O Tannenbaum

Who loves getting fresh-cut trees for Christmas? Last year at Alpine Lake was the first time in my adult life that. I’ve had a live tree and it was absolutely amazing! It smelled divine and it was prefect in every way. This year we set out for Mountain Top Tree Farm again to find the perfect tree but found them closed when we arrived. I remembered going to Woodlake Tree Farm in the fall of 2017 during the Autumn Glory Festival so we decided to give them a try. The Farm was decorated beautifully!

Alastair and Atticus were in awe of the lights and beauty and we had a marvelous (and cold!) time searching for “the one”.

Atticus enjoyed snacking on snow and then “driving” Daddy’s truck around the farm.

I wrapped the tree in lights and a Royal Stewart patterned ribbon that evening so we could decorate it the following day. Have you ever noticed how children decorate trees? There is no such thing as scattering the ornaments and keeping the tree balanced. My kids tend to sort all the like ornaments together and load down the lower branches until they nearly touch the floor. i may have gone back and done a bit of redecorating once they finished.

Thanksgiving

Ever since we bought our home at Alpine Lake, we’ve been spending holidays here. It’s a homecoming of sorts since I actually grew up here in Preston County. Sometimes life finds a way to lead us home, doesn’t it?

My parents and brother came up to celebrate with us and feast on another one of Arthur’s perfect Turkeys. I joked that I planned on having enough mashed potatoes and gravy leftovers that I could take my kayak through them; I fell short but there’s always next year. There was still a dusting of snow on the ground and deer and turkeys roamed the woods behind our house all afternoon.

We enjoyed an amazing sunset over pumpkin desserts and my mother’s peanut butter cookies that went from cool violets to warm, golden pinks in a matter of minutes. Then we lit the Christmas lights outside ad the kids dragged my parents up to the loft in our house where Arthur has put a Hogwarts Express train. They are both obsessed! Atticus’s little boy struggles up the ladder so eagerly while he chants, “Train! Train!”, over and over again.

Arthur and I topped off our night by watching National Lampoons Christmas. We had such an amazing day! Happy Thanksgiving!

Autumn’s End

It’s been an unusual fall this year; the leaves have clung to the trees far longer than any autumn in my memory.

There was a huge difference in the landscape this past weekend. What a difference a week makes!

Luckily, we haven’t had much snow so far; it’s the last thing you want with leaves still clinging because it’s a recipe for downed trees and power lines. There have been flurries here and there and then a light dusting on October 21st.

It was a perfect morning. My 19 month old, Atticus, was mesmerized by the snow and kept trying to snack on it. When Alastair, my five-year-old, saw the snow outside at 6AM, his first question was, “Do I have to go to school today?” He cracks me up!

There’s just nothing like a peaceful morning walk in the first snow of the year. It’s a quiet unlike any other. I’m really looking forward to some evenings by the fire, watching the snow fall. Our chalet sits up so high that sometimes the snow blows up to us rather than simply falling.

As I was walking up Alpine Drive, I saw a flock of geese migrating and honking happily along. The season is changing!

I may have played some Christmas music and put up a few decorations while the snow had me in the mood. I couldn’t help it! Besides, I have two homes to decorate so I figured I might as well get ahead so we can enjoy them as soon as the real winter weather begins. Last Sunday was sunny and warm so I also put up the outdoor lights. I can’t wait to fire them up on Thanksgiving!!!

I’m still mourning the loss of summer and evening swims in the lake with my family, but Mother Nature has a way of making up for chill in the air with some truly incredible sunsets. Once the rest of those pesky leaves fall, I’ll have a better view of Alpine Lake and the surrounding mountain ranges.

Ski season is coming and there’s just so much to look forward to in the coming winter months.

In the meantime, there will be incredible, sunny days and warm spots galore. Here’s Alpine Lake the day after the snow. Isn’t it beautiful?

Stay tuned for my Thanksgiving Post where I’ll share our newfound tradition of hosting our family Thanksgiving dinner at Alpine Lake!

The Alpine Lake Infirmary

Do you have kids? If so, you’re well aware that they’re walking petri dishes of infectious illness. If there’s a strain of something particularly disgusting going around, you can bet my kids will be bringing it home to share with one another and often times, Arthur and me as well.

