Deep Creek Lake
Thursday, I had a half-day at work, during which I bustled around like a nut, trying to get everything finished so that I would have little or nothing to do when returning to work (boo) on Tuesday. With the remnants of my cold and the inevitable hip pain that comes whenever I get sick and cough, I was pretty exhausted, having not slept well for almost a week. When I got home, Bobby and I argued over some stupid stuff about which I may have been right but could have used to be more diplomatic. Ah well, all was forgiven soon enough over vegetable sandwiches and red beans and rice.
Evan and Potter were meeting us in Ellicott City so that they could follow us west to Deep Creek. They were running a bit late, but as soon as they got there, they helped Bobby to load the car and we were on our way. It's only about a three-hour drive from Ellicott City to Deep Creek, which is certainly one of the nice things about living in central Maryland (despite my repeated griping about traffic and yuppie tools). We were in Deep Creek by late afternoon, got the keys to the cabin, and got settled in.
The place is really cool. It's a bona fide log cabin, and while there were some minor exaggerations by the realtor (like our "big-screen TV" that might have been big back in the '70s) and enough ornamental pillows to be truly annoying, it's better than the last place we stayed up here. The cabin sleeps ten and has a fireplace. We had five others joining us, but they would not be arriving until Friday.
By now, we were starving, so we headed over to Brenda's Pizza, which has some of the best pizza in the State of Maryland, and ate roughly a ton. Bobby had big plans to go snow tubing that night, but we were all tired and a bit behind schedule, so we ended up returning to the cabin to start a fire, and the boys played some Nintendo Monopoly and Dawn curled up on the couch to read.
Potter and Evan have been friends of ours for almost five years now since I trained them as new (and very young) employees at The Piece. We always have a fantastic time together, and this weekend would prove no exception.
I slept the best that I had all week that night, for which I was very glad.
Friday morning, I woke up to knocking on the door. I hadn't known what time the rest of our friends were arriving, but it seemed that they were arriving very early--very early considering that it is about a three-and-a-half-hour drive from Belair to Deep Creek and they arrived around nine.
Bobby got them settled, and we discovered the awful truth about our long weekend: It has rained all weekend. When we arrived, there was about five inches of snow on the ground. The rain and yucky-warm temperatures had melted almost all of it by the time I got up on Friday morning.
(But remember, folks: global warming does not exist. It is a fiction created by the liberals because we like to inconvenience ourselves.)
In other words, it is very odd not to have snow in Garrett County by mid-January. It is even odder to have precipitation and temperatures so warm that even at night, it does not freeze or fall as snow. Needless to say, as I write this, all of the snow is gone, but we have lots of mud.
Bobby and Evan made us all omelettes for breakfast, and we spent the day in the cabin waiting for our last two cabinmates to arrive. We played a rousing game of Trivial Pursuit that we didn't finish because I had five pieces in my pie and everyone else had just one, but it was fun. Of course it was fun; I won (isn't it annoying when people make remarks like that?) I got in the shower, and they started playing something new called AdVersity that involved pairing ad slogans with products to make the sickest and funniest combinations. I took a pass on that one, as I am not one for boardgames except for word games like Scrabble and Scattergories and I was pretty much gamed out after Trivial Pursuit, so I read my book instead. We had supper that night at a steakhouse called Pine Lodge that had a surprising number of vegetarian options and was really, really good.
Bobby, Potter, and Evan went to Wisp that night for snow tubing. I stayed home with Cindy, Andy, and Matt and we played...Disney Scene-It. Granted, I agreed to play, and I do like the old-school animated Disney movies but...well, I'll save it for another post so as not to clutter my happy vacation post with my normal griping and whining. Suffice to say that Cindy has annoyed me for some time now, and Bobby made the declaration tonight that we probably won't be inviting her along anywhere else because she's so neurotic and bossy. Jen and Will arrived around nine, so we got them settled in and picked up AdVersity again. I agreed to try it this time, since everyone had had such fun with it earlier, and I found it something that is funny for a while but tedious after too long. There are only so many imaginary sayings I can attach to Fleet enemas.
