Sunday, April 21, 2013

Asheville, NC

Odometer 30344
Trip 0

Joan and I are in Asheville, North Carolina, the home of the Biltmore Estate, 8000 acres of land and at 178,926 square feet, the largest privately owned house in the US.

We were not prepared for how popular this estate tour is.  Before we had made our way to the front door the shuttle buses started arriving... We also found out that we are free to take photos of the exterior and grounds (non-commercially) but no photos of the interior at all.

This was very interesting to me.  The windows follow the contour of the stairway and there is an opening casement at each level to allow workers to exit to the small balcony and clean the outside of the windows.  We were shown some of the hidden areas of the home- many more remain un-revealed.  One decorative panel at the base of the stairs hinges in with a push- allowing access to a hidden electric panel.  I spent a lot of time in the basement where there were displays of  photos taken durning the build 1889-1895.  The majority of the house is built of brick made on site, and coated with a veneer of limestone.  The mansion was built with electrical circuitry from the very inception. Fewer than 8% of homes had any electrical lighting at this time in the US.  Initially the electricity was from a DC generator in located in the basement, by 1901 it was converted to accept utility power.
Part of the estate that was open to the public is the lake and boathouse which is only a short walk from the main house.  On the way down to the lake you pass through the formal gardens seen below.

Interestingly the Biltmore estate became home to two early foresters each of whom were responsible for the future of forest management in the US.  Before the house was even completed Gifford Pinchot was practicing forestry on the 100,000 acre estate.  When Pinchot was called away to head the early stages of the US Forest Service, he was replaced by a German forester named Carl Schenck who established the first US school of forestry, using the Biltmore estate.

After 5 hours of tourning the Biltmore we were ready for something else.  We both wanted to check out the Blue Ridge Parkway, and specifically to drive to the highest point around here- Mount Pisgah (pronounced piz-ga).
The Blue Ridge Parkway is 469 miles long and  follows the ridge-tops of the Southern Appalachian Mountans starting in North Carolina/Tennessee and ending in Virginia (or vice versa).

The road is a paved two lane highway,  and the maximum posted speed is between 35 or 45 mph depending on the section.  That's because it is not intended as a freeway, and no commercial trucks are allowed.  We wanted to know if we could take our motorhome, and were told we could- but to watch the tunnel heights- some were too low.

Great place for a motorcycle ride and I was wanting to have my Goldwing with me today

This photo doesn't do the vista any justice, the season is too early for leaves on the trees at this elevation (nearly 5000' ).  Looks wintry.  Asheville is at the bottom of the canyon about center of the photo. A great activity for Earth Day.

Although the weather is much more temperate here than we'd hoped for mid April (high today 61) we have decided to head north towards Washington DC and hope for moderate temps, and no snow!

Your Traveling Friends,

Jeff and Joan

No comments:

Post a Comment