This little town surprised me. Jonesboro was established in 1779 and is the oldest town in Tennessee. Most of the buildings in the downtown area are on the Register of National Historic Places. In its early days, the town was the gate to the first frontier and the stage road West ran through it. Andrew Jackson practiced law here. And the town is loaded with ghosts. I actually toured the town twice. The first was a daylight walk. The second was a night walk with a paranormal investigator.
The Appalachain Mountain chain is the world’s oldest and Grandfather Mountain is the tallest in the chain. We trekked around the mountain on a cloudy day. One of the draws, outside of the great views, is the Mile-high Swinging Bridge. While the bridge’s altidude is just about 5,280 feet, there is rocky ground just 30 feet below it. The park keeps a wildlife park inhabited by black bears, river otters, deer, and a bald eagle.
The Biltmore Estate is a house in the grandest sense. George Vanderbilt (yes, of those Vanderbilts) had this constructed in 1890. The house encompasses four acres. That’s interior space. Four floors housed George’s family, guests, and staff. At any given time, the house employed thirty-five people. There were parlor maids, chamber maids, butlers, grounds keepers, cooks, and many others. During the planning phase, designers built towers to heights matching the floors so that views could be chosen and showcased. A three-mile drive from Biltmore Village Historic District winds through the estate’s land. I felt sorry for the poor bastards. Biltmore House is one of America’s castles.
Mom and I took the guided audio tour. I would have had more interior photos, but a docent told me that interior photos would infringe copyright (wtf?). We saw 62 rooms from the Billards Parlor to the staffs’ quarters. Art from Renoir and John Singer Sargent hung on the walls. Fabrics and wallpaper patterns were restored to their original state. The images you do have from me are of the exterior and grounds. Still, that was more than enough. The only real unpleasantness was getting caught in a downpour while in the greenhouse. It made the walk back to the car…uncomfortable. After the Estate tour, we stopped at a coffeeshop. By this time the rain subsided. Mom, however, brought the umbrellas with us into the shop. You know, just in case, we got caught in another downpour.
This visit was my first to Piney Flats. It’s in the NE corner of Tennessee, a rural area dotted by small towns and criss-crossed by winding country roads. It reminded me of the countryside of North Carolina I drove through between home and college. Mom gave me an excellent tour of her stomping grounds. We saw a 225 year old family home, Boone Lake, and more farm structures near collapse than I have ever encountered. My stay reminded me that Southerners will wait until gravity has the last laugh before declaring a structure unfit for use. Southerners also still understand courtesy, hospitality, and how to construct and locate grand homes. The images here were taken near my Mom and Step-fahter’s home at Boone Lake outside Piney Flats, TN.
Last week was laid back. This week has been busy. First, I am the enabler of my co-workers. Because this laptop belongs to work, I am checking my work email everyday. Not good. Second, my Mom and I have been running around Eastern Tennessee and Western North Carolina. During this week, I have been to a mountain and walked a mile high swinging bridge. Then toured an historic TN town… twice! One tour was during the day and the next at night on a guided ghost tour. Today, we head to Asheville, NC and the Biltmore House. If I had insisted, we would have seen a cave in Virginia as well. I am going to tuckered out from vacation, but I am going to have a collection of images for the time. You can see those in other posts.
I am actually tuckered out. The next vacation I take will be in some place with beaches and no technology (okay, the second part is a stretch). Visiting with the family is good. It reconnects me to them and grounds me. I remember where I came from. With a rested mind, I can get a clearer sense of where I am going. With the free time, I was able to work on my website, add a lot of images, and see new things. The last is especially important for the visual mind. This last two weeks may get me motivated again to create some new works. If nothing else, it has gotten me a lot closer to family again.
I spend so much time away from them that I forget their mannerisms and tastes. Dad and I can sit in silence for hours and miles. We enjoy the same shows and have many of the same habits. Mom and I…well we are decidedly different animals. A little idle conversation always travels around the room. When I am in my introspective mind, I have a hard time wanting to come back out. A long drive with Mom reminds that not all the world can sit in silence like I can. She re-socializes me. Instead of sniping at her for a little quiet, I worked my way out of my “brood”. This was the time I wanted to spend with her. She just wanted to engage me.All said and done, I go home today a little tired, refreshed, and ready to see what is next.