year before that.
We found a good location to watch the show, but still needed to zoom our camera to get these shots. Here's one ...
... and another ...
... and another.
It was getting close to 8:00 PM as we drove back to the Inn. This herd of deer welcomed us back as we drove through the estate grounds.

Sunday, July 27, 2003: We were checked out and on the road by 8:00 AM. This sure is a pretty bunch of plants along the estate road. What are they?
Whoa! This is a bamboo stand - one of the most invasive plants ever! We hope someone is on alert 24/7 to keep these from taking over the entire estate.
We grabbed breakfast at McDonald's, which was housed in a downright charming building - visible across the intersection in this photo.
Then we set out on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The views were beautiful, ...
... and the roads weren't overly crowded, even for a Sunday.
As we climbed into higher elevations, we were driving through spooky clouds.
It was close to 10:00 AM when we reached the highest point on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
It was great fun driving through tunnels. This one took over ...
... nine minutes to drive through.
As we arrived in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, we stopped at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. It had a mountain farm museum ...
... and was just steps away from the Oconaluftee River.
All of the idyllic beauty of the mountains disappeared when we reached Pigeon Forge.
Our route took us down the main road, flanked with tourist attractions on either side ...
... and a long line of cars trying to leave town as the weekend drew to a close. We were stuck in traffic for a very long time and learned our lesson not to drive through here again.

** THE END **


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