Yesterday we left Wilmington for our two-week road trip vacation. Granted, we left a good eight and a half hours later than I’d originally planned, but at least we got on the road! We ended up buying a hard-top luggage carrier for the roof of the car to be able to bring more stuff with us. Since we were less than organized when the movers came, a lot of stuff got left behind. Fortunately, J’s parents have some space where they can keep it until we can get it or someone can bring it to us. Even with the movers taking a bunch of stuff, having the luggage carrier and leaving a lot of stuff in Wilmington, poor Rhodie is packed to the brim.
We made sure to stop on the way out of town to take pictures at the Barstow sign. Wilmington is the final destination at one end of I-40, and Barstow is the final destination at the other. We’ll be taking I-40 the entire way, so we plan to take pictures next to the Wilmington sign when we get there.
Mom packed a super-awesome cooler for us and bought some fried chicken, so we could munch on the road and avoid making too many stops. The car was so packed the cooler and the chicken rode in my lap.
J admitted he doesn’t mind driving because he’s the only one of the three of us with room to move around.
Little J fell asleep before we even got out of town and slept for a good portion of the drive.
All in all it was a successful first day, and we had a good time.
Today we got up early with the intention of heading to the Biltmore Estate and to downtown Asheville, then to dinner at Nona Mia, which my friend Ali recommended. We got a slightly late start because we had to make the inevitable stop at Wal*Mart for the “Oops, guess what we forgot.” list.
It was a stunningly gorgeous day – a bit windy, which made it chilly, but sunny and comfortable when the wind wasn’t blowing. Little J was exceptionally good, especially considering it took nearly two hours to tour just the actual house at the Estate.
The views from the house are incredible. I’ve been to the Biltmore before, but I forgot how impressive it is. The bus driver told us on the way up to the house that when George Vanderbilt (the original owner) came to Asheville, he bought 125,000 acres of land – roughly twice as big as Washington, DC – and looking over the “backyard”, it was crazy to imagine that in his time he owned everything he could see.
After the house tour, we cruised the conservatory, which was filled with amazing tropical flowers and pretty much every plant you could think of. There was an entire room of orchids and another with two beautiful chairs that begged to be photographed. Seriously.
They were my favorite part of the Estate. Aside from the pool in the basement (Unfortunately we couldn’t take pictures inside the house.) and the lions, one of which J and Little J kindly posed with for me.
Note that in every picture J is giving a thumbs-up. He must be having a fun vacation already. 😀
After touring the house and the conservatory, we headed over to Antler Hill Village (still on the property) and had a late lunch at Cedric’s Tavern, named after one of the Vanderbilt dogs. We also went over to the farmyard and met two of the biggest horses I’ve ever seen. They’re retired Belgian draft horses who used to pull carriages on the property and have been at the Biltmore for over two decades. I didn’t even know horses lived that long. We also got to check out the goats, sheep, a bunny, a calf and a TON of chickens. Sadly, my phone died, so I wasn’t able to get pictures of Little J’s absolute fascination with the chickens. It was hysterical.
We never made it to Nona Mia for dinner, so we’re planning to stop by there on our way out of town for lunch. Then it’s off to Memphis (quite a trek) to tour Graceland! Keep your fingers crossed that the weather will allow us to get to Conway on Friday as I’ve checked the weather for Memphis, Conway and Springfield, MO (where we plan to day-trip on Saturday), and they all say snow. How much snow, I don’t know, but if it messes with driving conditions, we’ll be staying in Memphis an extra day, and there’ll be no day trip to Red Velvet for us. 😦