Thursday, September 26, 2013

Asheville, North Carolina

We are in Asheville, North Carolina for 5 days at the Lake Powhatan campground in Pisgah National Forest.  We came to Asheville to specifically see the largest home in America, the Biltmore.  The Biltmore was built for George Washington Vanderbilt, the son of Cornelius Vanderbilt, the railroad tycoon.  He started with $1,000 and turned that into 100 million by starting the New York and Penn Central Railroads.  The house took 6 years to build, 1889-1895.  It has 250 rooms, 101 bedrooms, 103 bathrooms, and at least one of any room you can think of, including a billiard room, bowling alley, indoor pool, servants quarters, library, a men's cigar room, etc.   The size is 175,00 square feet, with of lavish furnishings and art from around the world.  This is one of the places that you must see.  The rules say that there is no indoor photography allowed, so all I get to show you is the exterior and gardens.
Our campsite, deep inside Pisgah National Forest
Biltmore, America's largest home
Debbie at the entrance
Out on one of the verandas
One of the many gardens
Debbie in one of the two rose gardens
The sculpture garden
The Arboretum
Debbie shows some very beautiful small flowers
One of hundreds of varieties of orchids
A waterfall coming from Bass Pond
Day two at the Biltmore was spent seeing the other places on the property and having another fancy lunch.  We visited the Heritage Center that told about the Vanderbilt's lives and the family tree.  We toured the winery and did a wine tasting.  We enjoyed several wines, but they were a bit pricey for our budget.  We visited some gift shops and the riding stable, although we did not go for a horse ride on one of the trails.  We had an other good day.                                                                              
The entrance to the winery
Some of the holding tanks in the Biltmore Winery, each holds 4,983 gals.
Looking at some barrels through a window at the wineries visitors center
Deb petting horses at the riding stable
More beautiful horses to ride
We already spent 3 days in Asheville, so we decided to take an hour ride up to Hot Springs, N.C.  We spent the early part of the day in one of the hot mineral tubs and then ate and shopped the rest of the afternoon.  The weather was great 68 degrees and 102 in the hot mineral tub. Our tub was overlooking French Broad Creek.  Another great day in paradise! Tomorrow, Sunday, we are taking the day off to relax around the campsite.
Deb is relaxing in the hot mineral tub
One of our views from the tub
Another view from the tub

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Augusta, Georgia

We are in Augusta, Georgia's second largest city, for 5 days, visiting this city and Aiken, South Carolina just across the border.  We set up at Heritage RV Park and on our second day, took a tourist trolley around the city for 2+ hours.  We also visited the Augusta Museum, which was running a large exhibit about their native son, singer James Brown, the "Godfather of Soul".  Trivia:  James Brown is our most prolific songwriter, having written 5,500 songs.   We drove by Woodrow Wilson's boyhood home, but it was not open that day for tours. We took a john boat tour on the Augusta Canal and had a nice cruise up and down the canal, learning all about how it helped grow Augusta and make it an important part of the industrial growth during the 1900's.  Augusta sits 35 feet below sea level on the Savannah River.
We also visited Aiken, South Carolina.  Aiken is another of those small cities with a vibrant downtown business district.  All of the shops and restaurants in town are active, with no closed storefronts.  There are no Targets, Wal-Marts, McDonald's or other chain stores anywhere near the city center.  It was a joy to walk the streets, eat outside at a cafe-brew pub, and visit the many locally owned shops.  This is our kind of town.  No photos of Aiken though, as I forgot the camera.
The Augusta Visitors Center Trolley
The Augusta Museum's exhibits
Memorial to all that died in 8 floods before the Corp of Engineers project
Deb preparing to board the boat for the canal tour
One of the tour boats
Deb, our cruise docent and the captain
Our boat's mascot, Moses
Passing the former Confederate Gun and Ammunition works
Heading upstream
Kayaking on the canal

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Hunting Island State Park, Beaufort, S.C.

We are at Hunting Island State Park, just outside Beaufort, South Carolina.  We love this park, built in the tall pines, with the beach nearby.  We walked about a mile down the beach to the Hunting Island Lighthouse.  We saw hundreds of trees, crusted with barnacles, lots of scallop shells, water birds and walked in the surf.  We also went into Beaufort, a very old southern town, inhabited in the past and still today by those with money.  While in Beaufort, we took a horse drawn carriage ride around the city and learned a lot about the city and it's history.  Hilton Head is nearby and its the only city we have ever been to that you have to pay $5.00 to get admittance.  Lots of shops , restaurants and a fake lighthouse.
Our campsite in the woods at Hunting Island State Park
Some of the many trees down on the beach
Parts of old trees stuck in the sand
A windswept palm
Hunting Island lighthouse, circa 1857
Deb at the Lighthouse's well house
Downtown Beaufort
One of the many large Beaufort homes
Another southern style Beaufort home
Deb at the Beaufort seaport
Deb in Hilton Head


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Perry, Georgia Samboree

As Good Sam members, we are eligible to attend Samborees, but until this past week, have never been to one.  So, since we just got back on the road, and there was one just north of Florida, we decided to go.  It was held at the Georgia State Fairgrounds in Perry. This Samboree was a gathering for Georgia Good Sam members and anyone from other states that wanted to attend.  We met campers from at least 10 states.  We attended seminars, vendor demonstrations and booths, played many games, saw some good entertainment, had a nice Amish dinner, and made a lot of new friends in those 4 days. The entertainment included a gospel quartet named Common Garments, an Elvis impersonator, and Mike Kelly, a one man musical wonder.  I'm sure that we'll attend more Samborees in the future.
Debbie is all healed and walking very well
Around 290 rigs and families in attendance 
The theme was Christmas in September 
Debbie and her team in Bean Bag Baseball
You have to get the bean bag through the holes
Debbie went 1 for 3 (a double) in the semi-final loss
Elvis is in the house!