You Capture Autumn

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For my birthday in November, the year I turned 49, my sweet husband and I went to Asheville, North Carolina, which is right smack dab in the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains. We stayed at this majestic place called The Grove Park Inn.

Built from granite boulders hewn from Sunset Mountain, The Grove Park Inn opened in 1913. At its opening dinner, William Jennings Bryan declared that it had been “built for the ages.” In the decades since it has become one of the South’s most famous and venerable resorts.

The hotel was the vision of E.W. Grove, a St. Louis entrepreneur who made his millions in the 1890s peddling an elixir called Grove’s Tasteless Chill Tonic. Modeled after the grand old railway hotels of the West, the Inn was built from a sketch made by Grove’s son-in-law, the enterprising Fred Seely (who would become its first general manager). It took a crew of 400 men only 12 months to build the majestic landmark, dragging hundreds of tons of boulders up the mountainside with the aid of teams of mules, ropes and pulleys, wagons and a lone steam shovel.
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This is a photo of us, standing in front of one of the massive fireplaces in the lobby. This lobby is known as The Great Hall — and for good reason. Measuring 120 feet across, the hall features 24-foot ceilings and two gigantic 14-foot stone fireplaces. It’s famous for the elevators cleverly hidden in the chimneys of the stone fireplaces (put there to conceal the noise of the machinery), which continue to transport guests to their rooms today.

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This is the other fireplace, decorated and ready for Christmas.

It’s hard to believe today but there was a time soon after WWII when the only thing that kept the Inn standing was the prohibitive cost of tearing it down. Fortunately, in 1955, the hotel caught the eye of Dallas businessman named Charles Sammons. Under the stewardship of Sammons, the Inn was fully restored and, in1973, it was named to the National Register of Historic Places.

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With the restoration the contemporary wings of the hotel were added, and beginning in 1998, a period of intensive renovation and expansion occurred, culminating in the creation of the resort’s $42 million Spa. This photo shows the back of the Inn, which features a dramatic waterfall above the Spa. The Spa, built into an underground rock cavern, is more than 43,000 square feet in size, and includes mineral pools with soothing underwater music and nearby waterfall pools. There is also exhilarating contrast pools, a lap pool, an inhalation room, sauna and a eucalyptus-infused steam room. You can sip herbal teas and savor refreshments in the lounge.

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Although The Grove Park Inn is a destination all unto itself, no trip to Asheville is ever complete without a tour of the Biltmore House and Estate. Said to be America’s only real castle, George and Edith Vanderbilt’s 250-room family home and country retreat is open for tours every day. You will see original art from masters such as Renoir, magnificent 16th-century tapestries, Napoleon’s chess set, a library with 10,000 volumes, a Banquet Hall with a 70-foot ceiling, 65 fireplaces, an indoor pool, bowling alley, and priceless antiques. Opened to friends on Christmas Eve 1895, this French Renaissance chateáu remains America’s largest privately owned home.

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But the main star of this trip is the mountains themselves. In November, the trees have lost most of their leaves, leaving the mountains barren, but perhaps even more beautiful.

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Y’all really ought to visit the lovely and talented Pseudonymous High School Teacher today.  Pseudo, as she’s affectionately referred to, lives in Hawaii on the island of Oahu. Anyhoo, she has started a great thing over at her place called Travel Tip Thursday – every Thursday she and anyone who chooses to participate will do a little “travelogue” about a place close to home.

I found a new photo blog to participate in on Thursdays! It’s called You Capture. Every week there is new theme. This week’s was “Red”

Click on the link here to read about how to play along. Then, do your best to visit the other participants’ site – everyone loves the traffic, the comments and the feedback (not just you!) Next week’s photo challenge is Still Life. I can’t wait to tackle that one!

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18 thoughts on “You Capture Autumn

  1. I LOVE Biltmore Mansion. It’s on my list of places to go back to. They’ve opened more rooms since the last time I visited.

    The views are gorgeous from it, too!

    Beautiful photos. 🙂

    • Marie, when were you last there? The tour of the winery is fabulous and I think it’s a crime not to see it at Christmastime. They have a decorated tree in every room!

    • Jan, I sort of used to write a travelogue. I owned a local magazine called Scene Magazine which was about Wilmington and the Cape Fear area. Then I went to work as the publisher’s assistant of Wrightsville Beach Magazine for a while. I wrote articles about local restaurants, attractions, history, businesses, people and landmarks for both of those publications. And I LOVED it – in case you can’t already tell.

      And yes, you MUST come to visit my state. My husband is still asking me when my internet friend that has the good taste in scotch is coming to visit us!

    • ABSOLUTELY the more the merrier! Fall is the best time to visit the Inn. They have some terrific deals going on right now!

    • We need to put our heads together and come up with a definite time frame. All these babies and cruises have sort of gotten in the way! 😉

  2. Can I come with Jan and Pseudo too? Oh what fun us gal’s could have! How beautiful is this place….I must show my husband these and we must come visit. Thanks for sharing this!

    • Wouldn’t it be cool if we could all meet up there? I’m visualizing a whole Bloggers Meet Weekend! We could sit in front of the fireplace at The Grove Park Inn and sip wine while we chat, get acquainted and blog on our laptops!

  3. Holy crap, that has to be the world’s biggest fireplace you’re standing in front of. Mr. Fine and I are planning to visit Asheville soon. He’s been, but I haven’t and it’s been high on my list of places to see. This is a great little pre-trip for me. That place looks really cool.

    • Um, do I call you Fragrant or Liar? (neither sounds right, somehow) Well, FL, I have lots of advise for you! You must stay at least one night at the Grove Park Inn. Don’t be afraid to stay in the least expensive rooms. Trust me – There Are No Bad Rooms. Eat dinner in their Blue Ridge Dining Room – I promise you will have one of the best meals you’ve ever had! Get whatever wine they reccomend with your entre. I had trout stuffed with crab meat and a Sauvignon Blanc that was to die for! Make sure you drive up on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and allow time to stop and take little hikes down the trails at the overlooks! And post a review immediately upon your return on your blog!

  4. gorgeous area. i’m jealous! makes me want to head for the mountains 🙂

    i didn’t post fall shots, but you are certainly welcome to come on over for a visit anytime :O).

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