For the last three years in a row over Labor Day, we’ve headed up to Maryland’s Deep Creek Lake to celebrate the end of summer with three other couples and all the kids. In total, it is a group of 16, eight of whom are girls from preschool to third grade. It’s become the annual not-to-miss tradition among our group and we can never believe how quickly time flies over the weekend.
What I’ve learned is this – much like a wine that improves with age, so does our trip. With every year we go up, we figure out how to keep making it better, just when it seems like it can’t get any better.
This year, it started with the home rental. We broke from our old habits and instead worked with Railey Mountain Lake Vacations this spring to locate the perfect house. Railey Mountain Lake Vacations has the largest inventory of rentals around Deep Creek and I quickly discovered an extremely knowledgeable and attentive staff to help us determine the right property for our group. Instead of doing it all online, I actually picked up the phone to call their offices, which honestly, I recommend anyone do who is considering a rental in Deep Creek – it’s just a more efficient way to learn about various properties. What I appreciated about working with Railey, beyond the variety of homes in both size and price, was that each of their staff members have personally visited all the homes and can speak from experience about the features in the home. We knew we wanted several master suites because try as we might, we can’t seem to get the kids out of our rooms at night, and we wanted outdoor space that was slightly removed from the house (because we act like Frat boys at night. C’est vrai. Even moi). The Railey team helped us hone in on Life is Good, which aside from having 5 large rooms, each with their own private bathroom, had a three level deck with the largest deck space removed away from the back of the house so we could be as loud and raucous as we wanted at night without worrying about waking the kids.
Not only did Life is Good have amazing deck space, it had this beautiful outdoor fireplace and larger hot tub, with a view of the moon glistening off the lake.
Each Labor Day, minutes after getting out of the car, it always comes rushing back to me why I love heading up there so much. The mountain air is fresher, the stars shine brighter (or rather, you can actually even see the stars), the moon sparkles off the lake at night and the tall pine trees make you feel like you’ve been transported to the Pacific Northwest in only a three-hour drive from home. Do you recall how humid it was over Labor Day in DC?
Right – in Deep Creek, we were wearing sweatshirts by our outdoor fire-place while toasting marshmellows with the kids.
But back to finding the perfect house – which frankly is one of the top questions I get from people who seem paralyzed and end up not going to Deep Creek. So many want to head up to Deep Creek because of its close proximity to DC but seem not to fully know how to find the right rental. My time with Railey didn’t end once I signed the contract on the house. It was almost like they were reading our minds. Literally 10 days before our trip, the emails started flying among the sister wives wondering what we needed to bring, did we need sheets, what kind of kitchen supplies and boom – in my email inbox lands an email from Railey updating me on the house, what we needed to bring, and a reminder to use their services for extra discounts on boat rentals around the lake during our stay, and to download their new app loaded with information on Deep Creek and ideas for rainy days.
Impeccable timing on their part. I was grateful for the email because it saved me the time of searching my inbox to find the contract from months before.
If you’re wondering how far out you need to rent a place – I think it probably depends on time of year you are going. Obviously Deep Creek is a year-round destination with the lake, the mountains, the state parks. For our Labor Day trip, we usually try to reserve a place by March or April. I’ve gone up in October and found a rental weeks in advance and last December, we went on December 26 and we rented our place by early October. Again, these are better questions for the Railey team but I’ve never had trouble finding a great house no matter the time of year.
So what were our other discoveries to make this year’s trip even better than last year, you might be wondering?
First – for anyone paying attention – unlike last year when we almost sank the pontoon boat (and seized our electronic devices before our children), we managed to stay afloat this year and dressed up our boat adventure with the addition of a tube rental. We also got an earlier start on the day by reserving our boat the day before. This year, we headed out on a coffee cruise because the husbands went to pick up our rental by 8am versus last year when we scored the last boat by arriving around 10am that morning. I have to admit, heading onto the boat with coffee was a relaxing and refreshing way to start a Saturday morning. The tube rental added another $55 to the bill (bringing it to about $160 per couple for the boat and tube) but pulling the kids and adults behind the boat all day was worth every penny. Not to mention a refreshing swim in the middle of the lake with your friends and kids – is there a better way to end the summer? I think not. And look, moi doesn’t particularly like swimming where she can’t see what’s swimming along side of her, but I make an exception for the annual Deep Creek Lake swim. This should speak volumes for how rejuvenating and fun it is.
The only complaint out of the kids and adults was our boat couldn’t go as fast as we wanted it to when being pulled on the tube.
What else made our fine wine trip even better, you ask?
The discovery of the Mountain State Brewery – a delightful local brewery tucked at the side of Wisp mountain with delicious beer, an excellent blues band playing on Sunday afternoon and outdoor space for the kids to run, play, and pick wild flowers so adults can chat (and drink) without
as much interruption. The food was also delicious – most of us selected the flat bread pizza much to our delight. We spent a few hours at this local watering hole and couldn’t believe it had taken us so many years to discover it. I absolutely wouldn’t go up there again without making a point to hit this brewery.
And finally, did we use that outdoor space, you might be wondering, especially because it did rain some
over Labor Day?
Mais oui! When you are hanging with a group who specializes in Flip Cup Foreplay…it begins with a sofa filled with half sleeping adults…then transitions to one or two adults migrating towards the kitchen bar….then suddenly someone turns up the music just a bit….then a few start dancing in their seats….then the music gets turned up just a bit more….then a few more stumble half asleep from the sofa to the kitchen….then someone quietly slips the Flip Cup cups onto the kitchen counter…then before you know it, the music is blaring, the beers are flowing and the minute the rain stops the game transitions to the outdoor deck.
It might have happened.
I might recommend it.
Especially because the women win every time which means we get to blare Belinda Carlisle instead of Alice In Chains.
So…summer’s over….you’re not likely to head up and swim in the lake…but I’d urge you to consider making a weekend out of a trip up there, whether it be this fall to enjoy the beautiful leaves (which noteworthy were already starting to change of the Labor Day weekend) and hike Swallow Falls State Park or this winter to ski and snow tube down Wisp Mountain…or make a plan for next summer…either way it’s seriously a mistake to miss this great weekend get-away spot so close to our area. Moi – I’m wondering if it’s Labor Day 2013 yet?
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Disclosure: Railey Realty offered me a discount on our rental home. My opinions here are all my own.