Sanctuary Ridge Family Recipes · Soups

Beer Cheese Soup & Homemade Pretzels

Beer Cheese Soup with Homemade Pretzels
A Delicious Dinner

A Little Bit of Fun!

On our first trip to Jekyll Island, Georgia, we dined at The Wharf restaurant where we watched one of the most stunning sunsets I think I have ever seen! It was a quick getaway for just the two of us- the one where we rode our bikes all over the island and we ended up drenched in rain. We had decided to ride 7 miles to eat at the Wharf, planning the evening so that we would have time to eat and ride our bikes back to our room before the sunset. The wait to get seated was long, service was slow, and things just didn’t go as planned for us at all. We ended up watching this amazing sunset from our table at the restaurant.

The Wharf Sunset

A Flavorful Adventure

After the sun had set, our food was finally served! I ordered fish and chips, but because we had waited so long I also ordered a bowl of Beer Cheese soup as an appetizer for us to share. We had never eaten Beer Cheese Soup before and it turned out to be the highlight of our meal! If you know me, then you know I don’t consume alcohol. It’s not my thing at all, however I do love to cook with it. As I tasted the first bite, my mind was already racing with ideas to recreate this flavorful soup as soon as we returned home! I researched some recipes online and came up with a version of my own that I think matches the rich, amazing flavors of the soup we had at The Wharf that night. Home-made pretzel bites pair well with this too so I’m including my recipe below if you want to try them. Fish or shrimp also go well as a main course if you feel you need to add another protein to the meal. The soup AND the pretzels are easy to make so I hope you will try this one soon!

Beer Cheese Soup with Homemade Pretzels

Beer Cheese Soup

Monica Scott
Rich, delicious Cheese Soup infused with layers of fresh flavors. Serve with homemade Pretzels and a side of shrimp for a remarkable dinner!
Course Soup
Cuisine American
Servings 4 servings


  • 4 TBSP Butter
  • 1 TBSP Olive Oil
  • 1 Bell Pepper, diced
  • 1 Celery Stalk, diced
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1/2 Onion, diced
  • 1 1/2 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 1/4 Cup Plain Flour
  • 1/2 tsp. Paprika
  • 1/2 Cup Milk
  • 1/2 Cup Half-n-half
  • 8 oz. Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded
  • 4 oz. Smoked Gouda or Cheddar, shredded
  • 12 oz. Beer


  • In a large stock pot, sauté Bell Pepper, Celery and Onion on medium high heat until tender. Add Garlic and saute 2-3 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup plain flour and cook 1-2 minutes. Add Chicken Broth, stirring until the flour mixture is incorporated and begins to thicken. Add milk, half-and-half, cheeses and beer. Stir continually until cheese is melted. Simmer 5 minutes and serve warm with homemade pretzels.
Keyword Beer Cheese Soup,, sanctuary ridge family recipes

Homemade Pretzels

Monica Scott
Delicious Pretzels you can make at home! Perfect with Beer Cheese Soup, or simply eat them on their own- these are impossible to resist!
Prep Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 23 minutes
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Servings 12 Large Pretzels


  • 4 tsp. Active Dry Yeast
  • 1 tsp. Granulated Sugar
  • 1 1/4 Cups Warm Water
  • 5 Cups Plain Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1 TBSP Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Cup Baking Soda
  • 4 Cups Hot Water
  • Kosher Salt, for topping


  • In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in 1 1/4 cup warm water. Let stand about 10 minutes.
  • In a large bowl, mix together flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt. Make a well in the center; add the oil and yeast mixture. Mix and form into a dough. If the mixture is dry, add one or two more tablespoons of water. Knead the dough until smooth, about 7 to 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour
  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Grease 2 baking sheets.
  • In a large bowl, dissolve baking soda in 4 cups hot water; set aside. When risen, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope and twist into a pretzel shape. Once all of the dough is shaped, dip each pretzel into the baking soda-hot water solution and place pretzels on baking sheets. Sprinkle with kosher salt.
  • Bake in preheated oven until browned, about 8 minutes. Enjoy! We love these with Beer Cheese Soup!
Keyword Homemade Pretzels, sanctuary ridge family recipes

Quite the Adventure

After our dinner, we had to ride our bikes back to our room. It was a long 7 miles in the dark! We were completely unprepared for the incredibly dark bike ride back, not realizing that since the island is a sea turtle sanctuary, there are no street lights or lighting on any of the buildings. We didn’t nave flashlights so we used our cell phone lights to see the road. With adrenaline pumping, we pedaled as fast as we could, laughing at our foiled plans. Add to that a steady rain, and you have a memory that still makes us laugh. I think of all our getaways over the years, this one is my favorite. It was spontaneous, and nothing went the way we planned but we made the most of it and had the time of our lives!

