There are just some places you leave hoping you get the chance to return someday. I’m leaving one today, The Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia. David, Jill, Vivian, Jim and I spent the weekend here. It feels like I’ve been living in a page torn out of an American history book for four days.

The Homestead was established in 1766 before we were even a country. Obviously there have been additions and renovations over the last 200 years, but the essence of the place remains. Hidden in the middle of nowhere in the Allegheny Mountains, it’s steeped in southern hospitality and tradition.

Countless celebrities and dignitaries have been to The Homestead. It was a strange feeling standing in the President’s Lounge looking at the portraits of the 22 American presidents who have visited and vacationed here. George Washington was hanging on a wall across the room facing Bill Clinton. I wondered if the two would have been friends if they had lived at the same time.

We could choose to fill the days with activities or sit in one of the big white rockers and just be still. We did a little of both. There are indoor and outdoor pools, tennis courts, three golf courses, a world class spa, a bowling alley, fly fishing, horseback riding and miles of trails. I almost backed out of our hike when I read the sign with instructions on what to do if you encounter a bear. I didn’t quite understand the remain calm but make a lot of noise part. How do you do that?

Last night was the 4th of July cookout followed by a Beatles tribute band concert. There’s nothing quite like 1700 people singing along to Yellow Submarine. The night was finished off with one of the best fireworks displays I’ve ever seen.

So today it’s back to the real world. The weekend was over the top. I wonder if the Washingtons and Jeffersons had as much fun at The Homestead as the Brawners and Joneses did.

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