Escalloped Apples

IMG_0156A warm and savory apple dish thats recently been popular at our table on these cool April nights. What’s nice about this recipe is its versatility. Not too sweet to be served during dinner, but sweet enough to be used as a dessert. Most often we serve escalloped apples inourdinner buffet but don’t be shy about adding whip cream and serving with  cup of coffee.


6 Apples

¼ Cup Water

1 Tbs Lemon Juice

¼ Tsp Cinnamon

1/3 Cup Butter

¼ Cup Flour

¾ Cup Brown Sugar

For this recipe we used Red Delicious apples, but feel free to use sweet or sour varieties at home according to taste



Pare and quarter 6 large apples.




IMG_0090Place apple Slices in a buttered casserole dish, sprinkle with cinnamon,
add water and lemon juice





Separately blend butter blow and brown sugar until crumbly.






Sprinkle butter mixture evenly over apple slices





Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown.

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That sound you hear? Kind of like a moo of a cow, but not quite?


These frogs are common in this part of western Virginia, found in freshwater ponds, lakes and marshes and recognizable by their trademark baritone honk. Listen to a recording of one here:

Bullfrogs are the largest of all the frogs found in North America, growing as long as 8 inches and weighing up to 1.5 pounds. A typical bullfrog is about the size of a teacup and is green or gray-brown with brown spots.

Female lay as many as 20,000 eggs at once. You might see the eggs clustered together, floating on the surface of a pond.

Unlike some frogs that mostly eat insects, bullfrogs are carnivores – they’ll eat just about anything they can fit in their mouths, including mice, fish, birds, snakes, turtles and even other frogs. (They do like bugs, too, though.) They don’t chew – if a bullfrog spots a tasty mouse, it’ll swallow it whole.

They can be poisonous to other animals, as they emit toxic secretions from their glands. So you don’t want to let a dog get a hold of one. But bullfrogs can be beneficial too – they keep down the mosquito and insect population.

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The Splendor of the George Washington National Forest

Fort Lewis Lodge lies amid the splendor of the George Washington National Forest, a more than 1 million-acre spread that’s popular for hiking, mountain biking, fishing, hunting and camping.

Established as a national forest in 1918, it was renamed for the nation’s first president in 1932 and extends into West Virginia. Locally, the stretch of forest includes recreational attractions such as Douthat State Park, Lake Moomaw and Goshen Pass, a gorge on the edge of Rockbridge County.

Combined with the Jefferson National Forest to the south, the two forests make up one of the largest areas of public land in the eastern United States. Much of the forest is remote and undeveloped. Overlooks on Airport Road in Hot Springs and on top of Warm Springs Mountain offer especially stunning views.

George Washington National ForestBesides the warm and hot springs for which the area is famous, within the forest you can also find Blowing Springs, where a unique geographical duct blows air out of the rocks at a constant 58 degrees.

Southeast of Millboro between routes 220 and 629 is Douthat State Park, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places because its design influenced the development of parks nationwide. Here you can find a sandy swimming beach along the 50-acre lake, along with trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding.

Further east in the Alleghany highlands is Lake Moomaw, a U.S Army Corp of Engineers-formed lake. The earthen dam and 2,500-acre lake (named for the local businessman who supported the project) were created in a former gorge to provide flood and water quality control, but also offer many recreational activities, including camping and trout fishing.

The forest includes many species of trees, plants, birds, amphibians, fish and mammals, from white-tailed deer to black bears.

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Star DeckThe grounds of Fort Lewis Lodge are perfect for stargazing.

Far from the hustle and bustle, the dark, woodsy setting makes for some gorgeous night-time skies.

Visit the stargazing deck. Spread out a blanket, and look up.

For most people, the easiest grouping of stars to find is the Big Dipper. Look for seven major stars: Four in the “bowl” and three in the “handle.” The two stars on the outside of the bowl point to Polaris. Polaris is also called the North Star. Find it, and you can figure out which way is north.

Fun fact: The Big Dipper is not a constellation. It’s an asterism – a grouping of stars within a constellation. But the Big Dipper’s handle makes up the tail of the Great Bear, also known as the constellation Ursa Major.

This fall, there’s a chance to catch a glimpse of what could become one of the most watched comets of our time. The comet ISON, discovered just last year, is expected to travel close to the sun around Thanksgiving and possibly be bright enough to be seen in broad daylight.

In December, look for Venus to put on a spectacular show in the southwestern sky. On Dec. 6, the planet will be lit by a crescent moon and won’t be as bright again until the year 2021.

