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Shrine Mont Review
WHAT: National Polymer Clay Guild 1999 Shrine Mont Retreat
WHEN: Tuesday May 11, 1999 to Sunday May 16, 1999
WHERE: Shrine Mont Conference Center, Orkney Springs Virginia
WHY: Because it's there!
HOW: That's where the story begins...

"I've been doing clay for 8 years, and I've been running Polymer Clay Central for about a year now. I've seen so many incredible things with Polymer Clay, but none of it prepared me for Shrine Mont!

Living in what I call a "NO Polymer Clay Zone", I've always been looking for a clay buddy but never found one. I had never known what it was like to be around other clayers, much less away from home by myself!

This story is both a review of the Shrine Mont Retreat and a confession from a very sheltered adult who will no longer be afraid to travel and plans on going to as many retreats as humanLEIGH possible!"

— SincereLEIGH

Joining the National Polymer Clay Guild, was the best thing I have ever done for my creative side. When the PolyInformer came in the mail and I mentioned the Polymer Clay Retreat at Shrine Mont, my husband said, "why don't you go?"

"Huh, and how am I going to get there?"

"You have a car, you can drive. I'll even pay for it."

He must be up to something, but how could I resist that offer? With a couple months to try to get in shape for this adventure, (after 6 years of battling illnesses) the first thing I do is set up a couple months of physical therapy with my doctor. I'm assured that I can drive to the different buildings, I'll never be ready for walking mountains by May, but look out next year!

The next dilemma we encounter after finding time for PT 3 afternoons a week, is trying to figure out what to pack! A tool collector since the day I was born, I've always been an easy mark for anyone selling supplies. How can I leave any of my special tools home? What do I want to share, or trade, or learn or teach or... Oh My, and what about my camera? I have to document this for posterity, none of my family are going to believe that I'm going to drive all the way to Virginia by myself. And my Computer??? My photographic equipment, gotta get some good shots of clay for the web site. CLAY? CLAY? how much should I bring, I have tons of it, I know darn well whatever color I leave home is the color I'm going to need, after all, "I don't really know anyone so I have to bring enough stuff to amuse myself for 5 days" (Can you tell this is my first retreat? More about that later). I have some special things I need to eat and I need Ice for my neck, I'll get an ice chest. I'm going to need a high back chair for my back... Should I bring any clay with me?? You know, I think I may have to bring clothes, too!

My Jeep Wait a minute, WHO is going to empty this? Do I have any maps?

DAY 1: Everyone has left for school and for work, and now I can sneak those last little bags of goodies into the car. It's early in the morning and time to leave for Shrine Mont! I have everything I could possibly imagine in my car, along with a couple cases of supplies from Polymer Clay Express, in case someone needs some supplies... one must always be prepared! Now where did I put those Maps???

The only thing I seem to have forgotten was to get change (in case anyone bought any of the supplies I brought). I decided I would just give each of the toll takers a $20.00 bill and I figured that by the time I got there, I should have plenty of change! Boy, was I right!!!

The trip was very exciting and exhilarating, at first, but as the miles progressed, and the Highways stretched out in front of me, the thought of meeting so many new people was paralyzing!

Gas Pump Uh Oh, it looks like I'm going to need gas soon! I'm not sure how many can sympathize with my situation, but I'm from "Joisey" and we don't have ANY self serve gas stations in New Jersey! I have NEVER in my life pumped gas into any car, EVER!

You guessed it... all the gas stations were self-serve! I promise you, I looked like a chubby Lucy Ricardo trying to figure out what end of the pump to put in what part of the car, and how to turn on the gas. The fortunate part of this was that it was a self-pay credit card sale and I didn't have to face anyone to find out how much they were laughing at me! Trust me, there are no photos of that. I was lucky I could remember how to turn the car on when I was through!

And now, back to the highway!!

Off the Highway!

The further along I got, the desire to get OFF the stinkin' highway totalLEIGH over powered the fear of meeting new people. Now I can't wait to get off this big highway and onto a nice local road, knowing it would mean I was closer to my destination.

The total anxiety was lost for the moment as the Highway ended and the charming local roads took their place. Good thing I stopped for gas. The roads were reminiscent of my summers in Cape Cod, two lane roads, with plenty of trees and bushes along the edge. A little farm house here and there. Except there are no mountains in the background on Cape Cod.

In all honesty, I have traveled around Cape Cod enough times to really know what is going to be around every twist and turn, but this is really turning into an adventure. The roads are winding and shrinking, and winding and shrinking and ...

On the Road

A new emotion now begins to make its way to the surface... FEAR! I decided that these tiny curvy mountain roads were never going to end, and I definateLEIGH must be on the wrong one! It went on for miles and miles with all that GREEN STUFF!!! My goodness, there are still beautiful green lands around this country that haven't been infiltrated with gas stations or fast food resturants, now how did that happen?
Driving We are getting deeper and deeper into the forest as we climb higher and higher up this mountain. Remember, I'm a Beach Baby here. I'm used to rolling waves in the ocean, not the rolling mountains' majesty.

I know I must be on the wrong road, but do you realize there is NO place to turn around? This road is getting smaller and smaller and even with a jeep, and 4 wheel drive, I'm not sure that a 3 point turn isn't going to land me back at the bottom of the mountain. I'm getting more and more nervous.

First view of Shrine Mont

SuddenLEIGH, after turning another corner, I get the sense I have been thrown back in time. This must be how the Settlers felt when they finally found their way to the latest settlement. Civilization!!!! Is that a building I see? Look, there's even a person walking in the street! I'm almost expecting a horse drawn carriage to come down one of the pathways!

What I do see are some incredible buildings set in a gloriousLEIGH spiritual place in the middle of nowhere. Well, nowhere to me, but this is Orkney Springs, Virginia, and this is where the Retreat is going to take place!!!

WOW, I made it, all by myself!!!

And this is what I will be calling home for the next 5 days! What a blast, I have got to be dreaming...

Uh Oh, you mean "I" have to unpack the car???

Home Sweet Home
Keep Watching for my next episode of the Shrine Mont Review!