Thursday, September 08, 2011


On Thursday we were in Charlotte NC to visit the NASCAR Hall of Fame. This wasn't a planned visit, Glenn had told us that when we were in Pigeon Forge, we were only about three hours away. Ed has always wanted to see this, and being that close, it would have been a shame not to go. I am not really a NASCAR fan, but anyone who knows my Ed... knows he is. This is a beautiful place, and what is nice, is that you don't have to be a true fan to enjoy it, I had a very nice time as well.

I sort of knew this, but didn't... in a way NASCAR began with moonshine... when the men developed cars that could out run the law. And from there began to compete with one another. The sport has come a long way from moonshine days, but that's quite a history.

It's a big sport, and it draws thousands of people to race tracks each weekend. It employees thousands of people as well. NASCAR has very strict rules that they keep to.. everything from safety issues to the conduct of the drivers and their crews.

What I enjoyed were many of the "hands on" displays. And the building and lay out of it, was "comfortable"... a lot of history and modern day were nicely combined.

This is how steep some of the turns are at the race tracks.... it doesn't look like that on TV

And many "memories" of the drivers and the contributions to the sport... Dale Earnhardt.. for those of you who might not know.

We watched this on TV, it was fun to see it in "real" life.

These cars were simulators, were you could get in them and race against other folks. Ed loved this (did it three times) I didn't try it, because on the practice simulator this was already harder than it looked.

I have to say, Ed did quite well, and won two of the races he drove in .

His "winner's circle" photo :)

We spent the whole day there, and it went by quickly. Ed was so excited to just know that he had the chance to see it.

But in just a few weeks, he will be "there" for real, when NASCAR returns to our area... and he goes to work in the wreckers. Pretty nice that a die hard fan (ED) has been able to turn it into a part time job......

after that, we decided it was time to head for home. A day or two earlier than we thought, but, we have seen all the things we had hoped, and I am missing home.....time to get back.

Camille's story......

Hello, Camille here... I figured if Ginger can write on her blog (moxie's gift) I should be able to pop in on this blog once in awhile and give you my view of things. So, you all know that I went on this trip with Mom and Dad... it's because of Mom, she can't function without a dog around, and I am just the dog for the cause. It's been a good trip, though I must admit, I did not appreciate being in "kennels" oh and the night that I had to sleep in the truck because that hotel wouldn't accept dogs!!! But, for the most part we have found some pretty good places to stay and people that appreciate K9's. We head to this place called Charlotte, NC... and Mom is on the phone calling to find places that will welcome me. At first she isn't having very good luck in this Charlotte place, but finally someone tells her "yes, we love dogs... stay with us". So, Mom and Dad drive to this place called the Westin. (that's it on the left in the photo). When Mom sees this she says "something has to be wrong, this place is so fancy, there isn't anyway that they will let Camille stay"...

But, as we arrive (and a man comes out to meet us and to park our truck) she says "you're dog friendly" and the man smiles and says "we sure are". "Fancy" hardly describes this wonderful DOG FRIENDLY place!!!! WE got a beautiful room on the 12th floor ---- can you see our truck way down there in the parking lot. Since it was too tall to fit in the parking garage, the nice man found a place just for it.

And how pretty is this room??? Mom just kept saying how she couldn't believe it and the place that wouldn't let me in... well, she wants to send them some photos and tell them that they don't compare to the Westin!!!!

Here's the courtyard....

And the beautiful entry!!! (but that marble floor was a bit slippery I must admit!!!)_

and the fountain all lite up at night. Now a dog could really get used to gigs like this!!!!

It was actually kind of fun being a city dog for a day or two.....

Mom was so happy and not stressed... I climbed into her lap and all was right with the world. (I do well at my job, don't you think!!!!)

Mom said Kassy would drool over this photo.. I don't get it, but here it is......

I have to say, I really liked looking out that big window... we were up so high, the birds would fly right by.....

