Asheville to Nashville
Updated: Mar 21, 2018
Spring break is normally a time for the beach, but with no beach trip planned this year I decided to take Bishop and Bella on an adventure deep into the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee. The plan was to drive all the way to Asheville and slowly make our way back across the Smoky Mountains, stopping at anything that caught our eye along the way.
Its almost a given that any trip to Asheville is going to include a visit to the grand Biltmore Estate. So with tickets purchased and plans made we set off. Although this is really the off season for the Biltmore, it was very busy. Every room seemed more crowded than the next, due in part to an exhibition of the costumes from the movie Titanic. Every room had costumes with the appropriate description of the scenes they were worn.
The costumes were era appropriate from the heyday of the Biltmore. And it was easy to imagine the Vanderbilts wearing similar attire.
The estate really is a sight to behold. The architecture changes from room to room, no small feat for a 175,00 square feet mansion.
The amount of art adorning the walls is incredible. Every inch of space seems to house a beautiful work. I especially enjoyed the pencil drawings of royalty and other visitors to the estate.
The most awe inspiring room for me was definitely the library. Half of George Vanderbilt's 22,000 book collection is housed here. I would love to spend a week just browsing the volumes of these 100 year old books.
Bella's favorite part was the gardens and statue collection. I have to admit, the statures were pretty impressive.
As our day drew to a close we headed away, anxious to see what awaited on the next stop of our adventure.
Downtown Asheville is known for its eclectic array of shopping and art galleries. We walked the streets, dipping in and out of shops, but our attention was caught by the Basilica of St. Lawrence. This building was built in 1905 by one of the architects brought in to work on the Biltmore estate, Rafael Guastavino. It is a beautiful example of Spanish design, and a testament his skill and devotion.
With our journey through Asheville complete, we rested for the next leg of our journey, going from Cherokee, NC and crossing the Smokys into Gatlinburg. We spent most of the next day driving through the countryside of North Carolina slowly making our way to the eastern gateway to the Smoky Mountain National Park. The town of Cherokee is situated on the Eastern Cherokee Reservation. Most of the things we had planned to see were down for the winter still, we did get to go to the museum of the Cherokee, which Bella really enjoyed.
Tiring from a full day of driving we crept our way into the Smoky Mountains, reaching the top just before dusk. I decided to pull over and enjoy the sunset high in the mountains, a first for the kids. Although there is no beautiful foliage this time of year, a mountain sunset is still a sight to behold.
Cades Cove was on our agenda early the following morning, so after dinner we turned in ready for another early rise. Although I've been to the Smoky Mountains several times, I had never made the trek down to Cades Cove. I had always wanted to check out the abandoned settlement but I had heard it was extremely crowded. My plan was to get there just after sunrise, not only to beat the crowd but afford myself the most flattering light.
It really is a beautiful place as you begin your journey around the 11 mile one way loop. The first signs of the settlement are a series of old churches, some of them still used today. I love old buildings and these churches do not disappoint. There is something special about being in a place that has been there for more than a hundred years.
We made our way around the loop and came to some of the old settlement cabins, Bella was especially excited about exploring these long unused dwellings.
We also made a stop at the old grain mill, which is still in use. A nice old gentleman there sells meal and flour made in this functioning piece of history. He also fascinated Bella with stories of how he catches snakes.
Our journey back in time was complete so we made our way out and headed back to Gatlinburg. We spent the last day riding go karts, playing golf, and going to arcades, typical Gatlinburg stuff. I even managed to get a picture of Bishop, with a rare smile.
This trip was a great time away with the kids, I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did. I cant wait to see where our next adventure carries us.