July 15 and 16 - The Biltmore and Atlanta (Jerry reporting - hence no pictures until Beverly adds them)
We left Pigeon Forge on July 15 and headed east into North Carolina. We drove to Asheville, where the Vanderbilt family constructed the largest home in the USA, the Biltmore. It cost a mere $120 for us to see it,and that was with the kids getting in for free! There is something ironic about descendants of poor people paying decedents of rich people to see the family house. In any case it is some house! Over 250 rooms, some of them enormous in size. The main dining area had a table that could seat thirty and had a ceiling that was seven stories high! The house could have a
hundred staying guests in it for gatherings last could last up to a week. Besides the usual gardens, stables, etc., it also had a heated indoor pool and bowling alleys. Not bad for a house completed in 1895. No air conditioning, though, so it felt a bit hot at times. As for us taking pictures, the rule
was no indoor photography, but they were willing to take a family photo of us and sell it to us for $25. The Vanderbilt descendants must be a bit hard up.
We arrived in the evening in Atlanta. Apparently it is a busy season there, because a hotel room on a Thursday night was difficult to find. This morning we ate bagels at a place called Einstein Brothers. It was very busy. We then headed off to the Carter Presidential Library. It was Beverly and Jerry's third presidential library, after Kennedy a
nd Truman. All those people filling the hotels weren't there to see the Carter library because it was fairly empty. We learned about Carter's life growing up, his presidential years, and all the work he has done since his "involuntary retirement" (his words). We knew about his work on fair elections, peace, and housing for poor people, but we didn't know his work to eradicate diseases in tropical countries. His efforts to eradicate Guinea worms in Africa is quite impressive.
We drove downtown and toured the CNN Center near Centennial Park, where the 1996 Olympics was held. We enjoyed the CNN tour. Brooke got to read from the teleprompter and did a great job. We walked over to a Coca Cola exhibition building beside the park and paid to enjoy the Coca Cola experience. Security was much tighter there than at the Carter Library, where it was non existent. We saw a 4D movie and
drank samples of Coke products from around the world. The most famous one that we were encourag
ed to drink (by the tour guide at CNN) was "the Beverly". We tried it.
Beverly said the Beverly wasn't terrible.
We took a cab ride back to the parking garage with the last $14 in cash we had, then drove to see the famous Atlanta Underground. Well, we saw it and were underwhelmed. It is a few of the old streets at the old street level, now underground. Besides that interesting fact it's basically the Fredericktowne Mall. We didn't stay long.
After fleeing the underground we drove north out of Atlanta towards the Tennessee line, where we spent the night. Our plan on the 17th is to go to Nashville then drive towards Memphis.