Vacation!!

This past week, I took three whole days away from writing and nine (NINE!) away from the day job. It was a much-needed respite. We spent a lot of time cuddling kittens, some time swimming in the river, cooked and ate a ridiculous amount of good food, and traveled down to North Carolina along the Blue Ridge Parkway to see the Biltmore, which, if you are not familiar, is basically America’s take on a French chateau. Also I snagged some crazy types of honey and lots of good beer. And some iris bulbs. Wins all around, friends.

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So many pictures. So much fun. No beach involved.

In any case, I thought you might enjoy some pictures from my journey this week. We’ll be back to our regularly programmed meditations on books and writing and all that jazz next week, but everyone deserves a vacation. Check out here if you’re not into scenic views or crazy architecture.

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Traveling the parkway.

We took the parkway down, which took us a ridiculous amount of time but was surprisingly soothing. Along the way we had several adventures, including finding a random alpaca farm (so soft!) and picnics. We also took the parkway back for part of the trip, doing a hike. My favorite photo from the trip is of that hike, which is at the end of this post.

 

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Baby alpacas!

Once we got to Asheville, we ate at the best little tapas bar called Cúrate. Tapas are a Spanish style of food involving small plates and lots of wine or other beverages, and Cúrate was the best Spanish food I have had this side of the Atlantic. No pictures because I consumed it all too quickly.

The next morning we headed to the Biltmore.

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From the front lawn.

The sheer scale of this building is impossible to describe. Just huge. Hundreds of rooms, one of which contains a swimming pool. Impossible levels of architecture. We started our wanderings in the gardens, of course.

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Just one of several private nooks.

There is even a lake on the grounds (called the Duck Pond) and a working dam. We wandered the gardens for a few hours, then headed back to the main house to tour the ground floor before lunch.

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Lions stood on either side of the main door.

The house was amazing. We had lunch in what were the former stables, then headed up for a guided architectural tour. I have too many pictures to show you of that, but here are a couple.

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Close up of some of the stone work and roofing.

Truly a masterpiece of engineering. The top of the roof is made of brass, but the sides are slate tiles. The tiles were hand-bound to the scaffolding of the roof with copper wire from the inside. They are the original tiles (with exceptions for places where storms have broken some).

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An external view of the main stairwell.

The stairs were another crazy thing to learn about. They have no internal supports, but are free floating. They’re apparently modeled off a similar staircase in a chateau in France. They are held up by the weight of the walls sitting directly on the stairs, which extend to the outside.

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What is this crazy flower?

There were also greenhouses on the grounds which we ambled through.

Afterwards, we spent another half day in Asheville sampling honey and beers, then headed back up the parkway as I mentioned. That is where we found the Craggy Gardens hike, which is only about .7 miles and pretty easy. It lines you up for an amazing vista, though. Here is my favorite picture from our trip.

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That’s the S.O. up there being super duper photogenic on that crazy cliff.

Alright, folks, I hope you’ve enjoyed! I’d be happy to answer any questions about the architecture and all, but for now I’m out. Until next week!

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Author: Amanda J. McGee

Food and books are my passions. When I'm not planting a garden or working my day job, I can often be found writing genre fiction. Also I like to take hikes.

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