We left Evelyn's Monday morning and headed towards Raleigh, NC to visit our friends Angie & Christian whom had moved from Phoenix a couple of years ago:
Angie and Christian both work for a game company producing X-Box and PlayStation games. Christian is a fairly well-known designer of FPS
(first-person shooter) games. He also just recently bought an arcade game, and I'm showing him how to access the insides.
The next morning we headed to Asheville, NC to visit the Biltmore Estates. Diane had been here a couple of years ago when she was in North Carolina for a conference, and she just knew that I would love to see it. She was right; we spent almost an entire day here. We toured both the "house" and the winery. George Vanderbilt built it in 1895 as his home, and he originally had 125,000 acres surrounding it. It has been open for tours sine the '70s. If you're in the region, it's a must-see..!
This is the largest private residence in the nation, and it's truly an American castle..!
At this point, we had seen all of the specific attractions that we had planned, and visited all of the people that we wanted to see. The return trip was a lot more up in the air, and we began to head west. We went through Nashville, TN and saw signs for the Grand Ole Opry House:
Turns out the Grand Ole Opry House has been replaced by a new building, which was a little disappointing. It's now adjacent to a big mall that
reminds me of the big Chandler mall..! There is an adjacent (free) museum that we went through, and the picture on the right is a detail of a big
mural that they had. It was really a somewhat interesting place, although most of the significance of the exhibits was lost on me.
We then took a very twisty, slow and scenic
route through southern Missouri and northern Arkansas. No pictures, since we didn't
really stop anywhere; it was just a very nice drive. We spent almost an entire day
just looking at scenery and going through dinky Arkansas towns.
At this point, we decided to drive (more-or-less) directly home, and try to be back home on Saturday night. On Friday we made one additional stop: The Big Well in Greensburg, Kansas. We got there just 30 minutes before they closed, but were allowed to tour the well:
As you can tell, it's a smaller-scale attraction...
On the left is the view as you're about to descend into the well. I thought the old, rusty stairs were a little bit scary..!
On the right, I'm standing on the platform looking up at Diane as she goes back up.
The attendant actually locked up the shop and left while we were down there... If something had happened, it would have been a very long night..!
Now, we just had to get home. We made it into New Mexico that night, and got back to Phoenix on Saturday night. I'm glad we came down through this part of Arizona during the late afternoon, it's quite spectacular..!
This is from one of the roadside pull-outs off of US60 in east-central Arizona. Just an incredible view..!
So that's it. We got home and picked
up the pets that night, and returned the rental car the next day. Back to work Tuesday... *sigh* ...
It was quite an experience; one that we won't have again for some time...