Mansions and Mountains . . .

This morning got off to a fast start with a call from our son Chris. His truck was overheating and he thought he’d blown a head gasket, so he wanted our help in towing his truck back home. We decided to combine this with breakfast, so about 10:30 we met at Kelly’s Country Cookin’ in League City.

It’s been a long time since we’ve eaten at Kelly’s and I had forgotten how big their portions are. I had the Eggs & Chili, with Grits and a Biscuit. I’m sorry I didn’t get a picture of the biscuit. They’re Huge!

The one I had was about 7” across and about 3” high. I was only able to eat less than half of it.

We got Chris’ truck towed home with no problems, and then Jan and I headed into Clear Lake to my client’s office for a little while. I finally convinced him to replace his main server so I’ll have to get started on that soon.

Getting back to the rig, I spent some time moving a few things down to the bays to clear out for for the Christmas tree.

Later for supper, Jan heated up our leftover Chinese from King Food the other night. Chinese food is one of those, like Italian, that gets even better as leftovers.

I’ve reposted our visit to the Biltmore in 2009.



Thought for the Day:

The first testicular guard, the “Cup,” was used in Hockey in 1874 and the first helmet was used in 1974. That means it only took 100 years for men to realize that their brain is also important.


Estates and Rocks…

Originally posted on June 23, 2009

Today was Biltmore Estate day, the main reason we did a 500 mile jog in our trip up the East Coast to Nova Scotia.

It’s hard to realize how big this place really is. The house is 175,000 square feet inside. That’s FOUR acres!

It has a total of 250 rooms, with 35 bedrooms for family and guests, and 43 bathrooms. It is/was the largest private home in the US.

It took about 6 years to build and was completed in time for its first party on Christmas Eve, 1895.

It was built by George Vanderbilt, grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt, the shipping magnate. No one knows exactly how much it cost to build, but it’s estimated to be about 10 million dollars, and that’s in 1895 dollars.

The Biltmore

The Biltmore

The Biltmore Stables

The Biltmore Stables

The stables shown above are to the right of the main house. I couldn’t get back far enough to get everything in one shot.

Originally, the Biltmore Estate consisted of 125,000 acres. Now it sits on 8,000 acres. The rest is now part of the Pisgah National Forest.

I was also amazed at the landscaping involved. They used over 2 million plants to landscape the grounds.

What I found even harder to believe was this view from the loggia (porch) at the back of the house.

View from the Porch

When the house was built in 1895 this view was of scrub brush and bare hills, with eroded gullys and fire-blackened tree stumps. So Vanderbilt decided to have this area completely re-forested.

They re-sculpted the hills for the rolling look you see today, and then planted 10 of thousands of large trees and 100′s of thousands of bushes and scrubs.

It’s amazing what you can do if you have more money than you know what to do with!

After our tour of the house which took about 3 hours, we ate lunch at the Stable Cafe, which as the name indicates, is in the old stables.

The stalls have been converted into dining areas with tables also out in the center.

The Stable Cafe

The Stable Cafe

Our Stall at the Stable Cafe

Our Stall at the Stable Cafe

The food was very good, with Jan having a Chicken Salad Sandwich with Sun-dried Tomatoes on a croissant, and I had the Harvest Turkey Sandwich with melted brie, arugula, and blackberry mustard spread on a panini.

In addition to the Cafe, the stables also houses several gift shops and guest services.

After we left The Biltmore, we headed out about 25 miles northeast to Chimney Rock State Park.

Chimney Rock has been a tourist attraction since 1885. Over the years paths, staircases, and trails have been added to make access easier.

Finally in 1946, a 198 foot tunnel was tunneled into the side of the mountain,

Tunnel to the Elevator

and then a 268 foot vertical shaft was blasted down from the top to provide an elevator to the top.

After taking the elevator to the top, the path leads thru the obligatory gift shop and then out on a walkway to the stairs that takes you up on Chimney Rock at a height of 2280 feet.

Jan only made it 2270 feet, but I was really proud of her. She has a real fear of heights and I think she only does things like this to humor me. She made it to the top of Chimney Rock, but couldn’t do the last 10 feet to the edge. Honestly, I was really surprised she made that far. After 42 years, she still manages to surprise me.

Chimney Rock

Chimney Rock

Chimney Rock Closeup

Chimney Rock Close-up

From there you can see for 75 miles on a clear day. Our day was a little hazy, but still a great view.

Chimney Rock View 1

Chimney Rock View 2

After having ice cream at the cafe on top of the mountain, we headed home about 4 pm.

A long day, indeed.



2 Responses

  1. Howdy J&G,

    Hope Chris didn’t burn his truck up!! I doubt he made that much
    profit on his jellies!!
    Boy, y’all sure do eat in strange places; horse stalls, on top of rocks!!
    Great pics even if they were smoky.. Old Vandy did a good job of
    covering the mountains!! Only 125,000 acres?? No wonder he covered it up with trees.. He didn’t want to mow all of that backyard..
    Only 43 bathrooms?? Must have done a lot of drinking!!!

    Hope your day is going well!!!

  2. We absolutely loved Biltmore. . .I shared a fabulous pic on our blog of our truck right in front of the mansion. . .it had started raining, and everyone had cleared off the front lawn. . .so it turned out really great! Asheville was our favorite stop of the entire trip. . .and YOU were lucky. . .when we went to Chimney Rock. . .the elevator was NOT working. . .so we climbed ALL those steps from the bottom. . .AGONY! but so worth it. . .


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: