Thursday we headed to Biltmore Estate, or as Brayden called it "A bit more of steak"!!! That kid always has food on the brain! Jeremy wasn't looking forward to going mainly because of the cost, over $60 a person, although kids are free. We left early in the morning to get there and stopped to eat at the McDonald's right outside the entrance because some friends had told us it was the fanciest Micky D's they had ever been in. It lived up to it's reputation, it was a fancy building, food was the same however. A couple in their 50's approached us about buying tickets because they said they had gotten two day tickets and didn't want to return that day and that we could have both for $50. We didn't get a funny feeling about it so we took a chance and bought them. And by golly, it worked! We saved over $70 bucks! We felt like it was a Divine reward! I figured the kids would be bored to death there but I was wrong, I think it was one of the highlights of the trip for Brenna. We went to the farm on the estate later and got to pet some animals and look and taste the gardens! We quickly looked at the flower gardens and they were spectacular.
That night we were to tired to cook so we went to Asheville Pizza & Brewery, which had been given great reviews in all the books. It didn't disappoint, Brenna dubbed it "the coolest restaurant ever" It had unusual murals all over the walls, there was a theatre that you could watch movies while you ate your pizza and a ginormous game room with a movie screen showing cartoons. Funny thing is we didn't see the game room till after we ate and we didn't even go into the theatre section, but she thought is was super cool before that.
The next day we needed some downtime as we were getting tired and grumpy due to camping sleep, which isn't exactly high quality. Grumpiness was also due to rain every day that would pour about a half inch + rain and soak our chairs and towels. Not fun, and Brayden was reacting to the tiredness by being SUPER ornery, which we were really not up for. So we headed to the beach hoping for some grumpy relief and that did help, a trip to the laundromat helped too!
Saturday we decided to head up to the mountains to escape the heat. This campground was about 10 hotter due to its location in the valley. We first went to the WNC Nature Center which was basically a native animal zoo, which we got into for FREE with our Wonderlab membership!!! We stopped by the Moose Cafe (really great home cooking at an amazing deal) and the WNC Farmers Market which is reported to be the largest and busiest farmers market in the state. We got some awsome peaches there. Then we headed to the Blue Ridge Parkway to check out the mountains south of Asheville, we went to the Wildlife Education Center, stopped by Looking Glass Falls, which was packed, and glanced at Sliding Rock as we drove by and saw a long line to slide down this natural rock waterslide area. We wanted to check out the Cradle of Forestry Center but ran out of time. We stopped by Mt. Pisgah on the way back and had a little peach picnic. Brenna and Brayden made friends with some Ukraninan children. They were all climbing up in a huge blueberry bush and shaking it until berries came out.
Sunday we packed up and headed to Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest to check out the one of the only areas in the Appalachians that has never been logged. It was magnificent. However it was somewhat depressing as we ascended into the are were the large Tulip Poplar trees were located we walked through what must have been a beautiful Hemlock forest. The huge Hemlocks that were hundreds of years old were all dead, killed by Hemlock Wooly Adgelid. That was a good 3 hour trip from Asheville and from the Kilmer forest we hit 129 north to Knoxville where we were going to stay the night before heading home. Little did we know that 129 is called the Dragon and is famous with motorcyclist for being the curviest road EVER!!!! At this point in the trip the air conditioner in the truck had broken several days prior, it was hotter than Hades and then we got to this road. Brayden was in the backseat saying he had to puke (thank God he never did, but blessedly fell asleep). Jeremy, who is notoriously motion sick, was getting a little woozy even though he was driving. It took stinkin' forever to get through to that stretch of road. When we finally got to civilization we hit the first hotel we saw, collapsed in the wonderfully soft beds in an air conditioned room and ordered pizza and vegged out in front of the TV and took nice long hot showers!!! Never mind that 1 night in the hotel cost as much as 4 days of camping!
It was a great trip, but as with all trips you are usually ready to get back home. Camping usually helps one to appreciate home even more. We came home to no dead or sick plants or animals and the fridge and freezer all working. It is good to be HOME!
Me with a Large Leaf Magnolia.
At our campground, Brenna was thrilled, she is a Smokey girl!
A Bit More A Steak. The stone is from Bedford, IN not far from here!!
Brayden petting the sheep at the Biltmore Farm. I think he really likes sheep, he's pet several recently.
The gardener was in the kitchen garden and we asked if we could have a few berries from the blackberry and raspberry vines, which had many ripe ones on them. She said, Sure have a taste! I don't know what a taste means to her but we had a Good taste, had a few cucumbers while we were at it!! Who said you can't get anything for free a Biltmore??!
Orchids in the hot house, there were so many different varieties, they were specatacular.
White gray wolf at the WNC Nature Center,
Looking Glass Falls.
Burned hollow log at Mt. Pisgah picnic area.