Background Music: "Carolina In The Morning" performed by Dean Martin, composed in 1922 by Gus Kahn and Walter Donaldson
There will be no lyric substitutions by you naughty boys out there!

We’re camped at the Thousand Trails in North Carolina. This is our second time in North Carolina. On our first visit we drove up to see the Smokey Mountains. This time, our big outing was to see the Biltmore Estate near Asheville.

Biltmore, completed in 1895 by George Vanderbilt, has the distinction of being the largest private residence in America. With the Vanderbilt fortune (made mostly via steamboats and railroads), George Vanderbilt made a home for himself that includes four acres of floor space and 250 rooms. You’re probably thinking that’s a lot of space for one guy, but he did also have a wife and a child, so… There are 33 family and guest bedrooms, 43 bathrooms (in a time where most homes didn’t have indoor plumbing), 65 fireplaces, three kitchens, an indoor swimming pool and a bowling alley. Originally, there were over 100,000 acres owned by the estate. Now the estate owns 8000 acres, which are taken up by the home, gardens, woodlands, a farm and a winery. Quite a bit to tour, and it took us most of a day.

We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside the home, unfortunately, but we did get a little book that has pictures of some of the rooms. Our reaction when we were touring the home can be summed up in two words: “holy crap.” The pantry was bigger than our living room, and you could fit our entire house into the library- possibly even if you stood it on end. There’s a room in the basement called the Rotisserie Kitchen- an entire room just for roasting meat. I remember recently touring an old wooden cabin where twelve people had lived. That whole cabin would have fit nicely into the Rotisserie Room, and now that I think of it, those twelve people probably would have loved living in the Rotisserie Room, what with the warm fire and the smell of roasting meat wafting through the air. Personally, Travis and I were jealous of the maid’s bedrooms, which are roomier than our bedroom at home, and all of which have a way better view.

If the overall hugeness of the place doesn’t get to you, the decoration probably will. Every room is ornate and beautiful. You’ll find priceless works of art, antique furniture, silk tapestries, carved woodwork, cut-velvet draperies and bedspreads, hand painted limestone fireplaces, ornamental plaster ceilings, German clocks, French chaises in the style of Louis XV typified by their classic white frames, carved floral motifs and curving profiles- breathe, breathe, calm…okay. I really do love this stuff.

After touring the inside of Biltmore, we walked around the gardens and then drove up to the farm and winery to pet some horses and taste some wine. It was a very good day. It leaves you feeling the way the houses on Street of Dreams can- wishing you had the means to live more lavishly, but also glad to be free of such a huge responsibility. Plus, 250 rooms of dusting – really, who needs it? Oh who am I kidding- I would totally take the house if they gave it to us!

Right in line with the theme of homes, furnishings, etc., we made a very short visit to High Point, NC, the furniture capital of the United States. We know it’s the furniture capital because in the center of the downtown area is the World’s Largest Chest of Drawers, which stands as a symbol to High Point’s furniture capital status. Plus, they say right on their website, “Furniture capital of the United States”. High Point has a huge number of furniture stores and I could easily have spent a full day happily browsing through them all, but I know only a couple of people who would have also enjoyed this pastime, and Trav is definitely not one of them.

So to sum up this stop in North Carolina: enormous, beautiful house, nice gardens, cute farm animals, good wine, many furniture stores, and a huge chest of drawers. It’s really nice here.

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