I must admit there was at least one thing we missed: pumpkin patches. We could acquire fantastically shaped gourds in Caracas and genuine pumpkins in Iceland, but no pumpkin patches in either locale.We have decided, since we hope to go overseas again soon, to get our fill while we can.
One might think that would get repetitive, but not all pumpkin patches are created equal. They generally all have a wide variety of pumpkins, but some have hay rides, others have corn pits and mazes (of maize), and yet others just offer a few games, a lot of pumpkins, and the occasional jumping house/slide for kids.
Last year, Kelsey had a field trip to a very popular patch in Livermore, by the name of Joan's. We never made it out as a family, and this year I decided it might not be a bad patch to try just with Nicholas. We loaded up the picnic basket, found our sun hats (because it was 90 something in OCTOBER), and headed out with a friend and her daughter.
Joan's is a patch smack in the middle of a working farm. We crept up the mile-long rocky road, and arrived just as the oodles of field trips were packing it up for the day. We walked through several small patches, visited the "Old West" town (complete with a general store packed with modern-day candy), posed for pictures, climbed on haystacks, and ran through little tunnels. Well, Nicholas managed to do all of that once he woke up. Poor little guy fell fast asleep as we were driving in, and spent the first 45 minutes sound asleep in his Ergo (what would I do without it?).
Fast forward to today, and it's time for our second annual visit to G & M Farms, also in Livermore. They are famous for their corn maizes. A new maize is designed each year, and one could easily get lost for hours, if not for the postcard-sized maps, clues (Trivia questions on tricky corners), and, now, text clues! Yes, you can get a text while in the maize to help you along. It was amusing, but we did just fine with the maps.
This year's map was dedicated to a local farmer who passed away last year. It made for an incredibly interesting maze, and in some respects, very easy to follow. We probably spent a good hour in there, and had even more fun than last year. We kept Nicholas in the Ergo, but he enjoyed it all the same. Only once did he try to break the rules by grabbing at the corn; thankfully, it was a tough stalk.
We finished up at the play area, which includes the cow train, corn pit (and, thanks to the 'absorbent' diaper, have quite a collection of kernels at home), self-powered go carts, and 2 mini-mazes for the kids. The larger maze is an indoor maze that even adult blessed in the height department can get through fairly easily. One might not think it, but the hay can be quite insulating. The farm was incredibly crowded yesterday, but one step inside the tunnels of the maze, and nothing but deafening silence. It was only occasionally disturbed by Nicholas running through the tunnels at break-neck speed.
We had to cut the day slightly short to get Cait to CCD, but it was a great family activity. There was something for everyone, and free, with the exception of a few rides. I had been thinking prior to arriving that once may have been enough, but forgot how much more Nicholas could do this year. After a hectic morning of soccer for Pete and church for the rest of us (first children's mass of the year), it was a welcome break on a gorgeous fall day.