We've been watching Riley more frequently than usual recently due to a change in his daycare situation. Knowing that my children were all going to be home today and tomorrow, I suggested to Karen that we take them all to a pumpkin patch place so they didn't go stir crazy but then she got sick so instead Reid and I ended up taking the kids out.
I had found a place called Bert's online but other than an address I couldn't find much information, so we drove to the address, which was out in the middle of nowhere, and found nothing. So we decided we'd head over to Jaker's. On our way to the highway, however, we stumbled upon Glen Ray's Corn Maze and Grandpa pulled into the parking lot, declaring, "Let's just go here!"
So that's what we did and it was a pretty fun place, though I think I enjoyed Jaker's more (but that could be my attitude's fault than the place's fault).
The first con would be the price. It's $4 for general admission and $4 for the corn maze, which of course the kids (Rachel and Miriam specifically) were super excited about doing. Plus there were other add-ons, like I believe it was $15 for the spooky corn maze and $2 for each additional train ride. It felt like things could get pricey real fast (and we all know how I feel about that). Agrotourism is great, but, like...shouldn't be as outrageous as Disneyland (which I also believe shouldn't be outrageously priced).
Jaker's is $3 for everything, but they don't have a maze through actual corn stalks (they do, however, have a hay bale maze, which I didn't do because I only had Zoë and Alexander with me, but that's just as much fun (or not fun, depending on how you feel about mazes)).
The first pro of Glen Ray's would be that it wasn't nearly as crowded as Jaker's was. We got to ride the little tractor train right away, which Benjamin and Riley were both terribly excited about. Rachel volunteered to take Alexander, who wasn't thrilled about the idea, and Zoë cried and screamed and said she'd only go on if she could sit on Miriam's lap (so Miriam let her). They all had varying levels of fun...
The con for Jaker's would be that it's a super popular place so it's quite busy (but that's really only a con because I don't like crowds)...
...but, honestly, they manage their crowds well. Jaker's had multiple corn pits for the kids to play in and, here's a pro for Jaker's, the corn seemed nice and fresh and dry. Still dirty, of course. Alexander was pulling out socks and wrappers and it was full of plant matter and dust. But the corn kernels themselves were crisp and dry. It felt like running your hand through popcorn seed (but with bigger kernels).
The con for Glen Ray's was that they only had a single corn pit and the corn was a little bit mushy and mildewy. The kids still enjoyed it (except for Alexander who was feeling clingy for whatever reason) but it felt like running your hands through corn seed that had been rained on several days in a row and then sat out in the sun to dry but wasn't ever quite able to dry all the way out.
I imagine this is because that is exactly what happened.
I don't know if they are more diligent about covering things in inclement weather over at Jaker's or what, but everything seemed a bit more...blah...at Glen Ray's.
The hay bale staircase leading up to the top of the slides was absolutely swarming with flies either because the hay bales were rotting something terrible. It was kind of gross and I'm surprised that Zoë went on the slides as many times as she did because she hates flies.
Flies and mildew aside, we still had fun. Here are some pictures of the kids playing around:
Here are the kids climbing up the hay pyramid (what was really in pretty good condition and didn't seem to be absolutely rotting like the staircase to the slides):
The slides were pretty fun. They had a tube slide, which I know Zoë went down a few times but I'm not sure if anyone else did. I have this weird fear of covered slides (and my kids seem to feel similarly) so I wasn't about to go down it. But the flat slide was awesome!
It was way taller than the flat slide at Jaker's so was much more fun for the bigger kids than the slide at Jaker's would have been. My kids all went down it multiple times (including Alexander, who loved it).
|Alexander on Rachel's lap|
|Miriam in the pumpkin shirt|
|Benjamin coming in for a landing|
|Zoë preferred to slide down backwards on her tummy|
Poor Riley went through all of the work to climb up the gigantic, fly-ridden steps, only to chicken out about going down the slide, so I told him that I would go down with him. He didn't want to sit on my lap, but he did feel better holding my hand. I should have just sent him down backwards on his tummy like Zoë but instead I sat by him and we went zipping down the slide together (I know mixing grown ups and children on slides is a dangerous thing to do but life is dangerous).
Well, Riley and I hit a bump in the slide wrong somehow and since I was trying to correct both his course and mine I ended up sitting down hard and really doing a number. I'm not even exactly sure how I did it (it all happened so quickly) but, guys, I am literally black and blue (well, purple (not really blue)). My poor rear end is so beat up!
It hurts to sit, it hurts to stand, it hurts to walk, it hurts to bend over, it hurts to pick up my baby. In fact, I told Andrew after showing him my bruises (which no one else will ever see) that it actually feels a little similar to how I feel shortly after having a baby.
"Well, yeah!" he said. "That's some serious bruising you've got going on there!"
I have been on the verge of tears ever since going down the slide (so I should probably take some pain medicine but I never think about things like that until I'm basically dying (apologies to my children; I was a little short tempered with them this evening, probably because I feel like I'm dying and should have taken pain medicine but didn't).
But that's totally not Glen Ray's fault and the longer slide was totally worth it (until I totally biffed it)!
