Monday, June 28, 2010

Biltmore and BioWheels

Today I spent much of the day at Biltmore. Bought my ticket online early this morning. That way, I saved $10 on the admission fee. It was a special for the month of June. Some motels had tickets (probably with a discount from the $60 admission.

I was the first "guest" through the gate. Stopped by to pick up my ticket and parked the car.

My ticket was for the first group. The tour is self-guided. If you want, you can rent an audio tour, I think the charge for that is $10.00. The thing that struck me was the size of everything in the "house". Large, even huge rooms. Ceilings that are 2 or 3 times the normal ceiling height. In the basement there was a pool, work-out room, 2 lane bowling alley, and more! A member of the Biltmore staff told me that with the guests of Vanderbilt, they needed activities to occupy their time. That's why all of the activity rooms.

From there I stopped in one of the gift shops. Did some shopping and had the purchase held for pick-up later. Then on to the Gardens.

First was the "Walled Garden". This was the most most striking garden. T spent a lot of time photographing flowers. Speaking of photos, there is no photography allowed in the Biltmore house. Even the outside of the building is protected under copyright protection. No commercial use of images of the building. I could not find any restrictions of photography of the estate grounds. Since this blog is NOT a commercial endeavor, I feel I can publish the HDR photo above. The photo to the right was of an arrangement in the Walled Garden (also HDR photo).

When I create the web site pages about Biltmore, the flowers in the Walled Garden will be featured prominently. Next to the Walled Garden was the grand Conservatory.

From the conservatory, I walked down to the Bass Pond. Along the path to the Bass Pond is its own "garden". a garden of various trees and shrubs. Then there was the Bass Pond itself with its boat house, dam, and "waterfall".

Then it was back towards the main house with the Shrub Garden and Spring Garden. By then, it was time for lunch. Had a burger, fries and beer at the Stable Cafe. Tried a pint of Cedric's Pale Ale - a amber colored ale. Quite good. Asked my server who Cedric was. Cedric was the Vanderbilt's Saint Bernard.

Before leaving the estate, I stopped by to tour Antler Hill Village. Asked about a nephew of a chaplain I severed with in VietNam. He worked other area of the "farm" and believed to be still on vacation. Left my card and a note.

From Biltmore, I went to BioWheels to check out places to ride. When I was talking with guys at the bike shop, another person chimed in about the local dirt trails. He commented that he builds trails - it was Ben Blitch, whom I have met in Rapid City and Little Rock. He happened to be visiting the shop, using a space to do some work. Small world! Left off my last two 2010 calendars. Could not think a better place to leave them.

Back at the motel, I collapsed! My legs are GONE from the walking. But, before that, I had seen there is a Dairy Queen 100 yards from my motel. With the heat and the walking today, I felt I had deserved a large Heath Blizzard. Damn, that tasted good!

This evening it time to decide my travel plans. I am thinking of passing Gatlinburg. First, the motel there requires no changes of reservations 48 hours before arrival. I don't like that requirement. And, the motel I am in is cheaper, I could just stay another day here. I have until 4pm tomorrow (Tuesday) afternoon.

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