We were only going for one night, but the amount of gear we packed into that minivan was ridiculous. One huge tent, four camping chairs, a high chair, a queen-size Aero bed (yes that's how we roll) with sheets and blankets, a pack n play, two sleeping bags, two sleeping pads, a camping stove and camp kitchen paraphernalia, firewood, a hammock, two overnight bags, a hiking pack, a cooler full of food, two adults, three kids and one big brown dog. Thank heaven for the minivan, we actually had room to spare inside.
First up on the Fall Fun Extravaganza agenda: Apple Picking. We drove about an hour north to Ellijay (the Apple Capital of Georgia) to fill our larder so I could make homemade applesauce and Pioneer Woman's flat apple pies until Christmas.
In Ellijay, there are a dozen apple orchards strung along a picturesque two lane country "highway" that runs east-west between actual highways. Each of these orchards offers fun family activities along with apple picking each weekend during apple season. Translation: Hwy 52 on a Saturday morning in the month of October is chock full of bumper-to-bumper apple traffic. There is no way out of it and no way around it. The first two orchards you come to are insanely commercialized ($8 admission for a child to pick their own apples and participate in the "festivities") but by the time you come to them you have been sitting in slow moving traffic for 20 minutes and your choices are to remain in apple traffic and hope for a quieter setting down the lane or pull off and deal with the masses of city folks who have come up to apple country to give their children the same idyllic experience you were hoping for.
We pulled off. We followed the not-so-picturesque hired hands directing traffic and parked about a mile uphill from the entrance. We made the snap decision to buy apples from the cute orchard store and save the fun family festivities for the pumpkin patch. We unloaded the kids and strapped Blue Eyes into the hiking pack. As we bypassed the lengthy stroller-laden line for admission into the orchard I informed the children that we were not actually going to pick apples off the trees this year. We were going to go to the store where we could pick apples out of produce boxes! and it would be just as fun. This change of plan was (shockingly) not met with meek-mannered acceptance. We
45 minutes and two trips to the porta-potty later we were leaving the store with a 20lb bag of apples and one fried apple pie in hand. We trekked back up the hill to the van, (sweating now...why on earth was it 85 degrees this weekend in North Georgia? Where were the Fall Fun temperatures?) unloaded the kids and turned on the radio to hear that our beloved Dawgs were already down 14-0 to the mighty Mizzou. Oh my. The Fall Fun Extravaganza was not going precisely as planned.