Push Away the Screen: Biltmore Bonding on Bikes

This is part three of a three part series. You can read part 1 here, and part 2 here.

 

During our hike throughout the Biltmore Estate we saw miles and miles of bike paths. James and I were so excited to get out there and cycle, but we were nervous about the kids. Why? Hills. Living in Florida we don't cycle over any hills. And some of these hills were saw on the Biltmore Estate were actually more like mountains and I was scared of the kids going down those!! We've done overpasses here in the Sunshine State and they do okay with those, but it's been a while since we've done one, and Ronin has been stopping his bike with his feet (like Fred Flintstone) and not his brakes, so I was sort of freaking out about his careening down a mountainside on his bike!

The Biltmore Estate offers a TON of outdoor activities. From bike riding, to horseback riding, to kayaking, to skeet shooting, and fly fishing, there is something for everyone!! Because of the odd number of people in our family, and the age of our children, we were limited to only biking, which really is fine with us, because that's all we really wanted to do!

We arrived at the "bike barn" and checked in . I had made a reservation, so they were expecting us. The staff was excellent, making sure that each of us was properly fitted on our bikes, that our helmets were nice and secure, and they had each of the kids take a test lap through the barn to demonstrate that they knew how to brake properly and mount/dismount the bike. Ronin did a great job with his hand brake.

Ella was SO EXCITED to be able to choose a bike with GEARS!! She has been wanting a "gear bike" for quite a while and we thought this would be a good opportunity for her to try it out! Haley refused to give it a try, and stuck with a simple bike.

It took her a few tries to get it just right, and they had to adjust the seat a few times as well, but soon we were ready!

They also gave us step by step directions where we should cycle to avoid getting in to terrain that would be too challenging for the children, and gave us a hand map as well! We brought our own water (they let me know in advance we'd need this!!) and off we went! We were instructed to stay on the green marked path, though we thought we might be able to handle some of the light blue path as well, and would take it on a trail by trail basis! We had 2 hours to explore, so off we went!!

I quickly went to the head of the pack, and watched as James and the trio made their way to me. Why did I go so far up ahead?? Why, to test the terrain of course! I wanted to make sure that there was nothing too challenging or dangerous for my gang, James included! He was riding a bike that he wasn't familiar with and despite my recommendation that he chose a DIFFERENT bike, he didn't listen to me. More on that later Tongue Out

 

Ella was having a grand ole' time changing out her gears!

There were a couple of tricky spots, not with terrain but with having to cross the road! So I'm glad I went first!! Typically when we ride as a family, we are on designated "NO CAR" bike paths, we don't have to cross roads, we just bike. On this path, we had to cross the main Biltmore Estate road, and traffic was quite busy because they were having a motorcycle festival on property, and the bikes were driving pretty fast, and in large packs. Thankfully I was able to get to the stop sign first, get in to the road, and pretty much stop traffic to allow my gang to pass. Then we were back on the paved bike trail and off exploring the property!

As we crossed over this bridge, we came across a bunch of geese just cruising along!! We had 2 loaves of bread back in our room that we knew we weren't going to eat, so we had a discussion about going back to our room after we returned the bikes, picking up the bread and heading back down to feed the ducks! The kids were excited about that. Off we went again on our ride!!

We made it to the end of the green trail really quickly! The blue trail took us right in front of the motorcycle camp, so we decided to head back and see what we could find the other direction!

But first we stopped at the geese again for a water break!

James and I even managed to talk one of the kids in to taking our picture together!

It was at this stop that James mentioned how uncomfortable he was on his bike. Really?? Really?? After I told you to pick something else?? This is where I did my "I told you so, honey" talk. We knew we'd be passing close to the bike barn again, so he decided at that point that he would go and trade his bike in for the one I recommended. This made him very happy.

We took a different path towards the bike barn, and came across the Biltmore Farm! The kids and I stayed here while James rode up to change in his bike.

The kids were in love with this cute little donkey. We was very friendly and just stayed at the gate and let the trio pet him!

James came back quickly and off we went!! We decided to head "off-road" since we all had "fat tire" bikes.

 

I let the family get in front of me, and then they all slowed down, so I took the lead again, and off I went. I was just pedaling along  dodging big rocks, and  low limbs, when suddenly I realized that it was VERY quite. I slowed down, dismounted my bike and realized that NO ONE was with me. Oops. I went to fast and left them all behind. I back-tracked found James and the kids, and the kids were all upset and crying Undecided the off-road path was too hard for them. Their little legs just weren't strong enough to pedal through the rough terrain. Poor guys. I felt so bad for going so far ahead, and I felt a little guilty because I was having so much fun while they were crying. Bad mama. Oops. Tears turned to smiles though as James and I reminded them that we were going to feed the geese after our ride!!

Our 2 hours was nearly up, so we decided to head back to the bike barn! Our return trip took us up a very steep hill. So steep that I had to get off my bike and walk up. The kids walked their bikes up, too. But James...not James! He made it up on his bike! GO JAMES!!

We had a great time biking at Biltmore and I really hope that we can go back one day when the kids are older and do more mountain biking because that was a lot of fun for the short time I got to experience it! I made Ella pose with me for a "bike ride over" photo. She was not amused.

Next up! Geese!!

We went back to our room, grabbed the bread and headed back to the lake. We drove our car since it was getting near twilight and I didn't want to be walking around in an unknown place in the dark. We called the geese over, and some started to come as did some cute little ducks.

But it didn't take long for the whole gang of geese to make their way over to the food!

2 loaves of bread went quickly!

