Road Trip: America’s Largest Home

Road Trip: America’s Largest Home

“What?! $50 to go see a house?” We had finally made it to Asheville to tour the Biltmore House and were suffering from a bit of sticker shock. But we hadn’t come all this way to not see America’s Largest Home, so we took the plunge and purchased our tickets even though there were only a couple of hours left to enjoy the property.

I don’t know what I was expecting, but I was pretty blown away. Not only was there the mansion (with indoor plumbing! just before the turn of the century!) but there was a winery, restaurants, horseback riding, lodging…it was like a fancy version of Disneyland. I only wonder what George Vanderbilt would think about his home turning into a theme park.

250 rooms and 43 bathrooms later, I still don’t think I can ever understand how big old money really is. Imagine having the Great Smokies as the view from your backyard. And I might have complained about the admission fee, but it included a free wine tasting, which was actually pretty decent!

By the time we made it into downtown Asheville, the sun had set and we were ready to grub. I couldn’t resist and had to get some buttermilk fried chicken. Mmm mmm good.

Some photos from our afternoon in Asheville:

IMG_0113

IMG_0175

IMG_0163

Biltmore Tulips-1

IMG_0254

Road Trip: Detour

Road Trip: Detour

I thought that while we were on our road trip, I’d have plenty of time in the evenings to edit photos and update my blog. Well, I turned out to be completely wrong. Our road trip turned out to be a process of waking up early in the morning and driving half the day, with jam-packed sight-seeing in the afternoon/evening and then dinner. By the time we would make it to a hotel, I was exhausted and in no condition to be blogging.

So now I’m playing catch up. I left off in Charleston, and our next stop was Asheville, NC before heading through the Great Smokies.

We stopped quite a bit on the road to Asheville, getting distracted by picturesque, country scenery. Or maybe it was just me who was distracted by it and constantly stopping. And when Edwin saw the sign for Columbia, we ended up making a detour so we could gawk at the Conferderate flag in front of the state capitol.

Some photos from the day:

I just can’t get enough of those country photos. Looks like maybe I haven’t been the only one.
IMG_9822

What is bushhogging? I still need to look it up…
IMG_9830

And I actually did kind of get on someone’s front lawn for this one.
IMG_9814

I spotted this sign from the highway and made Edwin drive back so I could get a better look. Turns out it’s homemade!
IMG_9845

Arriving at the state capitol
IMG_9876

IMG_0014

I thought this was going to be much more dramatic and controversial, but I can totally see why they have the flag flying since it’s part of a memorial to the Confederate Army soldiers. It wasn’t quite as bad as people make it out to be.
IMG_0001

And then after all those diversions, we finally got back on the road. Biltmore House, here we come!

Road Trip Day 4: Charleston

Road Trip Day 4: Charleston

Yes, really. This is still about the 4th day of our road trip.

We’d gone to South of the Border. We saw a plantation. And now we’d finally made it to Charleston, with a little bit of light to spare. Charleston wasn’t in our original plan, so we didn’t really know what to expect, or what to see when we got there. So our first stop was an art gallery to see what local artists were painting or photographing in their town. And that is seriously how we decided what sights we should get in in the remaining time we had. It actually wasn’t a bad way to sight-see. If we hadn’t done that, we’d never have learned about rainbow row or the pineapple fountain until well after dark.

When it finally did get too dark, I kicked back with a deep-fried soft shell crab and a mint julep. Heaven. I love the south.

Photos from Charleston:

I am completely enamored with the antebellum architecture in Charleston. For some reason, this is how I imagine Anne of Green Gables to have lived, although with more yard. I wished for houses like this when I was a kid.
IMG_9670

IMG_9621

Part of the famous rainbow row
IMG_9697

And of course, I had to take a photo of the pineapple fountain
IMG_9758

Warm, beautiful light to end the day
IMG_9689

IMG_9739

IMG_9721

IMG_9743

Road Trip Day 4: The South…continued…

Road Trip Day 4: The South…continued…

Once we finished entertaining ourselves at South of the Border, we got back on the road to discover the south. I just can’t imagine what it must have been like to have this as your home:

IMG_9363

This is Drayton Hall, the only plantation we had time to visit on our trip. And to think this place was built in the mid-1700s. I don’t think I can ever fully comprehend how wealthy people lived back then.

We arrived at the plantation just in time to take a tour, on which our guide referred to slaves as “enslaved peoples with origins in Africa.” I’m not sure if he was trying to be politically correct, but whatever the reason, it was definitely distracting. Regardless, the plantation was pretty impressive.

Oh, to be a southern belle and live the plantation life! Although, if I really did live back then, I’d probably be working in the kitchen…

Some photos from our tour:

The amount of detail that went into building this home was amazing
IMG_9469

All the bricks were handmade, and on some you can even see fingerprints
IMG_9444

To this day, the Drayton family has Thanksgiving dinner at Drayton Hall, which has never been updated with indoor plumbing or electricity. One of their other family traditions is marking the height of the children
IMG_9433

Stairs used by the “enslaved peoples with origins in Africa”
IMG_9443

Later they added a reflection pool
IMG_9520

And if all that wasn’t enough, the drive was beautiful
IMG_9359

Road Trip Day 4: Meet Pedro

Road Trip Day 4: Meet Pedro

Daaa…Daaaa..Da-nuh! Like a behemoth, it appeared on the horizon. Slowly, slowly, and then bam! There it was in all its glory. After miles upon miles of taunting billboards, we had finally arrived.

IMG_9291

We were at South of the Border.

Before our roadtrip, I had never heard of South of the Border, but a friend mentioned it before we left. And now I was there to witness it in person. Right across the South Carolina border is an abomination called South of the Border. We started seeing billboards for it soon after leaving Durham – billboards that cracked politically incorrect jokes about a guy named Pedro, who you could find at South of the Border. I don’t even get why this place exists, but it does and I had to go there.

I tried my best to get shots of the entertaining signs driving at 80 mph.
IMG_9249

Only one more mile…
IMG_9256

And we finally arrived!
IMG_9318

The amount of junk you can buy at this place is amazing
IMG_9279

Edwin got this shot of me with my new friend, Pedro
IMG_9305

And just in case we missed it, there was just one more billboard to send us off
IMG_9321