Whimzie Ingalls Wilder Visits the Sugar Shack

This weekend, the family embarked on a super fun adventure! We went with some friends from church to the Moose Hill Maple Sugar Festival!! We drove to the Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary and were able to see how maple syrup is made! When I first saw the little blurb advertising it in our  bulletin, all I could think was:

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I am a great lover of all things Laura Ingalls Wilder. I read the books, watched the shows, used to pretend I was blind like Mary or married to Almanzo  (NOT Alonzo! Thanks, Gretchen! You’re a “JEWEL.” 😉 ) like Laura. I used to read those books and wish I could spend Christmas with Laura and her family just once. Oh, to go to sleep to the sounds of Pa’s fiddle, all nestled close to Mary in a trundle bed. Well, this sounded like a little bit of the Prairie to me! If only I had a bonnet!

We all met at the church late Saturday morning. Before we left, we enjoyed a delicious brunch at the church, complete with plenty of maple-flavored treats. (Note PrincessDiva’s headband.)

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When we arrived at our destination, we had a little bit of time before our tour began so we went exploring through the woods with our friends. The boys picked up the first of the eleventy thousand sticks that they would collect throughout the day. If I said, “Be careful with that stick; you’re going to stick someone in the eye with that” once, I said it eleventy thousand times. Once for each stick. At one point, my oldest turned around and said, “Mom, you really need to quit worrying so much.” Of course he said that whilst trying to balance his way across a 2 inch-diameter twig that was stretched over a 90-foot deep canyon holding a tree trunk in each hand. My measurements might be a little off, but if I hadn’t issued a “Be Careful” then, my mom license would surely have been revoked. I think I’ve included a picture here of Baby Boy one of the aforementioned sticks.

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After the exploring came the guided tour. I really enjoyed it. Our guide was kid friendly and she gave enough information that I felt like we all learned something but not so many details that our ears were bleeding at the end. Unfortunately, I couldn’t concentrate on everything she said well enough to remember all the details (I had to count the Little People obsessively to make sure we hadn’t lost one, keep them from walking through the fires at the different stops, protect other tour participants’ eyes from the sticks, etc.) so if you really want all the specifics, you may have to do further research on your own. (You can re-read Chapter 7 in Little House in the Big Woods, for crying out loud.)

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My favorite parts of the tour? The parts where we were given the chance to taste stuff. Any tour that hands out samples is a good tour in my book. The first thing they let us taste was maple sap. I thought it would be thicker, but it was really the consistency of water. And it tasted like barely sweetened water. Hmm..I wonder if that was really sap in the bottle or if it WAS just sugar water. No, I’m not going to let my mind go there. It was really sap, I just know it. This is a picture of the PrincessDiva getting a sap sample. She would want you to note her polished fingernails. Her friend Hannah gave her a manicure last week and she’s very proud of it.

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On the next stop a French Canadian trapper named Jean Claude Pierre le Pepe du Luc au St. Marc (or something close, I couldn’t understand his “outrageous accent, you silly king”….shout out to all my fellow Python fans!) He was “waiting” for his Native American friends to come back. He told us the whole story about how they discovered you could boil tree sap and get sugar and syrup in the first place. I’m not telling you the whole story here though. I was glad it was a rather long story and that he didn’t mention his Native American friends again, because I could tell by the look on FirstBorn’s face, he was prepared to wait for those Indians to come back. He’s not usually distracted and  has his father’s “one track mind” gene, so our Canadian friend better be grateful he didn’t have any ‘splainin’ to do. In the bottom picture I think he’s showing us how they cooked using hot rocks.  

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SIDE NOTE: Outrageous Accent Boy completed his costume with a fur jacket. He didn’t have it on when we saw him on the tour, but later that afternoon when we were at the gift shop, he walked by wearing it. (I guess his Native American friends never showed.  Go figure.) I wish I’d taken a picture of it, but it looked something like this:

fur-coat-25-250I think maybe he borrowed it from his mom. Anyway, as he was passing by, I whispered to The Husband, “He looks like a p-i-m-p daddy.” I don’t know why I don’t just give up the spelling. First of all, I usually spell the wrong word. I’ve also been known to spell secrets in front of other adults, forgetting they could actually spell, and insulting their intelligence in the process. Finally, my children, especially FirstBorn, know how to spell. So I spent the next thirty minutes trying to ignore my son who repeatedly and loudly kept asking, “So, what’s a pimp? Why did you say he looked like a pimp? What IS a pimp?” 

