I think this is day 23 of this trip and I am falling behind with my blogs and photos. I think I left off in Charlotte, and then what? It's beginning to run together.
Asheville! That was next. We spent two nights in Asheville, NC at the Beaufort Inn. This was a little splurge and celebration that Roy was onboard for the rest of the trip. Here he is in front of the Inn.
Such a beautiful place. Victorian in the best way. Not one of those chintz and fake flower places full of pictures of angels— just elegant and lovely.
What a treat! We spent some time downtown in Asheville. The Grove Arcade building was beautiful, with some nice shops.
This yarn shop had me in it's spell. Aren't these scarves beautiful? We walked to the Appalachian Crafts Center and were underwhelmed by its pretty ordinary offerings of huckleberry jam and aprons and pottery and such. Asheville is a nice town, but did not, in my opinion, quite live up to its reputation as such an artistic center. Lots of galleries, but nothing wowed me.
We spent the next day at the Biltmore Estate— purported to be the largest private residence in the United States.
No photos are allowed inside, but we took the tour and were duly impressed. It is difficult to fathom living in such a place and mind boggling to consider the expense and manpower maintaining it would be. But it was fun to see and very beautiful. The gardens were especially lovely.
Visiting such a place makes you ponder such excess and what it means, and what it does to or for the people wealthy enough to exercise a whim like that. I learned that such spending quickly depleted the immense Vanderbilt fortune. They are not the wealthy family they once were. Easy come, easy go... I suppose there is a lesson there somewhere. But we certainly had a lovely day there enjoying their folly.
We left Asheville and headed into the Blueridge Mountains and Smoky Mountain National Park. It is a leisurely winding drive, with many places to pull out and enjoy the view. What a gorgeous corner of the world!
So much stunning stonework along the highway, all built during The Great Depression, by the CCC.
As you exit the National Park you are in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, which is a horrific assault of manic tourist attractions—Ripleys Believe it or Not, Museum, Guinness Museum, an Aquarium (why??) and every kind of junk food, whizzy-gifty-whatnot shop known to man. It seemed truly awful, just as a drive by. We visited a few artisans at the artist community just outside town, but didn't find much to keep us in the Gatlinburg area and moved quickly on. We spent the night in Cherokee, NC on the Cherokee Reservation.
The next day we continued south into Alabama, stopping in Chatanooga for one of the best meals of our trip and a look at the Chatanooga Coo-choo!
Last night we were in Birmingham at the worst hotel of our trip, on a desolate, hot, rocky hillside adjacent to the freeway, in a rainstorm. The free continental breakfast consisted of cardboard biscuits and a vat of vomitous, sausage gravy. Couldn't beat it out of there fast enough. Found a Starbucks and a Target to buy another pair of shorts and a tee-shirt for the increasingly hot weather here in the south, then on the road again. We've had a good day today, which I will detail next post. Tonight we are in a beautiful high-rise hotel in downtown Mobile.