Thursday, August 2, 2018

Friends and Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina: July 30-31, 2018

The blue ridges of the Blue Ridge Mountains
Today, our friends, Charlie and Sherrie, picked us up in Asheville and whisked us away for a drive and a hike along North Carolina's Blue Ridge Parkway from Balsam Gap back to Asheville with a stop along the way to have a picnic at their home on Pisgah Mountain.

We had such a peaceful day. Sherrie and Charlie know this route like the back of their hands. We saw birds, wildflowers, and butterflies.


Spicebush Swallowtail

Rocking chairs are a thing in this part of North Carolina, and Charlie and Sherrie did have some rocking chairs on their porch from which to watch voracious hummingbirds and seed-eating birds.

After the drive and hike, we settled onto Charlie and Sherrie's front porch for a picnic feast of Greek Salad, wine, Sherrie's hand made bread, and her mango-key lime pie. Our time together flew by.

It was a day for catching up and memories to savor. Then, it was late and Charlie and Sherrie dropped us back in Asheville.

The next evening, Dan and I attended a fiddle-mandolin concert at the Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, North Carolina, because Sherrie and Charlie told us about it. Neither of us have much experience in this type of music, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening with good-natured jokes, laughter, and fabulous music.

We began our trip home from Asheville on August 1 in the middle of a thunder-lightening storm where as much of 6" of rain with flooding was expected. At home in California, it was dry, hot, and the air filled with smoke from all the surrounding fires.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Asheville, North Carolina: July 28-Aug 1, 2018

Dan in front of our new Asheville House
The first reason we were in Asheville was to visit friends. The second was to see the Dale Chihuly glass exhibition at the Biltmore House. We arrived about 10:30 am and left 12 hours later. The Chihuly pieces set up in the gardens were amazing and we experienced them at every level of light. Our tickets to enter the house were for 7:45 pm but it allowed us to tour the grounds all day long. If you didn't have a ticket for the evening, then you are kicked out before sunset (in this case 7:00 pm). We were told that the Biltmore has been trying to get this show for 10 years and it took 2 years for the installation logistics.
Sole d'Oro, 2017 by Dale Chihuly

Sole d'Oro is installed in the middle of the large expanse of lawn in front of the Biltmore House. It really grabs your attention.

The Italian Garden is where the colors and installation were most dazzling.

 Fiori Boat

The glass sculptures were surrounded by sophisticated analogous and complementary colors in the gardeners' selection of plants. It was eye candy at it's best.

 Neodymium Reeds with Fiori Verdi, 2014

 Float Boat, 2017

Niijima Floats, 2018

Palazzo Ducale Tower, 1996

The Walled Garden had two large glass towers installed within colorful flower borders.

 Paintbrush Tower, 2014

 Electric Yellow and Deep Coral Tower, 2017

The sensual "Cattails and Copper Birch Reeds" installed in front of the Conservatory was set among purple butterfly bushes, purple liatris, orange cone flowers and yellow wildflowers.

 Cattails and Copper Birch Reeds, 2015
Cattails and Copper Birch Reeds, 2015, at night

Nearer the house, Chihuly glass was installed in each alcove of the pergola. Each installation was a different color and shape. There were several more than I've shown here.

Midday we left the Biltmore House gardens and drove to Antler Hill Village, also on the Biltmore grounds, for lunch at Cedric's Tavern. "Alabaster and Amber Spire Towers, 2017," was installed in one of the gardens.

Back at the Biltmore House gardens we walked the paths again until it was time for dinner at the Stable Cafe. After dinner, the light was best for photographing the gardens as the glass installations were just beginning to be lit and there was sufficient ambient light to see the gardens.

In front of the house was yet another glass installation called "Sky Blue and Cobalt Fiori, 2017."

Finally, at 7:45 pm we were allowed into the house for a self-guided tour of the first floor. Just inside the entrance, in the Winter Garden, was a large, complicated assemblage called "Laguna Torcello II, 2018." We weren't allowed to get close to it.

When we returned to the gardens, only the lighted sculptures were visible and it was really crowded.

 Red Reeds, 2017, in the Shrub Garden

Chihuly's Sole d'Oro in front of the Biltmore House

George Vanderbuilt's 250-room French Renaissance chateau was constructed from 1889 to 1895. The home contains over four acres of floor space, including 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, and 65 fireplaces. We were told that none of the bathrooms can be used because the clay sewer pipes have long since cracked and won't be repaired. Frederick Law Olmsted, designer of NYC's Central Park, was the landscape architect.

The Chihuly Exhibition continues to October 7, 2018.