Wednesday, May 27th
Today, about a third of the group went to The Biltmore. We considered getting a bus, but that was just too expensive, so we carpooled.
All of the "cats" showed up at the pavilion as directed, and we actually left the Rally Park a little before our 8:00 a.m. scheduled departure time. :)
Linda & I arrived first, paid the bill, and then passed out tickets and brochures/maps as everyone arrived.
We all started with a house tour before it got too crowded.
I thought we were all going to be on a group house tour together as we had a designated tour time. But when we arrived, they told us it wasn't necessary and everyone could go through the house whenever they wanted.
So, we were all spread out going through the house, which was fine except 25 of us were doing an optional group lunch together, and I needed to make sure everyone knew when they needed to head over to the Deerpark Restaurant and how to get there.
I was going back and forth through the house, sometimes like a salmon swimming upstream. The attendants herding everyone through in an orderly fashion were not very happy with me, but it all worked out.
You aren't allowed to take photos in the house, but we were allowed to take photos from the Loggia.
Most of our group finished their tour of the house before lunch, but some of us did not. No worries. We could pick up where we left off, and if we had purchased the guided audio tour, they gave us a voucher to re-claim the device when we came back.
All that opted out of the group lunch were on their own the rest of the day and could explore the estate at their leisure before returning to the Rally Park.
The other 25 of us joined up for a lunch buffet at the Deerpark Restaurant.
Linda & I had been to The Biltmore before, but we hadn't been to the Deerpark area. We arrived a little before everyone to make sure everything was in order.
When we walked in there wasn't a soul in the place. I hadn't realized that the restaurant was closed today and that we would, in fact, have our own very private, very quiet lunch. Now I understand why they needed exact numbers well in advance. :)
We gathered in the beautiful courtyard until they were ready for us.
Eventually, everyone arrived and headed to the buffet.
We all enjoyed our meal, and it was another moment we realized that, while we knew everyone, they didn't all know each other. We had people from fifteen different Rallies over an eight year period and, though many knew each other, many did not. So, we made sure everyone introduced themselves as we dined in our private room.
After lunch, we had a group photo in the courtyard.
I took the one above and then joined in the one below.
After lunch, everyone was free to explore at their own pace and check out the areas of the estate they were most interested in before going back to the Rally Park for dinner at 6:00.
Our group of four, Linda & me, Linda N. and Connie, went back to the house. The gals finished their tour from where they left off, while I waited outside and took a few photos.
When the ladies joined me, we started on a tour of the gardens. We began with the Italian gardens near the house.
The water lilies in the ponds were gorgeous.
Then we proceeded down to the Walled Gardens.
I took photos of the roses ....
and this particular lovely specimen caught my eye.
We then proceeded to the Conservatory.
Since Linda & I spent a lot of time in the Conservatory last Fall, we breezed through it this time. But, if you love plants and flowers, it is not to be missed. We especially recommend checking out the fabulous orchid collection.
After finishing up in the gardens, we drove around to Antler Hill Village. We didn't spend a lot of time there as the main objective was the complimentary wine tasting at the winery.
I had my complimentary grape juice while the others sampled the wine, and then Linda went the extra step of doing some more tasting at the "premium" tasting bar.
After some wine and various other wine shop purchases, we were all ready to call it a day. So, we loaded up and made the 45-minute drive back to the Rally Park.
While we were at The Biltmore, Bill & Nancy led a group on some more exploring and hiking on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
They went to the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center, ....
and the Folk Art Center.
On their way to Craggy Gardens, they had a great bear sighting.
That's always a special treat. :)
At Craggy Gardens, they did a little hiking, .....
had some lunch, ....
took some group photos, .....
took in some wonderful views, .....
and clearly had a great time. :)
Back at the Rally Park, we once again gathered at the pavilion and Countryside BBQ served up a hamburger and hot dogs cookout dinner complete with fixin's and delicious brownies for dessert.
After dinner, we had another campfire. By this time, I think everyone tired of taking pictures of our big ol' fire. :)
But there were several photos of those that were gathered around the fire.
Nothing like sitting around a fire looking at the moon and stars and talking to such wonderful people. Another great day at the Reunion Rally. :)