Like Tennessee, North Carolina scenery is nothing short of spectacular and its hospitality is warm and friendly but, more than that it is where my grandmother and uncle lived for many years. I still consider the place off Hwy. 209 as theirs, not the current owners, and someday I mean to buy it back!
My grandma, aunts, uncles, brothers, cousins and I made our mark on that mountain and I can't help but smile remembering. My first winter there I thought I would freeze to death but my grandmother added yet another and another comforter to the bed until I was warm enough. I looked more like the pea than the princess from 'The Princess and The Pea' in that bed stack. I can practically feel the weight of soaking wet jeans and t-shirt from that summer day we decided to descend the mountain via the creek. The whole walk back up we secretly added rocks to my cousin Mark's backpack. And somewhere I have a ridiculous picture of us lined up, I think by age, on Chestnut Gap. I was maybe fifteen? I vividly remember one last night sitting on the top of the mountain up behind the house gazing at a Carolina sky. OK, the "new" owners did have one good idea - that outdoor mountain top hot tub was very close to heaven!
In the years since my daughter was born I've worked hard to give her similar experiences because every child should have such memories to hold but, it does often seem like the definition of a bygone era. Still, there are places on this earth where we are forced to slow down, ignore the outside world, let go and, hopefully, accept play. There will always be time to brag, blog or text about it later.
I feel truly blessed to have those times and for the opportunity to reconnect and create new memories with my daughter, family and friends. For me these wonderful Smoky Mountains have been a lifetime gift but even if your path has not yet crossed these mountains I think you'll feel their pull to take a step back the first time you set foot here.
Alas, this trip was partially about work for me. Asheville as I'd remembered it was a great town but, I hadn't been there for many years so when I did decide to return I had no idea where to start. My previous visits had all been day trips from Grandma's except for one glorious trip to the Biltmore Estate with my husband and child. For all 4 days we never left the estate grounds. We just couldn't leave the 200 acres of serenity. We even managed to captured some of that bygone era watching our daughter roll down hills over and over and over again. Age six and a Florida girl she was mesmerized by rolling hills. It's pretty much all she wanted to do but, then there was this maze the Inn created out of hay bales. Naturally the children didn't use it for its intended purpose. They climbed up and jumped from bale to bale.
The Inn on Biltmore Estate is luxurious and the grounds are absolutely beautiful. I highly recommend you go but more than anything I hope your children get to roll down the hills and jump from bale to bale.
The Biltmore Estate
|Battery Park Book Exchange
|The Grand Bohemian
|This is how our room looked minus
the flower petals and champagne
|Our decorations were much simpler
Consider yourself forewarned though, just one night in this town will most likely lead to another.