We could not have planned our recent behind-the-scenes venture at the magnificent Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. My husband, son and I simply decided to go rent bicycles there on a Sunday afternoon, and, as our family friend, Kyle, works at the Inn on the grounds, our son gave him a call to see if he was there so we could say Howdy. Kyle was there, and we quickly received a call back from him saying that the bicycle rental would be a gift to us that day- just give them our name and everything would be set. How nice! After meandering down the winding pathway awhile, soaking in all the gorgeous mountain scenery along the way, we arrived at one of the many duck ponds and stopped to get a few photos (and catch our breath!). While there, we received another call from Kyle saying he was driving over to meet us at the pond. He arrived, shortly, with his lovely friend, Miss Aubrey – in her big (and I mean really big!) white pickup truck. They lifted our rental bikes into the back of the truck, dropped them off back at the bike barn, and took us for an afternoon behind-the-scenes tour- on the other side of the huge, mysterious, gated bridge…
The serene, heavily wooded, driveway eventually opened up to sublimely beautiful farm space with sheep pens, a barn, and around the bend, Aubrey’s charming old farm house. Just inside the front door of her home lies a modest living room with a quaint fireplace and some original paintings splashed about- if I remember correctly they were Aubrey’s paintings of horses- and there’s a whole row of ribbons she has won in horse competitions over the years. After our quick pit-stop we walked up the gravel road just past her home a ways, to a large sheep pen area. As we approached, the lambs made sweet little lamby noises- but the sheep made the most hilarious deep honking sounds- OMG- not at all like my little pygmy goats!
Then we walked back down the gravel road the other way, with Aubrey’s adorable black lab,
where we met the massive black bull, and the silly donkey. Fortunately I had my trusty Nikon camera with me that day as they proceeded to give us the grand tour of old barns and storage sheds, the old clay tile silo, guinea hens (which I love), more sheep, the shooting range (which my guys love), which, all in all, amounted to a thrilling adventure I will always remember with great fondness.
If you’re panning a trip to Asheville and the Biltmore Estate, you may be interested in my collection of favorite books about the Estate and the area, so I am providing links to them below (just click on the book covers to follow the link to Amazon). To see my photos of the actual Biltmore House and gardens, see my blogpost, “Autumn & A Walk Around Biltmore Estate”. Following is a quote from Richard Moe, President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation:
What William Cecil has accomplished at Biltmore Estate is one of the great preservation success stories of all time. He has set a high standard for what all historic house museums strive for: magnificently preserved buildings and grounds, engaging interpretation, and–perhaps most challenging of all–economic self-sufficiency. It is no surprise that Biltmore Estate is widely recognized as one of America’s finest places to visit.”
It certainly is!