Monday, July 13

Roadschool Trip to Asheville

Asheville in the fall looks like it's painted by the very hands of God himself!  We had the opportunity to drive through the Blue Ridge, stopping at the Biltmore House and hiking at Paradise Falls along the way...

Our first visit to the Biltmore Estate was incredible - the boys had never seen such opulence before and were overwhelmed when they first saw the house.  It was a lot of fun to watch their reactions!

My oldest was taken with the architecture and the details around the house.  We spent a lot of time examining the outside of the house before even going inside.  He noticed that one of Joan of Arc's swords was missing...something of which even the doorman was unaware.  He took many notes in his art book and drew sketches of things that he liked.
Two of my favorite areas in the house are the conservatory, which hosts beautiful flora and fauna year-round, and the back porch.  It's not really your average back porch...check out the view!

During this visit, there was a special exhibit showing off period clothing reproductions.  Being a seamstress, I found these really fascinating!  Each room showed off what the residents and guests would be wearing there.
The grounds were beautiful...cloaked in morning dew and the fog that steadily rolled in.  It reminded us of home, only with more trees.  We particularly liked the several bridges scattered along the property.  There is a lovely drive from the house over to the winery...
At the Winery, we learned about fermentation and the process of wine-making.  My children surprised the seniors on our tour with their extensive knowledge of fermentation.  We make our own kefir and kombucha at home...and they've been paying attention!

My youngest loved playing in the "dungeons" of the wine cellar.  It has a nice echo, and the kids enjoyed running around down there a bit while it rained.  There were no other patrons in the cellar at the time!  All that exercise worked up a thirst, and so we went to the wine and grape-juice tasting bar.  This is free with admission, and they felt so grown up!
This is a great idea for the pantry.  Those little blue jars are so cute!  And never let it be said that I didn't take time to stop and smell the roses...  Take a virtual field trip with the videos below!

Biltmore House Resources

Paradise Falls
Just an hour or so outside of Asheville, we came to the small town of Sylva, where we would begin our backwoods journey through small, typically-unmarked roads, to a place that brought me peace and solace in my younger days.

We parked in a little clearing and set off down the steep, rocky incline that heads the trail.  It had cooled off at least twenty degrees!  Deeper and deeper into the forest we went, and I noticed how much the trail had changed over the years.  At times, we couldn't hear the waterfalls at all, while other times they sounded two feet away!  It was a beautiful day for a hike.
Finally, we came to the trail's end, but were unable to actually get down into the falls due to erosion.  Many years ago, a person could climb down into the falls and have a picnic or take a short nap on that large boulder in the middle of the stream.  

Unfortunately, it would have been too dangerous to try and get down to it, but we were able to sit serenely and enjoy the view for a while.  Then we hiked back....the trail itself still being very safe.  On the way back uphill, we found a small cavern that the boys explored.  Then we sat down to do some bird watching.
We also started exploring the local plant life...mushrooms, ferns, and rhododendron trees.    Back at the head of the trail, we played with the camera's timer and managed to get a shot of the three of us.  There wasn't a soul for miles around!

As the sun began to set, I knew we needed to make tracks.  Every road around here is full of hairpin curves, and many wind on forever.  Our GPS doesn't do too well through the mountains, either....on the trek out of here, we were directed to drive into a lake, a cornfield, and a house. 

Visit Paradise Falls

Directions from I-40.....and please be careful when hiking.
  • Take the Maggie Valley exit (27)
  • Follow Highway 276-S to the intersection of 19/23/74
  • Go West on 19/23/74 into Sylva (exit 83)
  • Left at second traffic light (107-S toward WCU)
  • From 107-S, take Sylva exit
  • Go a couple of miles, and cross the bridge
    • Keep going.  :) 
  • Approximately 10 miles in, turn left onto Highway 281
  • Approximately 10 more miles on Highway 281 into Little Canada
  • Go around the hairpin turn at the community center (you'll see the back, and then the front)
  • Wolf Creek Baptist Church will be on the right side
    • If you reach Wolf Creek Dam, you went too far
  • About 100 yards past the church there is a clearing with a tiny "National Park Parking" sign and a trail to the public grounds

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