Sunday, July 5, 2015

Asheville and Charlotte, NC

Tim's sister just moved to Charlotte.  We decided to pay her a visit over the 4th of July holiday, stopping in Asheville along the way to get a little camping in. =)
 We had a great camping site near Lake Powhatan and survived the increment rain through the trip.  We explored the Blue Ridge Parkway on our way to hike to the top of Mt. Pisgah.  We stopped at many turnoffs to take in the beautiful views!
It started to rain about 15 minutes in to our hike up Mt. Pisgah.  We kept on going, but then the wind really started to pick up.  We continued on and ran into a couple who decided to turn back.  As we hiked, the rain came down harder and the wind became stronger, but no signs of lightening, so we hiked on!  At the top, there were two guys taking cover under the observation deck waiting for the storm to pass.  We joined them.  After a little while we braved the observation deck to see the views and started the return descent.  Half way down, the storm completely stopped!  Go figure.  It was a great adventure =)

We continued exploring awesome views!

The next day, we visited The Biltmore, the largest residential house in America!  It was build by George Vanderbilt, the youngest son of the Vanderbilt family.  We learned that he inherited 1/16 of the family fortune and was still able to hire a famous architect, Richard Morris Hunt, and the most famous landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted, to build his mansion and the endless grounds around it.

The tour took us most of the day!  The house was equipped with an indoor garden, indoor swimming pool and recreational area, indoor bowling alley, a huge dining room and library, and a million other little treasures. 

The gardens alone required hours to explore.  There was a conservatory that had every variety of flowers and plants!


We explored the colorful city of Asheville and I have concluded that Asheville is weirder than Boulder.  I found a great parking spot near the little park downtown and there were some stragglers who appeared to be on drugs hanging out near a pharmacy.  Tim, who has never visited Asheville, asked if we were in the bad part of town.  I looked around and it was obvious why he would think that.  Homeless (or perhaps residents of a place who choose not to shower and nap in public spaces) were strewn across the small lawn in the city park.  But in fact, we were in the most popular and touristy part of the city.  I think people try a little harder down here to be off the grid.

Anyway, we continued to Charlotte to visit Tim's sister, Meredith, who just moved for a job. She had awesome activities line up for us.  We saw the Knights play baseball and did a pub crawl on the 4th of July. 

But by far the coolest thing you need to see in Charlotte is the U.S. National Whitewater Center.  It is a manmade whitewater rapids course and it is a sight to behold!  The whole center includes rafting, kayaking, paddle boarding, ropes courses, zip lines, mountain biking and hiking, and probably a whole lot more.  We spent the whole day here and rafted twice.  We lost our guide on one course, but he made it out.  It's an awesome play center with adventure galore!

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