Monday, March 12, 2012

The sugar bush: our annual outing

Yesterday we took our annual trip to the sugar camp.  We've tried different ones over the years but have pretty much settled on Sand Road Sugar Camp as our favourite.  It satisfies a few things for me: (1) great food which must include des oreilles de crisse (cured smoked pig jowls) which I would describe as pretty much the best bacon you will ever taste; (2) nice setting with good walking trails; (3) sleigh ride; (4) maple syrup lines, buckets, operation close to the food building so the kids can discover; (5) not overly busy.  The kids would add maple taffy to that, which of course they have.  You can't be a sugar camp in Eastern Ontario/Western Quebec without offering maple taffy.

As an aside, if you're not from these parts, you might wonder what the deal is with sugar camps... or what the heck it is.  A sugar camp/sugar shack/cabane à sucre is pretty much a maple syrup farm.  And every one of them in this part of Canada has a sugar shack where you come and have a huge brunch (Ontario) or supper (Quebec).  The food is good, bountiful and there is lots and lots of maple syrup to pour on top and to buy.  After stuffing yourself you can usually watch the farmers make syrup, walk trails, have a sleigh ride, etc.  Each camp does it a bit differently.  And there are a lot of camps in the Ottawa area.

For me, Sand Road meets all of my requirements to a tee and if you go at breakfast time instead of lunch, which we always do, you really don't even have to wait in line. 

The forecast for Ottawa yesterday was a little bit of gorgeous at 8 degrees and sunny.  There was still a good amount of snow so the sleigh rides hadn't turned into wagon rides yet, which meant that the ride was still through the gorgeous sugar maple forest.  The cold temperatures of the last few days meant they weren't boiling sap (the lines were frozen) but by the time we left the sap was running through the lines (it's pretty loud!) so the kids had lots of fun watching that and checking the few old-style buckets they have around.
Hello Sand Road!

Henry is primed for a sugar high!

The traditional-style buckets.  The sap was frozen when we arrived.

The view looking at the food building. 

Well-fueled after a big breakfast, the kiddies must top it off with maple taffy on the snow.

Time for a sleigh ride.

Old friends, Nevan and Emily, cozy up for the ride.

Hope, who I just diagnosed with Fifth Disease (more on that later), snuggled into the corner and didn't really move.

A stop halfway allowed the kiddies (and adults) to pet the horses.

The two academics talk shop.
Why play with snow or sap lines when there is this exposed pile of dirty gravel to see about?

Sneaking in on my gravel, are you?

Still loving the gravel!

You do realize this is gravell?!  Why am I the only one who is fascinated?


Shan said...

Those last few pictures are super funny! Looks like you had a great time.

Cathy said...

what a fun annual outing!
i remember how a trip to the maple syrup farm was an annual school trip - i don't think we ever went as a family! there is nothing like ontario maple syrup!