Last Minute North Carolina Road Trip

One day soon after Paul left for CA, my sister Susan called. She had called and got Paul and found out I was by myself and wanted to know if I was interested in a road trip.  Well, ask me that, and most likely the answer will be yes!
So after some planning, she flew out here on Friday night, and we took off Saturday morning for Asheville, N.C., to see the Biltmore Mansion!  What a great trip.

We found a church with an early service close by on Sunday morning, which we both thoroughly enjoyed.  Although that should not be the criteria for choosing a church, it was not the only factor, and we both felt this one was it!  And we were blessed!
After service, we headed for the mansion.  We took the self-guided audio tour inside the house, where we could not take pictures…. so hard not to…. it was an amazing place!
But here are some of the exterior shots:
Exterior of the staircase,

Beautifully carved columns, including

columns with drainpipe that has a fish at the end, so water comes out of its mouth!

Indoor winter garden,

the back side,

south side.

From the garden

Walled Garden entrance

 with conservatory,

We had a hard time deciding between two guided tours. We ultimately decided to do both!  One on Sunday and the other on Monday.  We found out if we signed up for one on the following day, our one day pass would be extended to the second day.  So that is what we did.
On Sunday, the Architect’s tour was fascinating: we toured the rooftop, balconies, and enjoyed fantastic views.
we got up close and personal to the “grotesques”.

We had a top view of the winter (inside) garden, 

the stable (where we ate lunch on Monday)
the brass edgings on the roof,

which were gold covered when installed!  Just a bit is still visible.

We got up close to the roof above the elevator
as well as the one over the chandelier, which was a four story wonder!

The small rooftop over the door was our exit.  In that section, before descending narrow stairs, we could see horizontal copper pipe with wires wrapped around it and the roof tiles, showing how the slate roof was attached.
The picture of the mansion from the garden (above), shows the roof top we were standing on.

The slate roof is full of amazing details.  It was guaranteed to last for 100 years…. guess what…. it is 24 years past that!  They are now planning on how to replace it.

We were able to see interior views under the roof, where copper tubing was run parallel and the slate is wired to it.
This door entering the balcony is located in the south tower on the back side (picture above), leading on the left to Mr. Vanderbilt’s bathroom, and the right going to a living space.

The Monday tour was the Butler’s tour.  It was mostly inside, so could not take pictures.  We toured the servants quarters, and some of the mechanical areas.  The sub basement included the huge boilers, and an electrical room, wired for both AC and DC.  Everything was state of the art.   Even refrigerated cabinets in the kitchen…in 1889!
One of the few outside areas we were at on the tour was a balcony facing the servants courtyard.

The black circles on the brick are chutes where coal, then later oil was delivered to the subbasement for the boilers.
The dark gray elongated room in the picture is the servants entrance.  Although it was not on the original plans, it was added prior to the completion of the house.
Both of the additional tours were fantastic and very informative.
There are many buildings on the estate.  Some private family homes; others include barns, the hotel, and Antlers Village and winery.
We toured the winery, 

then visited the village.  The on-site hotel is in the background….not the one we stayed at.

The scenery was magnificent!

And something I have never seen before…. just outside the entrance to Biltmore, a grand piano at the Macdonald’s !

Biltmore is really an elegant place, with a touch of warmth not expected in such a large place.  We were glad we stayed the second day there.  After the Butler’s tour, we took the self guided tour again, to get a feel for where we were in relation to the rooms we saw in both of the tours.   It was well worth visiting!
The next morning, we took a drive over to Charlotte to visit the Billy Graham Library.  The journey there was part of the adventure. Besides the hand-written sign that said “stop and talk to SAM” (a bare-chested mountain man with long white beard sitting on the side of the road…..we waved and drove on by…..), we also passed these beauties

and stopped to take pictures of Chimney Mt.  It was cloudy, which made the mountain even more beautiful.  

We arrived at the library in time to have lunch there.  The library grounds includes his childhood home which was moved there. 

George Beverly Shea and Cliff Barrows wife, Billie are buried there,

as is Ruth Bell Graham.  All of their spouses will also be buried there.
We took the self-guided tour and visited the book store.

It was a wonderful tribute to a great man of God.

At the end, we were faced with a 20 x40 foot Kincaid painting of the cross.  An awesome reminder of what Jesus did for us when He took away our sins!  Again, well worth the visit!
On the way back through Knoxville, we stopped to see our cousin, Don.  He suggested a coffee shop that he frequents, in
the old section of Knoxville.  It was a great time of catching up!

The trip was a great chance to spend some time alone not only as sisters, but as friends.

Vacation, playing and working!

I decided I have been having too much fun to blog.

After getting home in May, June was full of activities.   We celebrated my birthday with Paul at Pancake Pantry for breakfast,


and the “cackling hens” as Andy calls us.  
Connie’s birthday is in May, and since our birthdays are close, we celebrate ours together, this year at Mere Bules.   
Yes, normally I do not share pictures of food, but the pancakes especially were special!
Then we left for our semi-annual June trip to Coronado to enjoy the sun and fun on the beach. 

We flew out a week early to be able to see friends and relatives before meeting up with family at Coronado.  
Our dear friend, Gary Plueger, passed away on my birthday, and we were fortunate to be able to attend his burial while in Julian, an unofficial time of remembrance for us.  His memorial service was later in the month so we would  miss it.  At the last minute, Paul was honored to be one of the pallbearers.  Because Gary did not want a graveside service,  there were just a handful of people there who wanted to say goodbye.  We love the informal, old ways of doing things in Julian.

We had a great time visiting dear friends there, and were reminded of how short time here on earth is.
We were able to spend a couple of days with our oldest grandson, taking him to Old Town, San Diego,

and to a climbing wall he visits weekly.  We were impressed with his skill as we watched him climb to the top!

Then we headed north,  stopping along the way for more visits, and then to Redlands, catching up with Paul’s side of the family, sister Betty, aunt and uncle, and cousins.
At Coronado, we visited with my sisters and in-laws

then later in the week some of their kids and grands, 

A great surprise was a visit with an old friend of our family who was in San Diego.  She and her husband live in Washington, and I have not seen her since childhood!   She made the very true comment that she remembered playing with Barbies every time we got together!   Her parents and ours were friends in Canada, before either moved to S. CA. so there is a longtime connection!

We had a great time, but we felt we needed another vacation after the whirlwind of visiting!  

We got back in time to celebrate 4th of July at Nate’s house, always a fun, exciting celebration!

and Tegan’s 5 year old, “Frozen” themed, birthday party,

and had sleep-overs,  and made Frozen hats, and

and went swimming with the grands.

One of our stops while in CA was our rental in Borrego.  

We have owned it for 28 years, but It has been made clear to us it is time to let it go.  We love the place, but know that we will never live in it ourselves, and it is too difficult to manage from across the country.  Hence, after coming home for a few weeks, Paul left in the jeep to return to CA to work on it and prepare it for selling.  He will try to do 6 months of work in 2 months!  He is making progress, but between the 100+ tires, cleaning up the trash (4 trash bins worth) left by the former tenant,

replacing and repairing plumbing, 

 bathroom remodel,

and Kitchen remodel

and up to 113 degree weather, he is needing to stop when his body says to slow down.  He has found a young man who is willing to work and he has been an encouragement to Paul, digging for the exterior plumbing, roof repair and some of the exterior painting that is needed.

I miss Paul, but I am glad I am not there…. getting too old for heat and dust~!
Besides,  when my sister Susan found out I was alone, she suggested a road trip.  So off we went ….. next blog will detail our adventure!!