What could be lovelier than going apple picking with my grandkids on a September afternoon? As it turns out, almost anything. We drove over an hour to Woodstock, Illinois where there are several orchards. Unfortunately, the small one we liked had nothing to pick due to our harsh winter. So we foolishly decided to go to a huge orchard that advertized at least four varieties to pick, including the coveted honey crisps.
When we saw the extremely crowded parking lots, we should have turned around and gone home. But who would do that with three kids who had just sat in the car for over an hour? OK, it would be crowded but still fun, right?
After waiting in a huge line, we got to the window and asked to buy three bags for the kids to pick apples. That was a no go. Every person in our party of seven had to have a bag to get in. So $80 poorer, we were off to pick a peck of apples. By the way, we had passed on the even more expensive wristbands that allowed us to enter other areas of the orchard.
What were these other areas? Well, there were pig races, magic shows, jump houses, kiddy rides, and assorted mayhem. Music was blaring, kids were screaming, and adults were frantically trying to get to the head of the line.
Not regretting the decision to bypass this, we started out for the orchard. After all, we just wanted to pick apples. It turned out the money we spent to pick ½ peck of honey crisp apples was wasted. To do that, we would have had to wait a long time to board a wagon to that orchard. It was too far to walk. How do you like them apples? We were pretty annoyed.
Determined to have fun, we skipped the long wagon ride line for the closer orchard and forged ahead. After walking some distance, there they were – apple trees. But there was also a band banging out music and tons of yellow tape indicating we couldn’t go down most of the rows to pick. It was a challenge to fill our bags with decent apples.
I suppose my grandkids enjoyed themselves once we got away from the music and crowds. But as we hiked back to our car through muddy fields, I felt angry and cheated. I was so sorry the small orchard we loved in the past had nothing much to pick. But we stopped there anyhow on our way home to buy their delicious preserves.
So let me give a shout out to Lang’s Apple Orchard. The folks are super nice and all you can do there is pick apples. I just hope this coming winter is kinder to them so we can return there next year.
Have you had any great or not-so-great experiences apple picking? Please share so folks can avoid going to places that are more like crowded carnivals than an experience in the natural world.
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