Biltmore In Spring

The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina is a magnificent destination at any time of the year. It’s especially nice right now because the gardens are bursting with color.

There are over 8,000 acres of gardens and grounds including a formal garden, hiking trails, fields, lawns and forests that seem to stretch on and on.

The Biltmore landscape was designed by famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead. In fact, this magnificent project was the last for the man who gave us New York’s Central Park and the US. Capitol grounds.

Olmstead’s guiding light was a concept called “subordination” which means that all elements of a landscape design should serve the overall effect without overwhelming or overshadowing any other part of the landscape.

These grounds are magnificent but I have only scratched the surface in exploring the outdoors here. The natural beauty seems endless.

In the formal garden, we saw peonies, snapdragons, roses and a host of other beauties. The rhododendron was in full bloom and there were a ton of other shrubs and trees unfamiliar to this Yankee.

The conservatory is home to all sorts of succulents, orchids, hydrangea and tropical plants that are arranged artfully.

If I ever find myself there alone, I hope to sit on one of these benches to read a book or write something smart.

It was nice and cool there in the shade so my friend and I did stop here to rest a while and to simply soak in the beauty of this day.

The house tour is incredible for its history and opulence. As much as I enjoy it though, the time spent outdoors is always my favorite part of a Biltmore visit. If you go, be sure to carve out some time to explore the outdoors.

Our next stop will be inside the house! Check back!

Monet And Friends Immersive Experience

If you enjoy the Impressionist painters of the nineteenth century, you may enjoy Monet and Friends at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. This immersive experience explores the work of Monet and his contemporaries who led an art revolution.

It uses all the senses to evoke a sense of feeling about these famous works of art. The 45 minute program is set to a beautiful soundtrack and is incredibly peaceful. Guests can watch the loop as many times as they like. We stayed for almost two full loops and moved around the room to enjoy it from a couple of different angles

I had attended the Van Gogh Immersive in Columbus, Ohio last year and it felt bigger, a little larger scale and grander. However, this event still drew me in and captured my heart and attention. It was lovely seeing so many beautiful paintings set to music and telling a story.

Admission for this event is sold as a combo ticket to also tour the Biltmore home. I’ll tell you about that experience soon!

Give Me A Moment, Please

I’m home now and will be back to work again this morning after four days of adventuring with a friend. There’s much to say about this trip because we packed as much as possible into every day. The good news is that there are stories to share. The bad news is that there’s so much to share that I need a moment to unpack it all in my head and get started.

So, for now, here’s a favorite picture that was captured while walking around Mount Airy, North Carolina. It exemplifies how full this trip was of memories made by simply being in the right place at the right time.

My friend and I were both of the mindset that we wanted to see and do as much as possibl while we were there. The hotel was basically a place for a good night’s sleep and a shower so we would be prepared for another fun day. We had some specific destinations in mind but were open to unplanned fun and wandering off the beaten path because there was a sign that pointed somewhere that sounded interesting.

Honestly? My best memories from these last four days are a product of saying YES when opportunity arose. We just kept looking around that next bend and kept seeking whatever came next.

That’s one of the keys to happiness, if you ask me. Life is big and interesting. Maintain a sense of curiosity, go looking for the unusual and the mundane and seek out the beauty in the smallest things. Stop and admire that great vehicle, notice the tiniest wildflower at the side of the road, be present and look for reasons to be happy. It’s there if you look for it!

Stick around. There’s a lot to come from this North Carolina whirlwind trip!

Back To Reality

I’m traveling home from an adventure with a friend today. There are so many stories to share but, for now, here’s a picture from the North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville.

I tell you to make the journey fun and am pleased to say that I did exactly that for the last few days. I’ll be dragging myself in tired tonight, almost overwhelmed with memories of beauty, history and the magic of finding something spectacular around the next bend.

Stay tuned. Stories will be on the way soon!

On The Nest

I encountered this lovely swan and her protective mate looking after their eggs at Yoctangee Park in Chillicothe. They made me smile and I sincerely hope they make your day too.

Happy Saturday, friends. Go find something that makes your heart happy today.

Meeting Ulysses S. Grant

If you ever a have a chance to see Dr. Curtis Fields, Jr. give a presentation on US President Ulysses S. Grant, please go. He is an educator, a living historian and the preeminent portrayer of Grant in this country. His presentation will blow you away.

At least, that was the case for me when I had the pleasure of seeing him at the Ross Heritage Center in Chillicothe, Ohio on April 27. Incidentally, that was Grant’s 200th birthday so they even had birthday cake in his honor.

Dr. Fields spoke to a packed house for about 90 minutes without ever breaking character. His presentation on what he called “Grant’s Desperate Years,” between 1854 when Grant left the Army and the start of the Civil War, was fascinating.

His children were born during these years and he worked at everything he could to make something of himself and to give his family a good life. Unfortunately, if Grant didn’t have bad luck, he would have had no luck at all. None.

In fact, the first couple of stories about his failed business ventures were sort of humorous but it quickly turned sad. I had no idea he struggled so much before finally finding some success.

It’s one thing to listen to a history lecture. It’s a completely different experience when someone looks and sounds the part as they tell you their life story. My companion and I stood for the entire 90 minutes and I never once got bored or tired of standing. That’s high praise and I would do it again if given the chance!

Want to learn a little more about Dr. Fields? This is a short article that you might enjoy.