My husband and I have been together since high school and are now looking forward to the next exciting “empty nest” phase of our lives. It gets more and more difficult to surprise my husband on his birthday, our anniversary, Christmas, and any other gift related occasion with each passing year. Especially now, that we have the means for him to purchase what he wants when he wants it (within reason). Plus I’ve always cherished shared experiences over material gifts. Memories last, while “things” are much more fleeting. We have always done things as a couple. But as we age, I find I am less inclined to “rough it.” When an opportunity presented to give my husband something he would never expect, a trip to Riverside Lodge on Hooper’s Island, Maryland, I couldn’t pass it up. The get-away was tailor made. He could hunt, I could relax in comfort, and we could enjoy each others company.
Riverside Lodge exceeded our expectations! My husband was thrilled by the duck hunts expertly guided by Johnny and Joey and thoroughly enjoyed the comradery of fellow hunters. Never had he seen the number of ducks that filled the air around the lodge. Thousands, literally thousands of ducks! There was rarely a time when you couldn’t see one species or another in the air or on the water. I was afforded the luxury of sleeping in, given time to read, time to paint my nails, play with my hair and makeup, things I feel guilty doing at home because there are so many other demands. We also got to catch up with old friends while making new ones. Peggy and Gary McQuitty were the most gracious of hosts. Do not miss the opportunity to get to know them and hear the history of Riverside Lodge first hand. It is truly fascinating. It is difficult to put the elegance of the main room and dining room into words. Formal and comfortable are words that rarely go together, yet they are the only ones I can think of to describe this warm and inviting place. We shared hours of conversation in the glow of the oversized fireplace. All the while being served the most delectable meals the Chesapeake Bay area has to offer with the most genuine service provided by Joanne, Dot and Judy. I have never experienced service provided with such gracious warmth, rare qualities in current times. We are “foodies” who enjoy seeking out food destinations. The Riverside Lodge was an unexpected food destination as well as a leisurely stroll through a time long ago.
A memorable treat! Two thumbs up! Five Stars!
– Traci and Gary Stroupe
Just imagine it’s the 1930’s and you’ve been invited by Walter Chrysler to join him hunting ducks at his private 1,000 acre hunt club on the eastern shore of Maryland. Well you don’t have to imagine what that must have been like; you can experience it just like I did with a stay at the Riverside Lodge on Hoopers Island.
My wife had secretly organized a weekend getaway as a surprise Christmas gift to me. What a surprise it was, because not only had she booked a weekend duck hunt but arranged to have two other couples to join us on our adventure.
While we meandered towards Hoopers Island from Cambridge, it felt as though we were literally driving back in time as we passed by the few remaining crab picking house and through the Blackwater National Wildlife refuge until we arrived at the end of the island and the lodge.
We parked our vehicles and were warmly greeted by the head guide Johnny, his son Joey and owner Gary McQuitty. We learned Johnny is a waterman who grew up on Hoopers Island and he sports a heavy eastern shore dialect to prove it. Consequently, Gary volunteered Joey to be a translator for his father if needed.
Driving through what has been referred to as the “Everglades of the North” and seeing the thousands of waterfowl on our way to the lodge got my heart racing. Then as I stood in front of the lodge chatting and watched no less than 500 redheads raft up not more than 200 yds off the dock I knew I wouldn’t get much sleep that night anticipating the next morning’s hunt.
Johnny and Joey moved our luggage from our trucks to our private rooms while we met Gary’s better half, Peggy McQuitty. Soon we were all sitting by a roaring fire, enjoying adult beverages, eating eastern shore appetizers like oysters on the half shell and oyster puffs and learning some of the fascinating history of the gun club and its previous owners. Gary informed us there has been a Lodge on this site since the early 1900s and this “new lodge” was reconstructed after a fire in 1967 in homage to the great Gunning Clubs of the early 1900s.
It wasn’t long before we were called to be seated for dinner in the formal dining room. What elegant surroundings! The walls were covered with hand painted murals depicting the waterman’s life on the Chesapeake Bay. I’m glad we dressed for dinner because wearing a t-shirt and jeans would have just seemed inappropriate dining in such a spectacular environment. The meals prepared by JoAnn were even more remarkable than the surroundings. Dinner formally served by Dot and Judy, started with a lump crabmeat cocktail, followed by prime rib, Yorkshire pudding, green beans and finished off with a homemade pineapple sorbet. I wouldn’t have thought it possible, but it seemed as though each subsequent meal topped the previous whether we had frittatas and French toast for breakfast or cream of crab soup and crab cakes for lunch. It was all fantastic. Speaking of fantastic that is the best way to describe the staff and hosts of the Riverside Lodge on Hoopers Island. Everyone was extremely friendly and accommodating. Gary told us that JoAnn has been in the kitchen for more than 66 years starting when she was 4 years old and her mother was the cook. Johnny the senior guide had only one rule, “don’t shoot the guide”.
With nearly 1000 deeded acres of waterfront property and more than 19 shore blinds on the Honga River and Chesapeake Bay the hunting options seemed almost limitless to me. The flexibility for different hunting possibilities proved very valuable for our stay because we arrived just ahead of the blizzard of 2016. The severe weather patterns could have spelled disaster for some, but not there. When the wind, ice and tides prevented us from safely getting to the shore blinds to hunt for redheads we just opted to hunt mallards over their ponds. It wasn’t long before my hunting buddies and me limited out on mallards and headed back to the lodge.
As the weekend progressed, the weather turned from bad to awful. With horizontal snow and wind steadily increasing, I just knew our next chance to hunt would have to be called off. Gary and Johnny huddled together and figured out a safe way for us to set up a makeshift blind and decoys near an extremely large raft of redheads. We got our limit of redheads that hunt and in the process saw thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of redheads. What we witnessed was indescribable.
The blizzard that closed down I-70 kept us from departing for home, gave us another night’s stay and one more delicious breakfast at the lodge. Gary and Peggy couldn’t have been more obliging and gracious hosts. Before we left, they shared their vision for the lodge as a year round vacation destination offering everything from hunting, fishing and water sports to scenic bay tours. Reflecting on our recent experience I’m already planning to surprise my wife with an anniversary gift, a getaway fishing weekend stay at the lodge.
I wanted to thank you for such an incredible experience you all provided us during our recent trip to the Riverside Lodge on Hooper’s Island. We cannot stop talking about it! The property is like something out of a movie! I’ve never experienced better waterfowl hunting in my life. The guides were superb and fun to be with. And the staff that took care of us during our stay made us feel right at home. You can tell that they’ve lived on the shore their entire lives… the home cooked meals said so! Thank you so much for a memory we will never forget! We’ll be sure to refer as many people as we can to the Riverside Lodge on Hooper’s Island.
– Chad Bauer