Thursday, May 9, 2019

North Carolina - FFI trip to Shelby 4-28 to 5-4-2019 Biltmore House & more

Cardinals run wild here - the state bird (also state bird for 6 other states:  Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia).  Coming from California I had never seen a cardinal until 1980 when I came to North Carolina.  I was at the Biltmore Estate out by the conservatory and saw my first one in a tree.  After having seen pictures of them for 30 years, it was beyond belief when I saw that guy in the tree.   It was thrilling and something I have never forgotten.  I saw many on this trip and I am also so happy when I see these prettiest of birds.  They are my happy birds and it was so fun to watch them at Jackie's house when she pointed out two males that were circling the house like in a race, zoom, gone, zoom around again, in some sort of male dominance ritual, race to win the female.  Mating season.  That was something great to watch.

And there is the food.  These folks have gardens so lots of fresh veggies, great cooks and some tasty cakes and pies.  I enjoyed having lots of pecans cooks into every conceivable dish as that adds such a great flavor.  And you haven't experienced North Carolina hospitality until you are served livermush.  I had some for breakfast and it was pretty good.  The proudly hold a Livermush Festival every year in October so you'all come on now.

What a wonderful trip with the Great Harrisburg PA Club who welcomed Ohio, Florida and Wyoming folks to join their trip. I was very anxious to go because I knew many of the Shelby FFI club members from my October 2018 trip to Russia. Got to stay with Jackie and Roger, dear people who spoiled us (I was joined by Kay (from the Sarasota FFI), who was also on the Russia trip). From the moment of arrival until my early morning departure when Roger kindly drove me to Charlotte at 2:15 a.m. so I could catch my plane.

The entire Shelby Club went out of their way to make us feel welcome. We started with a Welcome Party with great potluck foods in abundance. This probably was my only problem during the trip -- the heaping amounts of food. Going away potluck and a lunch buffet at Biltmore House. Let's say when I left I didn't need to eat for a few days. Great cooks, tried new foods and recipes and the desserts were wonderful.

We saw so many things and did so much that I'll do a list:

Welcome dinner

Cowpens Battleground - learned a lot about the American Revolution that I didn't know.  This was in SC.

BMW plant tour - so automated that they almost don't need people. $400 million BMW automobile assembly plan in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
Dinner party - our hosts prepared a lasagne dinner for 12!!!!! They even made from scratch creme brulee (my favorite) and it was delish.

Flower Bridge at Lake Lure. What a special place this is. Charming and I'm sure real fairies live there.

Pontoon Boat tour of Lake Lure. Many scenes from Dirty Dancing were filmed at Lake Lure. It is very beautiful with some stunning homes along the shores.

Green River Plantation visit. Building began in 1804, this 42 room mansion now hosts tours, luncheons, tours and weddings. They grew sugar cane and cotton.

Tryon International Equestrian Center tour.  A top of the line, spectacular horse center that hosted the 2018 Equestrian Games. This facility is beyond belief and the horse world is blessed with such a wonderful place for most horse events.

Welcome by Cleveland County officials. That was a nice surprise and appreciated.  So many great things are happening in this county with excellent plans for the future.

Earl Scruggs Museum Tour and lunch. If you're not familiar with banjo music, this man is considered the king of three-finger banjo picking, which he developed. His style defines characteristic bluegrass music.  The museum is interactive and one can learn a lot about bluegrass music.  Very fun and excellent museum housed in the old restores County Courthouse, good use of a saved building.

Kings Mountain Battleground visit.  We saw two very good videos that helped explain about the American Revolution and the importance of the battle in the history of establishing the United States.  I didn't know too much about our fight for independence and it seems what I knew mainly focused up North around Boston, etc.  The two battlegrounds we saw showed the importance of North Carolina in the war efforts with decisive battles.  It was fascinating.  Walking the grounds was solemn and thinking about the blood shed to create our country was though provoking.

As you can see.............we were on our toes and learning, doing, and enjoying so many different things.    Next......

Free day with our hosts and we chose to go to the Carolina Aviation Museum where the U.S. Airways Flight 1549 plane is housed.  This was the plane that was landed in the Hudson River in January 2009.  Great movie was made about this event and the pilot Sully saved all passengers.  Many other interesting aviation planes and items.  We also got to fly a simulator and 2 out of 4 of us crashed our planes on landing.

Biltmore House visit.  Construction began in 1899 the home took six years to construct.  It is the crown jewel of estates in the United States in my opinion.  I saw it in 1980 and was so glad to be able to revisit this magnificent place.  Still privately owned which surprises me.  If you are within 200 miles of this place a side trip is highly recommended and take a entire day to really see everything.

As an interesting side note, the home was used by the National Gallery during WWII to house some of the our most valuable art.  The curator knew the Edith Vanderbuilt and asked her if she could secretly store famous works, Rembrandt, Raphael, others - a total of 62 paintings and 17 sculptures.  They were secretly delivered in January 1942, and when the wartime threat was lessened they were retrieved in 1944.  The Biltmore was fireproof and in a remote location.  A very interesting piece of history of the home.

Next day up at 2:15 a.m. (didn't really sleep), and thank you Roger for taking me to the airport at that horrid hour.  It was hard to say goodbye to my host family as we had grown so close.  They are forever in my heart with unending thanks for their hospitality.  Thanks "Jack-Vac" and "I've got a story for you, Roger."

P.S. Lest I forget. If you like sweet wine they have muscadine grape wine, many brands, but I love Duplin, and you won't find a better wine anywhere. I brought home 8 bottles and now find that I can get it here in Florida and that is great news. In researching a bit to write this I just learned something. 

