Letterlyn by Evelyn Cunningham
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Letterlyn Blog

The Traveling Calligrapher: When Two Worlds Collide - Overland Expo at the Biltmore

My East Coast wedding friends know the Biltmore Estate for its beauty and extravagance as an event or portrait location. I had always wanted to visit the estate and gardens of the youngest Vanderbuilt son. In fact, my mother-in-law had suggested the area as a honeymoon location. And, my mom was very jealous that I got to go.

I never would have suspected that camping out of the Jeep for 4 days would be my first visit to the Biltmore - not some posh vacation. But, there I was, gazing at the entrance gate to the estate in a jeep loaded up with 15 gallons of potable water, 10 of fuel, a rooftop tent, hiking boots, work gloves, and the knowledge that I wouldn't be showering for a good, long while. Overland Expo East, I was so ready for you.

Thursday, we set up camp and toured the Biltmore. Never had my two worlds - weddings and overlanding/camping collided in such a wonderful way. The home was beautiful, if not a little too extravagant. But, I had a definite nerd moment when I saw the most beautiful ink-stand on the writing desk. I gushed about it to an employee who "never noticed." Calligraphy nerd problems, I guess.

We went to the conservatory, which was a real treat. And, though the gardens were mostly out of season, I enjoyed the long walk around. I even spotted some bridal-portrait action happening. We ate a delicious last non-camp meal at the carriage house. Which was actually the stables turned shops and restaurant. The vegetarian BBQ was amazing.

Fast forward to Thursday evening, we're back at the Jeep, hanging out around the campfire. No open flames or charcoal allowed, so we had a propane fire pit instead. Friday, Saturday and Sunday were a blur of dirt and cars. I met the first woman to represent the US in the Camel Trophy, Daphne Greene, and she taught me all about winching, 4wd systems, and manual transmissions. (In case you don't know, the Camel trophy was essentially the off-road vehicle Olympics) I met so many other inspiring and knowledgeable people. Dakota and I renewed our wanderlust bug when we met couples who were traveling the world together.

I didn't really want to leave. But, the rest of the world called us back.

On the road to Asheville for Overland Expo

On the road to Asheville for Overland Expo

The Biltmore's winter garden

The Biltmore's winter garden

Outside the biltmore

Outside the biltmore

And the glamor ends: so many off road vehicles camping in one place! 

And the glamor ends: so many off road vehicles camping in one place! 

Recovery fun with Camel Trophy vehicles. 

Recovery fun with Camel Trophy vehicles.