Despite the rain, Bobby and I were determined not to miss out on the mountains. The next day, we had a quick cold breakfast and headed for Swallow Falls State Park. Muddy Creek Falls is the tallest waterfall in Maryland. Bobby and I had been once before, several years ago. It is understandably a big tourist park, and the trails are built with stairs and reinforced paths to help even the not-so-outdoorsy enjoy the park. The last time we were there was mid-summer and the park was swarming with people (and kids) and was also during a drought. Well, I mentioned earlier about the rain...and the rain had the dual effects of swelling the river to impressive proportions and keeping most of the people away. (Though--just like hiking in El Yunque in Puerto Rico, there were people with umbrellas. *eyeroll*)
Swallow Falls is an interesting place. It is an evergreen forest, so it looked more like summer than mid-January because everything was so green. The river was swollen and the rapids were wild. Bobby and I had a great time experimenting with our respective new cameras--Bobby has adopted the SeaLife and I have adopted the Canon Rebel--and Potter and Evan decided to be trailblazers and explored every little path to the water or to the rocks. Alex had a great time too and got covered in mud.
A combination of the weather and the surging falls meant that the park was full of mist. It smelled like water, fresh water. It smelled like the stupid quarry, and it made me want to go scuba diving so badly. (Proof, I suppose, that the quarry wasn't as traumatic as I like to believe it to be, to justify flying to Bermuda to do our open water dives.)
Saturday afternoon was, of course, the NFL playoffs, Ravens versus Colts. There was a lot at stake in this game given the local history: The Indianapolis Colts used to be the Baltimore Colts. In 1980, the Baltimore Colts literally packed up and moved the team overnight in a Mayflower truck. No one was told until the team was gone and Baltimore--always a football town--was suddenly without a team.
It took us fifteen years to get a new team--the Ravens--and it is no secret that we are generally reviled in the NFL for it. The Cleveland Browns were moved to Baltimore...never mind that the Browns got a team right back (where we had to wait fifteen years), and we had been screwed a lot worse than that, fifteen years earlier. Baltimore fans are rabid and loyal as a result. (But I like to think that we have a bit of class as well. For example, we are not known for beating up opposing teams' fans, no matter how obnoxious they may be and how much we admittedly hate having to share a section with them, which is certainly not true of certain other NFL stadiums.) A lot of Baltimore fans still hate the Colts, some more even than the Steelers. I can't quite bring myself to this sort of vindictiveness. After all, the Mayflower truck had come and gone by the time I was born, the Colts are not part of our division, and I prefer to direct my rivalry to more productive ends.
Alas, this was a big deal: The Colts return to Baltimore for the first time ever in the playoffs. Local T-shirt makers jumped right on it, creating Johnny Unitas "jersey" shirts with snide remarks directed at the Colts, and when Bobby and I went to the Costeau lecture on Tuesday, they were selling them on the corners downtown. It was a big deal. We had to win. Not only were the playoffs at stake but also a good deal of local pride.
We played like shit, and we deserved to lose. The Colts looked like shit too, but we looked even shittier. It was one of only three or four games in NFL history where not a single touchdown was scored. That is great, to hold Peyton Manning to no touchdowns. It is terrible when our offense only managed two field goals in reply and McNair threw two interceptions. We caught two interceptions and managed points out of neither of them. There were a few dodgy calls from the officials, but I can't even rant about that. No. We deserved to lose because we played like shit.
We lost 15-6, all of the points scored on field goals.
A 13-3 season--a bloody franchise record--and the best defense in the league and a former MVP quarterback and we looked like a damn peewee team.
I did the only thing left for a heartbroken Bal'more girl to do after her beloved Ravens get humiliated in the playoffs: I wrote Silmfic. About four thousand words of it, while Bobby, Potter, and Evan were snow tubing again and the others were playing games. And when Bobby and the boys got home, I ate. Pizza and jalapeño poppers. And that didn't take back the loss or the fact that we're out of the playoffs (when Bobby and I both believed that the Ravens really had what it took to win another Super Bowl) but it was gooood. And we watched more football, and our NFC pick for the Super Bowl--the Eagles--lost too. So now there will be no crowing, "Bird Bowl! Careful where you park your car!" Boooo.
