Thursday, May 6, 2021

Biltmore and a CML Reminder!

Today we are headed to the Biltmore Estate; a 250-room French Renaissance chateau built over a six-year period, beginning in 1889. George Vanderbilt's home opened its' door on Christmas Eve, 1895.

As excited as I was to tour this home I was unfortunately reminded of the fact that I still have chronic myelogenous leukemia. One of my greatest challenges with CML is the unpredictability of how I might "feel" on any given day, or under certain circumstances. 

It just sucks and makes "planning" and purchasing specific date tickets more difficult.

Today, was one of those days:

The “weather forecast” for the day said overcast with a slight chance of rain, so I dressed accordingly.  One of the drawbacks of being in a hotel with no outside access from the room is that the only resource you have to confirm the weather app is your eyes. It looked cold and gloomy!

Walking outside, I felt that they were correct in their prediction and we headed out.

It was a short ten-minute drive to the estate parking lot where we hopped onto a bus that would take us up to the home.

It wasn’t long before the blazing, mountain sun had me feeling woozy and unwell. I was already regretting my choice of clothing and the fact that I had left my sun/umbrella in the car. I am so out of touristing practice!

Fortunately, our house tour was only 30 minutes away, and I felt certain that it would be cooler inside. I cannot believe how quickly I become overheated and miserable, it honestly wasn't THAT hot!

I found some shade in order to avoid waiting in the line to enter the estate, which was in the direct sun, and entered once the line dissipated. Despite sitting in the shade, I had already become overheated and struggled a bit during the entire tour, especially after climbing many staircases. I was grateful that we had chosen the self-guided tour, with the audio option, so that we could go at our own, slow, pace.

It was a teeny, tiny bit discouraging, that stupid reminder, but I was still super grateful to be here enjoying that lovely home.

Spending the day at the Biltmore was the next best thing to being in Europe.

We saw so many “familiar” architectural styles, artwork, wallpapers, sculptures, and statues that if you blinked, you could trick yourself into believing you had crossed the pond!

As stunning as the Biltmore home is, it does not come even close in comparison to the views of the Blue Ridge and Appalachian Mountains that are visible from every single window and terrace. It truly is a sight to see. 

And did I mention the gargoyles??

Once we were through the house tour, I was just about convinced that I would be unable to enjoy the gardens, due to the lingering crappy, nauseousness, when a bottle of water, a dropper-ful of CBD oil, a cloud cover, and a breeze saved the day!

I thanked God for throwing me a bone!

I was able to roll up my sleeves and don’t laugh, my pants, and we carried on! I am sure I looked a sight, but honestly, I just didn’t care.

The grounds were full of tulips and leaves from the previously bloomed daffodils and I was able to stroll through them, thanks to the lingering cloud cover.

Eventually, we found our way to the Railway Botanical Garden which was enchanting. I am not certain which I enjoyed more, the trains and replicas of the estate, or the plants. 

After we strolled through the gardens we headed down to Antler Village, which didn’t “impress me much” although the Stickwork by Patrick Dougherty was quite impressive, as were the fancy chickens! I didn't quite get the hype of that portion of the Biltmore experience.

The next thing that was on my list for the day was a visit to the Chocolate Shoppe. Instead of the desired shop, I opted for the one that was closest to the hotel. I selected a few handmade truffles and the best dark chocolate gelato I have ever eaten: I was grateful for another day.

On our way back to the hotel, we strolled through Benjamin Walls Gallery and enjoyed his photographs from all around the world. He is a self-taught photographer with humble beginnings. His work is phenomenal.

It was the very first time in my life that I truly wished I believed in reincarnation and that I could come back to earth as a human, to do life again! There is just such a big, beautiful world out there that I will never have the time to experience all there is to offer.

What a treat it was viewing the world through his eyes.

After a few hours' break, I felt good enough to venture out for dinner. Vinnie’s Italian Restaurant was what sounded good to me. I had lasagna and it hit the spot.  Joe had Spaghetti with Sunday gravy; delicious meatballs and a big old Italian sausage! 

Here In Asheville, they are uber coronavirus cautious; tables were socially distanced, and we had to put on our masks every time the waitress approached our table.

We topped that off with a to-go Italian coconut white cake, with pansies on top. We now understood why the wait was so long.

All in all, it was a great day and I am pooped!

Night, y’all!

FaceBook: CML: A Place for Hope and Humor



Thursday, April 29, 2021

Pfizer Oncology Together Saved the Day: Tour Around Asheville, North Carolina!

After a fairly good night's sleep, I woke up to find that the breakfast fairy had arrived with the most amazing almond croissant and the most delicious quiche I have ever eaten. That and a cup of coffee and I was in heaven!

After eating, I crossed my fingers and headed to the lobby. Since it was before noon, I didn't have high expectations that my meds would be at the front desk but much to my great surprise they were!

Pfizer Oncology Together to the rescue! I must admit that I was quite impressed with the speed in which they delivered my Bosulif; less than twenty hours. Thanks, guys! You ROCK!

