Virginia: Lake Laura and Shrine Mont

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If you drive to the end of Route 263, a lovely country road in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, you will arrive at the village of Orkney Springs, home to an Episcopalian retreat center for the Diocese of Virginia called Shrine Mont. Guests are treated to southern hospitality and food grown from the gardens within the village. For over a hundred years, this sanctuary is frozen in time, containing all that’s romantic and charming about the south. The Waltons are alive and well at Shrine Mont.

For a few summers, I worked twelve-hour shifts in the hotel kitchen with southern women who had perfected comfort foods and served the families and clergy who came to Shrine Mont every year for reunions. It’s still the perfect place for band camps, bluegrass festivals, retreats, and conferences. All the food is made from scratch. I learned how to make pecan pies, “butt” rolls, and dressing balls. I chopped peppers and onions and washed and spinned lettuce for hundreds. I peeled pots of potatoes for mashing, all the while listening to the clucking of the mother hens who ran the kitchen with the energy and strength of someone half my age.

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When I wasn’t working at Shrine Mont, I’d hike around nearby Lake Laura.  Any given day or season, her shadows and colors calmed me. I enjoy living in Arizona today, but I never fail to remember fondly my time around the lake and the plush green of Virginia.

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Which photo do you like best?

24 thoughts on “Virginia: Lake Laura and Shrine Mont

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    1. Hi Paul, thanks. At the time, I knew I was in a special spot. Many times (especially during winter) I’d be the only one walking around it; it felt like “my” lake. It surely was my exercise track; boy, do I miss it.

  1. Good heavens, Cindy, this is about 90 miles from where I live! And I’ve never been. Hot diggity. I am sooo planning this little gem of a road trip. A massive thanks for highlighting it, and of course, sharing your experience.
    Favorite photo? The three lake photos all call to me, but for different reasons. I love the trail–which begs to be traveled, and the open shot of the lake is so welcoming.
    I cannot wait to be welcomed.
    Cheers!

    1. Howdy, Shelley! Yes, it’s very nice for a half day trip. There’s parking at the dam as you wind into Basye. After hiking the 3.5 miles, there’s Bryce Resort if you want a lunch or the diner (cheaper and cuter) right in Basye. Make sure to travel down the road 2 miles to see Orkney Springs and Shrine Mont. It would be a pleasant day. Don’t forget to tell me how it went! 🙂

    1. Hi Anna! So happy you stopped by. The older I get, the more vital pictures become for me. When you see something day in and day out, it’s impossible to keep that “fresh” eye. Seasons later, the picture boosts your memory and it brings a lot of feelings to the forefront. 🙂

  2. Any chance you remember the recipe for those butt buns? Shrine Mont camps were a lifeline to my 3 daughters (now adults). I’d love to surprise them when they come home with some fresh made buns! Beautiful pics…great memories!

    1. Hi there, Lynee! I’m very happy you stopped by today! The butt buns… Ha ha. I don’t have the recipe, but I know if you went to the Shrine Mont site they have their cookbook with the recipes. You’d be able to find the recipe there. 🙂

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