I've mentioned more than a few times that Ez's love of apples runs deep. Like if you offered him a brownie or an apple, there's a good chance he'll choose the apple. And then eat the brownie after. Of course. We actually have to limit his consumption otherwise he wouldn't even eat real food. Clearly apple-picking is a must-do fall activity for us. That or we should just save ourselves some money and plant our own orchard.
Southern California doesn't have a ton of apple orchards, and sadly a lot of them have been destroyed by fires in recent years, so I was incredibly happy to discover that there are quite a few orchards in Central California. Last year we went to Swanton Ranch, which is owned by Polytechnic University. When we got there, I believe Joe's exact words were, "Is this it??" I mean, it was nestled into the side of a hill, and the scenery was beautiful, but it was literally just a bunch of apple trees with a little hut that had a scale and some bags and a box for money. You weighed your own apples and paid using the honor system. That being said, it really was a lovely apple-picking experience. No fuss, the weather started off nice and cool, and they had tons of varieties of apples at the perfect ripeness. Ez LOVED it. He basically ate an apple off each tree and was in heaven as we rolled his little apple stuffed self out of there.
This year I was going for a little more of that barnsy experience, so we went to Clearview Orchards, where I was pretty much sold as soon as they mentioned they had apple turnovers. They had a barn store with apples, dried lavender, coffee, honey, and said turnovers for sale. They also had a tortoise roaming around a fenced in area that was a huge hit with the kids. Declan took his apple picking very seriously, and had a constant look of stern concentration on his face as he tugged and tugged at apples, eventually growing frustrated that they weren't budging for him. Meanwhile Ez picked up every discarded, past-its-prime apple off the floor and spent the entire trip happily chomping away on dozens of apples.
Unfortunately I think we were just a tad bit late for this season (even though we came almost exactly a year after last year's trip). A lot of the apples were getting brown and mushy. And it turns out brown, mushy apples attract bees and wasps. And bees and wasps repel this here mama. Like, a lot. So certain parts of the orchard were just completely off limits for me. We wound up getting lots of apples from the barn though, so we got what we came for. We also did plenty of roaming and selfie-taking, though we somehow failed miserably at getting a good family shot (see below). Joe and I were sweating our a**es off in the 80ish degree weather as we traipsed up and down the steepest of hills (usually with a toddler in our arms). By the end of the trip we were all hot and dirty but we enjoyed the experience. We'll just make sure to come earlier next year, and hopefully on a cool day.