A Grand Day Out

Biltmore Diana and her dog (2) (513x800)

Now, I could tell you that this is our REAL house.  I could say that our doublewide trailer is just a decoy to hide our incredible wealth and that I never mentioned this house because, well…*sniff*…it simply doesn’t do to flaunt one’s riches.  But then you’d probably think, “Hmm…looks like Blue Ridge Blue Collar Girl has been watching a little too much Downton Abbey, haha.”   And, haha…you’d be right.

Besides, if this were OUR house, why would all these people be here?

Biltmore from the hill (3) (800x617)

The truth is, a very kind friend (thank you, kind friend!) gave me two tickets to Biltmore, and Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man and I had a grand day out at a very grand house surrounded by an even grander expanse of rolling hills and mountains.

We were a little worried when we approached the house, and the first thing we saw was this fellow:

biltmore statue (2) (600x800)

We couldn’t help but be wary of someone with a cross in one hand and a big, scary sword in the other.  Talk about mixed messages!  But we felt much better when we saw his sweet companion:

Biltmore Joan of Arc perhaps (2) (600x800)

And better yet when we saw this friendly lady waving, “Hey!”  It’s so nice to be welcomed!

Biltmore friendly statue (2) (599x800)

We politely averted our eyes and pretended not to notice that…ahem…her dress had slipped.  Bless her heart!

And look!  Her companion even unfurled a lovely bough of flowers for us!  Aww…you shouldn’t have!

Biltmore statue with flower bough (2) (800x593)

biltmore looking ominous blog

As you might expect, we didn’t spend much time in the Big House.  In fact, we were rather relieved to walk away from it and the foreboding clouds gathering over it.  Even in all its extravagant glory, it paled in comparison to the glory outside:

Biltmore trail (2) (800x633)

Like this path, where we could see both our beloved mountains and the beautiful French Broad River that flows near our own Doublewide Ranch.

And the stately, ancient trees that were everywhere, including this cypress and the knees gathered, like a quiet and worshipful congregation, at its base.

Biltmore cypress knees (2) (800x599)

And this climbing ivy, that looked almost as though it were painted on the tree:

Biltmore ivy climbing (2) (600x800)

The bamboo was a bit of a surprise, but lovely in its own way:

Biltmore bamboo (2) (800x649)

But I think perhaps one of my favorite things were these little hemlock cones that hung like little bells in the tree.  These were in a secret garden that we found when we sought to get away from the crowds.  My favorite places have always been those that have  little green sanctuaries like this.  Places where you can quiet your mind long enough to remember where the real riches are.

Biltmore evergreen cones (2) (800x599)

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16 Responses to “A Grand Day Out”

  1. birdsandbenjamin Says:

    The OSCARS dress regulators would tell Biltmore lady #1 that she is banned. They would warn #2 that loose-hanging clothes revealing any part of the breast is “problematic”. Tehehe…

    But all that silliness aside, I am thrilled for you two to have a grand day out, Mama. You know I feel the same way about nature and the real riches. And as for the “knees” around the cypress…that is amazing! Yahoo just told me what they were. I thought it was just symbolic when you said “knees,” but no, it is scientific!!!

  2. Betsy Adams Says:

    Ah—-how I love that place!!!!! Enjoyed seeing the beauty from your eyes… I wouldn’t let George take a photo of that naked lady…. ha ha ha….

    I am always amazed at the bamboo there also… So interesting…..

    Glad you enjoyed it. It’s truly one of our very favorite places.

    Hugs,
    Betsy

  3. Plowing Through Life (Martha) Says:

    What a lovely outing! I would end up with nature, as well. You certainly can’t compare the two. I love your last statement, Beth, about where the real riches are. That is so true. Those “knees” around the cypress are spectacular. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

    In any case, it looks like it was a fun outing — a very grand outing, indeed! So glad you got this opportunity.

  4. Kay G. Says:

    Everyone just LOVES that house, but I am like you, I love the landscaping around it!!
    Did you know that when I first went there, I fell in love with the drive up to the house and people laughed at me when I told them that… a few years ago, I read that the same man who designed Central Park in NYC is the same one who did the landscaping at the Biltmore!
    HA! Who is laughing at me now!! :-)

  5. Bonnie Jacobs Says:

    Thanks for taking us along on your adventure around the Biltmore.

  6. Darla Says:

    What a fine gift from your friend, and so happy for you to enjoy a day walking in a beautifully unusual space. I particularly love your phrase “this cypress and the knees gathered, like a quiet and worshipful congregation” and how you liken the hemlock cones to bells. Beautiful writing … thank you for sharing.

  7. Bikbik & Roro Says:

    O wow, how beautiful — I LOVE these pictures! The cypress was particularly intriguing, and the bamboo was certainly unexpected!

  8. Vicki Lane Says:

    My favorite part of the Biltmore house is ‘below stairs’ where you can see what it took to run that place. And the gardens and the greenhouses were where I spent the most time.

  9. CountryDew Says:

    It is a grand place. We visited in 2007, and it was amazing. I loved the grounds, too! And the basement where the “real” living happened. I think it was the basement. I am so glad you had a nice adventure, and even more glad that you shared it with us!

  10. eemilla Says:

    The grounds and the greenhouse are definitely better than the house; glad you were able to get out and enjoy them.

  11. Ana Says:

    I think you have a wealth that no money can attain… you heart.

  12. Jayne Says:

    Like you, we enjoyed the grounds and the greenhouse more than the main house. It’s almost too much to take in it’s so grand and ginormous! Glad you all had such a wonderful time there!

  13. Jeff Says:

    George W. Vanderbilt, son of William H. Vanderbilt and grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt, received $1 million from his grandfather when Cornelius died in 1877 and another $1 million from his father when he turned 21. Upon his father’s death in 1885, G.W. received $5 million, as well as the income from a $5 million trust fund. At the age of 27, he started building the mansion that became known as the Biltmore Estate. For perspective, $7 million in 1885 is worth approximately $182 million today … And a 4% yield from a $5 million trust fund in 1885 is worth $5.2 million per year in today’s dollars.

    It is a shame that visitors don’t ask more questions about where the money to build this “house” came from.

    I visited the John J. Hill mansion in Minneapolis years ago – it is very similar to the Biltmore, I imagine. I’ve never had the desire to visit the Biltmore. Like you, I’d much rather contemplate the wonders of nature instead. If only more people stood in awe of Nature instead of the excesses of capitalism.

  14. Debi Kelly Van Cleave Says:

    Like Benjamin, I didn’t know those were really called “knees.” Very cool. Loved the way you described it–”like a congregation.” Because what better to worship than nature, right? And on that note, I agree with what Jeff said. I’m more impressed by the greenery outside. By the way, there is a lot of bamboo around here for some reason. Maybe because it’s wet. Bamboo is very renewable and we should be happy to see people growing it. You can make flooring and furniture that is very hard and it grows right back unlike what happens when we destroy an old oak tree.

  15. birdsandbenjamin Says:

    If anyone is interested…an Easter post here at http://birdsandbenjamin.wordpress.com

  16. Sweetflutterbys3 Says:

    I’ve always wanted to visit there and now I feel like I have! Thanks for the photos :)

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