“I wish I lived near the beach,” moaned a lady ahead of me in line at Walmart. She went on and on about dipping her toes in water on a hot day here in Buckhannon. She admitted she was only dreaming and was saving up for a trip to the beach at Myrtle in South Carolina or Lake Erie. Listening to her I suddenly remembered a recent conversation with Tamara and Bob Pirrung, friends who reside in Sutton.
They had stopped to visit last week and as conversation came around to taking short family trips with the grandkids, Tamara said, “What about Sutton?” I quickly responded that a huge, deep lake way off the beaten path didn’t seem like a family friendly place to visit. She actually laughed out loud and said, “Boy are you in for a surprise!”
So, standing there in line I made the decision to take a little trip down I79 to exit 67. Loading up the car with friends Nancy and Fred Shobe, we motored on down the highway. Getting off at the exit we took a simple few turns on the paved road (Rt. 4/19 South) bordered on both sides with trees stretching many feet in the air and spreading their branches to form a leafy canopy over the deep ravines. Turning onto Airport Road, trees seemed to open up on a valley of blue sky, a slight breeze in the air, and a hidden place called Sutton Lake.
Without hesitation, we drove a few feet ahead to a sandy beach jutting out into sparkling water. Right here in West Virginia, just 30 minutes from home, I found my new getaway. The car had hardly stopped before I jumped out, kicked off my shoes, rolled up my jeans, and raced through green grass to warm sand and into cool water. I didn’t feel a bit silly as I was warmly welcomed by sunbathing mommas both on a shaded grassy spot under a tree and floating on a colorful lime green inner tube in the middle of the water. Both were clearly relaxing but also very alert to their children’s playful splashing closer to shore.
I grabbed my camera to record this moment in time; Cooper and Wesley Wayts so proudly pointed to their mom, while announcing they came here often because they love to swim where they can have fun and even grab an ice cream cone at the Marina just steps away. They come very often to this beach, as it is very close to their home in Clarksburg, they can picnic here, or play on the playground. They also had a water splashing cousin, Lizzy Oldaker, and her family from Weston.
I decided quickly that I needed to find the other surprises the lake had to offer, so I returned to shore, dusted off the sand and started back to the car. Almost there, I heard a sweet voice behind me yell out, “Hey it’s free too!” I knew then that many West Virginia families would find this gem a wonderful, affordable, safe environment for getaways on stressful days, long weekends to camp out nearby or visit the Marina where colorful jet skis lined up alongside paddle boats, tour boats, and house boats for overnight adventures.
I barely made it inside the marina before hearing. “Hi there” from a chorus ofthree young fresh-faced teens behind the counter, Jordan, Sam and Thomas. They were quick to relate reasons for their choosing to work on the lake, their love for West Virginia and their respect for their employers Rella and Ron Cretican who dropped in. After introductions, I discovered they were previous owners at another wonderful visitors’ hideaway, The Golden Anchor, in Thomas, WV. They purchased the marina in December 2014 and set about adding their personal touch to Mother Nature’s incredible lake. They enhanced several boats with water slides from top of the boats to the water below, propane fed grills for roasting hamburgers or barbeque ribs, and comfortable beds for sunny days and moon lit nights on the lake.
Needless to say, 2019 has proven to be the best year ever for their business. Leaving the lake as the sun started to drop, I knew I had just had one of my best days ever as I had found another Best Kept Secret of West Virginia, a beach right in Sutton!