I went on vacation with my family last week. We visited relatives in North Carolina and had a relaxing time. They live on a lake in Charlotte, so the kids loved tubing and swimming.
It surprised me how woodsy it is there. Here in Chicagoland, Midwest, our rural areas are all farmland or grasslands with a few trees here and there. Out east in the hills and mountains, the rural areas are all woods. It was kind of striking.
We drove a bit on the Blue Ridge Parkway contemplating the difference between the Appalachians, The Smokies, The Blue Ridge Mountains, and the Piedmont Region.
We spent a full day visiting The Biltmore House and Gardens. For years people have told me that I would LOVE it there. I thought much of the house was extremely fussy and overly ornamented, but certainly of it's time. Many of the rooms were lovely, especially the newly restored ones. The mountain location is spectacular and the forested grounds designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead are beautiful.
There is so much to see in that region. I hope we can return in a less steamy time of year. Some time I want to do an artists retreat and learn a bunch of the traditional handcrafts of the region. One friend of mine has done this several times. Next time I want to do more history and nature hiking. My husband and I love that sort of thing, although he grew up in lakes country in Minnesota and likes to look out on sparkling waters too. The kids go along with anything, but they do really like playing in the water.
I read three novels while we were gone including Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (Funny!), Life of Pi (Wonderful, thoughtful, and fun), and New Moon (Uh... really a glorified romance novel, but the plot compels me forward.)
The kids at home have taken hold of my crafting mojo and will not release it. They go back to school in a few weeks. Until then we are working on building up our vitamin D outside in the sunshine!