Of course, I could not come all the way to North Carolina without stopping to see Linden Doescher, who moved to Asheville with her late husband, Eric Doescher, in 2009. The Doeschers were our program folding experts in those days before the Lutheran Church of Honolulu got a color copier, and before it had the capability of making booklets. Eric not only took the camera-ready copy to Aiea Copy where the booklets were produced, he and Linden collated and folded by hand all the liturgical booklets, as well as the concert and special service programs.
Besides, I had heard so much about the Biltmore Estate in Asheville that I was looking forward to driving the 238 miles from Raleigh, where I landed from Amsterdam.
After eating breakfast, Linden and I went to the Biltmore ticket office where I parked my car. The two of us continued in her car to the 250-room house, with its 35 bedrooms and 43 bathrooms (none of which can be used by visitors! The house was built between 1889-1895 for George Washington Vanderbilt and is the largest private home in the United States, with 178,926 square feet (16,622.8 m2) of floor space (135,280 square feet (12,568 m2) of living area). A million trees were planted in the surrounding 8,000 acres designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted.
There was a current exhibition of costumes from the movie, Titanic, as would have been worn by George and Edith Vanderbilt and other wealthy passengers on the ill-fated ship.
Linden pointed out the pipe organ in the dining room, so I asked one of the docents for more information. Although Mr. Vanderbilt had planned to put an organ in, the present instrument came later. It is a two manual, 16 rank 30 stop E.M. Skinner with façade pipes by Hutchings from 1899.
After we toured the house and shops, I decided we should go to the creamery for ice cream even though it was pouring rain. We started to return to Linden’s car when I tried to feel for my car keys where I had put them in my pocket. As we neared her car I saw a bunch of keys underneath the right rear wheel—they were my rental car keys which I apparently had dropped several hours before! A huge crisis had been averted! If someone had picked up those keys I would have hoped they would have turned them in to the estate personnel. Boy, I REALLY would have been in trouble if I had lost those car keys! Then I REALLY would have been Catastrophic Kathy!
What I enjoyed the most, though, was my hotel, the Residences at Biltmore, by far the most spacious hotel room I have EVER stayed in all over the world—and was more like a private apartment at the price of a regular hotel room. It had a complete kitchen including a range, microwave oven, full size refrigerator, and even a washer dryer. You could have fit 4 people in the walk-in shower easily, and there was even a fireplace!
It took me almost five hours to drive through the fog and driving rain back to Raleigh, but I just took my time in order to be safe. Home tomorrow!