|Hi everyone: Well we left Santee SC and headed North and West through Columbia SC and Charlotte NC heading for Virginia. We took Rte 81 to 77 then West into West Virginia. We quickly found out that this area is not very friendly to motor homers like us. Navigating the mountain roads was tough enough on the highways but the local scenic roads were truly a nightmare. They were narrow and windy with little or no shoulder - no room for error. The roads were not the only problem for us. The nearest facility to White Sulphur Springs was over 15 miles away on local roads and 30 on the highway. We finally settled in to the Greenbrier River Resort just in time to avoiding some late day T-storms. They called it a Five Star Resort but we gave a Three at best. The next day the weather was "iffy" so we stayed around and settled for a swim, early dinner and some rest. We had just traveled close to 1,000 miles in three days and needed a break. That night we got to have a bottle of my "birthday wine" - thanks to all! After the extrmely tiring drive, we really hoped that "we had not made a mistake" in coming here but today all our fears were for naught. The day was beautiful with 60 degree wake up temps and clear blue skies. Our first look and subsequent tour of The Greenbrier made the trip so far more than worth while. This place is SPECTACULAR!!! The story of The Greenbrier begins at the sulphur water spring that remains the center of the resort property. It issues forth below the green dome of the white-columned Spring house that serves as The Greenbrier's symbol. Since 1778, people have come to "take the waters" to restore their health. In the 19the century, visitors drank and bathed in the sulphur water to cure everything from rheumatism to an upset stomach. Because of the water's draw, the resort was known as White Sulphur Springs. Due to its isolated location-along what was then the nation's western frontier-development proceeded slowly until settlers carved a viable stagecoach route through the densely forested mountains. In the 1830s the resort entered its first period of prominence as politicians, judges, editors, lawyers, diplomats, ministers, planters and merchants-primarily from the southern states-annually congregated at the "village in the wilderness". They did so only in the summer months because the 2,000 foot elevation offered relief from the heat and humidity down in the lowlands. The resort originally consisted only of cottages and many-for example, Paradise Row, Alabama Row, and Baltimore Row-still stand today. Perhaps the most historic is the Presidents' Cottage Museum. Before the Civil War, five sitting presidents stayed there demonstrating the resort's reputation as the favored gathering place for the nation's most influential and powerful families. The resort closed during the Civil War. During that conflict, both sides occupied the grounds using the hotel either as a hospital or military headquarters. Shortly after the war's end, it reopened and the resort's prospects were incalculably improved with the completion of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway. For the next one hundred years, White Sulphur Springs was one of the classic railroad resorts in North America. During that period trains brought visitors from New York, Washington, Richmond, Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland and scores of points in between. In September 1942 the U.S. Army purchased The Greenbrier estate, converted the hotel into a two thousand-bed hospital and renamed the facility Ashford General Hospital. In four years 24,148 soldiers were admitted and treated, as the resort was used as a surgical and rehabilitation center. Soldiers were encouraged to use the resort's entire range of sports and recreation facilities as part of their recuperation process. The Chesapeake and Ohio Railway reacquired the property from the government in 1946. The company immediately commissioned a comprehensive interior redecoration by the noted designer Dorothy Draper. The origin of The Greenbrier's distinctive décor goes back to this much-publicized redecoration, at a period when Dorothy Draper was at the peak of her fame. As Architectural Digest described her, she was "a true artist of the design world [who] became a celebrity in the modern sense of the word, virtually creating the image of the decorator in the popular mind." She remained the resort's decorator into the 1960s. Upon her retirement, her protégé Carleton Varney purchased the firm and he continues today as The Greenbrier's decorating consultant. When The Greenbrier reopened in 1948, Sam Snead returned as golf pro to the resort where his career had begun in the late 1930s. For two decades he traveled the globe at the pinnacle of his lengthy career. More than any other individual Sam Snead established The Greenbrier's reputation as one of the world's foremost golf destinations. In later years, he was named Golf Pro Emeritus, a position he held until his death on May 23, 2002. In the late 1950s, the U.S. government once again approached The Greenbrier for assistance, this time in the construction of an Emergency Relocation Center-a bunker or bomb shelter-to be occupied by the U.S. Congress in case of war. The classified underground facility was built in conjunction with an above ground addition to the hotel, the West Virginia Wing, between 1959 and 1962. For thirty years the facility codenamed Project Greek Island was maintained at a constant state of operational readiness. At any point during those years, one telephone call from officials in Washington, D. C. fearing an imminent attack on the capital would have turned the lavish resort into an active participant in the national defense system. At the end of the Cold War, and prompted by exposure in the press in 1992, the project was terminated and the bunker decommissioned. In a surprise announcement on May 7, 2009, Jim Justice-a West Virginia entrepreneur with a long-standing appreciation for The Greenbrier-became the owner of America's most fabled resort. He purchased it from the CSX Corporation which, through its predecessor companies the Chessie System and the C&O Railway, had owned the resort for ninety-nine years. Mr. Justice turned his considerable energies into plans to revitalize America's Resort. He immediately presented his vision of a casino like no other, one that would include shops, restaurants and entertainment in a smoke-free environment. Construction began in August 2009, and Carleton Varney was commissioned to extend the legendary "High Style of Dorothy Draper" throughout the new entertainment venue. Casino Club at The Greenbrier opened in grand fashion on July 2, 2010. Justice plans to initiate a private luxury railway train from Washington DC to the property. It currently has its own AMTRAC Railway Station that is fully operational. This is what we got to see today. The facility sits on over 6800 acres in a valley between two beautiful mountains. It has over 710 rooms, including 33 suites and 96 guest cottages and estate houses. The Greenbrier has 10 lobbies, 40+ meeting rooms and a complete conference center facility. It offers swimming indoor and out in an Infinity pool overlooking the golf course, golf on three courses (one of which hosts the Greenbrier Classic in July); tennis indoor and out; equestrian; croquet; hiking; mountain climbing; off road 4 wheeling; downhill skiing; mountain climbing; a world class spa and a Monte Carlo styled casino. All this at your fingertips without having to drive. If I sound like salesman giving a sales pitch to come here you're right and you should try. This place is just that great. After our brief but rewarding tour and experience we headed West once again and are now "hooked" up in 'Huntington WV on the Kentucky border. Tomorrow we head for Louisville and beyond. Stay tuned.