Friday, December 31, 2010

Snow in the South

Back from our little southern excursion! I had a wonderful time and the snow really made the trip extra special. Our first stop was Great Smoky Mountain National Park. We stayed in Pigeon Forge and treked through Gatlinburg for a day...there really aren't any words. The main spectacle was the park. Our goal was to do a couple of short hikes and go up a few of the mountains. However, due to the snow fall, the roads surronding the Park...and all of the ones leading up the mountains...were closed. We made the best of it by doing walks around the lower woods. It was beautiful. Think of a mix of a Robert Frost poem and Narnia. Yes...I am using those two examples. We were down in the Mountains for the perfect amount of time though, right when we left the snow began to melt making the trails super messy and slushy. There was nothing more magical then walking through the woods, looking at the creek, while the perfect white snow glistened off the tree tops. Granted...it wasn't ideal for everyone. My brothers got bored on one of the walks and decided to try and sunbathe on the road.


Our next stop was the esteemed Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina.

The Resort is listed as a Historic Hotel, was orignially opened in the 1920s just for men. It is listed as a National Historic Hotel. There were over 900 people staying at the Resort during out two night stay. The Hotel overlooks Asheville and you can see the Great Smoky Mountains in the distance. With the snow covered city, it was beautiful to look out at the landscape and both nights there were gorgeous sunsets. My mom celebrated her birthday one of the nights we were there and we had a lovely dinner in one of the many restaurants they have in the hotel. After the meal my younger brother, Henry, and I explored the Hotel. The Grove Park Inn hosts the Gingerbread Houses from the regional competeion every year, so we enjoyed running around and looking at all of the different and very creative displays. My mom and I also took a couple of exercise classes, Yoga and Zumba. Zumba is supossedly the next biggest workout trend. A mix of cardio with Latin Music. The Zumba class was neat, although I recommend having rhythm...which I didn't have too much of!
The Grove Park Inn as a Gingerbread House

The view from one of the side wings...you can see the Winter Wonderland outside!


As part of the trip, we took a day out to look at the Biltmore Estate. The Estate was built by George Washington Vanderbilt II in the late 19th Century. He brought his wife, Edyth, to his newly completed home and together they raised their daughter Cordelia there. The estate is the largest privately owned home, and Vanderbilt orignally owned 125, 000 acres. Can you even imagine?? When the family hit hard times, shared by the rest of the nation during the Great Depression, Edyth (who controlled the estate after her husband's death in 1914) sold 90,000 acres as a National Forest. When Cornelia married, she and her husband John Cecil opened up the homr to public, to both provide the estate and the city of Asheville with much needed finances.
The estate remains part of the Cecil family and is a worldly reknowned travel destination.

When we visited the estate, we were able to see the Christmas display which included over 50 Christmas trees!



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