Another Fall Bucket List item checked off…apple picking at Rock Ridge Orchard! Apple picking is a seasonal tradition for many Wisconsinites. I have been to Helene’s Hilltop Apple Orchard a few times, but I never actually picked the apples myself. The new, improved Hunter is spreading his wings, or arms in this case, to try new and exciting things!
Now I would not put the actual act of apple picking in the exciting category, but it was an opportunity to spend the afternoon with my buddy, Eddie. It was Eddie’s first time picking apples as well. Eddie has joined me for quite a few adventures recently and we were looking forward to experiencing this new quest.
I first met Eddie in 2007, on the school bus. Our bus driver Mark would always give Eddie a hard time, in a funny way. Eddie would hide while Mark was loading me onto the bus. We spent the rest of the trip to school playing “Where’s Eddie?” I also entertained Eddie with my fabulous driving skills, especially the day I almost smashed the back window.
After I graduated, I lost touch with Eddie, as he was a few years younger than me. This past April, Eddie contacted me via Facebook. It was awesome reconnecting and now taking adventures together. My mom loves to give Eddie a hard time, like she does me! One time Eddie led in his van and we followed behind in our car to a park in a nearby town. My mom still teases him about ditching us at a traffic light and the fact that we beat him there!
Back to Rock Ridge Apple Orchard…Last year my mom, brother and I ventured to Helene’s Apple Orchard on a weekend to do a bit of apple picking. A huge crowd and disorganization discouraged us from picking our own. To avoid the hassle, we simply bought a pre-picked bag of apples. However, this year we decided to go during the week to avoid the crowd. We also chose to go to Rock Ridge rather than Helene’s.
When we pulled up it was disappointing to see that a Rock Ridge ATV and a large bin was blocking the only accessible parking spot. Now we were the only customer at that time, however, I think the owners set an example of disrespect toward their customers with disabilities by doing this. There was an empty parking lot and plenty of other parking spots to use.
Rolling into the accessible store was a breeze. However, compared to Helene’s, the store was pretty sparse. A small sampling of baked goods was available for purchase, along with a small selection of bagged apples. It may be different on the weekends, when they have more customers.
We expressed an interest in picking apples, but were told the “first” orchards were too muddy due to recent rains. At that point we began discussing going to Helene’s as I really wanted to pick my own this year. The clerk then said we could pick the “seconds” from the honey crisp trees in the front. They were also on sale, so we were all over that!
We were all novice apple pickers. If we were experienced, we would have never agreed to the “seconds” offer. We discovered that “seconds” meant picking through rotting, bugged filled apples. After multiple passes, we managed to fill our two bags with passable honey crisp apples.
My chair does not usually do well in fields. I though I was going to struggle going up and down the row of apple trees. I was pleased that this was not the case. I needed no extra assistance or pushes, it was really quite a breeze.
Despite having to pick through the bad apples, we had a blast. The sun was shining and we laughed throughout our time there. The trees were low enough for me to pick a few apples on my own. I have really come to appreciate these experiences where I can fully participate. I was once again reminded that the journey is always more important than the destination.
My mom and I decided to make homemade applesauce with our apples. We found an easy recipe using a slow cooker. My apartment was soon filled with the smell of apples and cinnamon. I have never made homemade applesauce before, so this was a pleasant, new experience for me.
After filling multiple jelly jars with the warm apple sauce, I discovered I had more than I could possibly eat. So I decided to use this opportunity to spread a little love and gratitude. I gave a jar to Keith, a neighbor who gave me gardening tips this summer. Another jar went to Sherry, my neighbor who makes me creamed cucumbers. JP was on my list as well. We used to live across the hall from each other and he always looks out for me. The final two jars went to Jiffy and Hank, a couple down the hall who have become my good friends.
Well, I can check off one more experience from my Fall Bucket List! Picking apples was a blast and I always cherish time with Eddie and my mom. I plan on making apple picking a yearly tradition. I am not sure where I will go next year. I really do not like to fight the crowds, but I also do not want to pick “seconds” again! I am open to suggestions from any of my readers who are apple picking experts!
Until next time, Keep Rollin’ and Keep Smilin’!
Rock Ridge Orchard
Rotting apple in the "seconds" row
Beautiful apple on a row we could not pick from!
Blocked accessible parking
Great time apple picking
Delicious Honey Crisp
Picking my own!
Sheep at Rock Ridge Orchard
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