Sunday, December 07, 2008 Road Junkies 0 Comments

What better way to spend the first week of December than a trip to popular Asheville, North Carolina? This was actually a multi-generational girl trip to celebrate Dianne's sister Jeanne's sixtieth birthday. Ken went exploring on his own while the girls did their sightseeing. The primary object of the trip, of course, was to see America's largest private home, Biltmore House.
Built by George Washington Vanderbilt between 1888 and 1895, the French-inspired chateau comprises 250 rooms in 175,000 square feet on an estate of some 8,000 beautifully landscaped acres.

Biltmore House
The house was meticulously decorated for the holidays with a total of 60 Christmas trees in the rooms that are open to the public. On a candlelight evening tour, we saw the decorations and the house in a special glow.

Checking out the Biltmore's holiday decorations
While Ken and Dianne were letterboxing in Asheville, the four generations of girls visited the Grove Park Inn, where the winners of the national gingerbread house competition were on display. Much oohing and ahhing was inspired.

Amazing gingerbread house on exhibit at Grove Park Inn
Near a park where we searched for some letterboxes, we saw some brand new homes with a view of the French Broad River. Those with young children (and sleepwalkers) might think twice before buying into this construction style.

Groundless design
Along the various trails we visited, we saw some magnificent trees, including one which was actually labeled a climbing tree in a letterbox clue, a description that was quite apt.

A perfect climbing tree
No boxing adventure would be complete without a magnificent old cemetery. Though not as scenic as Savannah's Bonaventure, Riverside Cemetery in Asheville has its own charms and is the final resting place of such literary greats as O. Henry and Thomas Wolfe.

Asheville's Riverside Cemetery
One of the letterboxes we found was located inside Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe. By planting indoors, the owner wasn't limited to waterproof containers and took full advantage to create a gorgeous container.

Couldn't hide this letterbox outdoors
Although we didn't encounter any horses for Ken's apples on this trip, he did find some eager geese with a taste for rye bread.

Who ordered rye?
It was a fabulous trip all around... from the snow flurries the night we arrived to the beautiful Biltmore Estate to the 46 letterboxes we found along the way.