Sunrise Walk on the Vineyard

Amazing stay on this incredible island. Morning!!

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Road Trip to Mendocino: The Golden Gate Bridge

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First stop while heading over to Highway 1 is the Golden Gate Bridge.  To get to this look-out point, you take your first right after you cross the bridge heading north. The views are amazing and it’s totally worth the stop.

Road Trip to Carmel: The Secret Forest

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I’ve lived in Northern California for awhile and visit Carmel often. But even so, I’d never heard of the Secret Forest which I discovered today. It’s a little hard to find so I’ve added a map at the end. A secret that local residents have long withheld from visitors is Mission Trails Park. No signs will direct you here, but it’s worth the effort to find. Within this forest are miles of walking trails that are all dog friendly. They wind across foot-bridges, through red-wood groves and meadows filled with wild flowers. I did a short hike today but will be back. I’ve heard there are ocean vistas and deer grazing the hillsides.

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Biltmore Estate, Asheville, NC/Historical Inn

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There are a number of places to stay if you visit the Biltmore, however, if you can stay at the Biltmore Historic Inn, I would highly recommend it. I went mid-March and it was still off-season. I am a true believer in off-season traveling. Hotel costs are lower and there are fewer people (I’m not a crowd person). I went the weekend before the Festival of Flowers last year which was considered “off-season” and it was perfect! (The Festival of Flowers dates in 2013 are March 21-May 19.)

The Biltmore Historical Inn sits on a hilltop surrounded by vineyards. The rooms are beautiful and the entire hotel is very elegant. But even with the elegance, they are very down to earth. Since I do a lot of walking I wore sneakers most of the time and never felt out of place. Everyone on the staff was incredibly friendly and helpful. Below you’ll see the view from some of the rooms and a photo of my room. (Home sweet home!)

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The package I had included breakfast. I know it’s the “most important meal” but I’m never much of a breakfast eater. However, when I stayed there, I changed my ways. My day would start by getting up around 6am. I’d wonder down to the library area and pour a complimentary coffee. Road joe in hand, I’d head off on a walk, down a winding path to what is called Antler Village. After my morning walk I’d head over to the restaurant and have breakfast. Below is the photo I took of my breakfast along with some of my morning walk. (If you look closely you’ll see cheddar cheese grits (YUM!), smoked salmon, chopped tomatoes, onions, a sauce and capers; fresh squeezed orange juice and steaming coffee.)

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In my next blog I’ll show you photos of the path down to Antler Village. You’ll first see the winery, then there is a small “village” with shops and restaurants. There is also a barn at the far end where you can see animals and a kitchen cutting garden so I’ll include those too. Also, if you continue along the path you can actually walk over to the Biltmore Estate. This is an incredible walk and if you’re up for ~6 miles of absolute beauty, I highly recommend it. Click to Follow for more adventures!

For more information on this beautiful inn: http://www.biltmore.com/stay/

Biltmore Estate – Asheville, NC “About”

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The Biltmore Estate is noted as one of the “Castles of America” and is nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Asheville, North Carolina on over 8000 acres of land. Washington Vanderbilt II moved into the estate in around 1895. I’m sure people worldwide hoped for an invitation to his first ball. The rooms and views were, and still are, amazing. In the photo above you can see the apple blossoms are in full bloom. I was there the third week of March and the grounds were spectacular!

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A couple of quick facts:

  • At 178,926 square feet and 250 rooms, the Biltmore Estate is the largest privately owned home in the United States.
  • In 2007, it was ranked eighth in America’s Favorite Architecture by the American Institute of Architects.
  • The grounds were designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted who also designed Central Park in New York City. I have a fabulous walk I’ll show you in an upcoming blog that takes you through the grounds, from the Historical Inn to the Estate. The photo above shows the path where you’ll get a glimpse of the estate high on a hill.
  • Some of the formal gardens that surround the home include the All American Rose Garden with over 250 varieties, and the formal Italian Garden.
  • The estate also has a fabulous winery where they provide complimentary tastings. You can also tour their historic cellars.

I’ll cover these in more detail in a following blog. Below is a map of the Biltmore Estate that also shows you the gardens – The Biltmore House Entrance is where you arrive on the bus. The star that highlights “you are here” is by the entrance when you walk over from the historical inn which I’ll tell you more about in another blog.

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The next blog will cover the Historic Inn and the secluded walk over to the Estate which most people don’t know about. PS: Many of the photos I use on my site are actually from the Biltmore Estate.  The one on the left is on the balcony at the back of the estate. And of course my favorite is with one of the beautiful lions at the front entrance.

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Fun thought – When I visit historical estates, I always love to learn about the people who lived there when they were built. Let’s take clothes for example. The year was approximately 1895 and what a splash Mr. Vanderbilt must have made when he threw the first ball. During that time, women donned what were called leg o’mutton sleeves which grew in size until they disappeared in 1906. (Those were the sleeves that puffed out around the bicep area.) My romantic side would love to live back then until I remember that deodorant was an urban legend until 1941. That simple fact may be why the leg o-mutton sleeves were invented…perfect to shield, or I guess contain “the odor” (and probably the reason for the increase in size over the years.) Yet I digress. Back to the estate… Click to follow and you’ll receive more information on the Biltmore Estate via email!

Cliff Walk in Santa Cruz

In Santa Cruz there is a fabulous walk you should absolutely try!  Located along West Cliff Drive, this walk allows you to stroll with an ocean front view for miles. It’s easy to find, just park by the Natural Bridges State Parkand you’ll see the path…

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