Thursday, October 22, 2015

Ellijay and North Georgia

The kids and I headed up to North Georgia for a short trip to pick apples. They had only picked them once before about 5 years ago in TN, and they were excited to get to do it again! The apple festival was going on in downtown Ellijay also, so that was a plus!

Our first stop was Uncle Shuck's corn maze in Dawsonville. They have a pumpkin patch, hay ride, and of course the corn maze. In all honesty, although the kids had fun, I don't think it was really worth what we paid. We got the scout rate which was $12 each and included a patch for the kids. It included the hay ride and corn maze.

The kids liked the maze. I could mostly follow the map. The thing is huge, it is actually a maze inside a maze. After an hour we had only found half the checkpoints. They were hot and tired and ready to quit.

We headed over to the hayride. It was not that great. The trailer was littered with candy wrappers and empty drink bottles. I guess they don't clean it everyday. The ride is about 10 minutes long. They take you down the side of the maze then turn around and come back. On one side you can see the wall of corn, the other side is a bunch of trees and bushes through which you can occasionally glimpse the river. Not the best view for a hayride.

Afterwards they petted the goats, and picked a pumpkin out of the patch.

They have lots of these cutouts around the place so there are lots of photo ops!

Our next stop was Amicalola Falls. On the way we passed Burt's Farm and we had to stop and see the giant pumpkins. We had never seen pumpkins this big!

This pumpkin cost $77! And there were some that cost more than that. I can't believe people pay that much for pumpkins. People were wheeling out wheelbarrows full of huge pumpkins. 

They even have colored pumpkins.

Outside they have a stream that runs through. It would be a great place to play in the summer! The water was ice cold when we were there. 

 There's a deep part with fish. You can buy food to feed them. 

After Burt's we went to Amicalola Falls. We had a picnic in the big field across from the visitor's center. They have picnic tables but we chose to just throw a blanket on the ground. 

And we ate our fudge we got at Burt's. It was really good, but this little container cost $4!

We drove up to the West Ridge Falls Trail. You can park in the lot halfway up and it is a short hike to the middle viewing platform. Then we walked down the stairs to the bottom viewing platform. I cant remember exactly how many stairs it was, around 150. There were another 400 that went up to the top of the falls. We chose to drive to the top!

Next we went up to the Amicalola Falls lodge. They have a one mile educational hike that starts at the parking lot. Along the way there are signs that tell you about the plants and animals nearby. They also have 2 swings under some shade trees where you can sit and rest. 

The view from the back deck of the lodge.

Of course they wanted to take this bear home!

The start of the Appalachian Trail is also at Amicalola Falls. You can hike part of the trail here!

We ended up staying in Dawsonville because it was the only town I could find an available room in. You would think with as big of a tourist attraction as Ellijay is they would have more hotels there. Next morning we were up bright and early so we could get a good spot for the Apple Festival parade in Ellijay. They say it's the biggest one in the area. We got there early and got a good spot. It was cold so we snuggled up in our blankets.

The parade was a typical parade. They had a bunch of Shriners in their little cars, plus dance teams, cheerleaders, the marching band, and more. The kids loved it and they got a ton of candy!

After the parade was over we headed down to the fairgrounds for the Apple Festival. I really expected there to be more apple related things there. I thought people would be selling apple baked goods, and have samples, and apple related arts n crafts. But except for 2 booths from 2 of the local orchards there were no apple related things. It was just like a regular arts n crafts show they have back home. We were kinda disappointed. It was so crowded you couldn't even get up to some of the booths. We looked around for about 30 minutes, but my kids just don't do crowds. Being homeschoolers we usually choose to go places during the week when it is quiet. They were ready to go and get out of the crowds. I let them do the bouncy trampoline thing and then we left. These are the only pics I took at the festival.

After leaving the festival we headed to the Tater Patch. We had passed signs for it on the way to Ellijay and we decided to go check it out. This was the highlight of the trip for Brianna! It's a small farm outside of Ellijay, and you can dig your own taters! 
First we stopped at the produce barn and we found Jack's soul mate! This cat looks exactly like Jack, down to the little white patch under her chin. She was even loving and cuddly like Jack. You could pick her up and she would just purr and purr. I seriously almost brought her home. They said we could. But I thought of all the vet costs, and I didnt know how Jack and Griffin would react to us bringing home a girl cat. So I reluctantly left her. They kids named her Jackie. The people don't name the cats, they just call them all "Cat". If anyone wants to go get Jackie she would make an excellent pet!

