On Sunday, we took X-man to Curtis Orchard. I want to be very clear about this... I grew up near Rockford. I went to Edwards Apple Orchard. I have a die-hard loyalty to that orchard. It kicks ass. And people, you haven't tasted a decent apple donut until you've had theirs. They're ridiculous. They melt in your mouth and they're in such hot demand that on weekends they have to limit people to 2 or 3 dozen, so that they can keep up supply with the demand. My father once sent me a half dozen via Express Mail to Northern Virginia.
Edwards has grown from the small orchard operation it was when I was a child. Lavender used to work there in high school, and I remember ordering hot apple pie from her with ice cream on the side and hot cider before I sat down on an old milk container at high tables to people watch.
But you went once a year, and you loved it.
When we moved to Virginia, I tried to recreate the annual apple orchard excursion, figuring that in the land of at least West Virginia there had to be something. The first year we got it really wrong. We showed up to a land of corn that had a "street" mowed through it with handpainted plywood sign/sculptures of Disney characters in it. And get this -- you could buy egg rolls. Everything was pre-picked from somewhere nearby and put out in pecks for you to pick up -- and there was an entry fee. What in the hell?
Four years later, we did a little bit better. There were no donuts (or egg rolls) but there was plenty of u-pik and we could take Riley with us, which was awesome.
When MacTroll and I moved back to town, we didn't bother with Curtis Orchard until X-man was born. We just went up to my parents and visited Edwards. (The draw of the donuts is well worth the 3-hour drive.) When X-man was born, we put him in one of the Curtis Orchard baby swings. He got a good look at the goats. We tried their donuts -- not stellar, but they'd do. And every year we go back to Curtis and watch it grow, and grow and grow.
Our first question has always been, why doesn't the WB copyright crew sweep into the Flying Monkey Café and start handing out cease and desist letters? The second is how in the world can you claim on your website that visiting this orchard is inexpensive?
Last year, I got annoyed at people who griped about it, because it's a small seasonal business. They make their entire year's livelihood off of apple season. But this year, I was a bit -- taken back. I had read on Facebook that there are new policies about apple picking. Since the plastic bags that you use cost $9, we only pick one bag a year, since a bag of organic apples at Meijer is usually $3.99. I also got almost 4 lbs of apples from the farmer's market for my class this week for $7. But when we went to pick, I had to hand over my little purse so that I wasn't caught sneaking apples out of the orchard. Apparently, families were putting apples in everything (diaper bags, strollers, etc.) to get apples home in prior years, so the Curtis Orchard folks decided to put a stop to it. I figured that I had to check my backpack in my college bookstore, so -- whatever. But how expensive are you that people are STEALING APPLES!
Then we were out picking apples in the rain and having a gleeful time when some guy whizzed by in a golf cart. He was at first very nice when I gave a warning to X-man to get out of the way, waving at X-man and promising he wouldn't hit him. Then on his next pass, 2 minutes later, I figured out he was the Orchard Gestapo. When I'd bought our $9 clear plastic bag, I'd also purchased 3 soft caramels. MacTroll was still chewing his when the guy drove by a second time. He looked sternly at us and reminded us that absolutely NO eating of apples was allowed in the orchard.
I was thinking... Why was that encounter so different than the first? I turned to look at MacTroll who was still chewing. "Oh, he thought you were chewing an apple!"
"But I was chewing a caramel that you bought IN HIS STORE."
It really did make it feel like everyone was a thief. And MacTroll said he wish they'd just get over the pretense and charge an admission fee so that everyone could just come in and they wouldn't freak out about apples getting eaten (even though they should be washed beforehand!)
I knew nothing good was coming in the changes when they started charging 25 cents to run the stupid train around the store. Let alone when they built the playland area that comes with a $3 charge. So, we got our annual trip out of the way. And I think maybe next year, we'll go visit Nana and Papa and head to Edwards. At least the overpriced, sheeple infested visit will seem justified because of the yummy donuts.