Years ago, Laura met someone on a cruise. The woman was from Maine, so they began chatting about life in the state. During their conversation, the woman mentioned that she had lived here for over 70 years and feels like she hasn’t even made a dent in all there is to do. I thought that was interesting. At the time, I hadn’t done much around the area, so I had no idea if it was true of not. I’m beginning to think it is.
Yesterday was our second and final apple orchard visit for the season. So far, we picked 1/2 bushel at Cayford Orchards, which simply wasn’t enough. We needed more apples. We have trouble letting the season go by without completely stocking up.
For the past few years, we’ve been picking at North Star Orchards in Madison, but I’ve been making a concerted effort to get out there to see new things. While North Star is beautiful and they have wonderful apples, we’ve sort of worn the orchard out. This past week, I told Laura that if I have to take one more photo of what I already took photos of last year, I’m not sure what I’m going to do with myself. The time was ripe for change.
Sandy River Apple Orchard isn’t the easiest orchard in the state to find. Like many other addresses around here, GPS can’t quite figure things out. I knew this before getting in the car because I’m a Google Earth genius. Where we would have ended up if I hadn’t looked online is anyone’s guess. But, with my navigational expertise, we made it there just fine. And when we arrived, I was a little bit surprised at what we found.
I jumped out of the car and told the man sitting near the boxes of apples that he may have one of the mose beautiful orchards I’ve ever seen. It’s really true. The orchard is totally cozy and is, and I don’t use this word very much, “nestled” on both sides of a very infrequently traveled dirt road. There’s an interesting history to the orchard that dates back to 1852. Apparently, the initial owner of the property was given the land by the U.S. government for his service in the military. Since there wasn’t enough money to pay the soldiers, they were given land. That was a long time ago, but I really enjoy listening to stories like that. To think about these things as we walk around places we visit is incredible, to say the least.
There are all sorts of cool things on the orchard property. One of them is a restored barn and the other is a Quilted Apple Retreat, where folks can take a few days off to visit the orchard and quilt to their heart’s content. I’ve never seen something like this before, but I think it’s a great idea to get away from it all.
The farm has a huge variety of apples to pick or purchase. I want to say they have 40 varieties, but I’m not sure about that. I believe that’s what one of the owners told me. It’s a lot of fun because they’re all mixed in with each other, so you don’t really know where you’ll end up or what you’ll get.
Just walking around the farm with camera in hand is a lot of fun. We picked our apples early on and then strolled around to take photos for a while. It’s not very difficult to bump into many quintessential photo opportunities. The rows of trees, the old bird house, the cat. Yes, I’ll show you that one a bit later on.
As Laura and I made our ways through the trees, we bumped into a special surprise. This surprise is called the Wolf River Apple, which is, by far, the largest type of apple I’ve ever seen in my life. I wasn’t even aware that this type of apple existed, but when I saw them hanging from the branches, my jaw almost his the floor. These photos completely don’t do justice – just take my word for it, they’re huge. I started eating one at the orchard yesterday and I couldn’t finish it. It’s sitting in the refrigerator right now.
We easily filled out bag with this type and others.
After picking for a bit, we walked around some more where I took a heck of a lot more photos. I won’t bore you with all of them, but I will show you one of the classic apple tree. Such a nice day. It was definitely sweater weather at only 50 degrees. This is the time of year everyone I know waits for.
We made our way back to the barn and paid up. We also looked through the different varieties of apples those who don’t like to pick themselves can purchase. Good looking apples with an awesome crunch. By the way, half a bushel of pick-your-own costs $15. Just in case you were wondering.
The first half of our visit was spent on one side of the dirt road. That was where we picked all of our apples. The second half of our visit was spent on the other side of the road, where we did a bit of exploring.
After I paid for the apples, Laura and I spoke to the owner of the orchard for a while. Her name is Carol and she’s an extraordinarily nice person. We chatted about this and that and during our talk, she mentioned that we were welcome to walk down, in between some other apple trees into the woods, where we’ll find a small cabin. I guess it’s a getaway or a fishing cabin or something like that. It’s a stone’s through from the Sandy River, so I’m guessing I’m near accurate. Laura and I took Carol up on her offer and took off with cameras in hand.
This is the kind of place you can walk around during the evening with a glass of red wine in your hand. Now that’s my kind of activity.
We didn’t get very far before I began taking random shots of Americana. There are hidden gems like this all over the place, especially in the leaves during autumn.
This first photo is of an old Radio Flyer wagon. If you were a kid, you may have had one of these. If you were never a kid, you probably didn’t. That was a joke.
This next photo is of an old apple box from Moose Hill Orchards in Derry, New Hampshire.
We didn’t get twenty feet before we realized we were being followed. I turned around to see a giant Maine Coon cat hot on our trail. His name is Felix and he’s a real big boy. I picked him up to introduce myself to him.
I also took a bunch more photos of him, but this was the best one. He has a tendency to walk toward you as you get down on the ground, which makes for some tough photography. He stayed still for this one though.
We spent far too long with this cat. That may have been Laura’s fault.
Of course, as you walk through these types of places, you continuously see different angles of the sun hitting different things. This is the curse of photography – never getting anywhere and spending all your time shooting away. I promise, this is the last apple picture I’ll show in this post.
The tree in the photo above is right at the corner of where the trail begins that goes down the hill to the cabin and river. Here is the trail. Man those leaves were crunchy.
The trail wasn’t too long. We did have to hold hands while walking down the hill though, which became very romantic, if I don’t say so myself.
It wasn’t long before we saw the cabin.
I thought this was just the coolest things in the world. Doesn’t it look like something from a fairy tale?
As we got closer, I took some more photos.
After hanging around outside for a bit, we went in, which we were allowed to do, by the way. I grabbed a few shots of the interior as well. Can you imagine renting or owning this? I’m not sure people understand how inexpensive it really is.
Think about it – no news, no politics, no people, no traffic, no drama, no fighting – just a cat and yourself reading old books together in the woods. It doesn’t get any better than this.
For my final photo, I’ll show you how close this cabin is to the Sandy River. I took this picture while standing on the front porch.
What a day. One of the best ones we’ve had in a while. There’s some good energy coming from that area. I’ve been places where I couldn’t wait to leave and I’ve been places where I’ve never wanted to leave. This is one of the latter. Crazy.