Read more about Jekyll Island here and here

© Copyright 2020– or current year, The Sanctuary Ridge. Unattributed use of this material is strictly prohibited. Reposting and links may be used, provided that credit is given to Sanctuary Ridge with  active link and direction to this original post.

Sanctuary Ridge Adventures in Camping

The Virginia Creeper Trail

Old Barns along the Virginia Creeper Trail

What is the Virginia Creeper Trail?

The Virginia Creeper Trail is a National Recreation Trail located between Abingdon, Virginia and Whitetop Station. The 34 mile rail-trail begins at Whitetop Station, part of the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. The best way to ride the trail is from the top of the mountain down to Damascus, Virginia. This section of the trail is around 17 miles long. You must schedule a shuttle to carry your bikes to the top where you will unload and coast at 5% grade back to the city of Damascus. Most of the trail is downhill! With no stopping along the way, it only takes 3-4 hours to ride this section. There are so many beautiful places to stop along the way, including an old train station! Picnic areas, rolling farmland, trestle bridges and gorgeous streams grace the views along the trail. It is quite the adventure!

Tips to take Along the Trail

I highly recommend taking a good camera, lots of water, as well as snacks! If you are renting bikes from a local shop, they provide assistance if you have a flat along the way. If you are taking your own bike, take a tire pump and repair kit. Seventeen miles is a long way if you have any issues with your bike. You will want a comfy bike seat! I also recommend taking a first aid kit! On our first ride down the trail, my then 5 year old crashed only 3 miles into the ride. Thankfully he only scraped his knee! The trail is not dangerous unless you aren’t watching the people riding in front of you and they stop to take in the beautiful sight!

One additional recommendation is check the temperatures! In Fall and Spring- sometimes even in early Summer, it is quite cold at the top of the trail. You will need winter gloves for your hands, a wind breaker, and something to cover your ears if it is cold. We carried backpacks to put our gloves and things away when it warmed up outside. Backpacks are also great for carrying drinks, snack, and the first aid kit!

Take breaks and stop to enjoy the moment! There are wonderful places to stop along the way to skip rocks, listen to the babbling brook, and get some great family photos! I hope you will go visit this truly amazing place! It is such a great adventure!

The Historic Green Cove Train Station

Don’t miss stopping at the historic train station! Inside you will find an old store and even an old U.S. Post Office.

It’s easy to imagine what it was like back in the days when the train chugged it’s way through the mountains of Virginia as you ride along the trail!

Places to Stay

We stayed at the last time we traveled to Damascus, Virginia. It was a lovely spot, right on the creek. We did not spend much time at the campsite because we were only there for one full day, which is when we rode the trail. It was very convenient- within walking or bike riding distance to restaurants and the bike shuttle services.

There are other places to stay if camping is not your thing! Check out this website for more information on the area:

© Copyright 2020– or current year, Sanctuary Ridge. Unattributed use of this material is strictly prohibited. Reposting and links may be used, provided that credit is given to Sanctuary Ridge with active link and direction to this original post.

Sanctuary Ridge Adventures in Camping

The Wild West Trip Part 4


The Road to Moab
The Road to Moab

The Road to Moab

The Road to Moab from Bluff, Utah is surrounded by stunning landscapes. Lakes, Snowcapped Mountains, Deserts and Buttes along the 2 hour stretch of highway. Once again, there are several places to stop along the way, including The Hole in the Rock. The photo above was taken while we were stopped on the highway for some roadwork. Here are some other photos from along the route.

Our itinerary in Moab is intense! We stayed at The Portal Rv Resort:

This is a full hook-up resort with a nice pool and gorgeous views. They also have vacation homes for rent if you have friends who want to visit Moab but not camp. The full hook-up sites are $59 per night. There are several other campgrounds in Moab and they probably all have a view of some sort. Our friends, Steve and Teresa, recommended this rv resort. We highly recommend it too!

Slick Rock

After we set up camp and caught up with our friends, we headed out to watch the sunset at Slick Rock. This is a world famous mountain bike trail. Moab is a hub for all things outdoors. There are public lands with trails everywhere. You can go off-road with your 4×4 vehicle, rent an ATV or Jeep, ride motorcycles or mountain bike. If you prefer hiking, there are tons of trails for that too! It is HIGHLY recommended to pay for a guide if you decide to do mountain biking here. It can be quite dangerous if you are not familiar with the area. If you want to check out some history of Slick Rock and see some great video of the area, check this out:

We hiked out to an area that is popular for watching the sunset. All around us were dirt bikes, mountain bikes and other families hiking. The terrain is literally like a moonscape. Smooth rock with craters everywhere! The trail is painted on the rock with white lines so it’s pretty easy to follow. It was an easy hike, even my nephew Cole was able to do it. We just stopped along the way to let him rest. That kid is my hero! He loves a good adventure and brings joy to everyone he meets! I love our family picture from Slick Rock- its one of my favorite group shots from our trip west.

