Day 6 – The Biltmore Estate (and why I need to become a billionaire)

Boone, NC – Ashville, NC

126 miles

It was sad to say goodbye to Bubba but it was time to push on. I made my way back to the Blue Ridge Parkway, again enjoying the magic of the early hours when the air is cool and the riding is solitary. So beautiful and peaceful.

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I skipped breakfast again which inevitably led me to start fantasizing about lunch. I knew I would stop in Asheville for lunch and I had a pretty good idea that I’d be able to find some proper southern fried chicken there. Using Yelp, I decided upon Tupelo Honey Café where I ordered a glorious southern feast.

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I had planned to get back on the Parkway and ride it to the end but a nagging voice in my head reminded me that my Aunt Cindy (arguably my coolest and youngest Aunt) had told me at the wedding that I MUST visit the Biltmore Estate.

Embarrassingly, I didn’t even really understand what it was – some museum perhaps. But for those of you who don’t know, the Biltmore Estate is the largest privately owned home in America. It was built in 1895 by George Vanderbilt as a “country home”. Spanning over 175,000 feet and containing over 250 rooms, it was one of the most impressive constructions of America’s Gilded Age. Vanderbilt commissioned Fredrick Law Olmsted, who was the architect behind New York’s Central Park, to design the grounds which spanned hundreds of thousands of acres.

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It’s simply fascinating to see how Americans lived in that era. One of my favorite tidbits was the indoor bathrooms (so rare at the time and the Biltmore had close to 30) which had bathtubs and toilets, but all lacked sinks. It was assumed that if one wanted to wash their face that a servant would bring a washbasin of warm water. Just wild!

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Today, the estate is open to the public and is still run by the Vanderbilt family as a working farm. There is a winery, behind the scene tours, farm-to-table expos, horseback riding, clay shooting, fishing, and an enormous hotel. The tour is incredibly impressive and by all accounts, George Vanderbilt seemed like a swell guy who loved to travel, loved to entertain, and most of all loved his wife. By the time I finished the tour, it was close to 6pm and I was feeling a bit bushed.

With the hope of doing some clay shooting in the morning, I checked into my first hotel room of the trip. I figured George Vanderbilt would approve of the motorcycle trip so it seemed a good place to settle in for the evening.

I’m really not a big museum guy, but if you’re ever in the area, you should see the Biltmore Estate. Very cool.

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WHAT I LEARNED / DISCOVERED TODAY: Some of America’s “tourist” attractions are worth stopping at. There are popular for a reason. Also, I really need to build a 250-room estate in North Carolina at some point.

Comments

  1. Susan Cross says:

    Hi,

    I saw this blog title and thought Sarah Palin was sending me updates about her bus tour. Glad it’s you. Love that you are blogging about your trip. Only YOU can take a motorcycle trip and write about it in a way that is fun to read. I love the Biltmore Estate and the Tupelo Honey lunch. Don’t skip breakfast though. Will is reading this everyday with me, your biggest fan. xo

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