Tag Archives: NC April 2014

Photos of Biltmore Estate


I forgot to warn you: there may be many pictures of flowers and beautiful landscaping to follow. I couldn’t help myself, everything was so incredibly beautiful!


Main entrance to the house.


Side view of the house. This was taken from the stables (which have been converted into shopping and restaurants.



This is the grand staircase, just to the left of the main entrance. Inside is the main spiral staircase. Down its center is a chandelier that lights each floor and the chandelier is three stories from top to bottom. Also notice the outside stairs. They don’t lead anywhere, but there are little doors along the way so someone on the inside stairs could step outside. The outside stairs were really just decorative and they anchored the inside staircase to the wall they shared.


This is one of the patios. Its covered with (I think) grape vines which haven’t started leafing, yet.IMG_1939


A view along the back of the house.


I can’t say why, but these rolling hills are really beautiful. I know the picture doesn’t capture it, but come visit for yourself and you’ll see what I mean!


This is the other side view of the house, the one opposite the stables. I took it from the end of the enormous (like at least a football field long, enormous) patio. The fuzziness in the middle of the house is that grape vine-covered patio we saw earlier.


I walked down a staircase at the end of that enormous patio and found this beautiful scene.


Here, more grape vines (I think!) cover that walkway that runs along the lower wall of that enormous patio we saw a couple pictures back.


Another view of the house from the gardens.


Here we are!


Finally! My camera comes close to capturing the really green trees. Those that have started the leaf, anyway. There are plenty that are still bare.




This is the covered walkway that runs through the gardens and leads to the Conservatory.


Field of flowers.


Another view of the walls.


I don’t know what this plant is, but I love it.


This is the rose garden. Unfortunatly, its not ready to bloom, yet.


Here’s the conservatory. Its really just another name for greenhouse, but this is an especially beautiful, and really big, greenhouse. You can even see the trees inside through the windows.


Here are several photos from the greenhouses.





I have a thing for fluffy-looking plants. Don’t know why, just do.








A view of the main house from the Conservatory.



The Conservatory and greenhouses.



The stable courtyard withe stables in the background. That clock is the master clock for the entire house. George Vanderbilt insisted on a punctual household, so he installed wall clocks throughout all the servant areas. When the minute hand on this clock moved, it sent an electric pulse to all the other clocks so their minute hands moved, too. It kept the entire house synchronized.




This is the covered entrance to the right of the main entrance, near the stables. This is where carriages would come if it was raining. Behind me is another entrance to the house.


This is a view of the backyard where the servants worked. Here is where deliveries were made and where guests’ trunks would be unloaded. The farthest building is the back of the stable and the unmarried male servants all had their rooms on the second floor of the stable. To get to work, they walked down the spiral staircase in the black extension, walked across the brick courtyard, and went in the back door, which is underneath me.


Another view of the back courtyard. Notice the circles, like manholes. This house has central heating (yes, it was original to the house in 1895!). It was heated by 3 huge steam turbines that ran on coal. So, they’s take the covers off the manholes and they’d dump the coal down the shutes to the coal bins. We went on a tour of “below stairs” and saw the turbines, as well as the “Dynamo”—the machine that generated the DC current that powered all the electric lights in the house. Eventually the hosue was converted to AC power when that became the way of the world.


The gift shop in the stable was overwhelming. Too many beautiful things to even see individual things.


This wine comes in a cut glass bottle.


Here’s the house. On the right, behind the trees, is the stable. On the left you can kind of see the grape vine-covered patio. From that extends the football-sized patio. I should mention that just to the right of the main entrance is a little pointy roof. That is the Winter Garden. It’s a large area just off the entrance hall that made of glass—yes, that pointy ceiling is glass—and its full of all kinds of exotic plants and some beautiful sculptures. It is jaw-droppingly impressive. Of course, to the left of the entrance hall is that grand spiral staircase with the incredible three-story chandelier. It was overwhelming.


More of the grounds.




Yes, they have Segue tours. I kind of thought it was a joke, though, until I actually saw them.


Field of flowers.

Smoky Mountains Photos


Everything was getting green. I really hate my new camera because it doesn’t capture how deeply green the green plants are.



Here’s where the stream is diverted into a flume.


Here’s the flume leading to the mill. This is a grist mill. Grits were, and still are, a staple food in these parts.





I think the blooming trees are dogwoods, but not completely sure.



Yes, our Bob was here, but he was a good boy, unlike the previous Bob.


Here was are in the Smokies!


A view of Gatlinberg, Tennessee, from our hotel room. You can see a little of the water vapor hanging in the air that gives the Smokies their name.


