Sunday, October 20, 2013

Apple Picking Adventures

My husband and I at the SC State Fair
   Does anyone else out there gauge the change of the seasons by what seasonal coffee concoctions  Starbucks starts to advertise?  Well, when I saw the signs for the annual debut of the "Pumpkin Spice Latte" I knew my favorite season was finally here....fall!  I absolutely love fall for many wonderful reasons... one being the weather, which here in SC is perfect...still warm but with a crispness in the air.  But there are so many other reasons...some of which others might share (corn mazes, fall festivals, pumpkin carving, etc) and some of which are completely tied to my own idiosyncrasies and are absolutely ridiculous.  One example being my complete and utter love for the State Fair.  I have countless memories of the South Carolina State Fair as a child, because we went as a family every year.  Not only is the food amazing (can we say funnel cakes, corn dogs, vinegar fries, dipped cones, and cotton candy? And just for the record, I ate one of each of those items this!), but the people watching is priceless!! Plus....where else can you get deep fried Oreos and Donut Burgers???  And it's so much fun to go in all the buildings and see all the prize winning cakes, crafts, flowers, artwork, and more!  I always loved going to see the sand castle sculpture that someone makes every year...and when I was little, my brother and I also used to walk up to every single booth of all the candidates running for office and get a pencil and a sticker and we'd have a contest to see who'd collect the most, so it brings back fond memories. 
Here is our family at Sky Top Orchard in October 2011.
    Anyway, pretty much anything "fall-ish" makes me smile...but there is one new fall activity that I was just introduced to in the last couple of years that is going to become a new yearly tradition, I'm sure...and that is apple picking!!  I went for the first time with my husband and his family in October 2011.  We went to the Sky Top Orchard in Flat Rock, NC.
It was a blast!!  I came home with bags full of apples and spent the next few days baking like crazy making cobblers, applesauce, and the like.  I didn't get to go last year, sadly.  So when fall came around this year I decided an apple picking trip was a non-negotiable!  This time, since my hubby was busy, I convinced my BFF (I feel like I'm a teeny bopper when I say that...) and former college roommate, Katie, to come with me!
    We picked a great day to was a beautiful and sunny fall Saturday!  We started out the day with a stop at Starbucks for a Pumpkin Spice Latte, of course, to jump start our fall festivities and then headed up I-26 toward NC. Watching the leaves slowly get more and more colorful the further we drove north was neat. When we finally got there, it was packed!!  There were LOTS off families, kids, couples, and church groups.  We finally found a parking space, grabbed our buckets, had not-so-pleasant experiences with the port-a-potties, and then set off to pick! 

      Katie really wanted to get some Granny Smith apples, so that's where we headed first!  All the apples towards the bottoms of the trees had already been picked, so we were forced to go with Plan B.....climbing trees and contorting ourselves (quite unsafely, I might add) to get to the best apples.  It was quite a lot of work, and we got pretty dirty.  Note for next time:  Flip flops are not the best for climbing trees.

We totally tag teamed this one. Katie climbed and I caught!

Where's Waldo???

Something about this picture makes me think of the evil queen in Snow White....eek!

I decided I need to start working out.... I was huffing it up those big hills carrying my bucket of apples and this mom had a diaper bag, a purse, and her bucket of apples and was doing better than me.  And daddy over there had a baby!  Sad...I know.

Everybody we passed kept talking about "Pink Lady" apples, so we decided there must be something special about them....  So we climbed one of those trees and added a few to our collection.  Aren't they beautiful?? I love the light pink sides and speckles!

   After we were done picking, we had to indulge in the one food item that may or may have not been my main reason for wanting to go apple cider doughnuts!!!  I was first introduced to these little melt-in-your-mouth pieces of heaven when I went to Sky Top for the first time in 2011.  I honestly think Sky Top could run its entire enterprise on doughnut sales alone.  They are freaking amazing!!  I knew the line would be long, so I was expecting the worst...but it ended up being only about a 45 minute wait...and worth every second!  I was also happily surprised to find out that they had a new flavor in addition to the apple cider....pumpkin spice!  What more could a girl ask for?  So Katie and I decided to get a dozen doughnuts - 6 of each flavor.  I mean we had to get a full we could share with our friends and family, of course.  And it was cheaper to buy in bulk.  Totally justified.  :)

         After we finished our doughnuts, we decided to go get some lunch in Flat Rock.  We had dessert what? Don't judge.  We did take some pretty pictures on the LONG walk back to our car.

   Apple picking was a blast, and it was so much fun to hang out with my "woommate," as we used to say back in the day in college.... :)  I would highly recommend Sky Top Orchard, and I will definitely be back again next year.  Now I just have to come up with some yummy recipes for all these apples....

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