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Savannah-h-h, GA.

Posted 06-28-2013 at 06:10 PM by BillB44

Left the hotel for a relatively uneventful (not complaining!) 260-mile drive to our next destination--a place that is on our must-see list, Savannah, Georgia. Well, there was one event en route: a breakfast stop at a ubiquitous Waffle House--they’re almost as prevalent as McD’s. I liked it, Kathy not so much. But her standards are much higher than mine on little things like cleanliness, friendliness, tastiness. Me, a fresh waffle with unlimited maple syrup and crispy hash browns in five minutes...
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The Biltmore House. A monumental understatement.

Posted 05-24-2013 at 08:16 PM by BillB44
Updated 05-24-2013 at 08:18 PM by BillB44 (add photo)

Today we set aside for a single objective: touring the Biltmore House, built in 1895 by George Washington Vanderbilt.

But calling this monument a “house” is like calling the Great Pyramid a triangle. “Estate,” “Mansion” and “Manor” don’t do it justice either. Seriously, only “Palace” or “Castle” come close. We’ve toured to the Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California and this puppy dwarfs it.

I’d seen pictures of the Biltmore and a TV special about it, but the scale...
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Does Asheville live up to the hype? Nope. Outdoes it.

Posted 05-24-2013 at 08:10 PM by BillB44
Updated 05-24-2013 at 08:13 PM by BillB44

I’ve heard and read things about Asheville, N.C. for years. Bumping into articles or people who rave about the place. An art-loving, foodies-centric, granola-eating, deep-moneyed, green-hilled town of about 84,000 that also happens to be home of the spectacular Grove Park Inn and the even more spectacular Biltmore House & Gardens.
So anxious to see stuff ourselves and draw our own conclusions.

It was a short 6-miles from camping spot to parking spot in the well-scrubbed...
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More GSMNP then on to Asheville.

Posted 05-24-2013 at 08:08 PM by BillB44

Awoke early to sunshine and drove into nearby Gatlinburg to grab breakfast and take care of some freelance work via wi-fi, since we have zero signals in the park. Gatlinburg is another commercialized town gone awry. It’s cuter than Pigeon Forge but it’s still plenty kitschy with all the faux outdoor stores and phony Bavarian schtick. Where Pigeon Forge reminded us of Vegas, Gatlinburg was more Disneyland-esque.

After breakfast we drove the Newfound Gap Road, all the way up to Clingman’s...
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The Cades Cove Hike and, oy, Loop Drive.

Posted 05-24-2013 at 08:03 PM by BillB44

We had a cereal, toast & fruit breakfast so we could get a jump on traffic this Tuesday morning. We’re heading to an apparently very popular one-way loop drive through what sounds like a bucolic valley called Cades Cove. It’s 19 miles away, on 30-mph windy roads thru densely treed woods. We didn’t beat the throngs.

Here’s the thing about Cades Cove: it was first settled in 1821 by a handful of intrepid pioneers who carved out a little community despite the remote location and...
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