Breakfast at Biltmore

Too often, crowds can overwhelm the original serenity of The Biltmore Estate, but when you arrive before 9 a.m., you’re among the first to go through the gates, and what you’ll find is a deserted approach road, no buses, and practically no guests. This is the Biltmore that George Vanderbilt knew in the 1890’s. The main doors of the house were just opening, and the silence was golden.

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As the first car to arrive, parking for the Caddy was not a problem…biltmore-caddy

Recent unseasonably warm weather has jumpstarted the blossoms in the gardens.biltmore-gardens

Cedars and pines framed the chateau under a winter sky.biltmore-cedars

Below the house, the French Broad River flowed toward Asheville.french-broad

If you’ve never been to Biltmore in the early morning, it’s something you should add to your Bucket List.

Updating an 18th Century Treasure

For the past three years, I’ve done a number of posts about an 18th century log home that is one of the oldest structures in Rutherford County. According to folklore, it was built around the turn of the 19th century, but no one really knows for sure. Comparing the log and chimney work to known cabins, that seems like a reasonable date. Sometime near the turn of the 20th century, wooden siding covered the original logs, and a kitchen addition and porches were added. A metal roof replaced the original shingle roof decades ago, and plumbing and electricity were installed along the way. The cabin’s interior was paneled early in its life, and rain and snow was kept out. The last family to live there raised ten children, and the last inhabitant moved out five years ago. The following video was made before work began. 

The pine and walnut interior…KODAK Digital Still CameraTwo years ago, one of the descendants of that family decided to rehab the old dowager, and slowly, that work has progressed to where it is today. This is not a restoration of the original structure, but is a preservation of the home that has been on a hilltop above Otter Creek for over 200 years. The log cabin has never been placed on any historic places list, so the current owner has been free to make whatever changes he pleases. You can be the judge whether or not this was the right thing to do, but either way, the original frame, chimney, and logs are being preserved.

The porches were rebuilt first…KODAK Digital Still Camera…then a new roof with aluminum panels replaced the sagging old roof.KODAK Digital Still Camera

At this point, the decision was made to remove the old siding, and replace it with new wood. It was then that the original hand hewed logs were exposed for the first time…KODAK Digital Still Camera

The foll0wing images were made a few days ago as the work progressed. I’m amazed how much work this family has been able to finish. and I will continue to document its completion.KODAK Digital Still CameraThe front of the cabin is the last to be revealed. Can you imagine raising those huge timbers without modern machines?cabin-1New windows and doors have been installed. The original cabin would not have had these large openings. Glass was not available in those days… The small openings in the second floor sleeping loft might be original for ventilation and light.

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The original profile of the log structure has been restored, with the kitchen and bathroom addition separated when the new roof was put on.log-4

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From what I could learn from the elderly gentleman doing the work, he wants to make a home where his kids and grand kids can enjoy the place where their ancestors lived. I can’t wait to see the final transformation.

civil-war-cabinTwo years ago…

 

Lowering Iconic Lake Lure

Lake Lure was created at the mouth of Hickory Nut Gorge in 1926, and the “Million Dollar Dam” and generating turbines were a marvel in their day, but time and nature have a way of reclaiming what man has constructed. One of those turbines needed to be repaired after 92 years, and the only way to do that was to lower the level of the large lake by over ten feet. The recent wildfires delayed the work, but after the rains returned in December, the lowering began, and the work commenced.

This view is toward the northwest and Rumbling Bald Mountain, now shrouded in clouds instead of smoke.

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The fires of November just before the draw down began…lake-4

Boathouses, long the symbol of the lake, sit high and dry, waiting for March and the return of the water.lure-1

At the far north end of the lake, it’s the same story near the Rumbling Bald Resort.lure-3

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Snow Video after the Sun Appeared

Snow ended Saturday before noon, and as the Sun came out, the real magic of this storm was revealed. Hunter and Buddy didn’t let a foot of fresh snow keep them away. The video covers Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, as temps remained below freezing.

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KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

And here is the video…

Cedar Creek Gorge in Snow

I was out before sunrise this morning so I could see Cedar Creek Gorge before the snow melts today. A light rain fell during the night with temps holding just above freezing. Highs in the 50’s tomorrow will doom the last of the white stuff.

Cedar Creek Road still had snow as I climbed above 2,000 feet.cedar-6

Inside the gorge, the creek was surrounded by snow, as were the steep walls…cedar-4

Carefully climbing down from the road, the creek began its steep run that would fall 400 feet in less than a mile.KODAK Digital Still Camera

The upper falls had more water than I’ve seen in a while.cedar-1

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Further down the gorge, icicles were still holding on above the rushing water.cedar-5

Three Days of Winter Magic

With temperatures well below freezing since last Friday night, the weekend snow is still here, and still as beautiful. This morning awoke with 23 degrees and a heavy cloud cover that looked like more snow might be on the way. Both dogs arrived early and we walked down the road past Otter Pond, which is frozen over for the first time this winter.

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The American Beech tree retains its colorful fall foliage all winter…KODAK Digital Still Camera

Brushy Top Mountain above the gorge carved out by a branch from Otter Pond…brushy-top-view

The pooches know this trail well, and Buddy likes to romp in the lower meadow.pooches

Inside the woods, the Branch flows toward Otter Creek, under many downed trees.branch

Where’s Buddy?  He was checking out a well used cave under a large boulder. A Bear perhaps?KODAK Digital Still Camera

Back out to where the Branch feeds into Otter Creek. This was the view up the creek, where fresh snow looked almost like a cascade falling from the mountain above.KODAK Digital Still Camera

In the other direction, Otter Creek flows under Bill’s Creek Road in the distance on its way to Cove Creek.down-otter-creek

Further up Otter Creek, a pond formed by another Branch has frozen over.two-ponds

Arriving home from the woods behind the house…rear-yard

Heavy Snow in Otter Creek Valley

After falling for 14 hours, a record 12″ of heavy snow covered the valley. This was the most snow reported by any area for the January 6th and 7th period. Just lucky I guess. Here are some of my favorite images, followed by a five minute video. It was 10 degrees this morning, and most of the snow is still here.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

snow-tunnel

KODAK Digital Still Camera

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icicles

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KODAK Digital Still Camera

This is a short video made early Saturday morning while the snow was still falling… Make sure you go directly to the blog to see the video if this is part of your e-mail alert.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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