So I'm rooting for the Saints because I don't feel like rooting for any of my AFC options: the Colts (because they had to beat us to get there, much as I'd like to see Peyton get a shiny), the Chargers (because I don't think that they're that good, and I'm tired of hearing about them), or the Patriots (because they've won enough and I'm just tired of seeing them). And it would be cool to see the Saints win since--just last season--no one was sure if the Saints would ever even return to New Orleans. I suppose that it's like a campy Hollywood sports flick, but it's real, and I think that it would be incredibly cool, and also a testament to the power of the twelfth man: the fans, who have shown such extraordinary resilience in the real life that exists beyond sports drama.
I suppose that if I have to choose an AFC team, I'd want it to be--and Eru, I am going to Baltimore hell--*wince* *cringe* *hide* the Colts.
I like Peyton Manning, and he's got such talent it would suck to see him fall to the same fates as Dan Marino and Bret Favre, some of the best QBs in history but discounted because they never won a Super Bowl.
And I know that there's a snowball's chance in hell that any NFC team is going to beat any of the AFC teams still in the hunt, but I can hope.
On Sunday, Bobby, Evan, Potter, and I went to Deep Creek Lake State Park to take a short hike with Alex. Bobby and I had hiked this park a few years ago; we did the full Meadow Mountain Trail and did the Firetower Trail that is straight up the mountain and the most difficult hike I have done to date. (And am not eager to repeat any time soon!) We did part of the Meadow Mountain Trail and the Old Brant Mine Trail loop. Because the mountain is primarily deciduous, there wasn't much to see nature-wise outside of some moss and ferns, but the old mine--though reconstructed since the original has long collapsed--was interesting. I do like trails that are built around historical sites; they're fun. I did practice with the macro setting on my camera by taking some pictures of some moss. (sinneahtes, you would be proud! :^D) Alex had fun, though he was still tired from his hike the day before and was not on his best behavior by the hike's end. Just like a little kid, he gets tired and then he gets stupid. He slept for the rest of the day except for perhaps an hour.
We went back to the cabin to relax before going to dinner with the whole group at the Sante Fe Grill, a new southwestern/Mexican restaurant in town. Shortly after, everyone headed off for snow tubing...everyone but Dawn. I stayed in the cabin with Alex (though he slept most of the time) and wrote. And finished watching the San Diego/New England game. And inwardly groaned at the thought of another Indianapolis/New England AFC Championship game while the top two teams in the AFC have been eliminated. (Won't rant about that now.)
Evening time brought the more practical matter of beginning to get things together for the next morning's departure. We had to have the keys back to the realtor's office by eleven the next morning, so we tried to pack as much as we could and divide the leftover food among the various people.
And Alex lost his football. His really annoying, shrieking football that he loves (that his Aunts Sharon and Kirsty left with us with a big grin and a pat to his head and a "Have fun, Alex!" before hopping on a plane across the ocean). I knew that we brought it because it squeaks at every little touch and squeaked the whole time we were loading the car, every time Alex's toy bag was bumped. After one day, it was gone. We looked everywhere, under furniture with flashlights and in rooms where Alex hadn't even gone, but we couldn't find it. It was heartbreaking. It's his favorite toy, annoying as it may be. So our first act after getting home? (After unpacking and taking a much-needed shower, that is?) We bought him a new one. I was worried that he might know that it was different. Nope. He caught sight of it and it was clamped in his jaws, shrieking, moments later.
Monday, there isn't much to tell. We packed up and left. Everyone left until it was just Bobby, Potter, Evan, and me, just as it had started. "And then there were four," said Bobby, and we got busy taking care of last-minute cleaning and packing. We had a fantastic time--despite the weather, despite the sometimes-annoying company--and are already planning to do it again next year.
Two-and-a-half hours later, we were home.