Monday, July 9th, 2007
Something is severely wrong with a person who leaves the fabulous Biltmore mansion raving about the bathrooms. Other people on the tour starting zooming past the bathrooms by the time we got to the fourth floor, but I still lingered over each one, admiring every last detail.
Sure, the massive banquet hall and oval bedrooms were awe-inspiring, but I preferred the more humble spaces – the subway-tiled maid’s closet, the to-die-for butler’s pantry with two dumbwaiters, the huge-but-utilitarian kitchen, the laundry room.
One of the coolest things about Biltmore, built in the 1890s in Asheville, N.C., was the technology. It had state-of-the-art bathrooms for the time with running hot and cold water, electric elevators that still work, heated floors, and mechanisms for opening all the windows in the solarium or the carriage house at once.
Okay, and I was impressed by one fancy-schmancy thing – all the family portraits by none other than John Singer Sargent. *SIGH* I love John Singer Sargent.
Oh, and the library! I would kill for a library like that.
In case you haven’t figured it out, we spent the last few days in Asheville, N.C. Actually, it feels like we spent the last few days riding up and down every road in the Southeast on a whirlwind tour of five states. On our way there, we drove east through Atlanta; stopped for a night in Athens, Ga., to visit my sister; headed up through Greenville, S.C.; stopped in Hendersonville, N.C., to enjoy the cute downtown and eat toasted coconut ice cream in freshly baked waffle cones; stayed in Asheville for three nights and I swear traversed every street in the entire city, especially one night when we desparately hunted for a pizza parlor; drove back the scenic route through Nantahala National Forest in N.C., then Ocoee area in Tenn., then Chattanooga; then hit I-59 and came back down through Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, where we picked up Millie at my parents’ house (they spoiled her and ignored our requests as grandparents tend to do), then discovered we had a faulty battery in my car and had to spend another 45 minutes buying and installing a replacement before we could finally, finally head home.
Why is it that vacations always make me more tired than when we started?
Maybe it’s because we spent a whole day tromping all over the four floors of Biltmore House and it’s massive gardens and then spent the next day touring the Southern Highland Craft Guild, Western North Carolina Nature Center, Smith-McDowell House (one of my favorite parts of the trip with a fantastic tour guide and a fascinating 1840s-style cellar kitchen), Estes-Winn Auto Museum, Homespun Museum, Grovewood Gallery, Montford Historic District and Farmer’s Market.
My feet are still recovering. And I don’t think I’ll be hungry again for at least a few more days because we ate at three different Italian restaurants, tasted five different wines at the Biltmore winery, and consumed mass quantities of ice cream and chewy praline fudge.
I took about a half million pictures, so if you are really REALLY interested in every minute detail of our trip, check out my Asheville pics on Flickr.