This week has been no different. After an absolutely AMAZING weekend full of sunshine and fun, I noticed on Sunday evening that Atticus’ left eye, which had been a tad gooey earlier in the day, was becoming puffy and pink. The dreaded scourge of pink-eye was preparing to storm our proverbial gates. I went to bed with plans of taking him to the doctor for a diagnosis and medication the following day. But Monday had far more sinister plans. Our oldest woke in the middle of the night to inform us that he was vomiting. We spent the night calming Atticus’ cries over his sore eye, Alastair’s frequent trips to the bathroom, and trying get a little sleep while both kids set up camp in our bed.

At one time, having sick children home from school was my worst nightmare. You see, when my children are ill, they normally aren’t content to lounge on the sofa and watch cartoons. They got that honest. Alastair and Atticus have as much energy as usual; They’re just carrying a communicable illness so they can’t go out in public and play with other kids. Keeping them home and entertained is a nightmare, or rather, was a nightmare. It wasn’t long after buying our vacation home at Alpine Lake that I realized how invaluable an “infirmary” can be for sick children.

On Monday, after returning from the doctor, we built play forts in the woods behind our home and hiked Castle Rock Trail. A “bear hunt” ensued, though we only found a deer in the mouth of a cave. After lunch, I put them both in the stroller and walked for nearly two hours on the tree-covered, shaded streets of the east side of the lake while they napped. Once rested, these boys were ready to rock again so we got out their bikes and I had a blast keeping up with them while they honed their skills.

Despite being sick, they had a fantastic day and plenty of play. The carnage of stomach-related illness inside the house was mitigated, and I really enjoyed my day off with them in ways that just wouldn’t have been possible in Morgantown while they begged for play dates with friends and trips to Target. At Alpine, we can get outside and avoid people simultaneously. RSV, Pneumonia, Flu, Hand Foot and Mouth Disease, Pink-eye, and all the rest of it just don’t scare me the way they once did. As my friend Alex said today, “By next Monday they will have switched and Atticus will be vomiting while Alastair has pink-eye,” and I have to tell you, another Monday in the woods with these two Wild Things doesn’t sound half-bad.

Oktoberfest

This past Saturday, Alpine Lake hosted its annual Oktoberfest celebration. What a production! The organizers, Birgit and Bernie Stock are heavily involved in so many committees and activities that make Alpine Lake an amazing and active place to live. Fun fact: Birgit is from Bavaria and now lives in the Bavarian section of Alpine Lake!

All of the food served at the festival is prepared by a mighty team of volunteers who begin cooking days ahead of time. I went to the boathouse on Friday to help peel potatoes and had a marvelous time with my neighbors. A group of around 15 of us peeled and diced for three and a half hours and it really put the spirit of volunteerism at Alpine Lake in perspective for me. The residents really are like family to one another, with easy familiarity and upbeat, humorous attitudes.

There were contests for best costume and a stein-holding competition, carriage rides, and fantastic, local Oompa band. My kids had a blast and are already looking forward to going again next year. And believe it or not, I’m very much looking forward to joining the Potato Chain Gang again in 2019.

18 Summers

As the last day of summer 2018 receded before me and turned to dusk, I took a few minutes to reflect on what was has been the most wonderful time in my life, thus far. Isn’t it an odd feeling to realize that you’re living your best days? It’s both wonderful sad to know that when the sun begins to set on my body and mind, these are the days I will think of and try to live in most. So I document. I write and take photos…so many photos, knowing that my boys will probably never even look at them all in their lifetimes. But I will. One day.

We only have 13 more summers with Alastair and 16 more with Atticus. I’m so glad we’ve found a place to make the most of the short time we have with our babes under the same roof.

Confluence

The air is cooling and autumn is signaling her return. Fall has historically been my favorite of the four seasons, but this year, it’s regrettable so see such a fantastic summer come to an end. The summer of 2018 has been the most enjoyable of my life.

The humidity has remained low and it’s been cool enough to take the stroller or bikes out nearly every day. In addition to the absence of oppressive heat here in the mountains, the streets at alpine are mercifully shaded by the densely wooded lots. We’ve spent countless hours swimming in the lake, jumping off the dock and building sandcastles and volcanos on the beach. It’s amazing how much we have been able to kayak and paddle boards since we are able to leave our watercraft at the boathouse and no longer need to haul them to a body of water. It’s been a summer spent outdoors and so very memorable.

