The James B. Duke Mansion in Charlotte

Before James Duke became the primary benefactor of Trinity College, later named Duke University in honor of his father, he was already involved in hydroelectric power generation in North Carolina. He was a very rich man, and he needed a house that would show his great wealth.  In Myers Park, the most exclusive neighborhood in Charlotte,  he built his palace. It was the place where his daughter, Doris, would spend her teenage years. Presidents and scions of industry and politics would visit there.

Today, the mansion is a luxury Bed and Breakfast, and is the perfect place for weddings and other special occasions. I was there for a fund raiser for WDAV-FM, the classical music station at Davidson College. It was sunset, with Hurricane Florence churning in the Atlantic.

Classy The Duke Mansion | Bed And Breakfast In Charlotte Nc – The Duke Design Related to  Best Chestnut Hill Bed And Breakfast Pictures

duke 1

music room

duke 6Doris Duke’s portrait…

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duke 5

duke 9bJames B. Duke

duke 9a

duke 9c

When the house was built in 1915, it was the grandest residence in Charlotte. It is on the National Register of Historic Places.

World Equestrian Games in Tryon

Every four years,  the world championship of horse sports is held, alternating with the Summer Olympics.  About sixty countries participate, and disciplines like jumping, dressage,  acrobatics, and cross country. are judged for medals.  This is a very prestigious event, and has only been held one time before in the United States. This year, the F.E.I. World Equestrian Games is being held in the small town of Tryon, North Carolina, and this may just be the largest event ever staged in Mountains.

Fox hunting is the original basis for the sport, and jumping hedges and fences in pursuit of the elusive critter, with the help of a few hounds, required a special skill with the horse. I’m not going to pass judging about the humaneness of the sport, but I will give credit for NOT being the rodeo, which I detest, and horse racing which requires whips and running at break neck speeds, often at great danger to the animal.

I will concentrate on the beauty of the magnificent animals, and the skill of the very experienced riders.  The tradition of the sport is a colorful one, and, like it or not, it is a piece of our history, and horses played a major part of that history.


carousal 2

carousel 1


jump 3

jump 7

jump 5



tryon tryonTryon Mountain

para 1Para Dressage for physically challenged riders…


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para 4

ceremony 1Medal Ceremonies for the challenged riders…

gold medals

longinesEach winner was awarded a Longines watch, one of the major sponsors…

para 2

It may be awhile before the Mountains see another event of this magnitude. It surely has put the North Carolina Mountains on the international map, and that can’t be that bad.






Apple Valley 2018

Labor Day weekend is always the best time to enjoy the smells, and the colors in Apple Valley, not to mention the 100 varieties of world class apples. Pick up those large South Carolina juicy peaches while you’re at it, and adding a gallon of home made cider will make the trip all the more worthwhile.  The best part is the smell of warm Apple Turnovers at Grandad’s Apple House. Waiting in line for fresh Apple Pie, fritters, and muffins is the best people watching you’ll find on the whole weekend.



cow rideMake sure you put the little ones aboard one of the twenty cars of the Cow Train, and don’t get lost inside the Corn Maze.

Apple binsThe real reason you’re there is to select from many bins of just picked fruit.

apple 1At Apple Houses all along U.S. Highway 64, you can watch the fruit being brought in from the orchards and put into baskets and bags to be sold.

sunflowersYou can also take your pick of any number of Pumpkin varieties, and autumn Squash and gourds.pumpkinsYou’ll need a truck to carry one of these whoppers home.

ugly pumpkin


Tim squashJust make sure you have fun while visiting Apple Valley at harvest time.



Harvest Time in Apple Valley

What a way to start Autumn, and the apples are so delicious.

Living in The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina- A Blog

Just east of Hendersonville, North Carolina, is a fertile valley that is the fourth largest apple growing district in the United States. Over thirty varieties are grow here, and for a month at the end of summer, growers are busy gathering the bounty from their orchards. Because of a certified micro-climate area known as the Isothermal Belt, winters are shorter, and late season hard freezes are rare here. 

Apple Valley North CarolinaorchardApple Valley North Carolina red barnApple Valley North Carolina farmEverywhere, large apple crates are filled to overflowing with every color apple you can imagine.Apple Valley North Carolina harvest timeTrees are still heavy with juicy fruit waiting for their chance to head for market…Apple Valley North Carolina red apples

Apple Valley North Carolina ripe applesThese apples have a little more ripening to do before their time comes..

Apple Valley North Carolina goldenrodGoldenrod and Red Bush tell you that autumn is not far away.

