Day 5 started like all of the other days here in The South, with a free breakfast at our hotel. We got a little bit of an earlier start today as we headed to the Biltmore Estate here in Asheville, NC in an attempt to get some exterior photos of the main house. We were stopped at the Visitor Center and told that we had to purchase a full price ticket to get even close to the house. We were shocked they they had changed it since Mom and Gary were here last time. Before, they were able to drive up to the house and pay up there. I can see how this keeps the undesirables away, but for people on a time constraint, it leaves little room for anything but disappointment. We did manage to get some photos at the entrance area and we picked up some small souvenirs at the gift shop to tide us over.
It was then time to hit the road again. Our target was Atlanta, GA via South Carolina. Our first stop was the small town of Hendersonville, NC where we wandered around the small downtown area before heading to the Wal Mart (if that is not a statement on society today, I don’t know what is). We wanted to stock up on snacks and such for the road trip, as well as do some shopping. Mom decided to get a quick bang trim at the hair salon since they were standing around with nothing to do. She came out a bit crooked, but what can you expect for less than $15. A quick fill up later, and we were on our way.
Just over the South Carolina border, we stopped at the Visitor and Welcome Center. I approved of the shop based on the fact they had a large South Carolina sign that was easily photographed. After peeing in my 32 state, we headed back on the road. Mom mentioned that they had a Guestbook that I should have signed, but it was too late as I was already on the freeway. Driving through South Carolina was nice, and we do wish we had time to stop and explore the sights, especially the BMW factory that we drove by in Spartanburg. I had forgotten that the home of the Z3 was here, and had I thought about it, I totally would have made the online reservations for a factory tour – even though I know there are no free samples. We didn’t stop again in South Carolina, so SC joins Idaho as states that have only gotten a pee stop and no further exploration. I would like to go to the coastal Carolinas at some point. I really liked North Carolina near Asheville, so I am interested to see what the rest of the state is like.
We then arrived in my 33rd state – Georgia! Pressed for time, we had to ditch the plan to go to Athens, GA to visit where Gary went to school, but we had to head to Stone Mountain to get there before the attractions closed. With all the driving, we neglected to get some lunch so we had to eat up valuable time eating at Zaxbys. Following Google Maps, we winded through the streets of Georgia until we arrived at Stone Mountain about 15 minutes before the last tram departed for the top of the mountain. They informed us that we would only have 20 minutes or so on the top before the last tram came down from the mountain or we would have to walk. I did a little shopping in the Gift Shop before we left for the top.
The windows of the aerial tram were all scratched up so we could not get any key photos of the carving on Stone Mountain of Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson, and Robert E Lee. At the top, I quickly dashed out to take some photos of Downtown Atlanta and the surrounding areas in our small window of time. Some of the photos came out really well! Before we knew it, it was time to head back down to the ground. I found a cracked window where I shot a few photos of the tram route on the way down the side of the mountain. At the base, we were directed to the gift shop again (had I known this I would have waited for my souvenir shopping) before we went over to the Memorial area to take photos of the carving. I wish there were better vantage points to get closer to the mountain to really appreciate the size. It is hard to tell that Jefferson Davis is 9 stories tall when looking at it from afar.
Back on the roads, we headed towards Kennesaw, GA, our base for the next few days. The Atlanta traffic gods were kind to us with only minor delays on the way up. Everyone says that Atlanta has worse traffic than Los Angeles, and I am sure I will get to experience it at some point in the next few days. We checked into the hotel and headed to dinner with another one of Gary’s relatives. We lucked out and missed a big traffic collision by minutes – whew! We had a great dinner at Scalini’s in Smyrna which was the best Italian by far on this trip, and does give Petrillo’s a run for its money.
Tomorrow it is Atlanta tourist time. We will head down to the city to see some of the highlights!