 

The kids loved feeding the geese!! It was cute to watch and there were some goslings (too bad no Ryan!!) in the mix too and the trio kept trying to make sure that they were getting their bread pieces close to those cute babes!

When our bread was out, the geese wanted more and came up on land to see what else we could offer!!

We got in to our truck to head back to the Inn. We had to drive out and back to get to the main road and by the time we got there, this was waiting for us!

Hundreds of geese were foraging on both sides of the road!! I have never seen so many geese in one spot, at one time before!! It was pretty cool!

Overall, our 2 full days at the Biltmore was AMAZING!! We created some great family memories, and it certainly gave me the taste for some more family adventures!! I can't wait to go back when the kids are older and perhaps really bike those amazing mountain trails. I'll have to be sure to work on some hills climbs so I don't have to walk my bike!

 

What's the best family vacation you've taken with your kids?? Do you take active vacations, or do you go to try to relax?

Push Away the Screen: Biltmore Bonding Day 1

Our family took the opportunity to Push Away the Screen and spent a few days bonding at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. We stayed right on the Biltmore property at the Inn at Biltmore Estate. We did so much while we were there that I am going to post this in multiple segments so I don't leave anything out!

We did our research before arriving at the Estate, but we were still unprepared for the grandeur and VIP treatment that awaited us!

When we arrived there was a long line of cars turning in to the visitors center to buy tickets, and then line of cars waiting their turn to get on the property. This line went quickly, and at the guard gate we gave the guard our name and he presented us with this:

We felt so special with our monogrammed parking pass and Vanderbilt sticker! We drove up to the Inn twisting and turning through the steep (well to a Floridian they are steep) mountain hills and this is what suddenly appeared in our sight! It was even more beautiful than I imagined and it took my breath away! We parked and went to see if our room was ready since we had arrived a few hours early. Our room was not ready, but we still had all access to all the Inn facilities so we headed off to the pool! Every where that we went Biltmore employees said "hello, good afternoon" and opened doors for us. It was so nice.

The pool was beautiful and we were the ONLY ones there!! It was a beautiful afternoon so I think all the other guests were probably out enjoying the gardens, the winery, or touring the estate!

Ella and Ronin were jumping in and out of the pool looking at all the cool insects that were buzzing about!

Our room was scheduled to be ready by 4pm, but the front desk called me just a few minutes before 2pm to let me know that it was ready. Upon check-in I asked if an upgrade was possible, but I was told that we were in the best possible room for our party of 5; A large end unit with lots of privacy.

And it was large! We had 2 queen beds, and a full size twin for Ronin. Plus THREE sitting areas and more than enough chairs. The only thing the room was lacking was a fridge. But we travel with a cooler, and our room was right next to the ice machine room, so really it wasn't that big of a deal.

And our view...oh our view was amazing!! At night we could totally see Downtown Asheville all light up in lights! Beautiful!

Ronin was just fascinated by the windows. They actually opened and had screens! It was so nice! We didn't even need the AC because the weather was so perfect while we were there! We just opened up the windows and had Nature's AC!

We had a quick bite to eat from our cooler, and then decided we would go and check out Antler Hill Village.Because I believe in walking when you can, I refused to allow our family to take the Biltmore shuttle down to Antler Hill Village, so we followed the very nice paved walking path from the Inn to the Village.

 About half way down the path, I turned back and this was my view! It was breathtaking!

Ronin led the way and we eventually made it to the Winery. He misread some signs, but that's part of the adventure, right? No worries, we had plenty of time and leading the family made him feel important. I knew we were going the wrong way, but it's all part of the learning process.

Who knew that part of a wine cask was called a bung hole?? I chuckled out loud at that one!

And they had a wine library!! You can take the girl out of the library, but never the library out of the girl!

We were able to sample every wine that Biltmore offers! I am a white/rose wine drinker, while James prefers reds. And they had grape juice for the kids! The girls sipped their juice, while Ronin chugged his and kept asking for "more, please. More, please." At least he had good manners, and then I kid you not...he passed out. I think all the late nights, and excitement from being on vacation caught up with him.

It was actually really nice for James and I. Because Ronin was sleeping, the girls entertained themselves by drawing and taking photos and James and I were able to enjoy the wine tasting. And Ella enjoyed photo bombing every picture Haley took of us. Tongue Out

After we finished the tasting we each decided on a flavor (is that what you call it???) that we wanted to buy to bring home. James went off to buy them, and this is what I got to do. That's right. I got to carry 65 pounds of dead weight through the Antler Hill Village. Thank goodness for CrossFit.

After 30 minutes or so of this, I just couldn't carry him anymore, so I had to wake him up and we found the kids playground!! It was beautiful and the trio got to play in sand, water, and rocks, while James and I enjoyed some more adult beverages.

Can you guess which one is mine?

We had a few beers, the kids played, ate some french fries at Cedric's Tavern, and then we decided to head back up to our room! This time we did take the Biltmore shuttle back up to the Inn but only because James was carrying many bottles of wine. Tongue Out

We got back to the room, dropped the wine off and then returned to the Village to explore the Farm!! They had the most adorable baby goats!!

This goat loved to nibble on the kids!

And farm equipment that you could climb on!

And it was so nice to see my trio getting along!

After the farm went out to dinner to a local burger joint where I had a bottle of ketchup explode all over me and ruin my 2013 Gasparilla 1/2 Marathon shirt. Yell

Then we came back to the room, went swimming, dried off, and then went down to the game room where we ended the night with a family night of Wii and Xbox playing! We played Just Dance and drank wine and juice and it was lovely. We closed the game room down at 11:10pm, headed back to the room and had a very nice nights sleep.

The End of Day 1.