Stephanie Hill: C B Ranch offers a piece of ‘Almost Heaven’
“Keep close to Nature’s heart ... and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” — John Muir
“Wilderness is not a luxury but necessity of the human spirit.” — Edward Abbey
Author’s Note: This originally began as one piece, but quickly became too long! Therefore, this is part one of a three-part travel series, once more featuring the Greenbrier Valley area of WV. In this piece, I will focus more on the outdoor attractions, especially those of C B Ranch. In next week’s piece, I will feature the wide array of dining experiences Lewisburg has to offer. In the final installation, I will offer snapshots of what can be discovered along the Midland Trail National Scenic Highway.
“Mom, what would you think if I went home with Gigs over Thanksgiving break?”
I was listening to my daughter, Madelyn, on the phone as she talked in her usual rapid-fire manner.
“Listen, her mom invited me to join them. They’ll be riding taking the Amtrak train from near her home in Sylvania, Ohio, to Chicago. Her mom said we could have Chicago style pizza for Thanksgiving! How cool is that?”
And just like that, John, my husband of nearly 30 years, and I were childless for Thanksgiving for the first time in 19 years. At first, I felt a bit sad, but deep in my heart I was happy for Maddie to have the experience. Maddie and Gigs had spent two weekends at our home already this semester of their sophomore year at Bethany College, and thus, I completely understood. In fact, we often traveled with Maddie over the week of Thanksgiving as she was growing up, visiting new areas for exploration. Now it was her turn to sprout her wings and explore without us.
Soon enough, John was online and on the hunt for a Thanksgiving getaway for the two of us that would be pocket-friendly, and could be booked at the last minute as we were well into the month of November when Maddie made her announcement. As we reflected over places to visit, we thought of our recent stay in the Greenbrier Valley area. It was close - less than a three-hour drive. Furthermore, it was beautifully situated in the West Virginia mountains, and the people we encountered were just the nicest. Why not go back? We had barely scratched the surface of things to do during our last visit.
As John searched, he would show me one place and then ask me to look at another.
Then, he found, “the one.” C B Ranch, located approximately four miles outside of Lewisburg, West Virginia. It was described as a “rental suite” with its own private entrance and private balcony views of the mountains. Situated on a 100-acre ranch, it offered everything we needed: living room, bedroom, full bath, coffee maker (always a must!), microwave and mini-fridge. The pictures, along with its reasonable price, made it seem nearly too good to be true. Hmm...
We’ve learned, when using sites such a VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner), that it is very important to read the client reviews - and the more customer reviews, the more accurate picture you can gain of a potential property. CB Ranch’s reviews were stellar and filled with comments that appealed to us, such as privacy, hiking trails, friendly/helpful owners, beautiful views and so forth. The more we read, the more we were convinced to give it a try.
Cheryl and Robert (Brooke) Bidish, owners of CB Ranch, offer a most unique accommodation - the ability to have your own private vacation rental suite (or even primitive camping if desired) while staying on an actively working ranch. In addition to renting a vacation getaway, CB Ranch is host to numerous horses that Cheryl and Brooke board or give retirement care. In fact, you could even bring your own horses when staying at the ranch if desired!
The ranch is further home to Nigerian dwarf Goats, mini La Mancha goats, Katahdin sheep, one talkative burro, two ponies (one is still a baby), dogs, cat...yes, this is the real deal. Thus, John and I woke each morning to milky sunlight streaming through the mountain mist as the horses’ tails swished, the burro called, the goats and sheep grazed and the dog helped Cheryl or Brooke make their morning rounds. There was something so profoundly peaceful about simply sitting and sipping coffee while observing these animals in such a tranquil setting.
In fact, the entire setting was soul soothing. John and I consider ourselves “country-dwellers” compared to when we lived in town, but C B Ranch takes country living to a whole new level. The stillness at night was rest inducing as were our daytime hikes. C B offers miles of trails for both two and four-legged creatures that offer breathtaking views; and we certainly took advantage of those trails as we hiked/walked the land daily. All that fresh air, the pure spring water to drink daily and the ability to engage with all the variety of animal life was truly restorative. Cheryl and Brooke respected our privacy, but were readily available to share stories of their animals or offer advice/help for not only navigating their property, but also exploring the Lewisburg area.
One area Cheryl and Brooke highly recommended was the Greenbrier River Trail. I could not help but notice in the suite’s journal (a journal the Bidishs ask that you use to record events of your stay with them) that several visitors to C B Ranch had brought their horses along in order to ride and explore the GRT. And, why not? With 78 miles of trail, the longest trail in West Virginia and ranked as one of the top ten hiking trails by Backpacker Magazine, the GRT, whose trailhead begins just outside of Lewisburg, is the perfect spot for a wide range of outdoor enthusiasts. GRT, a former railroad line, can now be used for biking, hiking, fishing, horseback riding, swimming, camping, as well as snow sports.
Therefore, we certainly took advantage of C B Ranch’s close proximity to the trail and spent one late morning/early afternoon walking along this beautiful winding, and clearly marked, path. We trekked three miles out, and three miles back, never tiring of the rushing river, gushing waterfalls and fresh air on a crisp autumn day. Afterwards, we made the short trip to Lewisburg for refreshments before heading back to C B Ranch to wash away the trail dirt and clean up for a short drive back into town for dinner.
If you are looking for the place that is truly “Almost Heaven” for a weekend getaway, or even a weeklong adventure, consider staying at C B Ranch. You will find the accommodations clean and comfortable, the natural surroundings heavenly, and Cheryl and Brooke Bidish to be gracious, friendly hosts. Their website is easy to find, www.cbranch.net, you can find them on Facebook and Twitter, or you can directly contact them: email@example.com or 304-445-6168. Tell them Steph simply sent you! I promise, you won’t regret a moment of your stay!
Stephanie Hill is a freelance writer and a teacher at St. Joseph Catholic School in Huntington. She is also a lifelong resident of Lawrence County. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you can check out her website, stephsimply.com.