Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Maple Festival

Consider yourself warned!! I tried to make this as short as humanly possible, but the festival was amazing!

Kaci and I bummed a ride with the Billy and Laura to the Maple Festival. Brad had to do homework and go to work, so we took off to Highland County, West Virginia. It was quite the adventure. I had heard about the maple festival when we first moved here and got way too excited about seeing a real maple tree tapped. It was everything I had dreamed of and more!

This is an action photo, in case you can't tell. If you blow up the picture you can see a drop of sugar water falling into the bucket. I took at least a zillion pictures to catch a drop actually dripping, so please click on the picture so you can find the drop as it's falling! Very cool, very very cool! It is just sugar water, by the way. They make syrup by boiling all the water off and keeping all the natural sugar. It takes 50 gallons of sugar water to make one gallon of syrup! Is that crazy or what? It takes multiple trees to get that much sugar water. One place said they had 1200 trees and in a good year they make 400 gallons of syrup! Think about that next time you eat some pancakes.

We're standing in a forest of maple trees. They tap the trees with plastic tubing now, no buckets, but they just use gravity to get the sugar water from the forest to their little huts to boil it and make sugar, no vacuums or nothin'! So, the trees all had taps and tubs and at the bottom of the hill there was a huge holding tank for the sugar water. I thought it was cool that they keep it pretty simple. The place we visited still boiled it with a fire and after 4-6 hours their grand daddy knew it was done by how it looked coming off a ladle. Of course, they also had the super high tech boiler thingy-ma-bob, but they use both techniques.

Laura's mom came with us too. She is tree lovin' hippie and I say that with the greatest respect. She teaches forestry at a college, she could name any tree we drove by (in the George Washington Forest and any other forest, we just happened to drive through that one for a long time) and genuinely loved each one she saw. She LOVED this maple tree. It was super old and amazing! She insisted that we take a picture with it, with all of it. Hence our tiny specs at the base of this humongus tree! Yup, that's us down there. Kaci's wearing her white coat, definitely us! I have a greater appreciation for trees now, I look at them completely different now. What an amazing lady, she was a lot of fun that day.

This little guy over dosed on the sugar water--lesson learned don't ya think. Let that be a lesson to all of us. Kaci and I felt much the same way after eating maple ice cream, maple doughnuts, maple candy, and a taste of pure sugar water from the tree. The wind-y drive home did us in. We both puked in that lovely George Washington Forest permanently renamed as "puke-city" by Billy. Despite all that, it was still a very memorable day that has created yearnings for my own small forest of maple trees so I can make a gallon of real maple syrup every year when the weather turns to freezing nights and thawing days as that's when the sugar water runs!


Kim and the Fam said...

wow at least now I can have a little (just a little) more understanding for the price of real maple syrup. I'm pretty sure I tried to talk Nate into switching to it and we saw a small bottle for $20 he said NO WAY! :) sounds like a fun day. I love to find all the local awesome events each place has.

newsinaminute said...

sounds and looks like such fun--

Hayley said...

I love that you guys are always finding fun things to do!

Cierra said...

that squirrel perfectly depicts how i felt a couple weeks ago after finishing my shave ice with ice cream. it was sooo good and yet by the end the sugar was not loving my body.

thanks for the maple syrup lesson. i didn't know it was just sugar water...i thought the syrup leaks out of the trees pure like that! why don't they just mix sugar and water together then and save all the trouble??

Val said...

That looks like a blast. It always seems like you do the funnest things, I love to look and find that you have been on a new adventure.

Abbie Anna and Megan said...


Brianne said...

I'm all about finding the fun festivities that are happening! You are always good at doing that. That is amazing to learn about how much sugar water it takes to make some maple syrup! It makes me want to eat some with pancakes. I bet the doughnuts were to die for! I LOVE DOUGHNUTS!