A vacation without a plan can turn into a great adventure. That's exactly what happened for Julie and me last week.

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I suppose I should start by saying we did have a series of places we wanted to visit. We had planned to visit Biltmore and Andy Griffith's hometown in North Carolina and the Ark Encounter in Kentucky. We hadn't figured on driving to the ocean, but sometimes the water calls.

Our first stop was the Ark Encounter, a life-size Noah's Ark, in Williamstown, Kentucky.

Julie James
Julie James
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Built to the dimensions mentioned in the Bible, the Ark is a gigantic 510 feet long, 85 feet wide, and 51 feet high.

Julie James
Julie James
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This photo is from inside the 7-story ark.

Julie James
Julie James
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In the parking lot that day, we decided we were going to visit the Atlantic Ocean in South Carolina. But first, it was on to Mount Airy, North Carolina. It's the hometown of Andy Griffith and what much of the Andy Griffith Show is patterned after.

Andy Griffith's Hometown

Griffith grew up in Mount Airy, North Carolina. The city has a museum, and a number of businesses that remember his still-popular Andy Griffith Show.

That afternoon, it was on to South Carolina. We began in North Myrtle Beach. From there, it was on to Charleston, and a horse-drawn carriage tour of the historic city.

North Myrtle Beach & Charleston, South Carolina

The beach and plenty of history. Two beautiful places, unique to one another.

And then we were off to Asheville, North Carolina, and the unbelievable Biltmore. I've toured quite a few historic buildings, but nothing compares to this place.

Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina

Built between 1890 and 1895, it's America’s Largest Home®. The home has 250 rooms and 65 fireplaces. There's also a 2-lane bowling alley, a 70,000-gallon indoor pool, a billiards room, and so much more. Commercial photography isn't allowed inside the house, which is still owned by the Vanderbilt family. If you ever get the chance to tour the Biltmore house and gardens, I highly recommend it.

Since commercial photos aren't allowed inside Biltmore, I included the video below so you could see inside. It cost us more than $100 each to tour Biltmore and its gardens. It was worth every penny.

While we were in Asheville, I saw a single line on a website about the Asheville Drum Circle. For some reason, it spurred my interest. I'm glad it did.

The Asheville (NC) Drum Circle is held every Friday evening. Anyone with a drum is welcome to join in. We spent an hour watching. It was a place of pure joy for people from all walks of life.

On the way home, we stopped at a Buc-ees, which an employee told me had been open for about eight weeks. We didn't know it at the time but this Buc-ees, in Sevierville, Tennessee, is the largest convenience store in the world. It's 74,707 square feet. That's the equivalent of 1.71 acres.

I've been in a couple of Buc-ee's before, but none as busy as this one. Honestly, this photo doesn't begin to do justice to how crazy-busy it was inside the store.

Bob James
Bob James
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Not only was the store still hiring, but the wages were so impressive I decided to snap a photo.

Bob James
Bob James
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Right after I took the photo above, a pickup pulled into the parking lot with two women riding in the back. They were singing along to the song blasting on the truck radio. It was "Everything She Ain't" by Hailey Whitters from Shueyville, Iowa. It was a great reminder that it truly is a small world, even on a vacation that covered more than 2,500 miles.

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