On our next stop, Little Colonial Lady explained the drudgery of life in her time. She let the kids try on the yoke to get an idea of how heavy the buckets of sap could be. I’m surprised FirstBorn was able to stand under the weight, especially since picking his shoes up off the living room floor usually throws his back out for a week. I wish I’d made this picture a little bigger so that you could see the expression on his face a little better. I had just told him that we were having one of those specially made for his birthday next year and he was less than thrilled.

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Oh, look! More tasting. This time we got to try little bits of maple sugar. Of course it was good! It’s S-U-G-A-R!

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Our final stop was at The Sugar Shack. Well, The Sugar Shack is a little old place where we can get together. Sugar Shack, baby. Sugar Shack, bay-bee. Sugar Shack, that’s where it’s…Sorry. I couldn’t squelch my inner B-52 any longer. Actually the Sugar Shack is where the syrup magic happens. My favorite part, besides where we tasted the syrup, was when Mr. Sugar  Shack (I didn’t catch his name) showed us how they grade the syrup. Basically he pours some syurp in a glass bottle and compare it to a little set of syrups he already has to see how the colors match. It’s very scientific, apparently.  

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I think the whole fam had a good time. The weather couldn’t have been more beautiful. It wasn’t too terribly cold and the sun was shining. Most of the snow had melted last week so it wasn’t too muddy. We picked the best day to visit. And on the way back home, to what did our wandering eyes did appear?

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Five Guys Burgers and Fries!! If you have one of these near you and you’ve never eaten there, well then why in the world not? I ate the whole thing. On the way home, we had to stop and buy some ice cream at CVS because on the tour, Mr. Sugar Shack had mentioned that some people enjoy eating maple syrup on ice cream. The Husband and I are very suggestible, especially when it comes to food, so we knew before that day ended, we had to try it for ourselves. Never mind that we didn’t have any bread, milk, or cereal, we had to stop and get ice cream before we got home. I’m so glad we did because, good grief, Charlie Brown, that was good. Don’t bother squeezing some Aunt Jemima’s on your ice cream and expecting to get the same effect. It has to be the real deal….pure maple syrup. Which costs more per gallon than gas for your car, but it was so worth it. Besides you don’t need a gallon. It’s so much better than table syrup that you can get by with a smaller amount. Oh, my goodness. I’ve been maple syrup brainwashed. I may have become a maple syrup snob. I’ll try not to judge those of you who have Mrs. Butterworth standing in your pantry this very minute. I will truly try.

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 Don’t judge by the first picture of the FirstBorn. I think I caught him off guard.
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I think this is the point where FirstBorn stole my phone and decided to do his own photojournalistic impression of the day. He started off conservatively with his first picture:

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I could have done without the picture of me with my mouth full, but whatever.

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And then he ended with a few self-portraits. Here’s an example:

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So, to recap:  

2 large bottles of maple syrup: $10 a piece

Geodes from the gift shop that have nothing at all to do with the whole maple syrup experience but were NECESSARY additions to the Little Peoples’ collection of stuff and were worth the price of not having to hear about them the whole way back home:  $1 a piece

 Dinner at Five Guys: around $30

 The opportunity to break routine, do something we’d never done, embrace our inner Little House, and enjoy each other as a family:

PRICELESS!

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12 Comments

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12 responses to “Whimzie Ingalls Wilder Visits the Sugar Shack

  1. I love me some Little House.

    How lucky for you to get to taste sugar water out of a tree!! Good times!

    And I’m just a teensy bit jealous that I haven’t ever met a Canadian with such a fabulous coat.

