Laura and I are in Asheville, NC for a few days, while her mom and stepdad watch the kids. Apparently that’s going pretty well, the kids have reportedly been “little angels.”
Today we went to the Biltmore and toured the house and gardens. As a residence, it’s ludicrously opulent of course. It was cool seeing the servants’ areas and imagining all the bustling it must’ve taken to operate everything. Resetting the bowling pins for the family and guests had to be one of the more humbling tasks, I imagine. And I can’t imagine trying to cook for fifty or more people on a coal-burning stove.
Looking at all the luxury through modern eyes, it’s easy to feel judgmental. I do think this level of indulgence is excessive and selfish. But back then it was admired and celebrated even more widely than it is today. Granted, the estate has certainly stimulated the local economy, and the family was charitable beyond that. But my admiration was tainted as I looked around. It would be harder to achieve this place today, I think. I wonder how long it’ll be before we see a private residence to equal it. With the story of Michael Jackson’s death all over the television right now, I found myself wondering if his Neverland Ranch will still exist a hundred years from now.
We shuffled through the house with a river of people, but the gardens were comparatively empty, in spite of the gorgeous weather. The place is really vast. We’re going back tomorrow to see the winery and have dinner at the bistro there, after a morning of biking in the mountains. I would write more about today, but it’s bedtime now.