Friday, February 10, 2012

Asheville NC - Biltmore Estate and Transvestite Bingo

We planned on meeting my sister and brother-in-law, Terry and Curt Hathaway in Asheville. This was a quick 350 mile jaunt from Harrisonburg for us. Curt and Terry live outside of Charlotte so it was only a 2.5 hour drive for them. We planned on visiting the Biltmore Estate together. When we got to the hotel, I left a message that they should call us when they arrived. We finally got a call, but for some strange reason, they were calling us from the ticket booth of the Biltmore, not from their room in the hotel. How did we screw that up?

Anyway, we met at the Biltmore ticket office. We were too late to take the last shuttle from the parking lot to the mansion, so they let us drive right up next to the door in order to get in on time. Nice. It is quite an impressive mansion. George Vanderbilt, who built it, wanted it to look like an English castle. It has many of the same features as smaller chateaux along the Loire Valley in France. It was completed in 1895 and has rooms for its 30-40 help, the extended Vanderbilt family and numerous guests.

If you take some of the mansions along the shore in Newport and quadruple them then you have the Biltmore Estate. Among the many impressive things are a number of huge paintings of the Vanderbilt family, the estate architect, Richard Morris Hunt, and the landscape artist, Frederick Law Olmstead by John Singer Sargeant and a huge painting of the Mrs. Edith Vanderbilt by Giovanni Boldini. (There are a few smaller Boldini paintings of Paris street scenes in the Clark Museum in Williamstown.)

The grounds, designed by Olmstead, are equally impressive but should be seen when things are in bloom. Although, with this winter, the daffodils were already blooming. It is also lit up during Christmas time like Newport and the French chateaux.

When we got back to the hotel (Rennaisance by Marriott), we passed through the convention area. There were several bars set up and a number of tables that were selling things that looked like little bottles. It turned out that the little bottles were "stampers" for bingo. It was bingo night at the Rennaisance. In fact it was Transvestite Bingo Night at the Rennaissance. We found this out after passing a 6' 5" well built bingo player in a long tight black gown coming out of the elevator. Then we came upon the VIP Transvestite reception on our floor where they explained to us what was going on. Transvestite Bingo til 10pm, followed by a show.

After getting a recommendation for a restaurant, the 4 of us went to dinner after passing once again through the convention area. We thought of eating in the French Bistro recommended by the hotel "concierge" (re: bellhop )but decided on a Mexican restaurant called Salsa. It was great. We all enjoyed everything.... talipia and crab quessadilla, pork rellenos, steak fajitas. The staff and other guests were quite friendly.

On the way back to our room we had to make one more pass at the bingo session

to check out some of the talent

before capping off the night with a glass, ot two, of wine in our room. It was all for a good cause as the night raised money for animal shelters.

Although it was a quick hit and run, we found Asheville to be an eclectic little town. It had its charm and funkiness but it was not unlike a lot of artsy places that still seem to support a seedier side.


  1. Hey, it's good to see that you and Judy are on the road and heading our way. Keep the posts coming! And safe travels.

  2. Had a rough start to the day today but got through it OK. I'll post about it. BTW, check out . I've added some pages of prior work and bragged about a couple of shows.
    See you soon.

  3. Hey, that's some nice new work, Tony! And good job with the shows!