A little chocolate monkey topped with really big guns? Sure, I’ll have one of those. ???


We saw turkeys everywhere. There were three in this group and they were very vocal. Here you can see two of the three.



Lots of beautiful streams are everywhere.



So much potential! I wish I could go back in a month when the other trees have leaves.


Here we are in a higher elevation becuase Spring has barely started.


Did I mention I hate my camera? This area was vividly green, so green it almost hurt. It was really beautiful.


Here’s a little more of the green, but it was eye-popping.



10 people lived in this little house. Part was built in the 1890s and the second part was built in the 1930s.


Here’s Bob : )


This is the steam behind the cabin.



Here’s a little more of the green.


I’d love to come back to the Smoky Mountains. I see the appeal of this place. The beauty here really grows on you. However, this national park is the most visited in the country—even more than Yellowstone. Even this early in the year, it was pretty crowded and traffic was slow.



So pretty.


The park was established with the help of the Rockefellers. Here’s a memorial honoring that fact. We also have the Rockefellers to thank for the fact there is no entrance fee into the Smoky Mountain NP, it was a stipulation of their donation.


The Appalacian Trail! I’ve always been curious about this trail. I have to say, it was pretty treacherous.


The first little bit from the parking lot had a guard rail, but it didn’t go far and the drop off was pretty steep.



And the footing was anything but sure. You had to really watch it. Also, the dirt was pretty wet and everything was slippery.


Here’s Bob on the Appalachian Trail! He was a good sport because this was on my bucket list and he was humoring me. Otherwise, he probably would have skipped it. Especially since the part we were on was steeply uphill. : )





Here we are at the Appalachian Trail. Here, the trail follows the NC/TN border.




Next up was Clingmans Dome and here we learned the meaning of steep incline. It was brutal!


But the top had this nifty tower.


On the ramp to the top of the tower.


The view from the top of the tower.


The Appalachian Trail passes by Clingmans Dome, too. Did I mention there were lots of really serious hikers around? They were intense.


A close up of a bend in the Appalachian Trail. I’m telling you, it can be treacherous! Most of those serious hikers I told you about had two things in common: two walking poles and a folded egg crate to cushion the ground when they slept.


Another view from Clingmans Dome.


Smoky Mountains

4,800 miles so far!

The last couple of days have been lots of driving and hiking.  We’ve gone from one end of the Smoky Mountains to the other.  On Saturday, it was cold, blustery and raining.  What a difference a day makes!  Easter Sunday dawned bright and clear and the park just came alive.  You can see my pictures here.

It’s still on the early side of Spring here.  Some of the trees are blooming, but most don’t have leaves yet, especially in the higher elevations.  However, with sunshine, the park really is beautiful.  Its beauty grows on you and I can see why so many people come back or even move to this area.  It has great appeal.

I even like Gatlingerg, Tennessee, where we spent Saturday night.  The guide book describes it as Heidi meets Hillbilly:  vaguely Bavarian meets hick mountains.  It was cool, with great energy.  I have a picture or two in the photos.

Easter Mass wasn’t so easy in Gatlinberg, however.  We located the Catholic church near our hotel and drove by on Saturday night.  The Mass times were posted and nothing indicated they changed for Easter.  Bob checked the church’s website: same thing.  We even checked with the front desk of the hotel and that guy also confirmed the Mass times.  But when we got there nice and early, we found a brand new sign announcing Mass started an hour earlier.  People were streaming in from all directions on foot because there were several hotels in the areal.  All of them, along with us, were shocked to find Mass was moved back an hour.  It seems when we travel over Easter, Mass always gets screwed up.

Today I crossed an item off my bucket list.  I walked on the Appalachian Trail.  I have to say, it’s pretty rough; like you could easily break your neck rough.  We walked about a quarter mile along the trail which follows the NC/TN state line in this area.  See the pictures, because its rough.

We also climbed to the top of Clingmans Dome, one of the tallest mountains in the park.  There was a nicely paved road to follow, but the incline was insane.  Thank goodness the views were all worth it.  I saved you the climb and put the pictures in the photo gallery.  : )  I know I’m going to be sore tomorrow.

By late afternoon, we were ready to sit for awhile.  We did lots of hiking today.  So, we hit the Blue Ridge Parkway to see the sights. I have some pictures here.  We only went about 85 miles, as far as Asheville, NC, and we ended up staying in the same hotel we were in on Friday night.

Tomorrow, we’re really looking forward to the Biltmore Estate.  I’ve always wanted to see it and I’d kick myself if I let the steep entrance fees stop us.  So, that’s the plan!