"A" as in apple-picking

families celebrate autumn by flocking to pumpkin patches and apple orchards. last weekend, we decided to go apple-picking in the mountain town of warwick (yes, as in dionne, darling! hehe) in new york's orange county.

getting there takes about an hour, and the roads are long, winding and fall-foliage scenic. the drive is so relaxing it can lull you to sleep. my sister hates winding roads, though, so she almost never drives along that route.

we passed several other orchards and pumpkin farms along the way, one even had a small carnival with rides to attract kids, but we were intent in reaching masker orchards in ball road.

this is our first-ever apple-picking experience as a family (my two litte cousins and my sister's boyfriend tagged along), and we were pleased that there were no parking fees charged. in fact, people can just drive into the orchard and park alongside the trees, wherever they wish (except in the middle of the path!) and just start picking apples!

as you enter the orchard, you are given free plastic bags to fill with apples. other people even brought chairs with them and picnic blankets so they can enjoy the apples on the spot. if i remember it correctly, the two varieties available in the orchard are the "red delicious" and "macintosh". the trees are smartly labeled with the correct variety for your guidance.

the really ripe ones are high up in the tall branches of the trees, but a lot of them have already fallen on the ground out of sheer ripeness.

you can eat the apples as you pick and will not be charged for them. you will pay for the apples in your bag only as you leave the place. the red ones taste really sweet! it's a whale of a difference from the apples you buy at the store. nothing beats freshly-picked, straight-from-the-tree goodness!

the orchard goes on for acres and acres, and they've given the "streets" apple-related names such as "strudel street" and "pie lane."

the most interesting product i found in their souvenir shop was the jar of apple butter. can you imagine an "apple butter and jelly sandwich"? hehe. one jar costs about $4.00.

i missed the chance to get myself a cup of apple cider because i lingered in the shop too long. i've eaten a lot of the apples we brought home since then. you know, making up for my shamefully fruit-less diet. in this sense, i'm a "bad apple." hehe.

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