We hosted one last set of friends this past weekend before the lake becomes too chilly for swimming. Paul and Claire were clients last year when I sold their home in Morgantown and helped find a new one. Clients often have a way of becoming friends along the way and they’re no exception.

Their daughter is particularly delightful and I always say that I plan on being her when I grow up. My boys adore both of their children and the kids played together marvelously the entire time. I love being able to take mini-vacations with friends in the same season of life and I think it’s important that we show our children what sharing and hospitality look like.

I enjoyed them all so much, that I didn’t take nearly enough photos. After they left, my eldest son told me he wanted them to “stay forever”. I can’t wait or them to return or sledding this winter, if not sooner.

Labor Day

My eldest son, Alastair, had the misfortune of being born on Labor Day weekend and while it’s not a Christmas birthday, it usually means that many of his friends aren’t able to attend his party due to previous engagements. This year we decided to have his party at the pavilion at the beach on Alpine Lake and we had a fantastic turnout. It was the perfect celebration to mark his birthday and the end of summer. The water was warm and the sun was shining despite predictions for rain. It’s so nice to have a variety of facilities that can accommodate a large gathering right here at our Alpine home.

We also hosted guests from Annapolis over the weekend. Erik and Melissa are friends we met in Morgantown and even though they’ve moved, we keep in touch. Our kids are the same age and Alastair and their daughter, Cora, have been best friends since they were just six months old. He misses seeing her often but it’s been wonderful teaching him ways to maintain a close friendship despite distance. They send one another notes, drawings, emoji texts and gifts when they are apart as well as some FaceTime conversations. Watching these kids grow is one of the greatest joys of my life. They share such sweet, tender moments, one would think they were siblings.

Erik and Melissa were also relieved to be missing the heatwave engulfing the D.C area and Southern Maryland. Though it was warm for Alpine (80 degrees) the humidity was low and the breezes coming over the lake were so refreshing. Sitting on the deck, sipping Margaritas, and talking about our love of antiques was such a treat.

While they were here we enjoyed the beach, and taking them to some of our wonderful, local restaurants like The Manor Steakhouse located in Oakland, MD in a beautiful, historic home. In addition delectable dinners, they serve a divine brunch on the weekends. My favorite order is the Crab Cakes Benedict and a Bloody Mary, though the Ricotta Pancakes and Mimosas aren’t half bad either.

Did I mention that the Andersons’ youngest son, Finn and my youngest, Atticus are only a few months apart in age? I love these littles so dearly.

It looks like we have a new tradition for Labor Day weekend!

Coming home

As many of you know, one of our biggest motivations when buying our house at Alpine was that we wanted a place that our boys would always think of as “home”; a physical place that embodied all the feelings and senses that one’s home can evoke. For me, my grandparents’ farm was always the place I most closely associated with the word and concept of home. It’s where family from out-of-state would convene, where reunions were held, and where lighting bugs were caught at dusk on damp summer nights and placed in mason jars to use as night lights for sleepovers with cousins. It was a place of happy gathering, where we regularly took leisure.

For our family now, Alpine is becoming a home with an atmosphere and tone hardly short of magical. It’s where we bring those we love most, family and friends, to unwind and connect with one another. It’s nature walks, “bear hunting”, lazy beach days and kayaking. It’s birthdays, bunk-bed sleepovers, board games, dinners crowded around the table, libations, and toasting s’mores in the fireplace at the first signs of fall. It’s a white Christmas, the smell of evergreens, putting up soooo many Christmas lights, and the anticipation I feel before a promised snow storm strikes so we can all go sledding.

Our Alpine home is a place where our boys will never outgrow bringing their friends, and one day, if they have them, our grandchildren. In the future, we’ll say goodbye to our residence in Morgantown and move into our “home” and this amazing community of people for good. In the meantime, I’ll be expanding my real estate sales market to Alpine Lake.

Does this resonate with you? Are you yearning to create a place for yourself or your family to connect? As a real estate professional, dreamer, and adventurer, I’d be honored to help you start your journey “home”.