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Swimming Holes

Cowpasture River at Fort Lewis LodgeIn the decades before the concrete, water-filled holes in the ground we now call swimming pools, there was such a thing called a “swimming hole.” And yes, believe it or not, there are still many of these natural swimming pools around – including right here at Fort Lewis Lodge.

What makes them special? You’re in touch with nature. The natural water rejuvenating your skin and senses. The peacefulness. Want to throw on some waders? They can also be good spots for fly-fishing.

What exactly is a swimming hole?

By definition, it’s a spot in a river, stream, creek or spring that’s large enough for a person to swim in.

The swimming hole at Fort Lewis Lodge, just down the path from Caryl’s infamous kitchen and John’s Buck’s Bar, is stocked with floats, chairs to sit and enjoy the surroundings, a swim platform and all the nature you can soak in.

On certain days, the water glows a soft green, blending in with its mountain surroundings.

If you’re visiting from an urban area, our mountain Cowpasture River swimming hole is a spot on the property not to be missed. When you’re done there, and want to try another swimming excursion in our region, head up to Hot Springs just over the mountain and hop in the Jefferson Pools.

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Fly Fishing at Fort Lewis Lodge

FortLewis-River-Fly-Fishing-01-XLIf fly-fishing’s your thing, the area’s rivers and streams are perfect for it. Some have even been called the best for fly-fishing in the state. Here’s what you need to know:

1. Have the right stuff. That means a rod and reel, line, leader, tippet and flies. Consider a fly-fishing vest with big pockets, waders, a fly box, sunscreen, bug repellant, and a pair of forceps to remove the hooks.

2. Don’t forget a hat – it keeps your face in the shade, but also keeps the flyline and hook from hitting you in the face.

3. Find the fish. Fish have three basic needs: Food, cover and a resting place. Look for pyramid-shaped rocks – the water flows on both sides, with a calm area in front. In the warmer weather, look for cool, shady spots. In cooler weather, look for places where the sun has warmed the water.

4. Flying bugs are a good sign. So are those sitting on the water. Trout like to eat bugs.

5. Trout hear better than you do. So when you approach a river, especially near slow and quiet water, don’t run or make a huge racket. The fish will hear you coming (really!) and dart for cover.

6. Trout see color well, so bright colors not found in their natural habitat will scare them away. Make sure your clothing and fishing hat blends into the sky or background. If you can, stand with the sun behind you, but not so it casts a shadow on the trout you’re trying to catch.

7. When you go after a trout, try and approach it from the rear. Trout have a blind spot behind them. Fish face upstream because that’s where their food comes from.

8. While wading will get you to the fish, pay attention. Check out the area first and make sure that if you do topple over, there’s somewhere where you can get up safely. If you do fall, get into a sitting position with your feet downstream and your head up, and try and angle for the shore.

9. Practice. And consider a guide. Natural Retreats at Virginia Hot Springs offers half-day and full-day guided trips. The Homestead has Orvis-trained guides (through Alleghany Activities, 540-839-7760) available for lessons and clinics. They also offer float fishing, a unique form of fly fishing where anglers float down the river with a guide while fishing.

10. Why fish? In the words of Jerry Dennis in his book The River Home: “… fishing makes us alert, pulls us out of our thoughts, and engages us in something bigger than ourselves. … Anglers are people who want to get beneath the surface of things. Fishing is simply a way to open our hearts to the world.”

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Hiking in the Mountains Around Fort Lewis Lodge

Hiking Near Fort Lewis LodgeHiking trails are so abundant around Fort Lewis Lodge, it might be hard to pick one! The area is known for its hiking – some say Bath County is a hidden gem in the crown of mid-Atlantic hiking.

There are trails at the Coursey Springs Fish Hatchery, along the Cowpasture River, at Lake Moomaw, and at Douthat State Park, as well as many, many more throughout the George Washington National Forest. The website has a good listing of hiking trails in Virginia and includes directions, lengths and where to park.

Hidden Valley is a favorite among some hikers – it’s where the post-Civil War movie Sommersby with Jodi Foster and Richard Gere was filmed in 1993. Here you’ll find well-marked trails and meander across streams and through wetlands. The Jackson River Gorge Trail features a large suspension bridge.

The vistas and overlooks in Douthat State Park, along the Blue Suck Falls and Beards Mountain loop trails, are some of the best in the state. Plus, Blue Suck Falls is just a fun name.Fort Lewis Lodge Overlook

Maps are highly recommended –  not road maps, but ones that show the topography of the area, the mountains, the valleys, the steepness of a trail. You can see where a trail crosses a stream, or travels along a ridge. Maps are available at park ranger district offices (there’s one in Warm Springs, phone number 540-839-2521), or visit to download or find where they’re available for purchase.

