We finally made it to the North Carolina Transportation Museum's Fire Truck Festival after trying to get there for the last three years. Peg, myself, and our good friend Jerry got up at the crack of dawn to make the two and a half hour roadtrip to Spencer, NC. The festival didn't disappoint so it was worth a little missed sleep. Over 100 fire fighting vehicles, both vintage and modern, were on the grounds of the museum, including a North Carolina Forest Service helicopter that buzzed the museum before landing.
We found a nice little antique car museum tucked away in the Grovewood Village in Asheville, North Carolina. It was established in 1966 by Harry Blomberg, of Harry's on the Hill fame, and is now located in a 1923 building once used by the Biltmore Industries' weaving shop. About two dozen vehicles can be seen including a rare '57 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham and a '22 American LaFrance fire truck. It's a nice stop and the admission is free.
We drove over to the Gatlinburg SkyLift Park just to experience the new SkyBridge. Now considering Peg and I are both scared of heights, this was a bit of a thrilling adventure. The suspension bridge is the longest in the United States at 680 feet. At its center, swinging 140' from the ground, are three glass panels. Whew! To get to the bridge you have to first take the SkyLift.
ScaleTrains.com held a wonderful open house at their warehouse and a private train ride on the Tennessee Valley Railroad called the Hiwassee River Rail Adventure. It started with a tour of their warehouse and the ability to purchase items at very low prices. Then, it was a delicious catered barbecue lunch.
What a fantastic garden railroad the Biltmore Estate has created. The Biltmore Gardens Railway is made up of over 800 feet of G-Gauge track. The model trains run at different levels. Bridges and buildings are all made of natural items such as bark and twigs. It is absolutely stunning!
The Kustom Kemps of America (KKoA) held their second Icons of Hotrodding Festival at the Maggie Valley Festival grounds in Maggie Valley, North Carolina. My buddy and I spent a couple hours on Friday afternoon looking over the hotrods and kustoms that were on the festival grounds. There were many beautiful rides to see. The show would bring over 200 vehicles from 8 states to gather for a fantastic two days. KKoA's festival in Maggie Valley is getting better each year.
We always enjoy walking around the Maggie Valley Festival Grounds when the Southeast Mini Truckin' Nationals rolls into town. The Festival Grounds are a great place to have any show. Parking for spectators can be a bit tight but we arrived early and found a spot. Mini truckers from all over drove Fords, Chevys, Toyotas, and many other truck makes. Many of these laid-out trucks had wild paint jobs, which always makes me smile.
We finally were able to catch the wisteria in bloom at the Biltmore Estate. The azaleas and various other flowers and shrubs in bloom during late April made for a pleasant morning stroll through the gardens.
We saw a sign near the Asheville Regional Airport (AVL) for an Observation Area so we thought we would check it out. If you follow Wright Brothers Way, towards the end on the right-hand side you will see a little pavilion on top of a hill. There is a graveled parking area with a picnic table, a bench, and a trash can. It isn't a clear line of sight to the runways because of trees but you can watch the planes coming and going.
The Depot Street Parking Lot in Asheville, North Carolina is a nice free public lot where you can sit and watch trains at the far end of the Norfolk Southern Asheville West yard limit.
I'm a baker. I can cook but I do much better at baking. Each year I try to make it to the Asheville Bread Festival for inspiration and to try the fantastic assortment of breads that the local bakeries have to offer. We absolutely LOVE this festival, which is now held at the New Belgium Brewery. Go hungry and come home happy!
Biltmore never ceases to amaze us with new offerings. We toured the estate once again to experience "A Vanderbilt House Party." The entire house had new displays featuring reproduction clothing and jewelry from the Vanderbilt's own wardrobe. We sure do get our money's worth with our annual pass.
We took a side trip on our way home from Atlanta to check out the Southeastern Railroad Museum in Duluth, Georgia. This nice little museum is the official transportation museum of Georgia. It has trains, buses, taxis, fire engines, and a bunch of other transportation-related items. You can just wander around the yard, take a ride on the full-sized train or miniature train, or even railfan the adjacent Norfolk Southern line.
We piled into the Jeep for a road trip to the Atlanta Model Train Show at the Cobb Galleria Centre. It's a nice show but a little on the small side. Oh, and parking sucks! We spent less than an hour looking around but did manage to pick up a few tools and supplies. With this show being so far away and just being okay, we will probably skip it in the future.
Peg spent her bonus money this year on getting new engineered wood flooring for the first floor. We had Cook's Carpet and Flooring of Waynesville rip out the old ugly laminate flooring and replace it with Palmetto Road's "Keowee". It's a hand-scrapped birch in three different widths. It took the crew two days to finish but they did a very nice job. We will keep them in mind when we decide to upgrade other parts of the house.
Once again, we attended the WNC Model Train Show held at the WNC Agricultural Center. This is always a great show and usually has something for everyone. There is both train stuff to see and to purchase.
We hopped in the car and set off for the Southern Spring Home and Garden Show in Charlotte, North Carolina. Unfortunately, the show was more "Home" than "Garden" and we didn't stay long. We did a little shopping and enjoyed the Q&A seminar with Laura LeBoutillier of Garden Answer. It is an okay show if you are looking for home renovation ideas but skip it for the gardens.