When it comes to holidays, I expect them to unfold exactly the way they did in my childhood. One present opened on Christmas Eve, everything else in the morning. (Stockings last.) A hamburger birthday cake. Shoebox mailboxes for Valentine’s Day (and cards for everyone). Sparklers and bottle rockets and glow-in-the-dark necklaces on the Fourth. An entire month dedicated to Halloween and all its Fall glory.
Fall has always been my favorite season (perhaps tied with summer… winter may kindly curl up and die because that’s what it makes me want to do). Growing up in Illinois, fall was cool and crisp and gray, and we were always raking leaves and designing elaborate costumes (a bunch of grapes was perhaps my crowning glory) and going on hayrides and always always always picking apples.
So today I drove two hours to pick apples in 90-degree heat that I could have easily purchased at the grocery store. I also waited in line for an hour to get an apple cider donut. If you’ve ever had an apple cider donut you know they taste nothing like apples or cider but that they are definitely worth the wait. And if you ever picked apples as a kid, you know it’s more about the adventure than the end result.
Because it’s so much hotter in North Carolina than I’m used to in the fall, I consistently miss apple-picking season here. I’m always waiting for the temperature to drop before I venture into the orchards, but by then the apples are all gone. So this year I was determined to get my timing right even though it meant apple picking in shorts and sandals.
There aren’t really any orchards less than an hour from Charlotte so I dragged Adam and the dogs along all the way to the orchard I used to visit in college. It was the first time in an orchard for all of them. Adam was unmoved by my poetic rants about childhood apple picking, but at least someone was excited:
Once we got there, though, it didn’t take Adam long to understand the obsession. I left him alone for all of five minutes only to find him with an apple cider slush, sliced apples with caramel, and a frigging gallon of apple cider in hand. You are never too old to enjoy your first trip to the apple orchard.
Meanwhile I was holding down the fort in an hour-long wait for apple cider donuts. Worth it.
Since I don’t get within an hour of Asheville and not drop in to eat, we drove an extra 30 minutes out of the way to grab dinner at one of my favorite restaurants: Laughing Seed. I got the pho with grilled tofu in a green tea broth.
We were all fat, happy and feeling like this on the way home:
One of my favorite days of the whole year. No doubt.
Recreate This Trip
Destination: Sky Top Orchard
Distance from Charlotte: 1hr, 45min
Eat: Apple cider donuts, apple cider slush, apples in the orchard (shhh don’t tell)
Nearby Stop: Asheville NC
Eat in Asheville: Laughing Seed Cafe