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Trip Report Soggy Home Exchange Trip to Boone, NC

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Just a very short report back on my abbreviated vacation trip to Boone - again with many thanks to cmcfong, starrs and the other posters who answered many questions and provided so many wonderful suggestions!

Arrived an hour late due to connecting flight delays in ATL (big surprise) and by the time I collected by luggage, rental car and stopped at the grocery store, I was driving up to Boone in the dark. The exchange home was way out in the woods near Zionville on the TN border. Thankfully the owners had provided me with very descriptive and detailed directions or I wouldn't have found it. We're talking single lane dirt road.....did I mention it was dark???

Lovely home with beautiful views - when it wasn't raining or fogged in. I actually did get a couple pictures during the two brief moments of visibility.

First day rained hard all day. Drove in to Boone and was unaware that it was homecoming weekend with hoards of people and traffic. While the area around Boone was beautiful, I really didn't care for the town. Large college town, too much traffic and no charm. Some lovely old homes in the old part of town though.

Next day was thankfully only partly cloudy and light rain. Drove to Valle Crucis and visited the Mast General Store (very crowded), the Mast Farm and Inn and a stroll around the town park. Drove a loop around to Blowing Rock. Stopped there and had dinner at an excellent restaurant in an inn, called The Best Cellar. Yummy veal piccata and a good glass of vino, excellent service.

Monday got up very early and drove down to Asheville to visit the Biltmore Estate. When I checked their web site, they had certain "busy" days on which they recommended advance time slot reservations to enter the house. Monday was not one of them, but the crowds were horrific. It was like a BAD day at Disneyland. It was pouring rain all day (again) and evidently it was Columbus Day (who knew?) so everyone and all their kids had decided it was a good day to visit Biltmore. Since no one was outside, everyone was inside. The first floor "show rooms" were so packed, you literally could not move. I skipped most of the first floor and went ahead to the upper floors.

I found the upper floors and the basement "working rooms" most interesting. The main thing that really impressed me was that all the guestrooms had ensuite bathrooms. Truly luxurious for the time! The first thought I had on seeing the estate from the arrival perspective was that he had tried to build himself a mini-Chambord. Sure enough, inside were pictures of the chateux that had inspired Biltmore and Chambord was one of several.

I went on to the winery since I was curious what Biltmore wine would be like. As we waited in yet another hour long line, we were told that the estate vineyard only provides 15% of the grapes for their production. Also that their wine is made by a "contract winery" in Oakland, CA!!! I tasted 7 different wines from their list, but honestly didn't find anything that I would ever buy.

I also visited the gardens, which were done for the year. They had planted lots of mums for color in part of the garden. The indoor hothouse was obviously not their focal point, but they did have a couple of very unique and amazing plants blooming that I had never seen before. One was called a Magic Lantern and the other didn't have a sign visible.

The B&B I stayed at was quite nice with lovely hosts and fabulous breakfast. Pinecrest B&B. A couple from Portland, OR who where there celebrating their 40th anniversay invited me to join them for dinner. We went to Carmel's and it was very, very good. Turns out they both grew up in Orange County, CA and the husband and I went to rival high schools! Even knew some of the same people. Small world, we had a great time. This is one of the things I like about staying at B&Bs. You do meet good people.

I had planned to drive back the next day on the Blue Ridge Parkway since this was the only day predicted to be warm and sunny! Finally some weather luck! It was a beautiful day and I stopped at many of the turnouts to enjoy the views and leaves. Very pleasant drive and I did the walk to Linville Falls along with lots of other folks. Saw some professional cyclists (Tour de France) training on the parkway.

The next day it was pouring rain again, but in the afternoon I braved it and strolled around Blowing Rock enjoying the shops and galleries.

The weather report predicted continued rain and even snow for Saturday. No clearing until Sunday when I was to fly home. So, I changed my flight to go home early and left Thursday, sort of. My flight was cancelled and I was rebooked. All flights were extremely delayed and I didn't get home until 2:30 a.m. Ugh. The only good part was that they put me in a first class seat for the Atlanta - SLC leg so I was marginally more comfortable.

All in all the scenery and leaves were pretty and I enjoyed some of the small mountain towns and valleys. Completely missed out on the hiking. Oh well, sometimes you can't win with Mother Nature.

Thanks again to all who helped me with local details!

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