Contributed by guest blogger: Rick Harker
Can you feel it? I’m talking about the cool, crisp fall air. Now combine it with the feeling of warmth the bright sun brings as it pounds against your jacket. I absolutely love this time of year! Not only because of the striking beauty the colorful changing leaves bring to the landscape of the Adirondack Mountains, but something special takes place every year beyond the beauty of autumn. It’s harvest time! And I can feel it in the air.
A popular harvested crop in the region is the wonderful, succulent, sweet, juicy apple! In my opinion, there’s no finer place to pick apples than Gunnison’s Orchards in Crown Point. Each of the several apple orchards in the area offer a great tasting apple; however, unlike most other apple orchards, Gunnison’s brings something special to the table. I mean that literally. It’s not just apple picking, it’s a family adventure!
Annual Autumn Tradition
My family’s annual autumn tradition is to go apple picking. Upon arriving at Gunnison’s Orchards, we are met with a hearty greeting from the kind employees. They explain the many types and varieties of apples we will find on the farm. Many types I have never heard of! Some are used for baking a scrumptious apple pie or other dessert. Gunnison’s is known primarily for its Macintosh apples. Me? I will grab any type of apple just to crunch into and enjoy!
Each of us are handed our own bag to fill. We each will pick our own apples. Excitement brews as we make our way to "just the right spot" in the orchard. For some reason, I want to believe the deeper into the orchard we roam, the better the apples. On our way down the windy trail, we spot some Jamaican laborers in the trees. They smile and wave. They’re a friendly group of people. In years gone by we have heard them singing Jamaican gospel hymns as they quickly pick their bushels of apples and load them on trucks with farm wagons. It looks like hard work to me. The trucks patiently await the fruit of their labors. They stand by ready to load and deliver the crates of apples to the company’s commercial packing facility, which is nearby. Gunnison’s will sometimes let groups visit the facility to see their intriguing operations. I’ve had the opportunity to tour it before. It’s a must see!
After a few minutes of picking, our bags are overflowing with apples. We try to cram more into them, but they just roll out! The bags never seem big enough, and the time tends to go too fast. However, we are not finished here yet!
Treats and Treasures
In tradition, we all know what we are going to do next. Upon arrival back to the entrance, it’s time to warm up with some hot apple cider. What a treat! Then we will be off to Gunnison’s Gift Shop and Bakery. This is no ordinary gift shop. Noooo...this gift shop has an in-house bakery with an awesome assortment of fresh pies, sweet rolls, bread, and cookies fresh from the oven. Try the oatmeal raisin cookie while it’s still warm...mmmmm. There is also a fresh fudge counter with many unique flavors of the yummy treat. Flavors include coffee, pistachio, mocha, butter rum, and even Snickers, among others. But, my favorite will always be the traditional peanut butter-chocolate fudge! Who can resist this sweet, creamy delicacy?
For the get-it-and-run person, Gunnison’s features a huge walk-in cooler, too. The refrigerator is open to the public to browse the large assortment of pre-picked and pre-bagged apples that are stacked shelf over shelf. The aroma of fresh apples penetrates the cool room. Several people scurry in and out with loaded bags of apples. But, to me, the real enjoyment comes only if you pick your own apples. Of course, being with family is a must.
The gift shop is packed with rustic Adirondack treasures and gifts from yesteryear. It’s hard NOT to buy something! Unfortunately, the popular words from our mouths to the kids are “no, no, and no.” But mom and dad will sometimes make an exception for this once-a-year enjoyment. Possibly a new ornament for the house for us, just maybe? This place brings out the kid in me! It’s the Adirondack Mountains all packaged in one place! Maybe we can squeeze in two visits this year? Possibly three? Why not?
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