In the years before my dad’s parents passed away, they started RV camping on a little plot in the woods at the edge of some land in Garrett County, Maryland, that they used to farm years before and that still belonged to the family. My grandfather sold the RV after my grandmother passed away, but he wanted to keep camping on that spot, so he put up a couple of modular sheds, installed a tiny kitchen and a tinier bathroom, and created the Stockslager family cabin. Pappy kept visiting the cabin until he died in January 2018 (you can read my tribute to him here), and his gentle, goofy humor and spindly handwriting are still all over the place, in the lists of instructions he made for winterizing and taking care of the cabin, the John Deere clock he made and hand-painted with a Bible verse that somehow fits, and the old and quirky but still functional cookware and dishes that are getting a second life after years in Grandma and Pappy’s kitchen. The cabin continues to be a beloved vacation place for many members of our family. It has been expanded in recent years and now includes a bigger bathroom and a private bedroom, though some still prefer to sleep in the curtained area off the living room. It’s not palatial by any means, but it’s really just there to serve as a shelter and a base for outdoor adventures, and it serves that purpose beautifully.
Jordan and I have spent a long weekend at the cabin each of the three autumns since we’ve been married. Here are some of my favorite things about being there.
- Walking down to the hayfield when the sun is coming up, then taking the short loop hike through the woods and watching deer burst out of their hiding places and run across the path
- Cooking breakfast in the tiny indoor kitchen, making the whole cabin smell like bacon and coffee
- Cooking hot dogs and s’mores over a roaring fire in the fire pit
- Playing board games under the fairy lights at the picnic table in the covered outdoor kitchen area
- Taking a spin around the woods and fields in the utility vehicle (a John Deere Gator, of course)
- Hiking in the nearby New Germany State Park, as well as other trails on and off the cabin property
- Visiting some of our favorite local businesses: High Country Creamery (where we stock up on cheese for the visit–very important), Cornucopia Cafe, and of course, Candyland at Hilltop Fruit Market
I love that I go to bed smelling like fire every night at the cabin. I love that I can get up early and get a little work done while sitting outside as I wait for Jordan to get ready for the day. I love that even though the cabin feels isolated and we sometimes hear coyotes and catch glimpses of bears, we know we’re safe because we’re surrounded by the farms and homes of people who knew and respected my grandparents and are keeping an eye on their kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids. I love seeing the patchwork fields covering the hills in the distance and watching the sun slant through the trees and light up the leaves like fire. I am thankful for this beautiful place that has meant so much to my family and now means so much to Jordan and me. I can’t wait to be there again.