Monday, October 26, 2015

Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC (Fall 2015)

My husband and I both love the city of Asheville (and surrounding areas... you can't go wrong with the Blue Ridge Mountains), and we have been to the Biltmore Estate four or five times in our ten years of marriage. This was our very first time going in the Fall, (our last trip was made in Spring of 2014) so I was very excited to see the changing colors. Typically brown, orange, and red would not be my favorite colors, but put them in nature and call it a season and it becomes one of the most breathtakingly beautiful sights ever.
We left our house in the morning for the 5 hour drive to Asheville and arrived at the Biltmore Estate at about 1 o'clock in the afternoon. We like to park in the Garden Shop parking lot and walk through the gardens to the house, then come back down to the gardens to explore. The house was about the same as it has always been. I think they have opened a couple more guest bedrooms to the public, but we didn't see those because we never made it to the third floor. We only toured the first and second floors and by that time, Liam was done. We did tour the overpriced shops after walking through the house, but did not buy anything. Then we made our walk back down to the gardens. Each season, they have a different type of flower growing (in the Spring, it was a tulip-lovers paradise). This season, it was decorated with chrysanthemums! It was so beautiful, which is to be expected at Biltmore. I was able to take a few pictures of the kids with the mums, although Bridget was the only one who cared to pose for the camera. George was more preoccupied with kicking up the gravel on the pathways.
Bridget and the mums at the Biltmore Estate

For our tulip pictures, the kids were able to stand in the tulip beds, but the mums were a different story. Not only are they much fuller than tulips, they also had a bunch of bees collecting their last bits of nectar for the year. It's always a neat thing to see nature at work so I watched them for a few minutes while explaining the process to Bridget (an impromptu science lesson) and took a couple of pictures.

Busy as... bees.

Normally, I am the one behind the camera but my husband grabbed the camera from me and handed me the baby. He was able to capture this shot (and many more) of me and the kids. I had Liam in my arms (trying to get down to hug George) and George giving me a great big squeeze of a hug, and of course sweet Bridget standing with me also giving me a hug. I have some pretty awesome kids. I hope we can always be this loving towards one another.

After getting the camera back from my husband, I managed to get a few of the three kids together. I always think that Liam is getting to so big, but then I see him standing in the middle of his big brother and sister and he looks so little again.

This next picture may be a strange one, but it comes with a valuable lesson learned by my dear husband. Before we entered through the front gate of the Biltmore Estate after a 5 hour drive, the van told us we had a 43 mile range left before we ran out of gas. There was a gas station across the street from the main gate which I told my husband to stop at. Being the smart man that he is, he reminded me that the van says we have 43 miles left that we can drive and that the roads going around the Biltmore are not 43 miles long, so we'd still have plenty of gas for our visit to the estate.

I rolled my eyes at my husband's "I'm the man and I know what's best" mentality and he proceeded through the main gate. Our tickets were scanned and we were on our way to the house. Just moments after getting on the road up to the house (which includes a lot of uphill driving), the van now tells us that we now only have a 31 mile range. My husband, now looking a little worried, says, "Wow, that dropped fast". Keep in mind that we had only been driving not even a mile into the estate and our range dropped by 12 miles. My husband then says that 31 miles is still a lot and we'd be fine. We finally reach the house, pass through the gates at the front of the house, and the van then gives us a nice loud 'ding' sound and reads "LO FUEL'.

That's not even a range. I give my husband the look that all wives have given their overly confident husbands. By this point, my husband is apologizing all over himself. We don't know what to do. We know the estate well and know it is a longer drive back down the mountain, through Deer Park and the Antler Hill Village, and back out through the main gate to get to the gas station, which need I remind you, was right there across from the main gate. We're both stressing out (he was stressing out because he was trying to figure out when and how I'd be killing him) and I was stressing out because I didn't know if the van would start up again if he turned it off.  Because all of the odds seemed to be stacked against us either way, we went ahead and parked the car and toured the house and gardens. Once we finished in the gardens, I told my husband that I hoped he had been praying for the van to start up and get us back down through the estate and out the main gate.

Thankfully, we made it, and my husband learned a very valuable lesson. A lesson that all men need to learn (sometimes over and over and over again): WIFE KNOWS BEST.

Now back to our trip. After filling up the van at the gas station, we went back onto the estate and went to Antler Hill Village. We first took the kids to the petting zoo to see the.... kids. They have a lot of goats on the estate and these goats were only born this April. They looked full grown to me!

Bridget at the petting zoo at Antler Hill Village on Biltmore Estate

The Biltmore Winery is also located at Antler Hill Village. While my husband took Bridget and George on the winery tour (we don't even drink wine but my husband loves seeing how things work), I did a little bit of window shopping and playing on the lawn with baby Liam. There was some live music playing and Liam was having a great time. He has not figured out how to walk with his shoes on, so he just stood there on the grass, squatting down every so often to pull up the grass and play.

We promised the kids before we left that we'd let them play in the playground. George especially had a great time. He loves playgrounds and running around. Hardly ever willing to hold still for a picture, I was still able to get a few of him being his fun-loving self.

It was an afternoon well spent at the Biltmore Estate!

There is more to come from our recent trip, so check back for additional posts!

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