Biltmore and the Breweries of Asheville

After a pancake breakfast in Tennessee we were off to Asheville, NC. This drive took us through Foothills Parkway which was not only an easy drive, but a beautiful drive.

Foothills Parkway

We arrived in Asheville around lunch time, before our Airbnb cabin was available, and headed to Biltmore Village for some retail therapy.

After my mom and I had successful visits to Spartina and Talbots it was time for a snack/lunch. While we were shopping my dad and husband found a brewery nearby (which is not hard to do in Asheville).

Hillman Beer

Our stop was perfect. We shared some delicious pretzel bites with a cheese dip along with some beer and cider at Hillman Brewery. I want to take a moment to recognize Hillman’s dedication to safety. Each table, originally designed to seat about eight had painters tape “X”s on half the table allowing only one group of four to five to sit at each table, with six feet between tables. Also, when I tried a cider at the bar before ordering it I obviously had to remove my mask, but when I went to order a full cider the bartender could not serve me until I put my mask back on. Thank you Hillman for sacrificing capacity and convenience for our safety as well as the safety of your staff.

Hillman Brewery

After our afternoon break it was time to check into the Airbnb my brother found for us. My parents were in their car, and my husband and I had our our own car, so we both used our own GPS systems to get us to the Old Fort area where our cabin was located. Our GPS had us get off the highway about five miles before my parents got off. If only we followed my parents! Our way was a one lane, unpaved, curvy, gravel road sometimes clinging to the side of a mountain! That was a scary drive! Especially when we came upon a man walking his dog in the road, and had a faceoff with a truck as we figured out how to navigate around each other!

We finally arrived at the cabin mid-way up a steep hill to find a car that didn’t belong to anyone in our family in the drive. We drove to the top of the hill to think. It was then I realized we had no cell or internet signal. I couldn’t reach my brother for help who was on his way and rented the cabin to contact the owner. Pretty soon my parents met us at the top of the hill and asked us who is at the house? My mom and I walked down the hill to find out who was at the cabin. We found out it’s the cleaning service, who was running a bit late, but said we could come in since they were wrapping up the laundry in the basement and would be leaving in 15 minutes. Back up the hill, and I remember thinking “wow, my knee still hurts from yesterday” but didn’t think much else.

Oh no, a bird!
AHHHHH! A Bird!!!!! Save me!

My brother and sister-in-law arrived shortly after us and pretty soon we were all settled in the cabin. A little later my husband calls to me, he says I have to see this big bird he and my sister-in-law can see out the window. OMG! It was a pair of wild peacocks! I’m pretty much deathly afraid of dogs, cats, and birds. So much for me going outside ever again on this trip!

The next day I walked to the car with great trepidation and an eye out for those birds to visit Biltmore. All of us had been to Biltmore before except my husband. However, he prepared for the visit by reading The Last Castle (which he recommends as an informative and good read whether going to Biltmore or not). We took the general, self-guided tour through this magnificent house. This is a great overview tour and you see so much, even the indoor pool and bowling alley. Architecturally this reminded us of some of the chateaus of France’s Loire region. Overall, this tour took about an hour at a nice pace. Again, thank you to the Biltmore for enforcing your mask rules and sacrificing capacity for safety.

Biltmore Estate
A Grand House

After the “house” it was time for a break, snacks, some shopping, and the gardens. Again, my knee would bother me, especially on steps or going downhill, but I still didn’t think much about it. Our last stop at Biltmore was the winery. Now, back to the cabin and eventually the Old Fort location of Hillman Brewery for more pretzel bites, grilled cheese sandwich for me, as well as beer and cider! Can you tell we really liked this place? We all liked it so much each of us brought home a growler can of our favorite brew. I’m saving my cider for the return of Big Ten football and the battle of my alma maters on the 24th.

Happy 50th
Happy 50th Mom and Dad

Now the big event, and the reason for the trip — my parents’ 50th! We planned a family day since the six of us getting together is a rarity. Us “kids” decorated the night before, then cooked a filet mignon dinner that was closed out with my famous sand castle cake!

Happy 50th
A tall family
Happy 50th
My famous (at least to me) sand castle cake

The next day we loaded up our car and headed home. As I sat in the car for 10 hours my knee really started to hurt more than the past few days. I got creative and used a face mask to hold a blue ice block on my knee for much of the drive. When we got home we also saw it was slightly swollen. My husband said it was time to make an appointment with an orthopedic doctor and make sure I didn’t do anything major to the knee (more on this later).

Enjoy this video from our vacation.

This was a fun week away from home. We needed the activity and change of scenery after so many months of staying home. Travel during a pandemic is a little weird. I never dreamed I would hike a trail in the Smokies with a mask in hand ready to put on when people passed by us. I never thought I’d enter hotels and a rented house with trepidation hoping it was clean — but coming armed with Lysol, wipes, and dusters to clean it myself just in case. But, that’s all a part of our lives now — and it certainly didn’t lessen the sights of Asheville or the beauty of the Smokies. To modify a quote from the Pixar-Disney film Up, “Adventure is STILL out there”, just be sure to have a can of Lysol and a mask with you! 😷

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