Enjoy the Colorful Photographic Impressions created by Vann Helms
Biltmore is always a wonder to visit. The Gardens are especially colorful in July.
A recent addition to the choices offered to visitors of the Biltmore Estate in Asheville is a special “Architect’s Tour”. Not only do you go into rooms that are normally off limits to the regular public, but you also are taken outside onto the walkway of Biltmore’s distinctive roof. You are above the gargoyles, and have panoramic views of the front lawn and gardens. Arriving early, the chateau is a silhouette against the rising sun.
From the normally off limits side loggia, the main staircase tower is resplendent with statues of Joan of Arc and St. George (?). The balconies are actually camouflage for the cantilevered stone stairs that protrude outside of the staircase walls.
Being above the gargoyles gives one an…
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Haven’t seen another Wood Rattler in seven years. That’s fine with me.
Let’s say that you’re in Asheville, North Carolina, and you decide that you would like a dining experience like no other in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Get on the Blue Ridge Parkway and head in the direction of Cherokee, and you’ll experience twenty-five miles of the most spectacular scenery anywhere in North Carolina. You’ll have a leisurely drive with no billboards to obstruct your view, and you’ll pass through seven tunnels as you approach 5,600 foot Mt. Pisgah. Suddenly, giant Douglas Firs will dot the mountainsides, and you’ll think you’re in northern Canada. Brilliant magenta Rhododendron will line the Parkway, and you can stop at any number of scenic Overlooks to take everything in. As you come around a sharp curve at Milepost 408, there it is on your left. You see a rustic two story building nestled amongst the weathered trees and shrubs, so you pull in and find a place to park. Just twenty miles southwest of downtown Asheville, at 5,000 feet, you have found the historic Pisgah Inn, and on a hilltop just past the lodging area, you’ll find an amazing restaurant where you’ll be pearched along a ridge overlooking breathtaking mountains and valleys, and, like the diners who got there before you, you’ll wait for a table along the expansive wall of picture windows, where you’ll be served delicious Southern Cooking by the most attentive team of young people anywhere. You’ll pinch yourself to make sure you aren’t dreaming.
You’re NOT dreaming…
You’ll walk up to one of those windows, and this is what you’ll see……unlimited blue ridges toward Looking Glass Rock, with thousands of acres of dense forests, and even on your left, you’ll see the Parkway as it carves a trail around the next bend.
When you’ve finished your meal, you’ll walk out onto a deck just to take it all in…
You’ll ask someone to take a picture with your friends, just to prove to the folks back home, that you were really here…
Then you’ll visit their incredible gift shop where you’ll find the perfect souvenir.
And if you’re lucky, there will be an empty rocking chair where you can just relax and maybe experience one of the best sunsets you’ll ever see.
After over a foot of rain in June, and another half inch yesterday, everything is like a rain forest in the valley. Out before sunrise with Buddy was cool and damp, but smelled so fresh.
Trumpet Flower and Poison Oak
Wild Morning Glories
Queen Anne’s Lace
Field Corn in Otter Creek bottom land.
Mimosa along the creek…
The Sun greets my newly painted roof and deck railings.
On the longest day of the year, the Sun sets farther north than on any other day. Here, it bids farewell to Wolf Pen Mountain to the northwest. There’s a Gap visible just beneath the lower orange cloud that early settlers called Coon Gap.
June 21st may still be days away, but a night of thunderstorms and two inches of rain heralded the arrival of summer in a major way. After a week with morning temperatures in the 40’s, Sunday and Monday afternoons finally saw the upper 80’s.
High temperatures brought higher humidity, and the return of our Carolina blue ridges. The most distant ridge below belongs to 4,000 foot Mount Shumont northwest of Lake Lure. The next closest ridge is 2,800 foot Young’s Mountain, northeast of the lake, and after that is 1,500 foot Dick’s Mountain. The closest ridge is 1,800 foot Brushy Top Mountain along the Rutherford-McDowell County line.
To the north is 2,400 foot Pinnacle Peak showing a recently cleared cabin site near its summit. What a view those people will have. A fire ravaged these slopes fifteen years ago, but, as you can see, there has been a full recovery.
Back at home, yesterday’s sunrise made 3,000 foot Wolf Pen Mountain come alive under a layer of foreboding clouds.
The deck was the perfect spot for tea as Hummingbirds buzzed around their feeder…
As a comparison, this was the same view at another sunrise after a night of snow…
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