We left Charleston early the next morning and headed northwest towards the mountains. I had been doing my Busy Bee work along the way on the road but my Mac laptop battery kept dying. We stopped off at at Pilot truck stop and bought a lighter plug-in converter that you can plug any standard thing into and I was ready to work for the long haul.
I chose Hendersonville, N.C. as our lunch-time destination and after seeing that Umi Restaurant had been chosen as one of the best restaurants in town to eat set that as our next meal. We arrived and their decor and ambiance was quite nice. I loved the natural stones and slate in the bathrooms and their unique artwork. Our array of sushi and my bento box arrived and after sampling, agreed with the reviews. It was wonderful!
We were too early to check in to our lodging for the evening so we decided to brave the impending thunderstorms and went to the Biltmore Estate. We parked and after conflicted debate about running to catch the bus or staying in the car away from the lightning striking all about, we saw the bus coming and dashed to catch it. We jumped on and the driver whisked us to the front door in time to offload us in the middle of the pouring thunderstorm. We finally got inside and toured the amazing Biltmore house. It really is worth the visit whether you want to be boggled by the vast space filled with fabulous antiques or the vistas, landscaping, gardens, conservatory and the grounds of the estate.
When we finished the house tour the rain had subsided to a drizzle so we headed out to see the view and gardens. We made it through the tulip garden and into the conservatory just as the skies opened up and poured again. However, I was content for a bit to photograph the orchids and interesting plant specimens housed there.
The azalea garden was in full bloom but the rain deterred us from venturing further. We decided to cut our losses and I had designs on visiting the winery, so we caught the bus back to the parking lot. Wally was in a good mood and obliged me by stopping at the winery, which is housed in the former Biltmore dairy barn.
We proceeded to work our way through the selections. Now I have to reveal that Wally is not a wine drinker. I’m the family “wino”. He’s a whiskey/bourbon drinker by choice, so the fact that he was willing to test the wines was indicative of his good mood.
He even penciled in his favorite picks! We struck up a conversation with fellow testers and one worked for NASA and that was quite interesting – especially after sampling an hours worth of wine…
We worked our way through all the varieties and there were several that I really liked – and Wally concurred.. so we went into the next room to the see what I was willing to spend. The prices were really quite affordable compared to regular store prices. $9.99 per bottle and up, with discounts for case buys, which you could mix and match, so we got a case of our favorites.
The friendly staff packed and loaded us up and we were ready to head to the Bent Creek Lodge for our evening stay. The Lodge is about 10 minutes from the Biltmore, and about five from restaurants and the weekly farmer’s market. They are at the top of a secluded hill with walking trails, lots of porch space to rock or swing and watch the birds.
We arrived in a drizzle and got settled in, meeting some of the other guests staying for the night. The innkeeper got the fire going and we started some friendly competition on the pool table. It was such an enjoyable evening! You couldn’t have asked for a better ambiance on a chilly wet evening in the mountains. Unfortunately I was not in camera mode at that point to capture the crackling fire and comraderie, but here is the morning after of the main floor gathering room.
The next morning we packed up and I decided to take a walk through the continued drizzle. They have such interesting garden art and architecture so I tucked my camera under my raincoat and headed down the trail.
It was time for breakfast by this time so we headed up to see what was in store for our us. The morning papers awaited so we browsed through those and I tried to figure out our directions for the day to our next destination.
Breakfast was delicious and I would recommend a visit to Bent Creek Lodge to anyone planning on going to the Biltmore area that enjoys nature and an inn setting. You can visit their website at http://www.bentcreeknc.com/ to see more information. We loaded up and headed north towards Kingsport, Tennessee, the next leg of our journey.