The Tater Patch is a quiet relaxing place to spend the day. They have a little creek that runs through the back of the property. It would be awesome to play in when it's warmer. They have lots of swings all along the river so you can just sit and relax and watch the water. The people here are the nicest! They have a snack shack where you can get hot dogs, homemade french fries, fried oreos, fudge, and a bunch of other stuff.

They have 2 tire swings, volleyball, cornhole, and various other games. It's free to just come in and play the games and relax by the water. The only cost is if you want to do the tractor ride which takes you around the farm ($5 per person, 12 and under free), or to dig taters. 

The tater patch is a short walk down a dirt path. They have all the tools you need to dig. We found some small ones and some big ones. It was $4 for a 4 pound bag, and you could fill it to overflowing. She said they didn't care if it closed or not. 

Junior and I were done after about 15 minutes, but Brianna didn't want to leave. She dug and dug while we relaxed in a swing by the river. I finally had to drag her away so we could make it to the apple orchard before they closed! We would love to go back here again. They said next year they have plans to expand and have a corn maze and pumpkin patch. They sell apples also and their's are a lot cheaper than the apple orchards around them. You can check out their facebook page here.
These are all the taters we got. We dug 8 pounds!

Our next stop was BJ Reece Orchards. We should have done this on Fri and then done Amicalola on Sat. I don't know if it is always this crowded on the weekend, or if it was just worse because it was the weekend of the Apple Festival, but there must have been a thousand people there. There were about 40 people in a line that stretched out into the parking lot. One thing I have learned about people, they see a line and most just get into it. They don't look around to see if there is another one. We bypassed all the people in the line and went up to the entrance, and sure enough, there was another line on the left with only 3 people in it. We were glad we didn't have to wait in the long one! 
BJ's has two orchards across the street from each other. It was free to get in the one we were at because there wasn't much left in the trees, but it was $5 to enter the one across the street. You also had to pay for a bag to put your apples in. They have 1/2 peck, a peck, and a bushel. We went in to search for apples and finally found some Rome Beauty's way in the back of the orchard, and all were in the tops of the trees. They have signs that say don't climb the trees. I'm 5'2", and the kids are shorter than me. If they didn't climb we weren't getting apples. So my little monkeys went to work!

We went to the orchard across the street and picked also. They only had Rome Beauty's and Golden Delicious, but we still ended up with a bunch of apples and the kids had a great time! 

We tried to go in the store and buy some apple bread and other stuff, but it was insane in there. The lines wrapped around the building. You couldn't even move in there. We decided to go down the road to another apple house that wasn't doing u pick and wouldn't be as crowded. Next year if we go pick apples we will go in September when there is more available, and we will go during the week!
We went right down the road to R&A Orchards. It wasn't crowded at all! We bought baked apple pies, apple cinnamon bread, apple cider doughnuts, and ice cream! It was all delicious! 

On the way out of Ellijay we passed this restaurant that had thousands of wooden pigs on the hill behind it. Of course we had to go check it out! It's a bbq restaurant called Poole's BBQ. Apparently they are pretty famous and have been featured in magazines for their "Pig Hill of Fame". You pay $5 for them to put your name on a pig. You can tell them what you want it to say. Then they will put it on the hill, or somewhere around the restuarant. For another $1 they will email you a picture of it once it goes up. They said they have 2,000 pigs just on the hill. There are probably another 500 in front of the restaurant. You do the math! Pretty genius marketing scheme! Of course we had to get a pig. We are waiting for them to email us our picture! We ate there, and it was good bbq, though the sauce was hot. We had to get them to bring us the wimpy bbq sauce out the back that is not hot. You can see their website here.

After we got home the kids carved their pumpkins. They did them all on their own this year! 

We had a great time on the trip! We love going places together and getting to experience new things! Now we have to do something with all these apples! We are planning on applesauce, apple pie, and apple crescent rolls!