Sunday, September 23, 2012

More Horsin' Around

Memories of the last three days – horses, handsome horses, pampered horses in immaculate stables, expensive stables in the middle of miles and miles and miles of white fences, perfectly painted white fences on miles and miles and miles of green, pristine green acres, pristine mowed fields of green, even on the highways mowed green, campgrounds of nothing but mowed green grass – to Greenbrier greens and fairways;-)  LOTS of GREEN in this part of the country!!

When in the Bluegrass Country of Lexington, KY one cannot get away from horses.  Perhaps the best place to get an overview is the 1,000-acre Kentucky Horse Park, a working horse farm, excellent extensive horse museum, home to prior race champions (living  - Funny Cide and Cigar among others and dead – Man O’ War) and grounds/arenas for various horse competitions.   We took it all in –

A good place to learn about horse farms

...and that's the truuuuuttttttthhhhh!
(props used in a horse jumping competition - think Olympics)

BUT – we wanted to see these up and coming ‘stars’ up close and personal in their plush surroundings.   So, we were off on the ‘Unique Farm Tour’.  The first stop was the Katierich Farm where the ‘stars’ were truly the horses – the mares and their current colts.  These were not just your run of the mill colts – we saw one of the many grandcolts of Seattle Slew, value $2 million - among others.   And these poor things had to make due with a meager stable costing about $2.6!!

Nuzzle, nuzzle.

Scratch, scratch - Mom and babe.

Kiss, kiss.

Next stop was the Shadwell Farm owned by Sheikh Hamdan where the grounds and stables were the stars (the multimillion dollar studs were literally - out to pasture!!)!!  The ‘Stud’ stable was a $24 million structure!!  AND – that was only one of several.  This Farm has like stables for the brood mares, the mares and the yearlings.  At the yearling sale (discussed in the last blog posting), Sheikh Hamdan was the biggest spender paying $3.8 million for four colts!!  He bought the most expensive at $1.65 million.  I guess when you spend that much for your horses they need a pretty nice place to reside?!?!?

Arabic with english subtitles.

Beautiful entry to an amazing facility - everything is done in mirror image!!

The thoroughbred stallions residence - seriously.

The honeymoon suite - where the stud gets his.

The Kentucky Bluegrass area is truly beautiful and fascinating – AND GREEN!!  We did hate to leave our beautiful spot here but there is still much on our agenda.  So off we go – 

A very nice campground  for our stay in Lexington.....
 probably not quite as nice at the stallions' residence at Shadwell Farms.

It was scenic, uncrowded, very well maintained - AND GREEN.

More very green scenic byways on our way from Lexington, Kentucky to White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia and the Greenbrier.

Though posted at 55 MPH most of the way,
the very windy road kept our average speed below 25.
And it had its share of ups and downs as well.

The Greenbrier is another of those grand old hotels (with 3 golf courses) that has been on the bucket list to experience;-)  So, when we drove up to the front of the Grand Old Dame it did take the breath away. 

The Greenbrier had its beginnings in 1778 when its sulfur-rich hot springs were found and began the draw of thousands of health-seeking individuals throughout the next 100 years.  The Hotel has been through many iterations and lives – from the original cottages to a Hotel opened in 1858 known as “The Old White” to a Confederate hospital.  After the Civil War the railroads came to the rescue of the historic resort.  The Chesapeake and Ohio RR restored the property and made the Greenbrier Hotel one of the great railroad resorts in America.  The new Hotel now had a Spa offering the latest in European spa techniques AND an 18-hole golf course known today as The Old White Course designed by Charles Blair Macdonald – where Sam Snead launched his career in 1936.  The Hotel was also used as an internment center by the State Department during WWII for German, Japanese and Italian diplomats until they were exchanged for American diplomats interned overseas.  It was then a 2,000-bed hospital until after the end of the War when it was returned to the C&O RR, redecorated and evolved to the Hotel of today. 

There was one other minor construction project.  In the late 1950’s, construction began on a major new wing with rumors of a secret government bomb shelter.  These rumors were vigorously denied until May 31, 1992 when the Washington Post ran a story about the massive underground US Capitol under the Greenbrier!!  Now there are tours of “The Bunker”, which we shall take tomorrow and give a report.

Today we took the challenge of the TPC Old White golf course, which was used the end of July for a FedEx PGA tour event.   We survived and even had a really fun round of golf;-)

Flowers were everywhere.

A view from the clubhouse to the 18th tee.
As you can see the leaves are just beginning to change colors.

The PGA's Greenbrier Classic was played here the end of July.
Today it was E & G!!

First course I can remember playing with horseback riders and carriages.  Fortunately, I didn't need to know if  a ball landing in a pile of horse shit would require a one stroke penalty if I moved the ball.

It was just an all around pleasant day.

I ended up on the wrong side of this ridge in the middle of the 18th green.

An unexpected surprise was waiting for us after we finished our round of golf.  John McEnroe and Pete Sampras were playing an exhibition tennis match for charity on the tennis courts just outside the golf pro shop.  It’s all a matter of timing with what one gets to see –

John McEnroe in a exhibition match with Pete Sampras.

Green, green and more green.  Just beautiful!!  And now, some of that green is beginning to turn red as we enter the first days of fall;-)  I am sure we shall have lots of pictures of that to show you in the next several weeks.

Well – enough of the history lessons.  Hope you enjoyed the pictures as much as we enjoyed living them!  LOTS more to come.

Happily seeing green - Elizabeth & Gary

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