I'm kind of nervous about going to bed tonight because I don't know if this is going to be the kind of injury where I'll wake up in the morning feeling loads better or if I'll wake up in the morning feeling even worse. But I guess I'll have to go to bed eventually so we'll just have to see what the morning brings.
Let's see...what else?
There was a little petting zoo, but I liked the Boo Zoo at Jaker's better.
Oh, and there was a little kid rodeo thing with bouncy bulls for the kids to ride on. The kids loved them (and we didn't see anything like this at Jaker's (I figure since I started out comparing the two places I may as well compare everything)).
|Zoë and Riley riding the bulls together|
Here's my free-spirited Zoë, just after making a successful leap across the maze's exit:
She did her own hair today and, yes, is wearing tights under her shorts.
And here's Riley, with his shoes on the wrong feet (they're both three and three-year-olds are possibly the most stubborn humans on the planet so I don't engage in battles of wardrobe selection and/or usage with them very often), attempting the same jump across the maze exit:
I'm not sure he ever quite made the leap but landing on the ground and climbing back up on the wall didn't slow him down in the least.
It's possible running on the walls of the maze like Riley and Zoë were doing was against the rules (it certainly was at Jaker's) but none of the employees stopped us and we didn't see any signs posted asking the kids not to so...we let them have at it and they loved it.
Meanwhile, the big kids played some yard games together. There were giant sets of Jenga and Connect Four, along with a hoop toss. They had a blast:
Here's Benjamin standing on a buried tractor tire in the play area.
This prompted me to tell the kids about how tractor tires were commonly found in playgrounds when I was growing up. We had some at the playground at Spitzee Elementary school (I hid inside of one to cry during recess early on in the school year (my family had moved twice in one year and starting at my third elementary school in a single year was difficult, okay? (don't tease me about it or I will hide in a tractor tire to cry))) and I missed hearing the bell to go back inside, which was rather embarrassing (but my teacher was super nice about it).
They were present at other playgrounds, too. Sometimes there'd be a train of sorts with the tires slowly increasing in size so you could easily hop from one to another until you were on huge tires that you might not have been able to climb on otherwise.
Did anyone else grow up with tires in playgrounds? Do they still do that? I feel like I haven't seen such a thing in years.
Riley was rather adamant that I take his picture of him pretending to be a farmer:
He's always telling me things that I "gotta" do for him (and is finally calling me Nancy (he's spent the last year calling me Mom (everyone else was doing it))).
"Ancy! You gotta take my picture here!"
"Ancy! You gotta get my motorcycle!" (which is actually just a tricycle).
"Ancy! You gotta help me with my shoes!"
"Ancy! You gotta push me on the swings!"
It's kind of cute and endearing but I try to remind him to use his please-and-thank-yous because people "don't gotta" do anything for him (though we generally do because we love him); a please and a thank you is always nice to hear.
Our last item of business was the corn maze itself. I was a little worried about this when we paid and then I saw something that said the maze was 7 acres.
"Isn't that huge?!" I asked Reid.
"Yeah, that's pretty big," he said.
We almost went to "downgrade" our admission but we stopped to ask about it and the employees told us there are three "levels" of the maze as well as a GPS-supported map you can log into. So we decided to do the maze after all.
Grandpa took the three-year-olds through the easiest part of the maze and I took the older kids (and the baby) through the medium level. We did have to use the map toward the end when we were lost and frustrated (and so very sore (and sick and tired of hobbling around)).
"We really should have taken someone endowed with a sense of direction with us," I lamented.
Miriam scoffed at this because she considers herself to have a decent sense of direction (and Benjamin does as well, actually) but I don't know about that because we still managed to get ourselves rather turned around in there.
The map was really difficult to read, anyway, so I'm not sure how helpful it really was (I'm rather strictly a landmark person so I was happy when we stumbled into a clear patch that I realized was the jack-o-lantern's tooth), but now that I can see the image of the corn field I kind of understand where we were and where we were going.
The kids in the corn maze:
The biggest help for us, actually, was all the crying Zoë was doing for Grandpa. We could hear them out in the pumpkin patch and kind of followed our ears to Zoë (the little stinker was putting up such a fuss). She'd decided, after we parted ways in the maze, that she wanted to go with Mommy, not Grandpa, but by the time she'd decided this it was everlastingly too late.
Here are our intrepid maze-solvers:
And here's photographic evidence that Zoë was with us (she absolutely didn't want to be in a picture):
She, did, however, want to join Riley and Benjamin in this little face cut-out thing:
And then she wanted a second act with Rachel and Miriam:
My last pro for Glen Ray's is the cute story behind it. The owner's father used to plant extra sweet corn at the end of all his fields, which he would harvest and then deliver to his neighbours in secret. This habit eventually earned him the nickname "Corn Fairy," and he's become somewhat of a mascot for the pumpkin patch (his name was Glen Ray). I thought that was a sweet tribute to who I'm sure was a wonderful man!
Jaker's, I'm sure, has a story behind their name as well, though I don't know the story. They do, however, get a pro in this category as well because every year they donate pumpkins to our elementary school. There are 908 students at our school currently and every single student gets to bring home a pumpkin! I'm sure that's just to get rid of their extra pumpkins, but it's still awfully nice of them!
It was a fun afternoon at Glen Ray's! Ever so much better than staying at home to fight with each other in the basement!