Apple Valley North Carolina Grandad's OrchardBehind Grandad’s Apple House, weekend visitors marvel at the view across orchards and corn fields. Hendersonville hosts its annual Apple Festival every Labor Day weekend, and thousands…

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Harvest Time in Apple Country

Apple harvest is underway all across Apple Valley. The first two weeks of September are the best. Make sure you visit Grandad’s.

Living in The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina- A Blog

North Carolina is the fourth largest apple growing state, and the vast majority of that fruit comes from the valley just east of Hendersonville in a micro climate district known as the Isothermal Belt,  because warmer days add weeks to the growing season. From the end of August to the end of September,  growers feverishly gather sixteen different varieties of the nutritious fruit. 

A trip from my house to Apple Valley, as it’s called, takes less than hour, and I had to go around 4,300 foot Little Pisgah Mountain, the tallest peak between the Piedmont and Asheville,  south of Interstate 40.pisgah-1After Little Pisgah, I drove over Bearwallow Mountain, the second tallest peak, emerging at Grand Highlands, an upscale development that overlooks Apple Valley, 2,000 feet below.highlands-1Driving down narrow roads into the valley, suddenly the world changes, revealing an idyllic setting more like Europe than the Southern…

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Art, Antiques, and Luxury in Asheville

If you thought the venerable Grove Park Inn was the height of luxury lodging in the Blue Ridge Mountains capital, Asheville, think again.  Located at the entrance to the world famous Biltmore Estate is a boutique hotel that rewrites the rules on luxury, and you don’t need to stay there to experience the finer things in life.

During the construction of the mansion in the 1890’s, George Vanderbilt needed a place to house the hundreds of European artisans who were brought in for the intricate masonry, woodwork, and painting that was required for a true French chateau, and those people needed a place to live. In true Gilded Age tradition, he constructed an entire village for that purpose. The buildings all followed the same Tudor-Craftsman style, and that style is still strictly followed on all structures built in Biltmore Village today. Even the McDonald’s and Hardee’s restaurants must adhere to the rules. When the Grand Bohemian Hotel was built in 2008, it also followed those guidelines.

avlak-exterior-0001-hor-feat                                                                                                                    Photo by Marriott Hotels

Recently I had the privilege to spend a night at the hotel, and what I discovered was a true masterpiece of  interior decoration and design luxury.  Original paintings and sculpture fill every level of the four story hotel. Priceless antiques are mingled with comfortable furnishings, and the Tudor style is mirrored in the hand carved wall panels, and intricate stone work. The theme is the Bavarian Hunting Lodge, with echoes of a Tyrolean castle. Trophies of deer antlers are everywhere, even in the antler chandeliers over the guest beds, and in the guest baths. Antique beer tankards are displayed, as well as intricately etched hunting long guns. The hotel lobby is a masterpiece with teak columns, and a four sided stone fireplace in the center.  Here are the images that I made during an early morning stroll.


lobby 6

lobby 2

art chairs

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statue  horses

lobby 4

Fireplace 1

croc chair

hotel art 1A lobby art gallery offers American paintings, sculptures, handmade jewelry, and even feather bow ties…feather tie


lobby 3

The Red Stag Bar and Grill has a baby grand piano with live music in a warm European atmosphere. The grill room is as breathtaking as the rest of the hotel, serving local entrees with Viennese desserts. red boar_Painterly

Red bar

pin hatTyrolian Mountain Hat…

guest hallGuestroom hallways are filled with light and fine art…Indian art

motor lobbyThe interior atrium and Motor Lobby reflect the style of the Biltmore House stables, with herringbone hand laid bricks, and Craftsman appointments.

The next time you’re in Asheville, go to Biltmore Village for a fine meal and wonderful shopping, and stroll over to the Grand Bohemian for a journey back to the 1890’s. Just tell them, “George Vanderbilt sent me”.

Doors 1





Biltmore Glistens with Art by Chihuly

Glass artist Dale Chihuly is known worldwide for his dramatic colorful creations in blown glass, but combining those delicate assemblages with the nation’s largest private residence is a match made in art and architecture heaven.  Using the renowned gardens and reflecting ponds of Asheville’s Biltmore Estate showcases both, and with the addition of illumination,  magic is unleashed.  Bringing that magic inside the Grand Chateau is the ultimate sensory experience.

Being there at twilight raises goosebumps usually reserved for a modern fireworks display.  You must experience this extravaganza in person.

Big Bang

Italian Garden

pond 3

lavender pool


horizon 1_tonemappedToward the Smoky Mountains from the Main Floor Loggia…

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Sushi Boat

lavender pool 2

blue balls

solarium 2Inside the house’s Winter Garden…

This once in a lifetime display can be seen into October.  Don’t miss it.