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.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Georgia to North Carolina: July 25-27, 2018

Our next destination is Asheville, North Carolina. We had two days to get there so we drove to Savannah, Georgia, and through two parks along the way. Our first stop was the Savannah Wildlife Refuge. At the visitor center we bought some mosquito wipes, slathered them over our bodies, and headed to the short-interactive trail right next to the visitor center. Within 5 minutes of entering the Loblolly Pine Forested trail, we had become dinner for thousands of hungry mosquitos. We turned and ran. The auto tour option was suddenly a better idea.

The auto trail road was flanked on both sides by a swamp mostly covered with lotus blossoms. Alligators floated in the muddy water right next to the road. We saw a few egrets but they were quite far in the distance.

The drive went through narrow band of trees dripping with Spanish Moss.

Our next park was Congaree National Park. Like Savannah Wildlife Refuge, this park has no entrance fee. We arrived too late to see much in the visitor center, but the boardwalk and other trails were open 24 hours.

At the visitor center there is a "Mosquito Meter" that seemed reassuring.

Not sure how accurate the meter was, but this time no mosquitos. There was, however, a severe storm warning in the area and we did have rain before we finished our hike through the cypress swamp.

Black clouds made the forest even darker and it was very quiet with only the hooting of barred owls and other birds living in the forest. It was a little spooky.

From swamps to the Blue Ridge Mountains, we finally arrived in Asheville, North Carolina. After checking into our Airbnb lodging we walked downtown. Asheville was very busy with events. There was both a drumming festival and a yoga festival. The yoga festival was less meditative and more about selling things. We did watch an acro yoga workshop. When did acro yoga become a thing?

I've never heard of acro yoga but it just goes to show that travel really does expose us to new things.