First off, sorry for the delay in writing….just laziness on my part! Just an update on our trip; we have been on the road for 4 months now, have visited 25 states and traveled, as of today, a little over 7,000 miles.
After we departed Kentucky we headed back to North Carolina to check off another bucket list item, a visit to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville. We stayed at Mama Gertie’s in Swannanoa, a town about 15 miles east of the town of Asheville. Dennis and Charlene Bim had heard about Mama Gertie’s on their travels and were the ones who recommended it to us, thanks!! (For our fellow RV’ers it’s situated in a forest area, nice sites and a well maintained campground, a must if you are in the area!). We were fortunate to be in the area during the Christmas season and the Biltmore Estate was gorgeous!! A bit of history about the estate-The Biltmore Estate is America’s largest private residence and a National Historic Landmark. George Vanderbilt built the Biltmore Estate on 125,000 acres and the 250-room chateau was officially opened to friends and family on Christmas Eve, 1895, after 6 years of construction. Today, the Biltmore Estate is still in the hands of the family although no one actually lives in the estate anymore but they do live on the grounds of the estate. We toured the grounds and took an “Upstairs/Downstairs” tour during the day. The tour was fabulous, very Downtown Abby!! The servants who served the Vanderbilt’s were very fortunate in that they had accommodations and access to everything that the Vanderbilt’s had to include electricity, hot and cold running water, the same food and restrooms attached to their rooms or close by. Although the gardens were not as beautiful as other seasons, the conservatory was absolutely gorgeous with the tropical plants and every variety of poinsettias you could imagine!
That evening we took the Candlelight Christmas tour, which was breathtaking! Every fireplace was lit, the downstairs rooms and most of the 2nd and 3rd floors were decorated, there were 62 Christmas trees throughout the house and roving musicians playing music as you wandered the house as if you were a guest of the Vanderbilt’s. What a magical evening for us both, one we will never forget. After we left the Estate we had a late dinner at one of the 5 restaurants on the grounds of the estate.
The next day we visited All Soul’s Episcopal Church In Biltmore Village, the town George Vanderbilt built to house all the staff that worked for him. It was a complete town with shops, hospital and a church that was designed and built by the same architect and artisans as the estate. We were fortunate to get a tour by a docent, Dixie, who told us many stories about the church to include that the descendants of George and Edith Vanderbilt still worship there.
While in Asheville we wandered around the area, one stop was in Bristol, Tennessee where the main street is the dividing line between Virginia and Tennessee. If you have seen the Geico commercial where the gecko hops between the two states, it really exists and yes, we did the same thing!! We also did a bit of antique shopping and went to a flea market where Dennis found a ¾-scale Civil War sword (reproduction) that was cleaned and now serves as his campfire poker!
After we left Asheville we spent 4 days in the Kennesaw, Georgia area visiting some of Kathy’s friends who have now become my friends, too. It was very nostalgic for me to wander around where they used to live, visit her memorial bench and catch up with Beth and Lori. As we drove from Kennesaw on our way south we stopped in Newnan, Georgia to visit a cousin of Dennis’ so I could learn how to make Southern biscuits from scratch. Beverly was so kind to meet up with us and teach me to make them, what a mess I made! I breathed a sigh of relief when Dennis pronounced them as good as Other Mama’s (his grandmother).
We are now on our way to Florida for some warmer weather and to meet up with our friends, Bryan and Matt, fellow vintage RV lovers. See you on the road!