Five Shots of..., five shots...., hiking, nature, photography, travel, Virginia

5 Shots: Shenandoah Valley, VA

When visiting a brother-in-law last week, he procured blueberry moonshine for us to sample. It was a sunny day and the drive to his place tucked in the Shenandoah Mountains lifted my mood. I was intoxicated as though I had drunk half the bottle of his moonshine. No, it was just the sunshine and the air filled with the scent of hardwoods. Which shot do you like best?

Lake Laura at Basye, Virginia.
It was a quiet afternoon hiking around Lake Laura.


Down the road from Basye, there’s a hamlet called Orkney Springs. Shrine Mont is an Episcopalian worship and retreat center. I worked in the kitchen many summers with some authentic country ladies who taught me a lot about cooking. The summer music festivals they have on the lawn is a popular venue.
Fall colors are coming.
Meet our new puppy! Jim and I had no desire to get a new dog after the passing of Bear. But the buyer for this little gem bailed. Our son and daughter-in-law asked if we wanted her. Who could refuse a face like this? I returned to AZ to work, and lucky Jim gets to bring her home on the plane this weekend.
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For my friend Pete who is a Civil War buff. This is one county. If you like U.S. History, Virginia is a living museum. More military events and key people from the Colonial period lived here than any other state.



2010s, family, Five Shots of..., five shots...., nature, travel

5 Shots: Virginia Countryside

1. A morning walk after a night of rain.

It has been seven years since I moved from the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia to Arizona. This past week we traveled back to visit family. Traveling down country roads that seemed to lead nowhere, my eyes were full of the beauty of the Virginia countryside. Add the sounds of Americana music, the smell of fallen leaves underfoot, the chore of raking up the spiny husks fallen from the Chestnut tree, and playing with a litter of eight puppies truly filled my heart. Which shot do you like best?

2. Pups out to play
3. One puppy
4. Country roads running parallel to the Allegheny Mountain Range.
5. Downtown Staunton
6. 1790s Home by the Creek

Listening to Mandolin Orange in the truck on the backroads is a fine way to spend some time. Are you a fan?  

hiking, nature, photography

Virginia: Lake Laura and Shrine Mont


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.







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.






Which photo do you like best?