Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Exploring North Carolina- Part 3

The last leg of our North Carolina journey was Asheville to visit the Biltmore Estate. But on our way we stopped in Winston-Salem, NC. Now this may sound like just another town to you, but this my friends is the HOME of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. Yes I know, pretty cool! I remember when Krispy Kreme was all the rage in Arizona when it first came out and then when they all randomly closed it was a sad day. But Krispy Kreme is still going strong out here. We wanted to go to the original Krispy Kreme, but unfortunately it doesn't exist anymore. Instead we stopped at one in the city and relished in the gloriousness of the doughnuts. My mom looooves doughnuts (or is it "donuts" I've never really known the difference); she hasn't had one in over 2 years so this was the day to indulge. However, she did note that VG Donuts in Cardiff, CA (near San Diego) still has WAAAY better donuts, and I have to agree. In fact VG Donuts has been rated to have the best donut in San Diego. So if you are ever in San Diego, definitely go there for your donut fix.

Alright, now that we've had some sugar, back to the Biltmore Estate. My mom has always wanted to go. We used to watch Good Morning America (and still do) every morning and during Christmas they would broadcast from the estate when everything was decorated. It was so stunning and beautiful. Although we didn't go during the Christmas season it was just as stunning. I didn't feel like I was in North Carolina at all; in fact I felt like I was in some European country touring one of the grandiose castles in the country side.

Just enjoying the breathtaking view (below) off the Biltmore balcony

It was so gorgeous, which is probably why I took so many pictures and why there are so many in this blog. Another reason is that my Mom has a new beautiful Canon camera that takes the most amazing pictures. You know when you see something beautiful and you take a picture and it doesn't really capture the beauty... well this camera does capture that beauty. It was so fun to experiment with all the different settings on the camera. We tried to learn a new technique every day, which didn't turn out so well because we ended up playing with all the buttons and gadgets on our own. The pictures below are the products of my attempts to be artistic. Key word is attempts :).

Anyway, the estate is 175,000 square feet and has 25o rooms; it's GINORMOUS! In fact, it's the largest private residence in America. It took us probably 3 hours just to tour the inside, and we probably only saw about 30 or so rooms. Can you imagine the upkeep on a property like this? Sometimes I feel like I'm overwhelmed by my apartment. I think I could learn a thing or two from Mrs. Vanderbilt who oversaw the upkeep of the house and planned all the parties and entertained all the guests.
What would a ginormous estate be without a ginormous potted plant!

We got a 2 day pass to explore the estate and the grounds and thank goodness we did because we probably would have been way too overwhelmed to do it all in one day. The first day we toured the house, went wine tasting at the winery (yes they even have their own winery there, i'll telling you this place was HUGE), and drove around the grounds. This place was its own mini theme park. There is a river that runs through it, there are gardens, a hotel, tons of other mini houses, shops, hiking and biking trails, horses, etc. It's like it's own town; I bet it's bigger than Disney World.

This picture pretty much captures the peacefulness of the whole place.

The second day we walked around the gardens and the conservatory. The gardens were so gorgeous! This is where we did a lot of our experimenting with the camera because I mean who doesn't like taking pictures of flowers or looking at pictures of flowers. They just make you happy looking at them.

You name any type of flower and I'm pretty sure they had it. There were also vegetables (squash, tomatoes, weird gourds, pumpkins, etc) and lots of fruits (apples, pears, grapes). There was also this shell hanging with a strange plant coming out of it. Not too sure what that was...

The grounds were also gorgeous! There was the little windy road that ran around the entire property and it took about 30 minutes just to drive around the whole place. There were creeks and ponds and waterfalls. We even saw a sea otter in one of the ponds. Not too sure how he got there, but he was cute none the less. The entire place was so peaceful. Everywhere you looked it was green and the only sounds were nature. My mom was saying that she would enjoy a place like this more than a beach vacation in terms of relaxation. But, give me a hammock by the ocean and I am the most relaxed person without a care in the world. However, this place does come in a close second.

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