My cousin, Carol Wilson, visited me this spring and we usually go on a mini trip. We chose the Greenbrier because it was always on my “bucket list” and the warm spring water sounded inviting along with the beautiful inside pool when it was still too cold to swim outside.  It is about a 3 hour ride from Richmond, and we went after a stay at my daughter’s house for Mother’s Day.

Carol and I are more than just cousins.  We’ve been close since early childhood, since her mother was my second mother for a year, until my third mother took over, another aunt.  We did everything together til about 9 years old and remained close all our lives.  Here is a favorite picture of my cousin and I that my dad carried in his wallet until the day he died.Scanned Image 103450001

This is a picture of us right before we left for the Greenbrier

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The Greenbrier is a resort in White Sulphur Springs known for the healing spring water.  People began coming there in 1778, and through the years many famous people have stayed there including 26 presidents.  First they came by stagecoach, then by railroad, and in the 20th century by car.  During the Civil War, the resort was a hospital and in 1962 a secret bunker was built to house the Senate and House of Representatives during a nuclear crises and it was in operation until 1992 which I will write about later.

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So off we went on our adventure which was about as packed full as any 3 days can be.  When we arrived, we were told the room that I requested had residents before us that got sick, so they gave us another room with a lot more walking, but believe me, I didn’t want the remnants of someone’s illness.  I always call ahead to make sure they don’t spray anything or have any smells in the room, because of my chemical sensitivities.

The room itself was glorious and huge, and I wish we had taken a picture of the room, but we got a special deal and the room looked something like this  http://www.greenbrier.com/Accommodations/Room-Types/Deluxe-Rooms.aspx

Our room overlooked the back of the property, and some of the meeting rooms.  In the distance is the wing where the Bunker lies.

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The first thing we decided to do the next morning after the buffet breakfast was see the bunker.  It is still used as a deposit for “data” by a private company, but is open for tours.  With my love of history, it was very interesting.  Here is a good link to read about the bunker, but I recommend the tour for anyone.  http://www.npr.org/2011/03/26/134379296/the-secret-bunker-congress-never-used

Just think about the tax payers money that went into this for 30 years with provisions for all of them including staff for 60 days.  When the secret of the bunker was busted in 1992, it closed the next day.  But since it is still there, the thought that crossed my mind, is take Congress there, put them in the darn bunk beds, feed them rations, lock them in with the three steel doors and don’t let them out until they fix the nation’s problems and compromise!.  But that’s me.

They have a lot of pictures in the bunker that depicts how everything was during that active 30 years it was ready for action.

One of the things I really wanted to do at the Greenbrier was swim, and the 1913 pool is still there.  It was glorious, and I practically had it to myself to swim laps.

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Of course, The Greenbrier is known for its gourmet food.  That presents a problem, because I am not a fan of gourmet food.  I eat simply and follow the genotype diet from Dr. Peter D’Adamo for the last 16 year.  The buffet breakfasts were not the problem, but the dinners were.  My cousin and I studied those menus for at least an hour to decide what would be the best restaurant and what I could possibly eat.   I ended up with fish both nights which was fine, but too fancy.  Needless to say it is not an inexpensive place to eat.  They have about 4 restaurants to pick from, but the oriental one that would have given me more choices was closed the two days we were there.

Every afternoon, they serve tea in the dining room, another “Greenbrier” experience.

Here is a picture of the chandelier from “Gone With the Wind.”  It is near the one of the bars in the hotel.

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This is a picture of just one of their grand rooms you walk through looking at the hotel.

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The next day, since our walking ability is somewhat limited, we opted for the carriage ride to look around the grounds and the beautiful golf courses.  Of course, they are already preparing for the Greenbrier Classic on July 4th weekend.  Sam Snead a famous golfer, was hired in 1936 as the golf pro.  In 1978 Jack Nicklaus redesigned the Greenbrier course, and I bet my cousin who plays golf would have liked to play there, but I don’t play golf.

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After swimming on the second day, I had a spa appointment to take in the sulphur waters.  If you want this, they pipe it in to a big bath tub where you can soak for 30 minutes.  That was interesting to say the least, and then I followed that with a message.  My muscles loved it.

Under the Greenbrier are a lot of shops which were added by the current owner, Mr. Jim Justice.  He also added a Casino in 2010.  I think you all would enjoy my casino story.  Carol already had made her small donations to the casino while I was swimming, but I didn’t bother going there.  But our last night they advertised the “Greenbrier Waltz” at the casino at 10PM and I wanted to see it.  So I went down there by myself and was wandering around thinking I might as well give them a small donation, so I cashed a 20 dollar bill and asked for 20 silver dollars.  They gave me real money not tokens, but there is probably not much silver in them anymore.  I made a beeline for a machine I had decided was the one I was going to use, and no one down there was playing the machines.  I said to myself, “forgive me Stacy,” because he hated gambling of any kind, but he knew I did it on some cruise ships.  My deposits were never much.

So anyway, I put my first silver dollar in, and 5 come out.  Then I win some and lose some, but I decided my Greenbrier deposit (they must hate gamblers like me) would be ten dollars so I counted that aside, and said I would lose the 3 to 4 in my hand.  I put in one and pulled the lever and two sevens came up.  That never happened on any cruise ship, and 170 silver dollars came out with a lot of dings.  No one even noticed.  Now, being the non gambler I am, I filled the bucket and cashed in.  It took 5 times longer to count them than to win them.  I kept 20 for my children and grandkids, and went upstairs and dumped the 20 on the bed.  My cousin was speechless, and said “I knew you were taking too long down there.”  It was then I shocked her with the cold cash making up the $160.00.  The next day, I splurged and spent the money on a hand painted leather wallet and check book, so I could see my winnings everyday:)

The last day, I invited my daughter-in-law’s grandmother to meet us for breakfast.  She lives in White Sulpher Springs, and worked there herself in the dining room for 25 years.  Oh, that was such a joy.  She hasn’t worked there in years, but many people came up to her and gave her a hug.  It was a precious moment.

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After breakfast on the last day, we wanted to visit the president’s cottage.  Now that was loaded with the history of all the famous people who came to the Greenbrier.  The Duke and Duchess of Windsor came many times.  Rose Kennedy and her husband spent two weeks there for their honeymoon.  It was fun to see all the pictures of the many presidential guests.  President Nixon came 5 times and Ford visited 6 times.  Actually George W. Bush visited 7 times, the most of any president.

All in all, my cousin and I had a grand time in a once in a lifetime grand place.  The next place we should visit next year is The Homestead, God willing, another resort 30 miles away and another “bucket list” destination.

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