Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Sprinter - Part 1

At the end of March we took a mini vacay to western North Carolina. It was the beginning of Allie's spring break and we wanted to enjoy some quality time with old friends from Charlotte. This was our first weekend off since moving back to Georgia and it felt SO. GOOD. Man… people who have normal weekends are so lucky! Haha! It was such a treat to have 3 days off and just spend it with family and friends.

Even though it was "spring break" there were very few signs of spring. I like to call this time of year "sprinter" - in-between spring and winter. It is dreadfully painful (like a splinter :)) waiting for spring after a looooong winter. Anyway, we stayed at my family's vacation home in western North Carolina and spent most of Saturday over in Asheville at the Biltmore Estate (thanks Mel for the passes!). Even though the gardens were not in bloom yet, I was anxious to take Zach and Allie here since they have never been.

Some stock photos of America's castle.
Nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains, George Vanderbilt's 8,000 acre estate is a majestic remnant of the Gilded Age. On Christmas Eve in 1895,  the largest privately owned home to-date (250 rooms including 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, and 65 fireplaces) opened to family and friends. The Biltmore not only boasts amazing architecture and opulence, but it also was ahead of it's time using modern technology such as indoor plumbing, refrigeration, and even an elevator. The history of this home and property is so interesting. If you've never been you totally need to go sometime (ideally in April or May due to the gardens and warming temps.)
19th century French-Renaissance chateau adventure
So happy to be reunited!
Italian Garden sans lily pads. 
Family adventures are my favorite. About to tour this beast of a house!
My love for architecture ignites at places like this, marveling at all the details that were done the "old way", crafted out of materials brought by train and carefully shaped by talented artisans.


Grand staircase
Grand staircase inside
Unfortunately, you can't take pics inside the Biltmore, however I had to share my two favorite rooms-

the winter garden (Where can I get one?)
and the library. (Hogwarts anyone?)
A walk on the veranda

Adjacent to the house, the Biltmore stables have been turned into restaurants and shops for the enjoyment of guests.

We dined at the Stable Cafe which is just so charming due to the old brick floors, horse stall booths and equestrian details.
We actually ate in the hay loft upstairs and it was so fun! (And so delicious!)
Admiring the mountain views

This girl. Oh my goodness.
Wind-blown hair disaster, but happy to be with this guy.

Wisteria covered promenade along the south terrace.
How it will look this summer.
Gardens in bloom (stock photo)
Biltmore tulips
Conservatory

I. Love. Greenhouses.
So many orchids here.






I love succulents.


Crazy cactus
Live music in the conservatory. Keepin' it classy Biltmore. 

More orchids
And this guy. My favorite travel companion.
 Tree climbing girls (maybe, possibly frowned upon at Biltmore…)
The rest of our weekend was spent at the lake playing games in my family's quaint 1923 mountain bungalow-




as well as playing outside 
(Making pretend soup with wild onions)
(The Daddy playing some guitar.)
and playing in the mud. 
To my dismay, most of the lake was actually drained due to maintenance. (They do this in the off season periodically.) This turned out to be quite a joy for the girls as they got to explore the lake bed and find lots of treasures (and living clams!) in the silt. 
 Strangely spongy.
 Allie actually got stuck in the mud. For a while there it was touch and go, but Emma swooped in for the save!
And Allie's new rain boots went from this-
to this in 5 seconds flat. 
(I am proud to say this step momma was able to scrub out the inside of these muddy boots and get them back to 99% of their original freshness upon arrival back home. WIN.) 

Still pretty. 
Ringing the bell

 Racing Daddy
 I am so thrilled Allie got a few days with her precious friends. One of the hardest things about leaving Charlotte was knowing Allie would not be able to see her community of loved ones very often, but it warms my heart to see these 3 together and know there is more to come!
On our way back to Atlanta after our weekend getaway, we stumbled across the most… peculiar/awesome roadside attraction - Goats on the Roof.

Ok they literally have goats on the roof. And a whole roof obstacle course so the goats can go from building to building. They can even walk out to the roadside billboard! These goats are liven' large.
In addition to watching the goats, eating sweet treats, and gem mining, you can send the goats food by way of this clever pulley system.
 The goats seemed underwhelmed. Haha!
Anyway, it was a fun, unexpected adventure thanks to Zach's eagle eye and there was no better way to top off this weekend trip. I love spring break! There's more to come from our week with Allie so stay tuned!

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