I apologize, O faithful readers, for yesterday’s post. It was scatter-brained, filled with unfinished thoughts and typos. As I mentioned in the post, I was plumb wore out and sadly, it showed.
I’m starting today’s update on Day 3 of the Grand Road Trip much earlier, both to deter a repeat of last night’s performance and for another reason we will get to later in the blog. So, read on…
After finishing the post from last night, the three of us (me, my old roommate and his wife) continued talking until around midnight. Part of the discussion was over what to do today on the road trip. Once we all concluded that Asheville (a suggestion from a friend back in Boca) was an excellent choice, my friend proceeded to use scare tactics on me regarding how bad Atlanta traffic would be (since the path to Asheville would wrap me around 285 again to get out to I-85).
Armed with this dire warning, I forsook a decent night’s sleep and got up on short rest, crept out of the house so as not to wake them and was on the road before 6 am.
While the traffic was not as terrible as he described, it was burdensome and I spent the next roughly 150 miles in traffic. It was not until I escaped onto I-26 West that things cleared up.
And, boy howdy, did they clear up! The road was a well kept, 2-lane (each way) blacktop with practically no cars. By this time, the road was undulating, dipping and rising creatively, giving the feeling of a carnival ride.
The sun (real sun, not just the absence of darkness) came out and unveiled an explosion of color of something I’ve never seen before: Fall. The road was buttressed on each side by tall, majestic trees proudly offering up a complete pallette of fall colors.
During one point of the drive, I passed over a gorge (I forget the name) and there were fog clouds wafting through the tops of the trees. If there had been any possible area to pull over I surely would have taken that picture…it was staggeringly breathtaking. There were moments during this part of the trip that I literally had to remind myself to drive!
With little further disruption, I made it to Biltmore Estate, heading to the Biltmore House first. The day was back to gray and blustery so I pulled the rain jacket along with me.
The house was impressive, to be sure. With no disparagement meant and no comparison suggested, having visited my own local Vizcaya mansion, I was somewhate familiar with many of the decorative and design ideas in the home. Fun to look at, but perhaps not as much as for someone else.
Upon exiting the home (and handing in my headphones), I took a brief rest to look for a bite (I had not had any breakfast yet and it was nearly 11:30 after about an hour and a half in the house). Amazingly, the day had totally changed and it was a sparkly, sunshiny day now.
My orignial intention had been to maybe get a hot chocolate, but the change in weather changed my tastes and I noticed the ice cream shop off to the right. Glancing at my watch, I saw I was still a couple minutes early, but they ushered me in regardless.
Other than the attendants, the place was empty. I walked up to the glass display case and saw they had coffee ice cream, which just happens to be my favorite flavor ice cream (that can be the subject of a whole other post someday).
I ordered a double, but in a cup, since I have been genetically encoded with the Daniels gene that increases klutziness in direct proportion to the risk of the food (ice cream cones, spaghetti sauce, etc.). The cashier decided they did not give me enough ice cream and only charged me for a single (that was sweet).
Two things then ensued as I stretched my legs out onto a spare metal chair and began eating the ice cream in the warm and rejuvenating sun. The first thing I noticed was this was perhaps the finest tasting coffee ice cream I had ever eaten. The second thing was that they clearly did put two scoops in there…or perhaps more. I kept eating and eating it but it just never seemed to get smaller. I was starting to get full and becoming worried I wouldn’t be able to finish it. They must have packed it down when they put it in there…I could swear I ate a full pint out of that cup!
Fully sated and now on an ice cream high, I started out to walk the famous gardens. There were a variety of trails to take and I took all of them.
Did I mention that it had gotten sunny? Oh well, then you might imagine lugging the rain jacket around (you get shuttled from the parking lot to the house so whatever you bring, you’re stuck with) and wearing a long sleeve shirt (hey, it was 57 when I left) started taking its toll…especially after walking miles and miles of paths.
The gardens, trees, babbling brooks, rose gardens and more were spectacular. For a person like me (decades helping Mom in the flower shop) the gardens were more of a treat than the home.
It was also fascinating to note the differences in the ecosystems between my five decade-long home state and North Carolina. All the wildlife was airborne here. Birds, bees (literally, yes), butterflies, with an occasional grasshopper. No ground dwellers. No lizards or frogs or snails or even squirrels (I finally saw a squirrel as I was driving to the exit). Fascinating.
I am, however, now totally bushed. Between short rest, long drive and long walk, I am ready to close up shop and hit the bed. I only stay up a little longer to type this post and get a light supper.
Tomorrow, if the weather is clear, I plan to detour the path to D.C. via the Blue Ridge Parkway which everyone agrees should be spellbinding this time of year. Hopefully the rain will stay away (it’s not a particualrly encouraging forecast).
In either result, by day’s end tomorrow, I will be in Washington D.C., where by all accounts I may use up my entire week just trying to find a parking space.