With that little hiccup handled,  I was able to be 100% present for the rest of our trip. 

Right next door to our hotel is the Thomas Wolfe House, and being that we love old houses, we thought that it would be the perfect beginning to a lovely day.

Thomas Wolfe is considered by many to be one of the "giants of 20th-century American literature." He wrote about his friends and family and life in Asheville, North Carolina, and not necessarily in a flattering matter!

The home where he grew up, a boarding house owned by his mother, became an inspiration for much of his writing and when "Look Homeward, Angel" was published, there were a lot of angry people in Asheville, despite his attempt to disguise the many stories he told, by changing their names. 

I was most impressed with his mother, Julia Elisabeth Westall, a woman who was so ahead of her time. Buying and running a boarding house, along with purchasing and selling additional real estate led to the family's relative affluence. It seems as though she was quite an impressive businesswoman.

I would venture to say that she must have been born with her tenacity, as I do not believe that she would have had many role models, in Asheville, at that time. 

It was also quite impressive that the house was still intact from years gone by, with most of the original furnishings still in place. It was a charming place, and even though there were apparently many people sleeping under that roof, sharing beds and one bathroom, making personal space non-existent, at all times, I can only imagine that the light and bright atmosphere, along with Julia's attention to details and decor would have made the boarding place a desirable place to call home.

If you ever visit Asheville, The Thomas Wolfe House and Museum are well worth the $5 entry fee. I suppose we have covid to thank for the personal tour we received.

After visiting the Thomas Wolfe House, we headed a few blocks over to "downtown". The Bee Charmer boutique called my name and we stepped inside to the most darling "everything bee" shop I have ever seen. 

They had local honey from all around the Asheville area lining their walls, which created a lovely visual experience. I had no idea just how many different colors and hues could be created by the busy little bees, flying all over, from flower to flower, collecting pollen.

Since Joe recently started bee-keeping, this has become a fascination to both of us.

I tried several different types of honey at the honey tasting bar and was amazed at the difference in taste, texture, and velocity. I wanted to try every single one, but did want to make myself sick! 

The songs about Tupelo Honey kept coming to mind, while I was wandering around the boutique, so we obviously had to buy some to bring home.

It turns out that Tupelo Honey is a real thing and comes from the nectar of only one type of flowers, which grows on a tree only in wet, swampy soil, such as in the Florida Panhandle and Southern Georgia. 

It has a mild floral and fruity taste and is light golden and amber in color, with a greenish cast. It is a bit expensive but oh,  so delicious. I also "had to have" a bottle of honeysuckle honey from France, and some bee pollen, too.

The owners of the shop and a friend of theirs wrote a cookbook, called the "Bee Charmer Cookbook" which is filled with all kinds of amazing recipes and beautiful photos, so that is coming home to Tennessee with us, along with a few other little amazing gadgets, one which I designed and invented in my head, decades ago! Bahahaha

I will let you see if you can guess what it is! (I will post a photo tomorrow!)

To say we were charmed, by the Bee Charmer, is an understatement!

After that little jaunt, we headed back to the hotel as this old lady was pooped and needed a short rest. But since it was still early, I wanted to do something else, other than sit in our room, so after perusing our options, we chose the Trolly.

In Europe, we always enjoyed the Hop On-Hop Off bus tours, as they gave us an overview of the entire city, in a short period of time, which would help us get a glimpse all of the different areas, helping us to choose where we would like to spend more time.

I was delighted to find that Asheville had a Hop On-Hop Off Trolly, (although there was no getting off and on, due to covid, which was fine with me, as I just wanted to ride from the beginning, to end anyway). We quickly bought tickets online and hoofed it to the beginning of the route.

They were waiting for us when we rounded the corner and we hopped on.

There was only one other couple on the trolley with us, which was amazing; it allowed us to stay socially distanced while popping from side to side of the trolly depending on which side of the trolly had a better "view".

Our driver and guide, "Uncle Tom" was informative, funny, and detailed. Instead of the 90-minute tour, our tour, because it was so small and the last of the day, lasted two hours and fifteen minutes!

He took us extra places and told us extra stories, where the locals eat and some of the inside politics, which I will not get into here!

After taking us back to the drop-off point we told him we were staying at the Renaissance, which was one of the tour stops, as the Thomas Wolfe House is right next door. We thanked him profusely for such a great overview of his lovely city and continued to chat a bit more. As we were talking, he told us to jump back on the Trolly, because he was going to drive us over to our hotel; all the while, telling us more stories. TOTAL BONUS!! And of course a big tip for "Uncle Tom"

That would be God throwing me another bone!

I highly recommend the Trolly Tour, and Asheville, North Carolina; we are just loving it here. Based upon Uncle Tom's recommendation, we went to "Little Pigs BBQ" for dinner, which was quick, easy, and delicious.

Night y'all, it was a great day!

FaceBook: CML: A Place for Hope and Humor



Bricks for the Brave!!