By this time we were in full-bore vacation mode and from this point to the departure date, I did not know what day it was nor did I care.  We left Mount Airy and headed in a more or less southwesterly direction.  In the mountains of North Carolina there are not straight paths.  We started out on the Blue Ridge Parkway which I discovered is merely a two-lane highway with lots of curves.  It is a beautiful drive but one cannot make good time.  Making good time is not the point of the Blue Ridge Parkway but we had scheduled perhaps a bit much on that day so we made one stop (at the Blue Ridge Music Center) and then exited to find Interstate 40 in order to make it out to Asheville. 

Asheville is the home of the Biltmore Estate: one of the so-called American Castles built by robber barons back in the late 1800s.  Nobody was interested in this but me (well, actually Tom was the only one with no interest at all) but since I’m a bit of an architecture fanboy and it was vacation we went and everybody is usually at least a bit curious about how the fabulously rich people live. 

Biltmore is a really beautiful place and because of the short time we had, I just took the basic walkthrough of the main house.  It would have been fun to have taken the guided tour of the architecture itself and perhaps to stay at the Inn and take fly fishing lessons or sporting clay lessons.  Maybe some other day. I was most impressed by the extreme amount of carved oak in the place.  Every room and every door was a work of art made from the wood was most plentiful locally but which is also among the hardest woods to carve.  My hat is off to the woodcarvers who built the place.  Also the stone masons – there was a great deal of carved stone there too.

We left here for the long drive home.  I drove most of the way and Mel took over for the last hour or two.  It’s been so long since we all saw each other for any length of time that it was never difficult to find things to talk about.  Even though it was about a five hour drive, it seemed to pass quickly to me.  It was a bit late when we got back but nobody cared.  We just went to bed.  I don’t think anybody ever turned on a TV the entire week.  Maybe somebody did to check the weather but little else.