We left Augusta with mixed feelings because it was such an amazing week at the tournament and spending time with our friends. But, time to get on with the next part of the trip. Asheville, NC wasn’t originally on our itinerary, but we had several people along the way tell us that this was a must-stop, so we added it in. The weather had turned cold, windy & wet, which made for a bit of a challenging drive for Mike. Luckily it was a short one, only about 3 hours. We arrived at the Bear Creek RV Park and decided to just kennel in for the night. Temps were expected in the high 20’s, so we bundled up, ate in and caught up on some shows.
Asheville is located near the south end of the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, so we decided to drive part of it and take in the scenery. This was the first we had seen some elevation in a long time, probably since December, so we welcomed this familiar landscape. Much of our drive was through the Pisgah National Forest which consisted of many tunnels, tons of mountain viewpoints overlooking the valleys below and vegetation that was about 2 weeks away from full bloom. We saw huge rhododendrons, which are a familiar plant from home. It was very cold the night before, so there was still a bit of residual ice and snow in areas. What a change from the 80-degree weather we experienced in Augusta. We returned to downtown Asheville and somehow fell into a mini-pub crawl (surprise, surprise!). Started at Asheville Brewing Company, then found Green Man Brewery. This turned out to be a soccer bar with a game on the big screen so Mike was in heaven! One last stop at the Wicked Weed Brewing then ended at Pack’s Tavern for dinner. Mike had a huge order of ribs and I had fried green tomatoes and salad. All very good and classic southern hospitality y’all! This downtown area was very fun and kind of reminded us of Bend, OR. A very funky and hip vibe with lots of cool little shops and tons of interesting looking restaurants and bars.
On our last day, we decided to be tourists and go to the Biltmore. It was a bit pricey ($64 per person), but we had heard so much about it and it was another strong recommendation. The Biltmore is an 8,000-acre estate with a 175,000 sq ft mansion that George Vanderbilt built in 1888 (took 6 yrs to build) and was the largest private residence in the country. I believe it still is. This place is HUGE! It has 43 bathrooms, 250 rooms and a 70,000-gallon indoor pool. We toured the inside of the house, then headed out to the impressive gardens and grounds. Photos weren’t allowed inside, so we only have shots of the outside. It was a beautiful day, so we spent a couple of hours walking the grounds. Unfortunately, the azalea and rose gardens weren’t quite in bloom yet, so we could only imagine how gorgeous they will be. But, the tulips in the walled garden were pretty spectacular and the conservatory housed some unique plants. There is also a full hotel, winery, restaurants, farm and shops on site. The winery area was our last stop where we enjoyed complimentary wine tasting and a delicious ham & cheese fondue appy at Cedric’s Tavern. It was a perfect day and we were so glad we did this tour. We heard that locals buy an annual pass so they can visit the gardens multiple times of the year to see the different cycles of flowers and landscaping. I can see why!
Click HERE for more photo’s at the Biltmore!
Our next stop is Knoxville, Tennessee – a new state! Happy Easter all!