I was curious about the word "scuppernong" - a weird word, looked it up and low and behold it is the muscadine:   "The scuppernong is a large variety of muscadine, a species of grape native to the Southern United States. It is usually a greenish or bronze color and is similar in appearance and texture to a white grape, but rounder and larger and first known as the 'big white grape'." How cool to learn something new.  It is the state fruit.

So to sum up what I saw of North Carolina I'd say it is based on faith, family, and friends.  There are long family histories here.  We sat down for meals and said grace - something I really enjoyed and had sort of skipped over in my own life for quite awhile.  People talk about past generations - oh you remember so and so, down on the farm over yonder, etc.  There is a spirit of resilience.  I was so impressed to see people embracing of the future when the past history had been agriculture, cotton and textile mills.  How did these people succeed from that past?   Huge unemployment, a dying downtown.  They were able to turn it around because there is a toughness in these people, along with love and caring about their neighbors.  I know I am richer for having visited this area of the United States.  Thank you FFI Shelby.

PPS   I love North Carolina đź’—

Pictures are random, so many I just can't spend 2 hours organizing.  If any questions let me know.

Our wonderful group of FFI in Shelby.  Representing - North Carolina, Pennsylvania,
 Ohio, Wyoming and Florida.  Goal - work toward peace and friendship and that was
accomplished during our wonderful visit.  Every little bit helps.

Hosted dinner for 12
Home of my gracious hosts Jackie and Roger

We needed two tables for dinner.  Note the
cute bibs that Roger provided after collecting them
from New York for years.

Jackie & Roger's dinner was so good.

Roger made this creme brulee.  It was perfect.

Well, you can't do better than this stuff!!!!!

Hosts - Jackie & Roger - every meal like this.  My friend Kay stayed here 
too.  We were all on the FFI Russia trip together in October 2018.
These people are salt of the earth!!!!!!  We're bonded for life.

Dessert Sampling at Biltmore Restaurant
Buffet.  A wonderful meal.

Nice steak with flavored butter.  Our big night out
downtown to treat our hosts.  Took more than half home.

Jackie showed me her cool vacuum coffee pot
for making coffee for larger crowds.  We watched
it make coffee and it was fun.

Famous livermush, cornmeal, spices & liver.
Made in a loaf, sliced thin and fried.  Nice for breakfast.

Day trip to Cowpens Battleground, 1781
Revolutionary War

I couldn't get a picture of the buildings so had to use
this drone photo which is great.  The administration
was an architectural gem.  I can't find out who designed
it.  Wrote to BMW and referred to another department!!!
Probably spent over an hour trying to find, so now I'm
just going to leave it as a mystery.
Drone photo 
James Simpson's Aerials

Cute, but not really my type of car.  I can't even see over
the dash board, would need two pillows to sit on.

Lake Lure Flowering Bridge

I took so many pictures of the Flowering Bridge my camera died
and I didn't get any pictures of beautiful Lake Lure.  Borrowed one
from Rutherford County Tourism.

Lake is surrounded by multi-million dollar homes.
Man made in 1927

Lovely home, we had a nice lunch and guided tour
that was very informative.
* wikipedia photo

Our visit to the Cleveland County Commissioners.

Excellent museum with wonderful displays.  Any
bluegrass afficionado should pay a visit.

Kings Mountain Battleground, video and museum
and a beautiful walk around the battleground.

The grounds were beautiful

Very important battle that helped
turn the tide for the Americans

This was our free day when we went to air museum.
We got to do flight simulation, not too successful, scary.

Roger was good for awhile and
then it was all flips.

Jackie did pretty good landing.

How could pilots know all of these controls?

I have zero desire to fly any plane.

Replica of first plane -- NC is state of first flight.

I loved the movie Sully and would say it was in
my top 20 movies.  He was a true hero on that fateful day.

Last, but not least, the Biltmore Estate.  Our last day.
They have new displays several times a year and we saw period
costumes from a company in London.  All types of period clothing
from about 1900 - 1905.

This is their yard!!!!!!

This is where you enter the home, so much
beautiful light comes in.

The home is full of beautiful, real flowers.  So
many kinds and many orchids.  Flowers are
all grown on the estate.

 Ironing room in basement

Rotisserie in kitchen, huge.

Mr. Biltmore's suite with office attached below.

Washing machine clothes spun by pulley system.

10 foot deep pool, had underwater light (unheard
of when homes at the time didn't even have electricity)
and it was heated.  70,000 gallons of water.

Fireplace over-mantel constructed from a tile-stove known as a kachelöfen that George Vanderbilt 
likely purchased in his European travels, possibly in Switzerland. Created in the 18th century, 
Biltmore’s Tyrolean Chimney is made of tin-glazed earthenware tiles hand-painted with 
exquisite floral designs.

Copper pots and pans

Down in the basement.  Stone foundation.

My favorite room, the library.  It is magnificent.  Has a
spiral staircase to access top levels for books.

Two lane indoor bowling lanes.  This
really impressed me.

Part of the gymnasium.

Coffee grinder

 Huge kitchen, they cooked for many guests and parties.


Filled with exotic hothouse flowers, many beautiful orchids.

This blog took so long to write and it was a 6 day trip.  Hope it makes sense, I just can't proof it again.  I've got to start writing less and just post pictures.  I'll never catch up.  Still have Europe 2018 and New Orleans from April to get done.

If you want more info on stats for home, this seems to be a good site: