Dixie Road Trip – Biltmore and Woodstock

Started the day with a visit to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina….with most of our focus on the mansion.  The estate sits on 8000 acres and the mansion itself covers 4 ½ acres.  The mansion was built between 1889 and 1895 and consists of 250 rooms and 43 bathrooms.  (In the 1890s most homes had no bathrooms….much less 43!)  The home has its own two lane bowling alley and an indoor swimming pool with electric lights.  It takes over 1800 people to manage and maintain this estate!  Did I say this was built by George Vanderbilt….whose grandfather made his fortune in shipping? Also, the estate originally consisted over 125,000 acres, but much of it was sold to the United States and is now the Pisgah National Forest.

After you pay your entrance fee you drive up a winding three mile road to get to the mansion.  The trees and shrubs along the way are beautiful and a sight unto themselves.  We parked the car and decided to walk to the mansion instead of taking the shuttle. As we came out of the forest this incredible French chateau with gargoyles, statues and perfectly groomed
greenery seemed to magically appear in front of us!

Gargoyles On Guard
Immediately upon entry into the mansion we were captivated by the elaborate décor and the incredible attention to every detail.  Lavish tapestries, intricate ceilings, beautiful statuary; and this was just the entry!  Our tour encompassed 46 of the 250 rooms and each room was a sight to see.  Dining rooms, sitting rooms, billiard rooms….on and on and on.  This home was built to be fit for a king…and it still remains the largest and one of the most impressive homes in the United
States.  (Note: No pictures are allowed of the inside of the mansion.  You’ll have to visit to see for yourself!)
A tiny portion of the gardens

As we left, Mona leaned over to me and said, “This place is so me.  I could definitely live here!”  I simply hit the gas and sped away.

The drive out of the estate is four miles…again, we impressed with the sculpted landscape…seemingly natural, but everything placed just-so for maximum beauty.  Along the way, we encountered several  geese and their goslings.  We had to stop for several minutes as the goslings were led across the road.  It must have felt like a long journey to the little ones, as they kept sitting down to take breaks and rest a bit.

We avoided the temptation of stopping at the Biltmore Winery and set our sights for Woodstock, Georgia.

We passed through Spartanburg, South Carolina, of course picking up our first South Carolina cache, and turned to the west on I-85.  The drive through here is comprised of rolling hills with lush forests on either side. Mona was driving, and yes, we both checked to make sure we had plenty of gas!

On this drive we kept hitting pockets of severe thunderstorms…driving along at 70 miles an hour and in bright sunshine. Suddenly, the windshield would get sloshed with a cloudburst of rain and all the cars ahead would slam on their brakes.  Traffic would slow to a crawl with everyone’s flashers blinking away while each car was trying to avoid all the others.  After a few minutes, the sun would break through, the green flag would come out and accelerators were once again pressed to floor.  All this made for a very interesting drive to Atlanta.  (Glad I wasn’t driving!)
In the evening, we link up with friends formerly from back home: Shannon, April and Nate and went with them to Pure Taqueria in Woodstock.  This isn’t your normal Mexican restaurant with burritos, rice and beans.  The menu includes braised lamb shank, red snapper and duck confit; all Mexican-style of course.  Apparently, we’re all in the mood for a little lighter fare, because three of us ordered the same thing: Pescado a la parrilla, citrus grilled fish tacos.  Nate and Mona opted for quesadillas.  We chose wisely…perfectly cooked white fish with just the right amount of citrus and spice.  Yum!
But wait, the real reason we’re here is because April keeps bragging about how this place has the best margaritas in the world.  We know that simply can’t be true, because the best are served at Blue Coyote in Palm Springs.  (Everyone knows that!)   The taste test is on!  April explains that it’s a particular rita called, “The Sedgwick”.   Four are ordered and delivered.  Taste….hmmm doesn’t taste like sugared lime-aide.  Hmmm….a little smoky/spicy taste of tequila…..gotta admit, these are pretty close to Blue Coyote’s.  Now….need to figure out how to set them up side by side for the final contest!
Nate's First Cache!

Nate’s First Cache!

After dinner we get the question, “What’s this geocaching thing you guys keep talking about?”  We showed them the app and then off the five of us go to a nearby park for the hunt!  We scour the band gazebo for about 15 minutes, with no luck.  No matter, Blues Clues #3 is only two tenths away.  Off we go!

What a great day!  Now, it’s time for the next one.  We’re headed south to the Gulf.  Not sure where we’re going to land…but hopefully tomorrow morning we can walk a beach and listen to the surf!  Will keep you posted!

P.S.  And Shannon, we’ll keep that little thing about my billfold just between us.  Okay?


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