Course I had to be (and was) on my absolute best behaviour. I never even said one word, sat nice and quiet whenever we went in the elevator, and got lots of compliments from other people staying there

Yup, this is the way a dog should travel. And to the Westin Hotel in Charlotte NC... you people are the BEST!!!

and we love you!!!! signed... Camille....

the Biltmore

Wednesday morning, we said good bye to Tennessee and began our trek north. We really had no plans of "where" we were going, except that Glen told us that the NASCAR hall of frame was just three hours from where we were. So, we thought, "let's go and check that out". And we headed threw the Great Smokies to North Carolina. As we were traveling I saw signs for the Biltmore. I had no idea we were that close and said to Ed we needed to check it out. For those who may not know, the Biltmore is the largest house in America and is located in Asheville, NC.

Built in the late 1800's by George Washington Vanderbilt (a grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt the railroad tycoon) the original estate was 125,ooo acres. Currently the estate still has 8,ooo acres, and is still owned by the Vanderbilt family, though open to the public. The house is overseen by William A.V.Cecil, Jr. - grandson of George, and the family keeps an active interest in the estate.

Today is it run much like a resort, and there is a hotel that you can stay at, plus a winery and all sort of outdoor activities, including biking, horseback riding, hiking -- the famous gardens, and things of that sort. Guests can tour the great house, seeing 50 of the 255 rooms. At first I thought seeing "just" 50 rooms probably wasn't much, but I was proven wrong. It took us nearly four hours to go threw (and it wasn't busy or crowded) and I realized that much of what you don't see, where probably just servant rooms and the like. The tour is very good and you see alot.

Inside photos were not allowed, so I snuck a few outside. This house had (has) all the moderns even in its time.. electricity, running water (65 bathrooms!!!) indoor, heated swimming pool, two lane bowling alley... elevator!!! (that is still used today for folks that can't climb the stairs)

The views of the Great Smokies is amazing....

And the workmanship simply incredible. It is all in working order, even today --- over 100 years. It is hard to describe, so all I can say, if you find yourself in North Carolina, try to fit this into your travel plans.

As impressive as the house is, I am always interested in the people. From what we were told, this line of Vanderbilts were extremely kind and well loved in this area. People wanted to work for this family, and often Mrs. Vanderbilt would pay a call on the families who worked for her, especially if the children were sick. Mr. Vanderbilt educated the men who worked for him, and many went out on their own running businesses for themselves.

Those are the kind of stories I like to hear. That a family of wealth appreciated what they had and was willing to share it. Today this is a gift and coffee shop, but originally this was the stable attached to the house. The Vanderbilts were true animal folks, loving their horses and St. Bernard dogs.

The hayloft of the great barn....

and the riding stable (now a restaurant)

The alleyway of the barn. They have don a nice job in putting the space to use without ruining it's original charm.

Ornate hardly describes the place... while impressive.. I got a little creeped out by some of the work.....

All hand done... can you imagine

Despite the grey day, it was hot and humid. So, we opted to use the free kennel runs for Camille and not worry about her sitting in the truck while we toured the house. It's a nice set up, you padlock the dog in the run, and take the key with you. It was under some big shaded trees and people were working about, so they really aren't "alone"

I thought it was a pretty nice set up... Camille on the other hand - not impressed. The moment Ed opened the door when we went to get her, she ran to the truck and gave us the look of... "I am not leaving again... this is my ride home!!!!"

After you tour the house, you then get in your vehicle and drive threw the rest of the estate... so, had you been a guest back in 1900.. this would have been the great gate you drove threw to the house.

You had to keep your eyes open, because there were neat things "hidden" all around the grounds... Loved this turtle!!!!

And this is probably a picture that everyone would recognize.... this is the Biltmore

This is a small part of the gardens, and the garden house....

And this horse barn was for the work horses of the estate. Maybe not as fancy as the riding horse stable....

But pretty nice (and charming) just the same.

Cornelia was the only child of George and Edith. She lived on the estate her entire life, married there and had two sons (one of which oversees the estate)....

I loved this statue... a young girl enjoying her dog.... it made them seem like real people...

so, again, a great day of our trip, and I am so thrilled to think that I had the opportunity to see this wonderful place...

America'a largest home!!!!