Oh, Asheville. Such a gorgeous, wonderful place. I cannot wait to go back and explore this place more thoroughly!
Before we ever dated, I told David that I’d always wanted to visit the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina, and we had talked about it once… just that one time. He had been before, but I never had. At that point, I had no idea that David was such a good listener! 😀
In March of 2010, David told me he was planning a surprise weekend trip for us, so keep a three-day weekend open in July. He gave vague hints about where we were going on our trip, but I didn’t have any clue. Every once in awhile he’d give me a picture of where we were going–but they were always vague and I still had no idea where this trip would take us. (A random picture of a tree… really??)
On our 6-month anniversary, we took a short day trip to Cincinnati, OH and Newport, KY. On the drive there, David asked if I wanted to know where we were going. I couldn’t decide yes or no (I’m not always the most decisive person)… because I kinda wanted to know, but I kinda wanted it to still be a surprise. So he reached in the backseat of the car and handed me a card with my name on it… all I had to do was open the card to know where we were going. This was absolute torture! After a long debate, I decided not to open it and keep the trip a surprise.
Eight days before our trip (and I still had no clue where we were going), David and I went to his uncle’s funeral. Afterward we went out to eat with his Dad, Aunt Betty, and Uncle Mike. At dinner his dad says, “So are you still going to Biltmore?”
I remember thinking Oh no! and I looked down into my lap. I couldn’t even bring myself to look at David, I just knew he would not have been happy that his dad let the cat out of the bag! So I pretended I didn’t hear Andy say anything. David then said, “What?” I just couldn’t look up. So Andy repeated himself.
“Are you still going to Biltmore?”
Oh holy crap. No pretending I didn’t hear it that time! So David looked at me and said, “Surprise!”
David might not have been happy that his dad let the cat out of the bag, but I thought it was perfect. I didn’t have to open the card, and David didn’t have to tell me! I was too overjoyed to be heading to Asheville to finally see Biltmore, especially with great company! 😉 When I got home that night, I opened the card that I had safely tucked away, and in it were pictures of the actual Estate. The note he wrote was beautiful, and I cried happy tears. I still have it, tucked away somewhere for safekeeping.
There seems to be something about me and vacations that just don’t seem to click. It always seems like the the week before a vacation is especially tough and frustrating. The day before we were to leave, I had made three useless trips from home into Louisville and back (about an hour, one-way)… once to go into work, just to leave to go all the way home to grab an extra copy of some paperwork, all the way back to find that my boss had left for the day and I could go home, just to drive all the way back in for class that night to find out that class was canceled once I got into the classroom. I was not a happy camper that day. I desperately needed that vacation after all of the stress, and I inadvertently ruined part of David’s plans (I’m still sorry about that, honey!)
The morning we were to leave, I thought it was odd how my parents treated David. Mom had given him a big hug and called him “son”, and something just seemed to be up with Dad as well. David had already taken me to pick out an engagement ring a couple of months prior to this trip, but I seriously had no clue what was about to happen on this trip. I had figured the proposal would come sometime between my birthday in late October and Christmas.
So on Sunday, July 18th, we toured the Biltmore Estate. This house is absolutely amazing! I love the architecture and the history behind Biltmore and the Vanderbilt family. After the tour we went hiking through the Gardens and Conservatory and all the way out to Bass Lake. On our way back to the Estate, we climbed the wall at the far end of the Estate and followed the trail up to the statue of Diana that overlooks the whole Estate with a backdrop of the mountains. As I was taking pictures, I thought to myself, If he doesn’t propose here, he really missed a great opportunity!
It was then that he took my camera and set it down and asked if this trip could have been any better. I said no. He asked, are you sure? I said yes, I’m sure. He then said we should come back to Biltmore someday… maybe as a wedding anniversary trip. I turned to him, and he hugged and kissed me, and whispered in my ear, “Will you marry me?” And of course I said YES! Then he took the gorgeous ring out of his pocket and slipped it on my finger. (All this time, he claimed he had his camera in his pocket… I couldn’t even tell. And he never took this supposed camera out of his pocket either… Guess I just wasn’t very observant that day!) And at that moment, it started to rain… and it was beautiful and perfect, and I never imagined that someone would actually go to that much trouble to plan a trip for me, let alone an engagement trip!
When we arrived home, everyone was all hugs & kisses & excitement. My mother claims that she knew “we were getting a ring” right after David sold one of his bikes. (How do parents just know these things?!?)
So yes, Asheville holds a very special place in my heart. We brought back two bottles of Biltmore wine that were exquisite, and we incorporated a touch of Biltmore into our wedding day, with a sheet cake frosted to look like the above photograph of the Estate, and Biltmore wine glasses instead of champagne glasses for the toast. (I’m a sucker for a good story!) Someday I would love to get a year’s pass to Biltmore so we could visit during all of the special seasonal ceremonies they host (I’m most excited about Christmas at Biltmore!). And maybe, just maybe…. a babymoon in the not-too-distant future!