Posts Tagged With: Flowers

Backroads Across America: USA’s Biggest Home



It is the Gilded Age and you have become one of the world’s richest people by means of the shipping and railroad industries. What do you do with your riches? If you are George Vanderbilt, you spend 1889-1895 building America’s biggest house near Asheville, North Carolina.

The Biltmore Estate, by the numbers: 255 rooms, 2.4 million cubic feet of interior space, 135,280 square feet, nearly 8,000 acres. A brick kiln on the construction site produced 32,000 bricks a day.

It is a house beyond imagination, even for HGTV addicts accustomed to the expensive whims of home buyers.

We were among throngs who visited today (yearly visits total 1.2 million). The gardens, especially the azaleas, were spectacular. We enjoyed about two hours walking many of the informal trails. The self-guided house tour was fascinating, but we missed getting a feel for how the family lived. It was dark and felt stiff. Exceptions were the 22,000-volume library and the billiard room. The enormous indoor swimming pool was impressive.

They put us in the old horse barn for lunch. We ate in a stall next to the trough. I should point out that it had been tastefully cleaned up and decorated. It is one of 15 restaurants on the property.

Is the tour worth the $60 admission? If you cannot secure a private invitation from George Vanderbilt’s great-grandson, who owns the property and lives in the area, then we think it is a place for the ages, not to be missed when you come to Asheville.



Categories: Back Roads Across America, Backroads Across America | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

In smokey Oregon, the coast is clear

Fires raging to the north of us have created a smokey haze across the skies of Southern Oregon for over a month. It was time to get away, and with a wedding anniversary coming up, we needed very little prodding to pack up and head to the Oregon coast!

Clear blue skies greeted us this morning. Perfect walking weather!

A pathway along the cliff provided spectacular views of the rugged coast.

We have somehow missed Shore Acres State Park in past trips along the coast. What a beautiful spot…however, I've got to say…all Oregon State Parks are amazing.

This property was the summer estate (and showplace) of lumberman and shipbuilder Louis J. Simpson. Unfortunately, fire destroyed the original mansion in 1921. Financial losses prevented him from rebuilding and the state took over the property in 1942.

There is still plenty to see though, and we managed to make a day of it. Take a picnic lunch along and enjoy the views!

A sandy beach in a hidden cove tempts us to spend the day.

The botanical gardens were a riot of color. Be sure to stop and smell the roses. Each variety has a distinctive fragrance.

The original estate boasted five acres of formal gardens built around a 100-foot lily pond. All continue to be beautifully maintained for year-round visitors. From Thanksgiving Day through New Year's Eve, the garden is decorated with 300,000+ holiday lights. Hmm…I think we may need to come back before the year is out!







Categories: Ashland life, Road Trips | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Victoria shines as Canada’s western showcase

The Parliament buildings greet visitors upon their arrival by ferry.

The garden city of Victoria, British Columbia, is 152 years old and remains a lively oceanfront provincial capital. It was named after the United Kingdom's longest-reigning monarch.

We visited last weekend to see my (Reg's) brother Roy and his family.

The Empress Hotel is classic Victoria, but the only thing we could afford there was a visit to the restrooms. Our ferry, the Coho, links Port Angeles, Washington, to Victoria. There was quite a line for fish and chips at the harbor.


Categories: Road Trips | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Ups and Downs: Camino de Santiago

Several quaint villages and more hills marked our 12-mile trek from Uterga to Lorca today. Although we shared a bunk room with 13 friendly fellow pilgrims, we had trouble relaxing and awoke very tired. A great breakfast and coffee restored us, though. The cost for breakfast and sandwiches for later: 10 euro, about $13!

Our day was further brightened by Camino friends from Denmark, who shared a pilgrim dinner with us this evening. Bridges were another highlight, especially a Roman bridge, below right.




Categories: Camino de Santiago | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Splashes of Color










Living where we do (in the Sierra at an elevation of 3200') gardening is often a fight against nature. Deer, squirrels, rabbits and lately raccoons, have all helped themselves to various plants, shrubs and most recently, chunks of our lawn. Because it's rare for our flowers to last more than a day or two before wildlife makes a meal of them, I was pleased to see a few flowers to be enjoyed in and around Rome.




Categories: Italy, Rome | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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