As much as I love the sights and sounds of the city, there are times I crave an escape. With a particularly stressful period at work at hand, it was just about that time where a break from the internet, a break from public transportation, a break from my everyday routine, and a little change of scenery sounded perfect.
Last Friday, my partner and I joined a group of friends for a “Ladies Ski Bunny Weekend” as it was fittingly deemed. Armed with snacks for the drive, an ipod full of Madonna, and plenty of gear, we piled into a Jeep and started our several hour road trip to McHenry, Maryland.
McHenry is located in Western Maryland, about 180 miles northwest of DC. Home to Deep Creek Lake, Swallow Falls State Park, and Wisp Resort, McHenry draws tourists year-round from DC, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and other surrounding areas.
As we arrived to the area, we were greeted with snow! Since winter in DC has been startlingly snow-free this year, a few flakes were exactly what I’d hoped for to make a ski weekend complete. The girls and I shuffled into a warm and inviting 3-story cabin near the lake, complete with 3 floors, a fireplace, board games, a wii and a complete collection of Veggie Tales on VHS.
Our first order of business was to light a fire in the fireplace- which proved to be quite difficult. Here is the part where I could show you a scene involving several women, a hammer, a screwdriver, and an attempt to make kindling by hand/force (Thankfully no fingers/hands were lost in the process). Instead, I’ll tell you about how we warmed ourselves by eating bowls of delicious vegetarian chili courtesy of this recipe.
In the morning, we were greeted with 3 inches of fresh snow and headed for the slopes. We’d finally found winter in Western Maryland, and it was beautiful! Some of the girls headed for lessons, while J and I decided to hit the mountain on our own. I hadn’t been skiing in over 10 years, but found it amazing how quickly and naturally the movements came back to me. Sadly that didn’t mean I wasn’t sore.
After a full day of skiing, snowboarding, learning new things, relearning old things, and a whole lot of excitement in general, all six of us were beat. We peeled out of our layers, popped some advil, put on some music, and prepared for dinner. I should tell you– a truly magical thing happens when 6 foodies bring bags and bags of groceries for a weekend trip. Before I knew it, there were various spices, produce, pizza stones, and balls of dough being pulled out for homemade pizzas and the dicing and chopping and sauteing began.
Lillet cocktails and a rousing game of Clue (it was Col. Mustard in the Lounge with the knife!) rounded out the evening quite well. I think some of us were a little high from the fresh air and adrenaline of the skiing, but it made for a night full of laugher.
Day two on the mountain required a hearty breakfast of tofu scramble and fried potatoes for energy. It turned out to be a sunny, beautiful day with very few people on the slopes. As I got more comfortable on my skis, it was easier to explore different runs, practice my technique, and enjoy the beautiful scenery. I also thoroughly enjoyed the flashy ski suits and retro spandex outfits on display throughout the resort.
The weather warmed up by Sunday, and more and more snow melted by the sides of the runs. From the chairlift, it looked like summer had set on the city of McHenry, revealing beautiful hills and landscapes. Such a change from the blustery snow-filled scenes from just a few days earlier!
Our time in McHenry ended with more home-cooked food (homemade BBQ chicken! S’mores in the fireplace!), more games, and more laughter– all the elements of the perfect weekend getaway.
One Pro-tip: If you’re planning to visit McHenry and would like to have access to alcohol– plan ahead! There are some very specific liquor laws in Garrett County which restrict where alcohol can be sold (only in specific liquor stores) and when. (i.e. not sold on Sundays except for with the purchase of a meal including meat) Point is– do your research or bring it with you!
Overall, I can’t wait to go back to Wisp and Deep Creek Lake for another girls’ weekend! Only a few hours away, McHenry offers activities to enjoy year-round- from skiing, snow-shoeing and ice-fishing in the winter to hiking, white water rafting and boating on Deep Creek Lake in the summer. For now, it’s back to the routine– but that doesn’t mean I won’t be planning my next visit already!