Spring in the Carolinas – Gaffney, Asheville, and Cherokee: March 16 to March 26, 2016

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After leaving Charleston, we continued to make our way up north towards home. We enjoyed the sights along the way – especially the colors of spring that seemed like such a change after the tropical climate of Florida. I’ve always wanted to see the Biltmore Estate in Asheville and Roy heard that Cherokee was a fishing haven so we were looking forward to traveling through North Carolina. However, before we could leave South Carolina, we had to make a visit to Gaffney for our annual service appointment with Freightliner Chasis. During the first year of a motor home’s life it is supposed to be serviced at six months and then at one year. We had been in Gaffney in October for the half year check-up so we knew a few places to spend the time while our coach was being worked on.

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The Peachoid is actually a water tower and was designed to celebrate the surrounding county’s huge peach farming industry. It became nationally known when it was featured in an episode of House of Cards where it became part of a political battle in main character Frank Underwood’s hometown of Gaffney.  I found it a cheerful sight because it sits on Interstate 85 right by the Gaffney Premium Outlets . I was surprised a small town had such a nice outlet mall with several high end type stores. I took advantage of a great deal at Ann Taylor: buy one dress, get one free.

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There are two parks worth checking out while a coach is being worked on at Freightliner.  Cowpens National Battlefield Park is close by. It has well marked trails and museum that explains the history of the Battle of Cowpens in the Revolutionary War.  Croft State Park is in nearby Spartanburg.  It is a bit of a drive, but it has a pretty lake, several hiking trails, and Equestrian facilities.

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When you come to Freightliner, there are parking spaces for the motor homes that have service appointments and most people spend the night in their RVs. Only electricity is provided for each site though; there is potable water and a dumping station at the entrance to the parking lot. Since we were away from our coach during the day and didn’t want to use up all the fresh water in our tank a night, we checked out the local restaurants. There were three we were impressed with.

The photo above is from Daddy Joe’s Beach House BBQ & Grill. It’s number one on Trip Advisor. I liked it because they let Vanilla sit under our table while we ate outside on the patio. We gave it a thumbs up. They have an interesting barbecue coleslaw and a tangy Carolina style sauce.

Our favorite restaurant is the Carolina Cafe. It’s out in the country, away from town. It was crowded and there was a small wait, but the food was delicious.  A great place to go for dinner.

Aegean Pizza  makes a mean pizza pie and a good Greek salad.

After leaving Gaffney, we headed to Ashville, North Carolina.

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During our time in Asheville, we were pleasantly surprised to see how vibrate the area was. It looked like the restaurant scene was hopping. We wandered around the shops in the downtown area and they were bustling. The vibe at the RV park we stayed at, Bear Creek Campgound, was not as upbeat. Apparently the lady who founded the park had passed on a couple years back and they had huge “in memorial” pictures of her hanging in at least two spots. The park was carved into a hill and it was evident a few people lived there full time. Someone close by to us never picked up after their dog, and it was a challenge to find a clean area to walk Vanilla to.  Luckily our main objective was to see the Biltmore Estate, so we didn’t hang around very long.

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The house was built by George Washington Vanderbilt II and was finished in 1895. It is still owned by his descendants as their family business and at least part of the house has been open to the public since 1930. There are shops, restaurants, hotels, and even a winery on the property. A $60.00 ticket will allow you to self tour the house and gardens . The audio tour costs extra money, but I think it is well worth it. We also sprang for a guided tour called “Upstairs Downstairs” that showed extra rooms. Visitors can also go to Antler Village where there is more shopping, dining, a playground, and the winery.

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We took one day to go through the house and another day just for the gardens.

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I loved the conservatory (just like the game Clue!). It was amazingly huge with room after room of exotic flowers and plants. Notice Roy in the bottom left of the collage above. He looks just like piglet using a leaf for an umbrella!

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The gardens were wonderful. It struck me that this really wasn’t a family home but rather a hotel for extended relatives and friends. Today it takes 2,000 employees to maintain it and open it up to visitors.

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Several movies have been filmed here. We thought this view might be where Peter Sellers walked into the pond at the end of “Being There”. Roy called Biltmore a “river of cash” for the family – it did seem like they understood merchandising and were very good at creating opportunities for visitors to spend money! I really enjoyed the experience and it was definitely worth going!

After the manicured gardens and opulent furnishings of Biltmore, we headed to Cherokee for a more natural kind of beauty.

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When people strike up a conversation with someone in an RV park, the topic generally centers around great places to travel to. During a conversation last fall someone recommended Cherokee KOA . They were right – it was a very nice campground.

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One thing that makes this park so special is besides having views of the Smokey Mountains from every angle, it is bordered on all sides by streams full of trout. These “ponds” are owned by the Cherokee Tribe and the required fishing license  can be purchased in the KOA office. We got there on a Wednesday, just before opening day for the fishing season on Saturday. It’s hard to see in the photo above, but notice all the fishing lures caught on the wires.

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Each year there is an Opening Day Fishing Tournament with prize money for the biggest catch. On the day before the event, it was interesting to see trucks with tanks dumping trout into the ponds. There were officials hanging around to make sure no one starting fishing too early.

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This park had sparkling bathhouses and laundry facilities. There was also an air conditioned pet kennel. Besides campsites it had tons of cabins ranging from basic primitive ones all the way to spacious accommodations for a large family. What I really liked was the heated indoor pool.

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We enjoyed being at this campground so much, we didn’t even venture into the town. The people at the site next door to us came specifically for the Harrah’s Casino. The Museum of the Cherokee Indian looked worthwhile and I believe there are other museums and a visitors center as well. It’s a place we’d like to come back to and spend more time at, but after three months of being on the road, we were ready to get home!

Just for fun, here are some links to some other Yates social media sites:

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