Our Alpine Lake Story

One of my favorite things to hear from other Alpine Lake residents is the story of how they discovered this hidden gem. It’s one of the first things I ask when meeting someone new here at Alpine. I plan on showcasing some of them in the future. Let’s start with how our family found our happy place:

In July 2017, My husband and I were parents to a three-year-old and a new baby. We had just returned from an amazing beach vacation that really left us all feeling happier and more connected and we wanted more of that. Since welcoming our second son, we had struggled to enjoy activities that worked in concert with our recent familial changes. Hiking, biking, and being outdoors were all hobbies in which we had always found contentment but the summer months in Morgantown were oppressively hot. Venturing to the cooler mountain areas often involved long day trips on the weekends which were taxing on small children who rely on regular meals, snacks, and naps. It was also exhausting for Arthur and me since our youngest son, Atticus, wasn’t much of a sleeper.

When Arthur first suggested that we buy a vacation home, I was reluctant. How in the world could we afford it? Would we use it often? What were the advantages of such an expenditure? But Arthur made his case: we needed a place to unwind as a family; somewhere that offered the comfort and convenience of home close to the outdoor activities that we so enjoyed. We needed a place near enough that we could drive there for the weekend, but not so close that we felt like we hadn’t left our hectic weekday schedules.

We only had 18 summers with our kids to create and foster the connectivity that we had experienced on our vacation. I warmed to the idea quickly, especially when I considered the prospect of a home near a lake. Is there anything more relaxing than a cool, calm lake shimmering in the sunlight?

We cast a wide net as we set about researching vacation home markets. We looked from the Pocanos, to Seven Springs, to Deep Creek Lake and everywhere in between. Being in the real estate industry, we where able to research and rule out areas fairly quickly. For those of you who don’t know, I’m a REALTOR and my husband, Arthur, is the broker and owner of Bel-Cross Properties in Morgantown, WV.

It was soon apparent that one little community consistently checked all the boxes on our wish list:

-Lake
-Gated community with 24/7 security
-On campus amenities including hiking trials, golf course, beach, pool, and restaurant
-Affordable home prices and cost-of-living
-Private, wooded lots

It was time to have a look.

Alpine Lake Resort was only an hour from our home in Morgantown, but a world away in atmosphere and considerably cooler in the summer months. This mountain resort, peppered a pristine, 150 acre lake had been designed to retain the natural beauty of the Allegheny Mountains. As we made our way around the lake, we were greeted by a lush golf course, a lakeside playground, a boathouse, fishing areas, a lovely sandy beach and swimming area, tennis courts, and a mini golf course. Overlooking it all sat an elegant and unique Alpine-style lodge which contained two restaurants, an indoor pool, and fitness center. There was also a motel on site should we ever need accommodations for more guests than we could comfortably entertain in our vacation home.

Within the heavily-wooded lots around the lake we found hiking and cross country ski trails suitable for all abilities, fitness levels and age groups. Also among the woods rested more than 500 beautiful, hidden homes. Unbeknownst to me at the time, they contained residents equally as beautiful in spirit and as precious as jewels. The words “community” and “village” can scarcely convey the warmth and welcome we would soon receive.

As we drove along West Alpine Drive with our then three-year-old excitedly counting colorful kayaks on the lake and our four-month-old snoring softly in the backseat, I found myself admiring a sailboat gliding over the water with the lodge standing sentry in the background. I was acutely aware that this was a place like none other. The peace and beauty of the mountains overwhelmed me. The first part of our search had ended. We were ready to find our vacation home at Alpne Lake Resort.

That evening ater returning home, we began looking at listings in Alpine and settled on a Chalet overlooking the lake and upon seeing it in person, immediately fell in love. The owners had built the home 30 years before when their sons were small. As Chistine, the owner, told us about the vacations and weekends spent at Alpine Lake with their children, she was describing what we wanted to create at Alpine for ourselves and our boys: A place to learn and enjoy life sports, to be together without distraction, to make childhood friends, spend our holidays, and create our best memories…a “home-place”.

We had already written the offer before viewing the home so that we wouldn’t lose our opportunity to another buyer. We stopped for dinner at Monroe’s Restaurant in Kingwood on the way back to Morgantown and sent it. The offfer was accepted the following day and one month later, our lives at Alpine Lake Resort began.