Don’t forget the basics: Wear study hiking shoes or boots, bring water and snacks, a first aid kit (a skin product called Tecnu is good for treating an exposure of poison ivy, oak or sumac), and a mobile phone. If someone gets hurt and you can’t get good cell service, head for a ridge.

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The Homestead: Fort Lewis Lodge Neighbors Across the Mountain

Just around the corner in Hot Springs, you’ll find the Homestead, a 2,000-acre luxury resort and spa. You’ve probably heard of it, and at Fort Lewis Lodge we’re delighted to be their neighbors just over the mountain.

The Homestead is famous for its Southern hospitality as well as its golf courses, hot springs, and the oldest ski resort in Virginia.

Now an Omni hotel, the Homestead saw its first guests a decade before the American Revolution. It’s welcomed royalty and 22 United States presidents, including Thomas Jefferson.

The Homestead’s history extends back two and a half centuries, when a lodge was built on the site in 1766. It was rebuilt as a more modern resort in 1888, but burned down in 1901. The main Homestead hotel was constructed afterward.

One of the resort’s golf courses, the Old Course, dates back to 1892. Its first tee is the oldest in continuous use in the United States. The Cascades Course is often ranked as one of the nation’s best.

(Psssttt…when there is a little down time, you can find John on the course there.)

After the U.S. entered World War II, from Dec. 1941 to June 1942, the Homestead was a Japanese internment camp. But it was a high-end camp, housing 785 Japanese diplomats and their families.

The Homestead was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1991. Once the stomping grounds for the well-to-do who were eager to soak up the area’s healing waters from the hot springs, it continues to attract visitors to its modern spa, water park, shooting club and restaurants.

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Coursey Springs State Fish Hatchery

Coursey Springs State Fish HatcheryIf you’re a fishing enthusiast, you’ll want to check out the Coursey Springs State Fish Hatchery, where hundreds of thousands of trout are raised each year to stock Virginia streams. In fact, when you’re here at Fort Lewis Lodge, we usually suggest you take the short drive up the road to take the self-guided tour.

The hatchery, operated by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF), is about more than just fish. After a renovation project completed in 2010, this Bath County site now features a public nature trail where everything from bald eagles to bluebirds will delight any bird-watcher.

Take a quiet stroll and look for belted kingfishers, great blue herons, goldfinches and ospreys. Or simply enjoy the wildflowers.

Adjacent to the Cowpasture River, the 190-acre remote property includes ponds, creeks, meadows and naturalized fishing areas. A 1.6-acre spring pool provides the water used to operate the hatchery.

Coursey Springs is one of nine hatcheries operated by the DGIF. It produces upwards of 650,000 rainbow, brown and brook trout that are eventually end up in Virginia’s public waters for fishermen to catch.

No fish are actually spawned or hatched here – they’re brought to the hatchery as fingerlings and then raised to catchable size before being released. New technology that increases the oxygen levels in the rearing tanks is said to produce bigger, better fish.

The hatchery, built in the 1960s, is funded by fishing, boating and hunting licenses purchased in the state each year. The public is welcome to visit for free guided tours of the hatchery every day from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Coursey Springs is located off Route 678 south of Williamsville. For a video tour of the facility, click here:


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Garth Newel Music Center

Garth Newel Music CenterOnce, it was a training ground for Arabian horses. For a while, it was a summer camp for Girl Scouts.

But for the past 40 years, the lush property off U.S. 220 between Hot Springs and Warm Springs has been home to the Garth Newel Music Center, a popular chamber music concert hall. Visitors have described it as “magical, wonderful place” and a piece of heaven.

We’re lucky to say it’s located just over the mountain from Fort Lewis Lodge and a frequent stop by our guests.

In Welsh, Garth Newel means “new hearth” or “new home,” and it was the name bestowed on the property in the 1920s by painter William Sergeant Kendall and his wife Christine Herter Kendall.

Eventually, the indoor riding ring was transformed into a concert hall. Concerts have been held on the property since the early 1970s.

Throughout the year, Garth Newel offers public concerts (more than 50) as well as educational programs. The Manor House offers overnight accommodations for those looking for a musical weekend.

There are weekends dedicated to American and local artists, a popular summer concert series and a concert where stargazing is encouraged afterward. The artists-in-residence – the Garth Newel Piano Quartet – have recorded two CDs, coach local musicians (including schoolchildren) and are scheduled to play at Carnegie Hall in New York in November.

You can listen to a concert for less than the cost of a movie date for two, or you can add in a gourmet dinner or a picnic, depending on the time of day. Enjoy a cocktail while you listen.

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