Wednesday, September 02, 2009


So, I finally heard back from a vineyard manager in the Finger Lakes that a parcel with some special grapes was available. I told him that I would love to come up in September sometime and see the property and meet him. But that insane idea was quickly nixed. There would be no chance of meeting in all of either September or October. So I used a personal day and decided to head out for a quick over-nighter.

There was one problem. I had also promised the boys that I would take them to the Dutchess County Fair that same day. What to do? We were now in the dog days of August. Soccer and baseball camp, regular day camp, and trips to the Jersey shore were all behind us. They were bored silly and driving my wife, who loves them dearly, nuts.

They are good boys, but like all young boys, driven to boredom, they find ways to get in trouble when not confronted by the common enemy – namely me. On the weekends, we bottle, we work in the fields, we got to wine events. They work hard. They are good boys. But there is only so much television to watch, only so many books to read, only so many text messages to send, and drawings to make, before trouble tugs at their elbows.

This, I came up with an idea. I would save my poor wife, and take the boys with me. Bored silly, they were not eager takers. Dominique was skeptical but intrigued.

“No way! It’s just another boring vineyard!”
“That won’t be fun!”
“It’s too far!”

I loved road trips when I was a kid, but I guess this one smacked a little too much like working…so I realized I had to do a little selling. So I did my best.

“All right. Here’s the deal. One, we’ll watch two movies on the way out and two movies on the way back. And they’ll be movies Mommy wouldn’t let you watch at home. No nudity. But good, guy movies.”

The boys were listening. I had their attention.

“Two: The entire trip we’ll eat nothing but McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell, and Dominos. Three: You’ll get to stay up late. Four: Breakfast out. Five: We go from the Finger Lakes directly to the Dutchess County Fair.”

In a few minutes the boys were already arguing which movies they would bring. My wife was chagrined, but not impressed. In an effort guide the process, I inserted myself into the film discussion.

On the given day, a Wednesday night, I missed the early train home from work, and so did not get home until almost seven p.m. I was already starting late. We piled into the mini van, complete with dvd. Pillows. Blankets. Videos. Overnight bags.

We stopped for gas, McDonalds, and Dunkin Donuts, and we were off.

The first movie was Arthur – starring Dudley Moore and Liza Minelli. I chose that one. They laughed at the pratfalls and silly humor. They liked it, munching on cheeseburgers and French fries. Then we watch The Express, the story of Ernie Davis from Syracuse. Excellent film.

By the time we got to Hammondsport, it was almost 1 o’clock in the morning. We were way behind. It was pitch black and I was frustrated because I did not know my way around. When I found the Hammondsport Motel, I was a little off putting. Their neon sign glowed out of the deep darkness, very much like that in Psycho.

The small office was shut up tight, and there was an envelope with my name on it in the mailbox. We went to the room, which was adequate and clean, of not a little too retro. I was not sure, in the pitch black, what to make of our accommodations, but we wouldn’t be staying long, since our appointment was at 7 am. Vineyard managers are farmers after all. We were all very sleepy and fell away quickly.

The next morning I told the boys to be quiet, because we didn’t want to wake any other guests. But that was a silly idea. When we went to leave, I opened the door to the room to a spectacular sight. We were les than 100 feet away from Lake Keuka! It was gorgeous! And there in front of us were a half dozen boats waiting to put into the water. This was a popular spot for fisherman. I noted that we definitely needed to come back a year from now to go fishing here.

We met the vineyard manager and he showed me several different sites. It was some of the most beautiful country I’d ever seen. Dawson was impressed. He got out of the car with me. Before we got out each time, he asked if there were a tractor he might ride.

After that, he took us to breakfast. We signed contracts over French Toast and strawberries (and chocolate milk for the boys), and we were done.

From there, we went to see a local winemaker, who would help crush the grapes when they were ripe, and then we would come pick up the wine and must within a very short period (a week or two the most). He was most gracious and showed us around. They boys liked his place. It was big and filled with large barrels and stainless steel tanks, bladder presses, etc. They boys were most impressed.

From there, we hot a few wineries on the way out of town (that was from 10 to 11:30 am), and then we were gone. Another trip to McDonalds, and then the open road and Troy starring Brad Pitt and Peter O’Toole among many. From there, the boys slept until we reached home, where they excited woke up. A well rested Mom joined us, and we were off. Dominique insisted we stop at a roadside stand for a few rare tomatoes tis season.

The Dutchess County Fair was a lot of fun, and the boys went on many rides, ate more French fries, chicken, fried dough and funnel cakes with sugar, sweet slushies, and roasted peanuts. How they didn’t get stomachaches I’ll never know.

Friday I took the morning train to work and slept all the way into New York City. And the boys slept until 9:30 – a small miracle in house.


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