You can do research and have a tentative plan when you take trips like this, but please be flexible. Take time to talk to locals and get recommendations. This was not one of our “must see” destinations, but it was really neat and I am so glad Steve and Teresa suggested we check it out! It’s a quick 10-15 minute drive from the campground.

Moab is such a quaint little town! If I had to pick one place to go in Utah, this would be it! There is no place quite like it. Over the next few days I will share each park we visited while we stayed in Moab. This place should be on everyone’s “bucket list”!


© Copyright 2020– or current year, Sanctuary Ridge. Unattributed use of this material is strictly prohibited. Reposting and links may be used, provided that credit is given to Sanctuary Ridge with active link and direction to this original post.

Sanctuary Ridge Adventures in Camping


Cumberland Island National Park

Remember the early days in your marriage, when you cherished each moment together? I believe you can hold onto that! My husband and I have been married for 26 years. We have definitely had our ups and downs, but we have WORKED to stay close. One way that we accomplish this is “running away together”. Sometimes it is a spontaneous trip, but most of the time it is something I plan. It doesn’t have to be elaborate! Sometimes we just go camping for a couple of days without the kids. Sometimes we go on a 3 day cruise. Sometimes we go to a cabin in the Smokey Mountains. The important thing is to get away together! There are so many distractions in life and we need to take time to cherish each other. We haven’t always been financially able to do this, but even in our early days we would just go for a drive or hike to get away for a few hours together. Go on an adventure together- be silly and spontaneous and laugh and love each other the way God intended! The most important investment you can make for your family is in your relationship with each other.

Last summer we visited Jeckyll Island, Georgia. I’ll never understand why I have never been to this wonderful place! We stayed at Villas By the Sea for under $110 per night. It is a nice resort with condos ranging from a studio (like the one we stayed in) to 3 bedroom units. It is located in close proximity to Driftwood Beach which was the primary reason I wanted to visit this place. It was amazing! Although we had lots of rain, we ventured out on our bikes to explore the island via the bike trail that borders the entire island. I love to ride bikes. Usually I get bummed by rain but this time we just rode in the rain- we were caught in a torrential downpour at one point! It was so refreshing to just seize the day!

We did drive to St. Mary’s, GA to take the ferry to Cumberland Island National Park where you can visit the ruins of an old plantation and see wild horses that live on the island. This is a place I have wanted to visit for several years. I love history, beaches and wildlife so when I read about it I knew we had to go! We took our bikes and a picnic lunch to spend the day on the island. August is probably not the best time to go, since it was extremely hot and muggy. We took the trail to the beach first. We rode our bikes down the beach and along most of the trails on the island. I can’t imagine walking instead of riding, as it was a long way. We visited the plantation ruins and read about the history, we saw the beautiful, wild horses. We picnicked and laughed. It was a wonderful day!

Jeckyll Island has a wonderful historic district. I loved riding our bikes through the streets, looking at the historic home, shops, and restaurants. The old oak trees are thick with moss, their branches reaching to the ground in beautiful arches. I’m really not sure which area on the island was more lovely. Between Driftwood Beach, the gorgeous marsh, the historic district and the beachfront- it was all a wonder to behold!

On our last night, we decided to try the Wharf. It’s a local restaurant on the marsh side of the island and located in the historic district. We rode our bikes 5 1/2 miles to eat dinner, planning our time to insure we would be riding back before dark. Much to our surprise, we were seated in a reasonable time. The sunset was remarkable!

Sunset view from The Wharf, Jeckyll Island, GA

The Wharf did not disappoint in their cuisine. We enjoyed a delicious dinner! Much to our dismay, it took so long to get our food that our plan to bike back to the condo before dark disappeared like the setting sun. So on our last night, we embarked on one last bike adventure. We didn’t have a bike headlight. And in case you didn’t know, street lights are very uncommon on coastal islands. The lights interfere with nesting sea turtles so we had to find our way in the dark with our cell phone lighting the way. We found a shorter route to get back as quickly as possible. I wouldn’t change a thing! Living this adventure called life with my best friend by my side is truly a blessing I cherish. I challenge you to plan a getaway with your spouse and cherish each other always!

  • Ephesians 5:25 (NIV)Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her
  • Ephesians 5:33 (NIV)However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

© Copyright 2020– or current year, The Sanctuary Ridge. Unattributed use of this material is strictly prohibited. Reposting and links may be used, provided that credit is given to Sanctuary Ridge with  active link and direction to this original post.

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