Push Away the Screen: Biltmore Bonding Day 2 10 July 2013 jennifer Jenny This is part 2 of a 3 part series. You can read part 1 HERE After our fun first day at the Biltmore, I couldn't wait to get up and explore the property!! But after too much wine the night before, James was moving S.L.O.W. so I took the kids off property and out to breakfast and brought him something back. By the time we got back, he was up showered, and ready for the day! We decided that we would go and tour the amazing Vanderbilt home: The Biltmore Estate. I should have realized we were in for a crowd when we had to park FAR away and take a pretty long shuttle ride up to the house. Not only that, but we had to wait in line for the shuttle and didn't make it on the first one. Oops. Already James and Ronin were grumbling under their breath about the amount of people there. I told them to suck it up, and off we went. The girls thought the outside of the house was so cool, but just couldn't understand why one family needed something so large. They were especially impressed by the lion statues around the house. Our tickets also came with a self-guided audio tour, so we picked up our headsets, we grabbed a kids scavenger hunt sheet and off we went to tour the house. And then we stopped. Lines. LONG LINES! We felt like we were at Disney. It was THAT crowded. My autistic son and his daddy don't do lines very well. Ronin doesn't have the patience, and James has a bad back and can't stand without moving, and folks we weren't going anywhere!! We made it through 2 rooms when we just hit a wall of people. I looked at James, the kids, and I said, "that's it, we're cutting our loses now, let's get out of here." And just like that an executive decision was made, and we politely said "excuse me, excuse me, excuse me" to the hundreds of people in front of us, dropped off our headsets, and high-tailed it out of the house. As soon as we hit the fresh air, I heard a collective sigh of relief. Our family are such outdoor nature buffs, and that is where we really enjoy spending most of our time. It was 11am, I had packed my backpack full of water and snacks (a mom of Irish Triplets is ALWAYS prepared) and we had the entire day to explore! James and I decided we'd let Ronin be our navigator so he took the map and off we went!! He had his compass set to find the Bass Pond and nothing would stop him. Except tadpoles. My kids L.O.V.E. exploring and this trip gave them plenty of opportunities. Just days earlier we went to a series of beautiful waterfalls in DuPont State Forest and my kids found tadpoles in the water puddles. Eh, whatever. Kids will be kids and they had a blast! But again, we are on a mission to find the Bass Pond!! Through the beautiful gardens we went! And we stopped to look at a lot of really cool things. Like this Cypress tree. I had never seen so many knees with only one tree!! Ronin was ahead of us and kept saying "come on guys, let's get to the Bass Pond, LET'S HUSTLE." Hehe...he gets LET'S HUSTLE from me. But Haley had other ideas. She found this cute little waterfall that she said must be a fairy waterfall. So sweet. Finally we made it to the Bass Pond!! And they had a nice bench there, so James sat to reflect. But Ronin wouldn't let us sit still for long because there was a WATERFALL up ahead at the other end of the Bass Pond and he had to find it NOW!! But again, the girls had other ideas. Not sure why this one picture is so small, but this was the biggest stump we'd ever seen. The girls tried to count the rings, but Ronin was can you guess? Yes, he was in a hurry!! We found it and it was a pretty steep drop down! By this time we were starting to get hungry for some real food and we still had to hike back to the house. Decision time. Do we go back the way we came, or do we take the challenge and go through some wooded trails. What do you think we did? Of course, we went for the challenge. Up and down mountains we went, but not a complaint was heard. It was beautiful. It was quiet. And best of all? THERE WERE NO PEOPLE on the trail!! All together we spent about 4 1/2 hours exploring the grounds and along the way we saw trails marked for bikes. We decided that our next adventure would be to go to the bike barn and rent bikes. But first, we needed food!! We took the shuttle back to the car, went to Moe's for lunch, headed back to our room to refill our water and we were back out to explore! Part 3 of this series will detail our adventures on the Biltmore bike paths!! Good times! Does your family enjoy exploring nature?