    Looks like you had a great trip!! 🙂

  2. Deena

    What a fun day! We love the Little House books at our house too! When Jacie was three the only thing she asked Santa for was a pair a red mittens and a peppermint stick – just like Laura and Mary. We still laugh about that. We were really surprised when of all the toys to ask for – that’s the only thing she wanted. Santa delivered!

  3. Oh What Fun!! I love days like that…a little learning, a lotta fun and GREAT headbands to boot.

    Surely your Mom license is still in good working order after your “eleventy thousand” comments b/c I have still have mine after locking my son in the van, in the cold, in the Wal-Mart parking lot (when he was an infant, thank you)…so, I think “they” seem to be pretty gracious on revocation requirements…

    There is a Five Guys about 40 minutes from here that Hubs has been to but not me. I want to go. Indeed.

    I loved all your details being a details girl myself….

  4. I LOVE laura too!

    Your trip sounds like it was so much fun (and tasty!).

    Oh, and on the issue of Boys and Sticks. My on has a collection of sticks that we have literally moved across this great nation. Not once but twice. We know have a no stick policy. You may enjoy one stick, in one hand. You find a new stick, the other must go. Then he must leave the said stick in the park for some other child to enjoy.

    He’s a bit better now that he is almost 12. But three years ago we had more tears over sticks than anything else!

    All that to say, I understand.

  5. Hi-larious.

    Rolling laughter about the p-i-m-p spelling. Do we never learn? My son has super-stellar-Spock hearing. He’d do that type of shout out even if I was whispering from the next room. I have to be careful…

    It’s Almonso, babe. Just keepin’ it real.

    I heart Laura, too. But upon Hallmark uberviewing, I tend to think she was whiny. But I liked her all the same. And Mary, too. And Ma.

    Sounds like a fun weekend. Not too expensive, all things considered. After all–you stayed out of the e.r. when sticks were involved.

  6. Oh my…I needed that laugh! That sounds like a lot of fun!

    There is some serious Little House lovin’ going on in our house, too. Sydney and I are on the second book…and have started working our through the dvd’s via Netflix. I LOVE watching the episodes with her. I can’t wait ’til we get to the one’s with Manly…and when he drives her to her teaching job…and then they argue…and then they go to the church social and he gives her the scarf and kisses her…oh, the romance! I may have to move that one up in the queue!

  7. carpoolqueen

    No wonder you used so many exclamation points in your texts! It looks like fun!

    Especially the 5 Guys part. We seriously heart 5 Guys.

    And does it sorta’ count as maple syrup if it’s non-high-fructose corn syrup? Just regular corn syrup?

    Just askin’…..

  8. Loved those books – I always wanted to run down the hill (but not tumble of course).

    I need your email address for your prize – it has not made it too my in-box. There is a “contact me” button on my blog. Can you leave a comment on my blog when you have sent it again?

    Thanks!

  9. You would be so disappointed in the Chaneys. Not only do we not use maple syrup, we don’t even have real sugar in our syrup. I think the brand we buy is “for children with diabetes.” Sweetened with Splenda no less.

    Your outing sounds divine. Maybe one day, I’ll taste the goodness. For now, I’m trying to keep my husband’s heart healthy. 😦

    I’m SO glad ya’ll had good times! I love it when you find a gem of a family activity and you get good weather to boot!

    And the pimp thing- that’s just funny…

  10. Amy,
    I have enjoyed catching up on your life and you are as funny now as you were 20 years ago! I would love to see you and meet that adorable family of yours. Maybe we will plan a vacation your way soon! Miss you!
    Melody

  11. Well, I’m a Little House nut. Sarah has a Little House cookbook, and I think I have a recipe on my recipe blog for Laura’s little maple cakes…they’re yummy…you need to check that out since you’ve got all that maple syrup, which I’m now craving (on the ice cream). Gee thanks, Ma.

    Never been to Five Guys but there is one in Co Springs that opened a couple months ago. Guess we’re gonna have to try it soon!

  12. Sami

    Ok, now I have to re-read the Little House collection I have on my shelf!

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