So it has been a few days since my last post. I guess that happens when you are enjoying yourself!
I spent a couple of wonderful days in Baltimore, hanging out with some friends and exploring the local frozen dessert options. BMore Licks has very generous portions of their milkshakes that are of perfect thickness and great flavor! Tropicool has water ice a-la Rita’s but with more esoteric flavors. Birthday cake?!! So good.
Then I made my way south for the first day of big driving. I stopped off in DC for breakfast with a friend at a great Ethiopian diner called Heat Da Spot Cafe. Super tasty stuff. Over the course of the four hours it took me to drive to my first destination in West Virginia, I think I had cell service for about 25% of it. The things you learn.
I was trying to visit the Green Bank observatory and Cass Scenic Railroad Park. But alas the observatory was closed (could only see it from afar) and the Cass train wasn’t even there. But, they did have tasty milkshakes (detecting a theme here?) and some WiFi so I could chart my next stop.
I successfully used the HotelTonight app to book a discounted room at a Ramada inn at Wytheville, VA. It was just fine and cheap enough and close to Asheville for my Biltmore estate visit today! Speaking of which, this place is AWESOME. I’ve been there twice before: once when I was a kid and once on the first spring break I ever had as a teacher. It is such a cool building – so much history and architecture. I love coming because I learn something new each time.
Here is a short summary of what I did and what I learned:
- I checked out the gardens. They were originally full of fruit and vegetables (a-la Frederick Law Olmstead, designer of Central and Prospect Parks in NYC) but George Vanderbilt (the guy who owned it) wanted to just have it be a ‘looking at’ kind of thing. So, roses it was.
- The botanic garden area had a train show going on like the one at the Bronx. It was so cool!
- The rooftop copper tops have GV logo embedded in them for George Vanderbilt.
- The 1895 ammonia-based refrigerator is still cool.
- The indoor pool has a leak and can’t be used. This was discovered sometime in the last 20 years when there was a party that was thrown and the pool was filled. In the morning after the party, the sub-basement was flooded. Oopsy!
- The limestone on the outside of the structure was too shiny and reflective of the sun so they had to be ‘crandalled‘ in order to reduce the brightness.
- The Biltmore creamery milkshakes are on point.