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Bamboozled in the gift shop, but the laughs capped off a great vacation

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In the early part of 1995, as our 20th wedding anniversary approached, I wanted to celebrate it as a family and do something a bit nostalgic while making it something we all would enjoy. So, I suggested taking short trip to the place where we spent our honeymoon, Lake George, N.Y.

Back in 1975 we had a ball. The area was absolutely beautiful. Since we were married on May 31, the spring was in full glory that first week of June. Our plans were to spend three days in Lake George and then seven days in Montreal, Canada. We loved Lake George so much that we cut our stay in Montreal back to two days and returned to the Lake for the duration of the trip. While there, we marveled at the scenic beauty and the rustic surroundings that had very few buildings to spoil the atmosphere. There also happened to be a classic car show in town. An elderly Ohio couple next to us at the motel had driven their 1932 Buick coupe to display and these nice folks were more than happy to take the newlyweds for a ride along the 32-mile-long lake. I even remember their names – Dick and Millie Philly. No kidding. And he wasn’t even a ballplayer!

Of course, things change in 20 years. My wife and I now had a 16-year-old daughter and a 13-year-old son. But happily, by the time May rolled around everyone was on board and we anticipated having a great time. So, the three-day trip was planned for the Memorial Day weekend. The drive up north through New York State was just as lovely as we remembered. But as we approached the town of Lake George things started to look a little different. Commercialism had pretty much taken over the pristine area we had remembered … more motels, businesses and even the area around the lake itself had many shops and businesses that hadn’t been there before. I can’t say that we were too surprised since we knew all things change over time. We would just have to use our imagination more in order to remember what it looked like when we drove up there in my 1967 Plymouth Fury, two decades earlier.

The first day we had fun at a very large flea market near our motel. After a terrific country breakfast, we spent several hours at the market which was in close proximity to the lake. That evening after dinner, I picked up the local newspaper and noticed an ad that grabbed my attention. The ad mentioned the New England Maple Museum in Pittsford Vt. I had no idea we were so close to Vermont, only an hour or so away from Pittsford. Since none of us had ever been to that state, it sounded like fun to drive over there, check out the museum and learn how Vermont maple syrup – the “real stuff” – was made. Everybody was in agreement so we decided to go there on day two.

The museum was fascinating. It had displays of all of the equipment and a guide explained the manufacturing process. I was amazed to learn that it usually took about 25 gallons of sap to produce one gallon of syrup. It was obvious that producing the syrup was a labor of love, first by local Indian tribes and then by the settlers. And, the guide was quick to point out that the production process is much the same today as it was back then. After the tour we headed to the gift shop. I’m not one to spend a lot of time in these places but the girls are attracted to them like ants to maple syrup. (Sorry.) I did, however, consider investing in an 8-ounce bottle of the homemade brand on display. I figured it can’t get any better or fresher than this. I was looking at a bottle of maple syrup that just a little while ago was living in some of those trees outside. Yes, it was pricey, $8.99 a bottle but heck, this was the real deal. When would I ever get the chance to bathe my pancakes in such a delicacy snatched from its birthplace? I decided to go for it.

The final morning of the trip was spent shopping and sightseeing and then we took off for home. As we approached, we decided to first stop at our local supermarket to pick up a few things we needed. As my wife and daughter went up and down the aisles, my son and I did what we usually did while shopping with the girls: wander aimlessly through the store. Our walk took us down the aisle with the pancakes and related products. As I glanced at the shelf to my left I saw them there! The same brand of maple syrup I had just bought in Vermont. Same size too! When I looked at the price tag and saw $4.29. I felt like Wile E. Coyote in the “Roadrunner” cartoons when his head turns into a lollipop and says “Sucker.” That was me alright, snookered in a Vermont tourist trap. 

My kid laughed out loud and was quick to tell the girls. That big laugh capped off a great trip. And I must tell you that the maple syrup was really good. When I tasted it on my pancakes the next morning, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Besides, it wasn’t a total loss. I was able to buy the two-CD set of “Neil Diamond’s Greatest Hits” for 5 bucks at that flea market on day one! 

Now that’s a pretty sweet deal. 

Charlie Sacchetti

Charlie Sacchetti is the author of three books, “It’s All Good: Times and Events I’d Never Want to Change;” “Knowing He’s There: True Stories of God’s Subtle Yet Unmistakable Touch,” and his newest, “Savoring the Moments: True Stories of Happiness, Sadness and Everything in Between.” Contact him at worthwhilewords21@gmail.com.

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