Why Build Less When You Can Biltmore?

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Just another one of my options for places to rent

Just another one of my options for places to rent

“So did you ladies see the bear?” The grey-headed shuttle driver peered at us in his overhead mirror.

“Bear?” I said. “We could have seen bears?”

“You just came down from parking lot A6, didn’t you?” I nodded. “Well, half the security guys are headed that way because of a bear sighting.”

I looked at Mom. “I wonder how much the tickets cost that included the bears?”

“Whatever they cost,” she said, settling her purse in her lap, “I’m glad we didn’t get those.”

After touring such opulent establishments in France last year such as Chenonceau and Villandry, I knew that no trip to Asheville would be complete without a perusal of the Biltmore Estate.

The shuttle twisted and turned as it made its way to the grand house, and all the while the driver spouted interesting details about the history of the estate. “Forty-three bathrooms, ladies. That’s how many are in the house, but you can’t use a single one of them. You’ll have to make the trek back outside if you need facilities.”

No bears and now no bathrooms? What kind of scam were they running in this joint? Fifty bucks couldn’t even get you a decent potty break? And how cruel to show someone indoor plumbing and then tell her to hoof it back down four flights of stairs. Thank goodness we didn’t have a toddler with us. They have a bladder the size of a pistachio and it’s extremely vulnerable to the power of suggestion.

The inside of the home was lavishly decorated, but at times the lighting made it hard to see certain pieces. This was of little consequence to me; but for Mom, whose love of antiques has burrowed so deeply into the marrow of her bones that she bleeds mahogany wood stain, the visual handicap was borderline criminal. She stood over one piece in particular, squinting at the intricate wood design, murmuring, “I wish I’d brought a flashlight.”

Of course, the afternoon was filled with adrenaline surges as Mom, in eager anticipation of the antiques around the next bend, tried to fall down a small flight of stairs. Twice. So between lunging, yelping, and losing a few years off my life, I walked around the mansion with my eyes peeled wide for a number of reasons. Ooh, look, an indoor bowling alley. Ooh, look, an indoor pool. Ooh, look, Mom’s about to crack her thigh bone and need an ambulance.

gardens

Once outside, the gardens were just as impressive as the house, and for the 6,000th time, I wished I could grow something other than mildew on a shower curtain. But we all have our skills, and mine seems to be keeping septuagenarians out of trouble. Or at least the ER.

gardens 2

© 2014 – Traci Carver

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26 responses »

  1. My Mom and I enjoyed your post very much this morning, over a pot of tea! Toddlers aren’t the only ones with bladders the size of pistachios and mine is very open to suggest…oh! Sorry…gotta’ “Go”!

    • I would love to picture all my readers with a cup of tea in hand and a smile on their faces! I’ll try to be more sensitive to over active bladders in the future. My apologies, Jenn 😉

  2. As usual your writing is incredible, Traci – I love how much your personality shines through, especially your sense of humor.
    You’re so right on the power of suggestion. The minute someone says you can’t use one of those 43 bathrooms is the minute a person needs to go – I hate that!
    The gardens are just beautiful, it looks like it was a wonderful tour.
    ~ Andrea ❤

  3. You crack me up, Traci. Especially that line about wishing you could grow something other than mildew on a shower curtain. I seem to have killed every plant I had – even a cactus. OK, the aloe plant my daughter gave me is still thriving. But it’s just a matter of time.

    I think you were ripped off. No bears and no access to the Biltmore’s numerous bathrooms. But you got plenty of fodder for a great story. 😉

    P.S. I’m glad your Mom’s OK.

  4. Great title, and this “for the 6,000th time, I wished I could grow something other than mildew on a shower curtain. But we all have our skills, and mine seems to be keeping septuagenarians out of trouble. Or at least the ER.” made me laugh! I’m also skilled at growing mildew but not much else. 🙂

    • Mon frere. You have my sympathy. I remember when I told a close friend that I had killed a peace lily. In my defense, I didn’t buy it and I did my best by it, but it finally took its own life last year. She asked, “How did you manage to kill one of those?” All I can say is that it’s a curse. Or a superpower in an X Men movie.

    • They did have a strategy in mind: once you went outside to seek the facilities, they had an ice cream parlor directly in the line of sight. Parents of small children never stood a chance 🙂

  5. A bear sighting, now that would be something my husband would want to have. I’ll have to remove Biltmore from our list Traci, thanks for the warning 🙂 You did good with your mom though

    • Merit pay. What a lovely idea! I think I could qualify for a couple thousand square feet, and for those poor souls teaching high school in dangerous school systems, they could tack on combat pay for an additional few thousand square feet.

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